Karl Wilhelm Scheibler

Karl Wilhelm Scheibler

Death 13 Apr 1881 (aged 60)
Burial Powiat zgierski, Łódzkie, Poland
Memorial ID 13378537 · View Source
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Industrialist, born at Monschau (Eifel, West Germany), died at Lodz, Poland.

Scheibler was born into a Protestant family of textile producers in a town South of Aachen (original name: Montjoie), the main attraction of which till today is the "Red House" of the Scheibler family including a museum.
Textile production was already in decline at that time (due to geographical reasons - i.e. the narrowness of the Rur (not: Ruhr) valley, which soon caused the family to move production to bigger cities (like Krefeld).
Scheibler received a solid education in England. He then moved to nearby Verviers, where he became Belgian citizen.
In the 1830's, the village of Lodz in the Russian-occupied part of Poland began to prosper. The Tsarist authorities wanted to industrialise the Empire. One of their methods, in a kind of mercantilist approach, was to grant tax and customs privileges to investors in what was then the most Western part of the realm. Thus, foreigners importing capital and skills from Western Europe were attracted.
Especially young Germans settled in the Lodz region. Among them was Karl Scheibler (soon to be called Karol), whose textile mill prospered quickly.
In a few decades, Lodz became the textile industry center of the Russian empire, and Scheibler soon the second richest man of its Polish provinces (the richest one being Kronenberg, the railroad tycoon). Whereas Kronenberg was eternalised in a novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Polish, Polish-Jewish and German (often Protestant) bosses of Lodz were described in Reymont's novel "The Promised Land" (Ziemia obiecana, 1899), filmed later by Andrzej Wajda (1974).
The role of Scheibler and other investors, typical representatives of early industrialization, has often been distorted, not only by partisan historians of the foregone socialist period (as concerns Jews, also influenced by subtle antisemitism). Until today, the role of 'capitalists', be it in Britain ("Manchester capitalism"), Germany or Poland, has been depicted in a biased, negative way, emphasising mass poverty and exploitation. Credit must be given to the critics' aim, most prominently in the works of Marx and Engels, to depict the misery of the simple folk (NB some common biographical traits of Engels and Scheibler seem interesting: Childhood in a family of textile producers; dominated by protestant work ethics combining piety with 'social conscience'; origin in the Prussian Rhine province; education in England - an example for Weberian arguments).
However, a more balanced historical judgement has to take into account that it was market economy, vulgo 'capitalism', and industrialization which led the 'proletariate' out of centuries of misery of feudalism, personal dependence and agricultural methods of production, by rapid growth with quick effects, improving also the social situation of workers. Whatever can be said about social discrepancies and class society, it must be underlined that the thousands of peasants coming to cities like booming Lodz did so because -in the logic of the market - their economic situation improved and they found a more attractive alternative to labour in agriculture.
Nor were the 'capitalists' of Lodz (of Manchester, Wuppertal or Lyons) without 'social conscience'. On the contrary, they often engaged in philantropic activities. In Central Europe, they provided especially their workers and families with well-organised facilities like dwellings, schools, hospitals and modest social security. Scheibler's mills and workers' homes were typical examples, inspired by a fervent Protestant belief in charity and the entrepreneur's patriarchalist responsibility.
The city of Lodz after 1989 has rediscovered its industrial heritage, a unique ensemble of architecture, preserved despite two World Wars. Scheibler's villa today is a museum.

Scheiblers's gravesite is on the 100 items list of "world monument watch" of endangered sites. Lodz citizens, some years ago, have founded an association to preserve the chapel (below, scheibler.org).

Please see also my description of the gravesite of another Lodz tycoon, Izrael Poznanski (below)

Biography in English :
Biography in German on http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Wilhelm_Scheibler
about the Scheibler mausoleum in Lodz:
http://www.scheibler.org.pl/ (in three languages)
about the city of Lodz: http://www.warsawvoice.pl/view/7549
about Monschau: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monschau ; https://www.vennbahn.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Vennbahn-Stories_6_Monschau_EN.pdf
about Poznanski http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=editor&editThis=bio&editThisIntId=13378227

  • Created by: Dieter Birkenmaier
  • Added: 17 Feb 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 13378537
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  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Karl Wilhelm Scheibler (1 Sep 1820–13 Apr 1881), Find a Grave Memorial no. 13378537, citing Cmentarz Ewangelicko-Augsburski, Powiat zgierski, Łódzkie, Poland ; Maintained by Dieter Birkenmaier (contributor 46785965) .