1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chemnitz

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CHEMNITZ, a town of Germany, in the kingdom of Saxony, the capital of a governmental district, 50 m. W.S.W. of Dresden and 51 S.E. of Leipzig by rail. Pop. (1885) 110,817; (1895) 161,017; (1905) 244,405. It lies 950 ft. above the sea, in a fertile plain at the foot of the Erzgebirge, watered by the river Chemnitz, an affluent of the Mulde. It is the chief manufacturing town in the kingdom, ranks next to Dresden and Leipzig in point of population, and is one of the principal commercial and industrial centres of Germany. It is well provided with railway communication, being directly connected with Berlin and with the populous and thriving towns of the Erzgebirge and Voigtland. Chemnitz is in general well built, the enormous development of its industry and commerce having of late years led to the laying out of many fine streets and to the embellishing of the town with handsome buildings. The centre is occupied by the market square, with the handsome medieval Rathaus, now superseded for municipal business by a modern building in the Post-strasse. In this square are monuments to the emperor William I., Bismarck and Moltke. The old inner town is surrounded by pleasant promenades, occupying the site of the old fortifications, and it is beyond these that industrial Chemnitz lies, girdling the old town on all sides with a thick belt of streets and factories, and ramifying far into the country. Chemnitz has eleven Protestant churches, among them the ancient Gothic church of St James, with a fine porch, and the modern churches of St Peter, St Nicholas and St Mark. There are also a synagogue and chapels of various sects. The industry of Chemnitz has gained for the town the name of “Saxon Manchester.” First in importance are its locomotive and engineering works, which give employment to some 20,000 hands in 90 factories. Next come its cotton-spinning, hosiery, textile and glove manufactures, in which a large trade is done with Great Britain and the United States. It is also the seat of considerable dyeworks, bleachworks, chemical and woollen factories, and produces leather and straps, cement, small vehicles, wire-woven goods, carpets, beer and bricks. The town is well provided with technical schools for training in the various industries, including commercial, public, economic and agricultural schools, and has a chamber of commerce. There are also industrial and historical museums, and collections of painting and natural history. The local communications are maintained by an excellent electric tramway system. To the northwest of the town is the Gothic church of a former Benedictine monastery, dating from 1514–1525, with a tower of 1897. Chemnitz is a favourite tourist centre for excursions into the Erzgebirge, the chain of mountains separating Saxony from Bohemia.

Chemnitz (Kaminizi) was originally a settlement of the Serbian Wends and became a market town in 1143. Its municipal constitution dates from the 14th century, and it soon became the most important industrial centre in the mark of Meissen. A monopoly of bleaching was granted to the town, and thus a considerable trade in woollen and linen yarns was attracted to Chemnitz; paper was made here, and in the 16th century the manufacture of cloth was very flourishing. In 1539 the Reformation was introduced, and in 1546 the Benedictine monastery, founded about 1136 by the emperor Lothair II. about 2 m. north of the town, was dissolved. During the Thirty Years’ War Chemnitz was plundered by all parties and its trade was completely ruined, but at the beginning of the 18th century it had begun to recover. Further progress in this direction was made during the 19th century, especially after 1834 when Saxony joined the German Zollverein.

See Zöllner, Geschichte der Fabrik- und Handelsstadt Chemnitz (1891); and Straumer, Die Fabrik- und Handelsstadt Chemnitz (1892).