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Technical springs from the Weigel spring factory since 1909: workforce in 1934

Since 1909: Technical Springs From Alfred Weigel

With founding spirit through two world wars

In 1909, the 35-year-old locksmith and master workman Alfred Weigel had the courage to create a new company from the insolvent assets of the Chemnitz spring manufacturer, Riedel:

The Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik.

Company building Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical springs
Alfred Weigel: Founder of the Alfred Weigel spring factory for technical springsThe acquired portfolio of loyal customers allowed the company to grow to 40 employees in just a few years.

After his return from World War I, the company founder acquired two properties for production until 1925, including the Annaberger Straße 138, where the traditional family business still has its headquarters today.

Rudolf Weigel, son of Alfred Weigel: Founder of Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical SpringsEconomic skill and a major contract from the German Bosch AG steered the company, which renamed to Alfred Weigel KG in 1928, through the world economic crisis. In the 1920s, the sons of the company founder Kurt (as a businessman) and Rudolf (as a technician) also joined the company.

The economic upswing following the Nazi seizure of government, with its rearmament program, also provided Chemnitz companies with full order books – Chemnitz counted 14 spring factories in 1941. With the outbreak of the 2nd World War, the demand for technical springs rose sharply. The company was classified as important to the war effort and was under the control of the NSDAP and Gestapo. The first employees of the company to be called up for front-line service lost their lives in the battlefields of Europe.

Kurt Weigel, son of Alfred Weigel: Founder of Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical SpringsThe interim owner of the company, Kurt Weigel, was called to the Gestapo quarters in Kaßberg several times, as informers denounced him because of Jewish people still working in the company and his loyal relationship with the forced workers. It was thanks to this civil courage – which he also passed on to his descendants – that he saved quite a few of his workers and employees from the worst.

Shortly before the end of the war, Alfred Weigel KG had reached the highest number of employees in its history with 500. Even today, there are records of tributes to company anniversaries and pension funds for employees.

Spring production in 1935 in the Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical springs
During the heavy Allied air strikes in February/March 1945, large parts of the city of Chemnitz were reduced to ruins. Employees of the company and members of the family also lost their lives in the attack; the company premises in Lutherstraße were completely destroyed and some buildings on Annaberger Straße were heavily damaged.

Spring production in 1935 in the Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical springsFrom the Reconstruction

The beginning of the reconstruction was also a time of improvisation. In addition to hairpins and garden rakes, the inventive Weigel team also produced steel straps for bra cups and tension springs, which were sewn around and used as a substitute for garters.

The only shutdown in the company’s history was recorded from 24/02/1947 – 08/03/1947 for the bitterly cold winter of the second post-war year – there was neither electricity nor heating material. The company grew steadily until 1959. At this time, over 1.5 million Mark in sales of precision springs were achieved in 8 production areas, with around 200 employees.

The momentous decision of the GDR Council of Ministers in 1956, according to which the state authorized itself to enter into limited partnerships under private law as a limited partner, led via restrictive intermediate steps to forced nationalization in 1972.

Siegfried Weigel, the son of the company owner and grandson of the founder, was found “suitable” to lead the company, now renamed VEB Feinfedern Karl-Marx-Stadt, as director. The affiliation to the Kombinat Wälzlager und Normteile Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1975 meant the final end for free entrepreneurial activity.

Bureaucracy and constant material bottlenecks hit the company hard. Necessary investments were not approved by the central combined management. At the low point, the only means of transport available to the company was a Barkas delivery truck with a monthly quota of 25 litres of gasoline…

Spring production in 1989 in the Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical springs
Spring production in 1992 in the Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical springsIn 1989, not only did the old structures of the GDR collapse, but suppliers and customers of the spring factory also ceased to exist. The great death of the “nationally owned” companies began. In the spring of 1990, the Liberal Democrat Siegfried Weigel applied to the Economic Council for the reprivatisation of the company.

Even though the first attempt failed due to the excessive purchase price demanded by the Treuhandanstalt and the “consultants” sent out by the Treuhandanstalt made grim predictions for the future of the company, Alfred Weigel KG Federnfabrik returned to family ownership on May 1, 1990.

With courage and entrepreneurial spirit, the old – new company took off into the social market economy. Once again, entrepreneurial courage and loyalty to the company tradition made a new perspective possible. In 1992, the great-granddaughter of the company founder, Eva Donath, took over the business and, together with her sister Anja Fritzsche, still runs it today.

Spring production in the Alfred Weigel Federnfabrik for technical springs