Bergische history – as dry as dust? Boring? Not at all. "Wuppertal is the pioneer region in Germany," says Dr. Lars Bluma. And he must know. As head of the Zentrum für Stadtgeschichte und Industriekultur in Wuppertal, he is the guardian of the urban history of the metropolis of the Bergisch region.
The historian currently has a lot to do. In 2020, the city's most famous son, Friedrich Engels, celebrates his 200th birthday. Preparations are in full swing. The Engels House and the Museum of Early Industrialization are being redesigned and rebuilt There will be a lot going on in the anniversary year, reveals Lars Bluma. He is particularly proud of the fact that not only institutions and associations, but also the residents of the city are getting actively involved.
Bergisches Land is regarded as the cradle of industrialisation on the European continent. And Wuppertal was right in the middle of it. "The city simply oozes the history of industrialisation," says Lars Bluma. Due to its high density of monuments, according to the historian, it is still possible to see, virtually from every corner, what the factory owner's son was up to in his youth in Barmen.
According to Bluma, Friedrich Engels is the most famous Wuppertal native, but also the most controversial. And he adds: "Perhaps we can even discover what Friedrich Engels still has to say to us today," he adds.
Thinker, doer, Wuppertaler: This is the motto of the Engel Year. The revolutionary thinker is celebrated and appreciated. At the same time, his work is critically examined. In theatres, workshops and halls, but also on streets and squares.
Together with his companion Karl Marx, Engels wrote the 'Communist Manifesto'. One of the world's most influential writings to this very day. Unlike Karl Marx, as a textile manufacturer, he experienced industrialisation up close. And he made his own experiences with the excesses of 19th century capitalism. He was right at the centre of this life. For decades, Engels ran the family business in Manchester, England. At the same time, he worked on the theory and practice of the labour movement. Lars Bluma explains that in doing so, he had introduced a practical dimension into the discourse on socialism and communism.
Anyone wishing to learn more about Friedrich Engels should visit the special exhibition in Barmen. Just as in the Engels House, which is to be reopened on 28 November 2020, there is much to learn about the individual stages in the life of the Wuppertal native, which are deeply linked to his work.
Engels should always be seen in the historical context of industrialisation and not just as an individual, advises Lars Bluma. And in the Museum of Early Industrialization, he explains, one learns a lot about the pioneering region that had so much influence on Engels.
Early industrialisation has left many traces in the region of Bergisches Land that can still be found today. The historian sees the uniqueness of the region in its industrial heritage. Bergische thinkers, inventors and pioneers had decisively advanced the industrial revolution. According to the museum director, this is a treasure that must be preserved.
Lars Bluma is certain that many people would be interested in the history of their communities and would cherish the industrial legacy. And he adds enthusiastically: "You get to actively take part and I think that's tremendous.
Zentrum für Stadtgeschichte und Industriekultur - Friedrich-Engels-House and Museum for Early Industrialization
Tel. +49 (0) 202 / 5 63 43 75 oder 5 63 64 98
Internet: www.historisches-zentrum-wuppertal.de / www.engels2020.de