Silesian Weavers Uprisings

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Silesian Weavers’ Uprisings


The Silesian weavers’ uprising of 1793 was a spontaneous revolt of peasant weavers, which was subsequently joined by the broad peasant masses. It took place in March and April in the mountainous districts of Silesia, which at the time belonged to Prussia. The uprising, which began on March 23 in the city of Schömberg, developed into a struggle against the Prussian feudal serf system and involved almost 20,000 people. It was brutally suppressed by Prussian troops.

The uprising of 1844, which took place from June 4 to June 6, was the first major independent workers’ uprising in Germany. The immediate cause of the uprising of the Silesian weavers, who were subject to dual exploitation—by the capitalists and by the landlords—was a sharp cut in the wages paid by the manufacturing enterpreneurs who distributed yarn for processing. The situation of the weavers became still more desperate as a result of a series of bad harvest years. The uprising began in the mountain settlement of Peterswald with the destruction of the house and enterprise of the manufacturer Zwanziger, who was particularly hated by the workers, and soon spread to the neighboring settlement of Langenbielau. Although the outbreak was spontaneous, certain elements of organization appeared as the uprising proceeded. The Silesian uprising showed that the workers had begun to recognize their class interests and to be drawn into the struggle against capital. The revolt had a great influence on the development of German and Polish working-class consciousness. It also accelerated the development of internal divisions within the German democratic movement, contributing to the emergence of a distinct proletarian orientation.


Marx, K. “Kriticheskie zametki k stat’e ‘Prussaka’ ‘Korol’ prusskii i sot-sial’naia reforma.’” K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 1.
Engels, F. “Revoliutsiia i kontrrevoliutsiia ν Germanii.” Ibid., vol. 8.
Engels, F. “Novosti iz Prussii: Volneniia ν Silezii.” Ibid., vol. 42.
Engels, F. “Dal’neishie podrobnosti o volneniiakh ν Silezii.” Ibid.
Kan, S. B. Dva vosstaniia silezskikh tkachei 1793–1844. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Wolff, W. Der Aufruhr der Weber in Schlesien (Juni 1844). Berlin, 1952. [23–1070–]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.