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German History in Documents and Images
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Introduction of Mechanized Threshing in the Countryside (1882)
In the last third of the nineteenth century, Germany’s agricultural output nearly doubled, despite the fact that industry and commerce grew even more quickly. One reason for increased output was the mechanization of farming and the use of new power sources. This painting, titled Use of the First Threshing Machine in Lankow near Schwerin in the Year 1882 [Einsatz der ersten Dreschmaschine in Lankow bei Schwerin im Jahre 1882], is by Carl Wilhelm Christian Malchin (1838-1923), who painted mainly rural scenes in northern Germany. Malchin’s painting is too idyllic to be believed – that is, if we accept contemporary written sources that testify to the backbreaking nature of the work involved in feeding these mechanical “monsters.” Textual accounts, such as those by Franz Rehbein, describe workplace exploitation and social conflict in the countryside.