GHDI logo

Ernst Dronke: Excerpts from Berlin (1846)

page 9 of 9    print version    return to list previous document      next document

As badly off as these people are, there are some people in even worse conditions, and they have to accept whatever work comes their way. These are usually families where the man is sick or deceased and there are grandparents or several dependent children to feed. The children are sent to the factories as soon as they are the least bit strong enough. They work here from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and earn only 15-22½ silver pieces a week, which is about three silver pieces a day. They suffer not only physically, for example through coughing, deformed posture and crooked legs, but also morally and psychologically. They are totally ruined in the bleach factories where they inhale poisonous fumes the whole day. Even grown men can hardly survive a few years in these factories. And yet mothers still send their children here even though they know this means a sure death for their little ones. Maybe they do it for this very reason. The children are a burden to them, and misery robs them of every sense of being human. Additionally, they probably think that since civilized society has created these factories, it must not be a crime to send children there. From time to time, parents get rid of their children through blatant crime; they have no food for the young ones and perhaps only a few bare bones for to nibble on themselves, so what should they do with their children? To these number all so-called infanticides, when young mothers kill their newborns because they don’t know how they will feed them. Berlin newspapers frequently report small, unidentified corpses being corpses being found in sewers.

Source: Ernst Dronke, Berlin (1846). East Berlin: Rütten & Loening, 1953, pp. 11-19, 34-46, 229-37.

Translation: James Sievert

first page < previous   |   next > last page