bed spring factory Moritz Heymann

Company letterhead, around 1890
Portrait Moritz Heymann
Moritz Heymann (1833-1899)

Jewish emancipation in the 19th century: Moritz Heymann and the bed spring factory at Westenhellweg 52

In the course of the 19th century, after centuries of privation, discrimination and persecution, the move towards equality for the Jewish minority in the German-speaking states made significant progress. For many, legal and political emancipation was followed by an economic and social advancement. So, too, Meyer Heymann, a member of the board of the Jewish Community in Dortmund, opened his “Bettfedernfabrik Heymann” a factory for the production of bed springs, on Westenhellweg, probably in the year 1830. The business was subsequently taken over by his sons, Louis und Moritz. The papers left behind by Moritz Heymann on his death are held today in the Dortmund City Archives. Moritz was born in 1833 as the second of altogether six children, and received a good education; he spoke and wrote both French and English, played the violin, was able to draw, and participated in the cultural life of Dortmund. At the age of 21, he spent some considerable time in New York, before returning to Germany and doing his military service in Düsseldorf. His letters indicate that he, like most of the German bourgeoisie, was generally conservative and a supporter of the monarchy. Moritz Heymann died in 1899, leaving a wife and two children. In the German Reich, founded in 1871, the Jews had finally achieved full legal equality.

Dortmund City Archives, Index No. 496

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