Schilling (bell foundry family)

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Five generations of the Schilling bell foundry family in Apolda played a key role in shaping the development of the small Thuringian town into a nationally known bell town in the 19th and 20th centuries. - The family history as an entrepreneur began in 1868 with the marriage to the Ulrich family. The last member of this handicraft dynasty is Margarete Schilling (* 1932), author and expert on bells and carillons.

Master bell founder Franz-Peter Schilling (center) casting a bell in 1965

Franz Schilling

Franz Friedrich August Schilling was born in 1830. His sister married the bell founder Carl Richard Emil Ulrich in Apolda in 1865 . In 1868, at the age of 38, Franz Schilling was accepted into the company of his brother-in-law and learned the bell-casting trade there . He became a partner in the company as early as 1877, and a year later his brother-in-law left the business entirely.

When Franz Schilling took over the CF Ulrich company on Untere Bahnhofstrasse in Apolda at the end of 1878, there were still many similar companies in addition to the Ulrich Brothers foundry in Apoldaer Glockengießereistrasse. In view of this competition, it was important for Franz Schilling to choose between handcraft and the beginning of industrialization and to give up the ancillary production of the predecessor. The general economic upswing and the relatively long period of peace made it possible for him to develop his creative abilities. In 1889 he set up a branch in Allenstein (formerly East Prussia) in which bells were cast and delivered for more than a decade.

In 1895 the Ducal Saxon State Ministry in Weimar awarded him the title of "court bell founder" - this title was of inestimable value for the upward development of the company, as important clients there for the little word "court", which meant quality and honor for them Commissioned bells. Franz Schilling's casting books documented the performance of the foundry from 1878 to 1901. It is considerable, as the need for bells at that time was almost covered by the large number of existing bell foundries and orders were almost only received for new churches or bell renewals were received. Schilling's brother-in-law and predecessor Richard Ulrich delivered almost 500 bells in 15 years, Franz Schilling three times as much in 18 years. In the memo book he listed 2,245 bells from 1878 to 1889, and from 1902 to 1911 he cast 3,012, for a total of 5,457 bells.

Franz Schilling was particularly famous as a founder of very large bells. In 1894 he cast the bells for the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. In 1899 he created the bells of the Kreuzkirche in Dresden, which survived both wars and the destruction of Dresden. It can be seen from the casting books that many of his bells were cast from cannons.

Generation change: Otto Schilling and Friedrich Schilling

In 1911, the two older sons Otto and Friedrich Schilling took over the business under the company signet “Hofglockengießerei Franz Schilling Söhne, formerly Carl Friedrich Ulrich”. Otto Schilling was later also appointed court bell founder. In the few years before the First World War, the company cast a large number of bells, including ten bells for the Michaeliskirche in Hamburg.

The bell foundry Franz Schilling Söhne developed into the largest and most important bell foundry in Germany. A considerable part of their products were also exported beyond the country's borders. But the outbreak of the First World War brought drastic changes, Franz Schilling had to run the business alone again because his sons were drafted.

Chilled cast iron bells "Schilling & Lattermann"

In order to fill the gaps in the bell stock of the post-war period, the master bell founder Otto Schilling and the hammer mill owner Gottfried Lattermann founded an OHG in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz in Vogtland in 1918 for the purpose of casting and selling chilled iron bells for churches, schools and similar institutions under the company name Schilling & Lattermann . The seat was Apolda, the duration of the cooperation was fixed until 1927, but it lasted until 1966. The management of the business was only to the partner Schilling, who completed the entire sale of the bells, the advertising, the trips necessary to obtain orders who took over supply contracts and the like.

Lattermann's obligation was to have all the bells commissioned in his Morgenröther factory cast according to Schilling's specifications and designs. The bells cast there were brought to Apolda and fitted with fittings and bell stalls in the forge and locksmith's shop .

In 1919 a contract was concluded with the Berndorfer Metallwarenfabrik in Berndorf to set up a bronze bell foundry, which was valid until 1927.

Franz August Schilling as the successor to the late Friedrich Schilling

In 1927 the youngest son of the bell founder Franz Schilling, Franz August Schilling, became a co-owner of the bell foundry Franz Schilling Söhne. He also took over the duties of his brother Friedrich Schilling, who died in 1928. Although the struggle for existence intensified further due to the general economic crisis, bells and carillons were cast for many churches and other institutions, including the Sacred Heart Church in Zurich, Switzerland, for churches in Reykjavík in Iceland and in Philadelphia in the USA.

In 1931 the Schilling company employed 70 people. It took over the Heller bell foundry in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and in 1936 also the Radler bell foundry in Hildesheim. More than 12,000 bells were made in Apolda by 1931 - a significant increase in orders from abroad spoke for the international reputation of the foundry: The bells went to Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, Finland, Greece, India, Iceland, Japan, Jerusalem, Norway, Austria, Russia, Switzerland and USA.

In the period before the Second World War, sales fell considerably, despite major projects such as carillon for the NS-Ordensburg Krössinsee and other institutions. The last casting for Lenk in the Bernese Alps took place in Apolda in 1939 . Otto Schilling wrote in his casting book on October 8, 1939: "The casting of bells is prohibited." Since the Schillings refused to participate in the war business, the gates of the foundry closed for years.

Second World War

In the second year of the Second World War, the German war economy - similar to 1917 - found itself in great distress because it lacked the non-ferrous metals urgently needed for warfare, in particular the available stocks of copper and tin had dwindled alarmingly. As in 1917, the government again confiscated bronze bells. Among many others, the bells of the court bell founder Franz Schilling for the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin were destroyed. His son Franz August Schilling wrote to his wife on November 16, 1942 in Berlin: “Yesterday, Sunday, I passed the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and there was the lower part of the big bell next to the main portal. It has now also been smashed. On the first piece I saw, I read 'Franz Schilling', it really hurt my heart. "

After the end of the Second World War

In 1945, the reconstruction of the Franz Schilling Söhne bell foundry found it difficult to get going. The lack of metal and the lack of skilled workers made the already difficult general situation more difficult. At first only castings were possible; the first new castings took place in August 1946, using copper wire, broken and dented pewter vessels and bell scrap.

Franz August Schilling

The workforce was needed to rebuild the bombed cities. Franz August Schilling (* February 2, 1897 in Apolda; † October 10, 1977 in Apolda; often named as Franz Schilling) wrote in 1948 in the casting book "Homburg went through because unskilled and uninterested workers built up the mold". At that time, the future workforce, who remained in the company for decades, was only employed in the assembly area of ​​the forge and locksmith's shop. Franz August Schilling later also took care of securing the bells that were not melted down during the war as bell custodian in the bell camps Oranienburg, Hettstedt and Ilsenburg and was able to determine the hometowns of more than 1,300 bells.

After the Second World War, chill-cast bells made from Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz also regained importance, and the communities collected horseshoes, old chains and the like for the bell dish. Again thousands of bells from Morgenröthe went to many parts of the world for churches, schools and ships, including the bell for Lambaréné to Albert Schweitzer . The Oder-Neisse Peace Bell in Frankfurt / Oder is also a chill-cast iron bell. Franz Schilling commissioned artists such as Elly-Viola Nahmmacher , Kurt Grohmann and Horst Jahresling to decorate bells .

The lack of metal was only remedied in the 1950s. In the bell foundry Franz Schilling Söhne, many bronze bells were made again, for example for the Erfurt Cathedral, the Meißner Cathedral , the St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin and the Buchenwald bell . Bells were delivered to Bavaria, Hesse and other countries, from 1968 the company exported bells to the Czechoslovakia, Moravia, Bohemia and Slovakia for a decade, including large bells for Brno and Blatná and bells for Prague. Franz August Schilling cast his last bells for Jasenná and Ranzin in 1969 .

Franz Schilling was married to Margarete Schilling, née Hänke. Her son Franz Peter Schilling was born on February 13, 1930 in Jena. In 1956 Franz Schilling had a traffic accident that permanently restricted his ability to work. He then brought his son back to Apolda from his studies in the Federal Republic of Germany and made him a partner. At the end of 1969, a heart attack forced Franz Schilling to largely retire from work in the bell foundry. From the beginning of 1970, his son Peter Schilling had to continue the foundry without his father.

The bell town of Apolda also owes Franz August Schilling loans from the bell museum , which has been in existence for over 50 years and shows the development of the bell from its beginnings to the present.

Otto Franz Georg Schilling and Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling

The sons of the court bell founder Otto Schilling, Otto Franz Georg Schilling (1911–1973) and Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling (1914–1971) contributed a lot to the improvement of the sound of the Schilling bells, especially with regard to carillon, they researched and developed the partial tone series intensively this continues, a lengthy process in the time-consuming bell production.

Otto Franz Georg Schilling studied mathematics from 1930 to 1934 at the universities of Jena, Göttingen and Marburg (where he also received his doctorate in 1935: "About certain relationships between the arithmetic of hypercomplex number systems and algebraic number fields", Mathematische Annalen Vol. 111, 1935, p. 372) and worked at Trinity College Cambridge in England in 1934/35, at Princeton from 1935 to 1937, later as a lecturer at the University of Chicago, advanced to full professor and remained there until 1960. A number of excellent publications consolidated his scientific reputation and earned him great reputation. He died at the age of 62. His death was a great loss as he wanted to resume his research on the bell ribs when he reached retirement age.

Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling (1914–1971) was the youngest son of the Apolda court bell founder Otto Schilling. He came to Heidelberg in 1949 in order to set up his own business, as the Apoldaer bell foundry was still run by his father Otto Schilling and his uncle Franz Schilling. He had already cast the first bell in Apolda at the age of twelve. He completed his training at the Rüetschi company in Aarau and completed it with Friedrich Hamm in Staad near Rohrschach in 1933. After the Second World War he was the custodian of the Hamburg bell collection camp and, like his uncle Franz, worked in Apolda to return the bells . He ensured the return home of more than 13,000 bells that were stored in the Hamburg free port and had been spared from melting down.

Since it was a completely new beginning in Heidelberg, and also with workers who had previously neither worked in a molding shop nor in a foundry, the difficulties appeared enormous at first. But Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling overcame this time quickly, and the eleven-part chime of St. Lorenz in Nuremberg, cast in 1953, was already showing his mastery. Starting from the ribs of his father's foundry in Apolda, he soon developed his own line, which later differed in sound from the one in Apolda. Like the Thuringian company, he was supported by his older brother, the mathematician Otto Schilling.

Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling preferred heavy and extremely heavy ribs. He also had chilled cast bells made in another company, at JF Weule in Bockenem in the Harz Mountains - the company that at the time had produced a large number of chilled cast bells as Ulrich & Weule. They were cast according to Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling's bell ribs and helped him to get start-up capital for the development and maintenance of his business. He provided them with fittings in Heidelberg. Almost 8,000 bells went from the Heidelberg foundry all over the world; they resound from the largest cathedrals and churches, recognizable by their excellent sound. Its most powerful bell has been hanging in the Marktkirche in Hanover since 1960 . He died at the age of 56. The bell foundry operated by him in Heidelberg was taken over by Carl Metz GmbH in Karlsruhe in 1982 and integrated into the Bachertsche bell foundry managed by this company . Shilling ribs were also used there.

Anniversary bell from 1976 with the inscription Bells from Apolda in the town hall of Apolda: The occasion for the casting was the 150th anniversary of the bell foundry Ulrich and Schilling (since 1826) - the year 1722 on the back refers to Apolda's first master bell founder Johann Christoph Rose . Cast by Peter Schilling , designed by Horst Jahresling .

Last generation: Franz Peter Schilling and Margarete Schilling

In 1956, the son of the bell founder Franz August Schilling and his wife Margarete Schilling, née Hänke, Franz Peter Schilling (born February 13, 1930 in Jena; often named as Peter Schilling ), was a partner in the two general partnership Franz Schilling Sons and Schilling & Lattermann joined . He spent his childhood in Apolda, where he went to elementary and high school and passed his Abitur. He has been interested in science, technology and art since childhood, and he spent a lot of time in his parents' bell foundry at Bernhardstrasse 45. After finishing school, he learned the foundry trade from his father and in the Lattermann branch in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, where chilled iron bells were cast. His practical journeyman's test was - how could it have been otherwise - a bell.

From 1949 to 1954 he studied economics , business administration and law in Mainz and Munich . When his father was no longer in a position to manage and cast the foundry alone after a traffic accident in 1956, he called his son back to Apolda in the GDR. In the same year Peter Schilling became a partner in the bell foundry. In 1960 he passed his examination as master bell founder in Erfurt - and is said to have been the only master bell founder for bronze in the GDR at the time. From the beginning of 1970, Peter Schilling had to run the foundry without his father, who had suffered a heart attack - he was actively supported by his wife Margarete Schilling , whom he married in 1966.

Margarete Schilling , photo from July 4, 2017

In 1972 the Schilling bell foundry was expropriated and continued as a state-owned company under the name "VEB Apoldaer Glockengießerei"; Peter Schilling was formally Operations Director, Margarete Schilling Technical Director. But in 1976 the couple left the company. They continued the family tradition outside of the city and worked as freelance artists, projecting bells, carillons and play facilities that were made by workshops far away. They wrote bell reports and carried out sound analyzes on church towers.

On December 10, 1986 Peter Schilling received the GDR patent No. 155 083 for the invention of manganese-aluminum multi-material bronze for bells. From 1990 he suffered from circulatory disorders, so that his legs were amputated in 1994. A stroke in autumn 2000 made it impossible for him to continue to work productively. He died on September 9, 2001 at home in Apolda.

  • Peter and Margarete Schilling were honored with the Goethe Prize of the City of Berlin for their glockenspiel, presented in 1987 in the French Cathedral .
  • In 2000 Peter and Margarete Schilling were awarded the “Medal for Special Services to the City of Apolda”.
  • In Apolda, there is Peter-Schilling-Strasse in memory of and as a thank you for the last master bell founder, Franz Peter Schilling (1930–2001) - and thus also for the many generations of Schilling's bell-casting tradition and its services to the city .

The end of the bell-making tradition in Apolda

After being connected to an iron foundry, the foundry was transferred by the state organs of the GDR to a combine for laboratory furniture and electrical appliance construction, until it was finally closed in 1988 despite existing orders. The main cause was the rapidly decreasing quality of the cast bells.

This marked the end of the centuries-old era of the Schilling bell foundry dynasty from Apolda, of which Margarete Schilling is the chronicler . Numerous Schilling bells and carillons prove to this day with an impressive sound in Germany as well as Argentina , Australia , Belgium , Brazil , the People's Republic of China , Denmark , Finland , Greece , India , Iceland , Israel ( Jerusalem ), Japan , Norway , Austria , Russia , Switzerland and the USA this unique craftsmanship from Thuringia.

In order to prove that the tried and tested "Schilling ribs" - that is, the profile of the bell with which the master bell founder determined and fixed the sound in advance - were to blame for the misery of the many bad casts, Peter and Margarete Schilling gave their knowledge to two Companies in Waren (Müritz) and Pößneck continue. Many carillons were created there according to Schilling's projections, for example for the Nikolai Church and the French Cathedral in Berlin, for Dessau, Gera, Mühlhausen / Thuringia, Offenburg, Rostock, and Wechselburg.

Peter and Margarete Schilling completed the largest carillon for the Red Tower in Halle (Saale) in the 1990s with the Karlsruhe bell foundry. You have been in contact with the Carl Metz GmbH bell and art foundry since 1990. In the ten years of cooperation, many bells with Schilling ribs were created there, for example for the Schwerin Cathedral and carillon for various German cities and also for foreign clients. The first common carillon was delivered to Spain. The Rudolf Perner bell foundry in Passau also cast bells from Schilling ribs.

After German unification

The Apoldaer bell foundry was returned to the Schilling family of bell foundries in 1990; dilapidated and cleared - thus the reopening was impossible. The trust also admitted that no business could be transferred, but only real estate that was contaminated with a large amount of contaminated sites in the form of scrap and rubble.

The last Schilling bell in 1999

The last jointly planned and created bell of the married couple Peter and Margaret Schilling was for than today Autobahnkirche known village church Gelmeroda : The bell was in 1999 as a major public event in the market of Weimar from the bell foundry Rudolf Perner cast from Passau. Horst Jahresling created the bell jewelry . - This ended the centuries-old era of the Schilling bell-foundry dynasty from Apolda, which was important far beyond Thuringia.

"Libera nos domine" - "Free us, Lord!"

Around 1950 the then student Horst Jahresling (1922–2013) met the master bell founder Franz Schilling in Apolda, who had bought a poplar drawing from the local bookbinder. This first contact turned into a friendship and cooperation that lasted almost four decades. During this period, the artist yearling was responsible for the decoration and inscription of numerous new bell rings by Schilling.

The exterior of several bells from this time, which the SED , the GDR government and other state institutions in Apolda had commissioned from Schilling, were designed with appropriate symbols, ornaments and slogans "politically charged" at their behest. Without the client's knowledge, some of these bells wore and still carry a small, fine symbol of civil-religious protest against the GDR: At the bottom, in small letters in Latin, are the words “Libera nos domine” (in German: “Liberate us , Lord! ”) - a quick prayer that yearling had secretly inserted into the mold before casting.


With the example made at the Schilling bell foundry, the GDR heads of state achieved a Pyrrhic victory : They successfully enforced the complete expropriation of a successful business enterprise - and at the same time drained one of their important sources, from which considerable currency income flowed into the GDR household budget for many years .

See also

Web links


  • Rainer Thümmel; Roy Kress; Christian Schumann: When the bells went into the field ... - The destruction of Saxon bronze bells in the First World War. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig 2017, ISBN 978-3-374-05203-5 - There are on page 220 in the "Directory of founders destroyed bells" for the area of ​​today's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony under the name Schilling (under No. 67 and 68) 68 and 29 destroyed bells named (total: 97). From 1919 until 1939, Franz Schilling Söhne cast a total of 486 bronze bells for church clients from Saxony (source: ibid., Pp. 153 and 158).
  • Chapter IV For and in Saxony active foundry , section foundry family Schilling -> P. 67–70 in: Rainer Thümmel: Bells in Saxony - sound between heaven and earth. Edited by the Evangelical Regional Church Office of Saxony with a foreword by Jochen Bohl . Photos: Klaus-Peter Meißner. 2nd, updated and supplemented edition, 432 pages, Leipzig 2015, ISBN 978-3-374-02871-9
  • Viola-Bianka Kießling: Heavenly instruments - bell guides through the Weimar and Weimarer Land region . 271 pages, Apolda 2012
  • Manfred Hofmann: The Apoldaer bell foundry - old and new secrets. Weimar 2014, ISBN 978-3-86160-415-0
  • Margarete Schilling: The bell foundry on Auenstrasse . In: Apoldaer Geschichtsverein e. V. (Hrsg.): Apoldaer Heimat - Contributions to the nature and local history of the city of Apolda and its surroundings . Issue 26. Apolda 2008, p. 57-60 .
  • Margarete Schilling: Art, ore and sound. The works of the bell foundry families Ulrich and Schilling from the 17th century to the present day. Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-362-00617-5
  • Margarete Schilling: Bells - shape, sound and ornament. Dresden 1988. 369 pages (bibliography on pp. 353–365), ISBN 3-364-00041-7
  • Kurt Hübner: The bell casting in Apolda. Weimar City Museum, Weimar 1980
  • Franz Peter Schilling: Erfurt bells - the bells of the cathedral, the Severikirche and the Peterskloster in Erfurt. 64 pages, Berlin 1968
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia , Regional Church Council (ed.) / Fritz Schilling: Our bells - Thuringian bell book. Gift of the Thuringian Church to the Thuringian people. Dedicated to the "Thuringian master bell founder Dipl.-Ing. Franz Schilling in Apolda in gratitude for his work for the good of our communities ” . Jena 1954, 128 pages

Individual evidence

  1. p. 26 in: Margarete Schilling : Glocken aus Apolda , Apolda 1986
  2. - accessed on February 1, 2019
  3. Margarete Schilling: 50 years stopover in Apolda . Autobiography with foreword by Holger Zürch . A4 format, 306 pages with numerous color illustrations, Apolda 2016, page 59
  4. Pictures of the first bell formed by Peter Schilling, his journeyman's piece and his masterpiece can be found on pages 203 and 204 in the book Art, Ore and Sound by Margarete Schilling.
  5. Margarete Schilling: 50 years stopover in Apolda . Autobiography, Apolda 2016, pages 64-65
  6. Ernst Fauer: In memory of the master bell founder Franz-Peter Schilling . In: Apoldaer Geschichtsverein e. V. (Hrsg.): Apoldaer Heimat - Contributions to the nature and local history of the city of Apolda and its surroundings . Issue 19. Apolda 2001, p. 7-11 .
  7. Margarete Schilling: Art, Erz and Sound , Berlin 1992, pages 210-211
  8. Archive link ( Memento of the original from March 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. Margarete Schilling: Art, ore and sound. The works of the bell foundry families Ulrich and Schilling from the 17th century to the present day. Berlin 1992
  10. P. 69–72 in: Margarete Schilling: Bells - graphics and watercolors by Anneliese Jahresling. Dedicated to the bell founder Franz Schilling. Apolda 2006, ISBN 3-86611-164-9
  11. Margarete Schilling: The bell foundry Schilling. P. 13–19 in: Manfred Hofmann: The Apoldaer bell foundry - old and new secrets. Weimar 2014, ISBN 978-3-86160-415-0
  13. Manfred Hofmann: The Apoldaer bell foundry - old and new secrets . Weimar 2014, p. 158
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  21. = not related to the Schilling family of bell founders; Superintendent in Sonneberg-Oberlind
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