Searching For Traces Of 1914 Contact Then and now - sites in Solingen

Then and now – sites in Solingen


About the implementation of building projects in Solingen 1914 -1918

A project of the Fine Art Lecture Basic Course

Humboldtgymnasium Solingen, school year 2012/13

Photos: Städtisches Klinikum Solingen, Spar- und Bauverein Solingen, Schwimmbad Ittertal

Building projects realized during the First World War, are a rarity because of the shortage of building materials. Therefore the search for architecture of that time and for related documents or other associated sources has been very difficult.

Ultimately, three building complexes in Solingen are traced, which were erected during WWI and which offer a sufficient data base: the Ittertal outdoor swimming pool, the General Hospital and the consumer cooperative »solidarity«. Another mentioned building complex, the housing estate called »Lerchenstraße« owned by the Solinger Building Association, however, could only be built after the war although it had already been planned between 1914 and 1918. Nevertheless the erection of this housing estate was a great merit because the new houses offered a modern standard of accommodation and helped to solve the housing problems that had increased dramatically during the war.

The following texts and photographies demonstrate the characteristic architectural features of the buildings, the difficulties that had to be met while they were built and what has become of them about a hundred years later.

Ittertal outdoor swimming pool


General Hospital


consumer cooperative »solidarity«


housing estate called »Lerchenstraße«
(owned by the Solinger Building Association)



Researched of year 9 students of the course „History/ Geography“ (Dr. Girke) of Humboldt-secondary-school in Solingen

Another trace was leading to Wupperstreet in the towncenter of Solingen: The Coppel-foundation. Its story around the World War 1 is to be told here. The pictures show how it looks like in nowadays.


Image 1(left) and 2 (right): The Coppel-foundation in Solingen, 80 Wupperstreet (Photos from 2013).

Image 3 (below):: In 2012 the foundation celebrated its 100th anniversary.


In 1906 and 1907 the Jewish entrepreneurs Gustav and Arnold Coppel donated about 100.000 Reichsmark to the socially deprived people of Solingen. Their idea was to support the local authorities in their fight against poverty with a fund, a new charity organization (Coppel Foundation) based on their private money. The brothers Gustav (1830-1914) and Arnold (1826-1907) Coppel had inherited their father’s steel-company founded in 1821. During industrial revolution they produced pocket-knives, scissors and weapons (bayonets). More than 600 workers had been employed in that factory between Malteser- and upper Mainstreet.

Very early Gustav Coppel noticed the signs of poverty in his time and decided together with his brother Arnold to improve the conditions for poor workers, because the First German Empire could not be called a welfare state.

Gustav Coppel became a councillor in the municipal council, president of the local industrial- and trade organization and beside that principal of the Jewish community of Solingen. In that position he tried to establish the equality of all religious communities in Solingen and a free access for Jews to all political institutions.

When Arnold Coppel died in 1907, the two brothers had contributed 100,000 Reichsmark to social welfare projects in Solingen.

On May 14th 1912 a children’s home was opened that offered recovery for underfed and sick children. Later it offered counseling to young mothers in order to reduce the high figures of infant death. The Town Council contributed 15,000 Reichsmark to the total costs of over 130,000 Reichsmark. That establishment was opened in 80 Wupperstreet. The town of Solingen at that time had a population of about 51,000 people. The land price had been 57,100 Reichsmark, the costs for the buildings had been 68,000 Reichsmark.

In the following years the Coppel family supported the establishments with regular donations to cover the running costs. All in all the sum amounted to roundabout 2,000,000 Reichsmark. During World War I the building was turned into the Coppel Foundation and became a recovery-center for soldiers during World War I as well as a children playground and “Kindergarten” during the war.


Image 4: The Coppel foundation as recovery resort for soldiers in World War I.

In 1933 the Coppel Foundation had changed the name into “Städtisches Säuglingsheim” (municipal home for infants). When the Nazis forced the Coppel family to sell their factory, Carl Gustav Coppel committed suicide, another member of the family, Dr. Alexander Coppel died in 1942 in the concentration camp “Theresienstadt” after deportation. Gustav Coppel’s daughter Anna, died in the concentration camp “Ravensbrück”. In the same year the name “Coppel” was deleted from the official records of Solingen.

The only reminders of the Coppel family are a letter of honour in the archive of the town of Solingen from 1903 and the family grave on the Jewish cemetery in Solingen on Estherweg.


Image 5: Family grave of Coppel family on Jewish cemetery on Estherweg in Solingen.

Researched and written by:

Jakob Burkhardt,
Julia Wester,
Jannis Schippau,
Leon Zwanzig,
Sophie Weber,
Alison Beuscher,
Simon Fedder,
Manuel Krahl,
Jana Rosenstock,
Philip Schreiber,
Sina Schultes,
Martin Jäger,
Philipp Röltgen,
Tim Adamek,
Lucas Farrenkothen,
Lea Püttbach,
Robin Sackmann,
Alina Seidler,
Vincent Thomas

Die Fotos, die in diesem Beitrag verwendet werden, wurden entnommen aus: 

Geschichte in Solingen, Schriftenreihe des Bergischen Geschichtsvereins, Abteilung Solingen e.V., Band 1, Solingen im Ersten Weltkrieg, 1984
Sie entstammen ursprünglich dem Stadtarchiv Solingen, das freundlicherweise die Veröffentlichung im Rahmen des LVR-Projektes "Traces 1914" genehmigt hat.