SHW Casting Technologies GmbH & Co. located in Königsbronn is possibly the oldest industrial company in Germany. SHW is an abbreviation for Schwabische Huttenwerke, which roughly translates “Swabian Iron Works”. Founded by Cistercian monks in 1365, the works passed into the possession of the Dukes of Württemberg and when Friedrich I was crowned King of Württemburg, the works became a "Royal foundry". In 1665 the first casting in chills for cannon are recorded. Later SHW Königsbronn works specialized in calender rolls for the paper industry and became the world leader in this field, winning a gold medal at the Paris World’s Fair in 1885. Now, about two out of every three heated calender rolls in state of the art paper machines around the world are marked with the Königsbronn "royal crown."
The Swabian town of Königsbronn, with a population today of 7800, has a long and distinguished history. Of the 8 million Swabians in Germany, most live in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg and speak a dialect often not understood by other Germans.
A castle was erected around 1000 AD overlooked a hamlet called "Springen". In 1303 a monastery was founded for Cistercian monks that became one of the most influential and wealthiest monasteries in Southern Germany. The place was later renamed "Königsbronn" which means "Kings's Spring", in recognition of the spring, the source of the river Brenz, that is close to the 18th century Town Hall.
Iron works established in the 14th century have given Königsbronn an industrial edge in the manufacture of large cast components especially for the paper industry. The Brenz Valley railway links Königsbronn to Aalen in the north and Ulm in the south. The large town of Heidenheim is nearby.
Georg Elser's 'bomb outrage' in Munich brought trouble upon his hometown with the entire population being interrogated by the police and Gestapo for several months.
Almost 70 years later on April 11, 2010, the Georg-Elser Working Group of Heidenheim and the municipality of Königsbronn unveiled a monument dedicated to Georg Elser at the railway station.
Among those attending were Manfred Maier from the Georg-Elser-Arbeitskreis, and the artist responsible for the Corten steel sculpture, Friedrich Frankowitsch.
Elser family house in 1913 and in 2015 |The Georg-Elser local school
Old part of Königsbronn ironworks, manufacture of cast iron calender for paper industry and limestone quarry.
The Town Hall, built 1769 to 1778 and restored in 1985, with its sumptuous rococo façade.
Brenz Valley Railway
Georg Elser Memorial/ Museum in Königsbronn
Remembering Georg Elser at his memorial in Heidenheim-Schnaitheim on November 9, 2015
Remembering Georg Elser in 1979 is candidly described in this article by Peter and Sheila Stern in the New Statesman magazine.
'Everyone in Heidenheim knew about the journeyman carpenter Georg Elser, but very few expected to find him being commemorated with solemnities, like a real hero'