Primary Source
Germany | Kaiserreich
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Paul Goehre on the housing and living conditions of workers' families, c. 1891
"It has to be kept in mind how closely living room and living room are located in tenement houses and in former rural houses reconstructed for the same purpose, without a separation. It has to be kept in mind how thin the room walls are, so thin that every loud word spoken in the neighbour's apartment is clearly understood; and the three or four living rooms on one floor are connected by one and the same hallway, which has to be shared as much as the water pipe, the toilet etc. All this leads to a mutuality of daily business and a publicity of family life which is shocking to those outsiders who look into it and which necessarily has to lead to the elimination of family life. It is inconceivable that the children of such families live but as they were siblings; the hallway serves as the place where they meet, play and talk; it is inconceivable that boys and girls of these families are but as in the most intimate contact, that the men are but in close exchange of ideas, often also entangled in argument and quarrel; that the women exactly know every corner, every stain, every piece of clothing and every household utensil of their neighbours. The shared use of such utensils, for example in the kitchen, on the base of borrow and lend 
adds a rather communist touch to the, with such items sparsely equipped, home economy of such familes.

To these factors is to be added the narrowness and limitation of the individual apartments, which drives the inhabitants in the evening, as often as circumstances permit, out of the door into the open, onto the street, into the backyard, into the neigbours' larger rooms, or into the pubs or assemblies.

Further one has to keep in mind, that the limitation is intensified by the presence of lodgers, which bring strange, often not very pious, better manners and habits into the household, a different kind, different views and needs, which they utter as free and easy as at home.

One has to keep in mind that these house guests leave the house at the same time as the husband and the adult children, that they return with them in the evening, sit at the same table until it is time to go to bed, smoke, chat, play cards.

Indeed, in many families the only time when parents and children are together undisturbed is at night when they sleep. Because even the last opportunity of a social gathering, breakfast and lunch, are prevented by the working conditions which prevent father, son and daughter to go home for the meal. Where it is possible, in my opinion the one-hour break suffices merely for the double trip to and from home and to eat, and this over distances of medium length, which are common for workers in larger enterprises, without 
the opportunity to relax, in a hurry."


Paul Göhre: Drei Monate Fabrikarbeiter und Handwerksbursche. (Factory Worker and Apprentice for Three Months) Leipzig 1891, p. 12-14; quoted after : Gudrun Dormann und Alexander Decker, Die deutsche Sozialdemokratie (The German Social Democracy), in: Materialien zum historisch-politischen Unterricht 1 (Materials for Historical-Political Instruction), ed. by H. Hoffacker. Stuttgart 1975/79, p. 38f; listed on PSM-Data by permission
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