2009 | 57 | 3-4 | 427-448
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THE DEVELOPMENT OF METALLURGY IN THE KINGDOM OF POLAND IN THE YEARS 1870-1914 (Rozwoj hutnictwa w Królestwie Polskim w latach 1870-1914)

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The development of metallurgy in the Kingdom of Poland was dependent on Russian customs policy. Due to Russia's defeat in the Crimean War the Russian government, trying to facilitate the development of railways, decided to introduce the progressive liberalization of tariffs. The liberal era, started by the Minister of Finance Mikhail Reitern, saw the Russian market flooded with ironware imported from Western Europe. Metallurgy had no chance to develop. The only survives were producers from Swietokrzyski Okreg Przemyslowy (henceforth SOP) (Swietokrzyski Industrial Region). They survived on the market thanks to local demand, since the railway network was poorly developed and the cost of transport was very high. The situation changed radically in 1877. The system of privileged railway concessions introduced in Russia during the liberal era proved to be a heavy charge for the budget. Additionally, its debts grew after the outbreak of Russian-Turkish war. Consequently, Russia changed its economic doctrine and introduced the so-called 'golden duties'. After 1877 in the Kingdom of Poland the most profitable branch of metallurgy was steel production. It grew from 5,138 tons do 310,447 tons in the years 1878-1910. The most significant producers of steel were initially: the French company 'Societe Anonyme des Forges et Acieries de Huta Bankowa and Stalownia Warszawska' (its shareholders were: 'Tow. Akc. Starachowickich Zakladow Gorniczych, Tow. Akc. Przemyslowe Zakladow Mechanicznych i Gorniczych Lilpop, Rau i Loewenstein' and the German investor from Ruhrort in the Ruhr 'Rheinische Stahlwerke A.G.)'. Then there were German firms 'Vereinigte Königs-und Laurahütte A. G. für Bergbau und Hüttenbetrieb' - Huta 'Katarzyna', 'Milowizer Eisenwerk A. G.' 'Huta Aleksander', the 'Czestochowa' steelworks, belonging to the German concern 'Oberschlesische Eisenindustrie A. G.' and the 'Zawiercie' steelworks belonging to 'Oberschlesische Eisenbahn-Bedarfs A. G.' As a result, in 1910 75.94 % of steel was produced in steelworks controlled by foreign investors; 47.23 % of the output came from German and 28.71 % from French companies. The production of iron and ironware before the 1880s was mostly based on import. In the 1870s iron was produced by private and state-owned ironworks of the SOP; in 1876 their output was 17,700 tons. The year 1881 was a turning point for this branch of industry. The Russian government abolished the duty-free import quota on iron and raised customs duties for imported ironware. This attracted German investors to the Kingom of Poland. In 1910 German-controlled ironworks located in the Sosnowiecko-Czestochowski Okreg Przemyslowy (henceforth S-COP)(Sosnowiec-Czestochowa Industrial Region) dominated in the production of iron and ironware: out of the 25,353 tons of total output 83.55 % came from ironworks belonging to German investors. Before the 1880s foreign companies did not smelt pig iron in the Kingdom, since its import was cost-effective. In 1876 31,000 tons of pig iron were produced in the private and state-owned companies of the SOP. In 1880 'Societe Anonyme des Forges et Acieries de Huta Bankowa' started to smelt pig iron in a new blast furnace shop. But it was only after the import tariff on pig iron was raised again in 1887 that most German investors decided to introduce a full production cycle in their ironworks. In 1890 127,300 tons of pig iron were smelted, 60.49% of which in ironworks belonging to foreign investors (47.74% in French and 12.75% in German ones). In 1913 80.80% of pig iron was produced by foreign companies, 77.88% of which was smelted in S-COP. The production of zinc was dominated by foreign companies already in the 1860s. This branch of metallurgy was first invested into by a German businessman from Upper Silesia, Gustaw von Kramst. In 1877 his plants smelted 60.10% of zinc from calamine ores out of the total output of the Kingom, amounting to 4,100 tons. The situation changed in 1890, when the assets of Kramst's company ('Tow. gorniczo-przemyslowe von Kramsta') were taken over by the French-controlled company 'Towarzystwo kopaln i zakladow hutniczych Sosnowieckich'. At the same time, the Russian government leased the state-owned zinc plants to the Russian company called 'Dzierzawcy rzadowych zakladow gorniczych w Krolestwie Polskim'. Due to French and Russian investments the production of zinc in the years 1891-1896 grew from 3,700 to 6,300 tons, but a real breakthrough in this branch came in 1897, when the assets of the bankrut company 'Dzierzawcy rzadowych zakladow gorniczych w Krolestwie Polskim' were taken over by the French investor 'Tow. Francusko-Rosyjskie' affiliated with 'Societe Anonyme des Forges et Acieres de Huta Bankowa'. Tow. Francusko-Rosyjskie' invested significant capital in the development of zinc production and in 1913 their plants smelted 60.20 % of the zinc produced in the Kingom, as compared with 39.80% smelted by the plants owned by 'Tow. kopaln i zakladow hutniczych Sosnowieckich'. Zinc production grew from 5,900 to 8,100 tons in the years 1897-1913.
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  • Rafal Wiktor Kowalczyk, Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu Lodzkiego, Katedra Historii Spoleczno-Gospodarczej, ul. Kaminskiego 27A, 90-219 Lodz, Poland
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