Carrying out meticulous research in dusty archives is part of a historian’s everyday work. This is mainly because we hope to find information there that isn’t documented anywhere else. For example, when, in interviews with contemporary witnesses, we find out about former employees who nobody knows anything about other than that they were important to the company. This is exactly what happened to us with Georg Essig. His name came up from time to time again at MANN+HUMMEL, and the desire was expressed on numerous occasions to include a profile on him in the company chronicle.
But then it emerged that his file was nowhere to be found in the otherwise immaculately kept staff archive, nor was there any information on relatives or descendants. We were therefore delighted to discover a civilian court file under the name Georg Essig in the Central State Archive in Ludwigsburg. Born in 1904, qualified metalworker, employed for a time at the Bleyle textile works – this had to be him!
However, our joy over making this find then led us to make one – actually unforgivable – mistake: we neglected to double check the details in the court file. And so the printed version of the MANN+HUMMEL chronicle has a section on this Georg Essig. Indeed, there is even a long passage dedicated to his (very active) Nazi past, which landed him in prison for some time in 1945.
All those who read the manuscript and the proofs before printing were perfectly happy with the profile – all apart from one elderly lady all the way over in England. As Hildegard A. Storey (née Essig) held the English version in her hands, she could hardly believe what she was reading: her father a metalworker? And imprisoned for Nazi activities? There must be some mistake. Mrs Storey contacted MANN + HUMMEL to demand an explanation and that the error is rectified. She also sent a handwritten summary of her father’s life, which made it quite clear that the only thing her father had in common with the Georg Essig described in the book was that they shared the same name and year of birth.
And so a profile of the correct Georg Essig was written; this one was a businessman who had for some time run a textile mill in East Prussia. After the war, this Georg Essig worked for a while as a bricklayer before joining MANN+HUMMEL in 1949, where he worked his way up, eventually joining management. This correct version of his life story has now been included in the online version of the book, and will also be in any future print runs in black and white for all to read.
All that remains for us is to beg forgiveness for this mistake, above all from Hildegard A. Storey and her siblings. We would also like to express to her our deepest thanks: for without her insistence, as spirited as it was justified, that we look into the matter again, we would not now be able to tell the correct story of MANN+HUMMEL’s Georg Essig.