Fire in the abbey of Mettlach 1921

One of the questions I've asked myself many times (and I think many other Mettlach collectors too), why there are so little informations about the "Golden Age" products of 1885-1910 and why one knows so little about the artists who worked for Mettlach.

The answer to this is that a major fire in the night of 11 to 12 August 1921 was in the Mettlach Abbey. The abbey was at that time both the headquarters of the Directorate General and the residence of part of the "von Boch" family.

In the attic of the abbey were stored forms and patterns that were destroyed by the fire. The same applies to a large number of records on production techniques, sketches and catalogs. What really remained in the end is unknown.

A contemporary witness of the Boch family living in the building, who was 6 years old at that time, later described the situation with the following words (taken from the Mettlacher Turm, issue Dec. 1983 , No. 20 by Dr. Therese Thomas): " Alois Junges from the art print department took me in my arms and bought me by boat to the Saareck I always looked back, the sky was bright red and the entire front of the abbey burned down The fire must have broken out in 5 or 6 places at the same time Fire came through the light wells, there was a strike (of workers) and there was little water - it was midsummer! The brigades came from everywhere, even from the "Saarbucker" area, and fought against the flames for a long time. "

The statement that the fire would have broken out in 5-6 different places at the same time is very mysterious. Should it have been malicius arson Brand in Mettlach??? But that is pure speculation on myself! In the newspaper articles it was reported that the cause of the fire was not clarified.

Photos from the company archive show that the flames raged heavy. Although the façade was still intact, the upper and attic floors were badly damaged, sometimes even completely demolished.

Luitwin von Boch-Galhau rebuilt the abbey in the old style and so the abbey was preserved until the Second World War in the old splendor.

Towards the end of the war, the building was again badly damaged. Partly the inner walls collapsed and the roof over the attic disappeared.


I learned from Branko Stahl that his father Erich Stahl (born 1931 ), a still-living grandson of the Mettlach artist Jean-Baptiste Stahl (1869-1932), was able to save a large number of his grandfather's drawings and sketches from the rubble of the abbey , According to him, it was a coincidence that Erich Stahl's father (Hans Stahl) informed him of these documents in the rubble heap of the former abbot's office (above the arch of the abbey's entrance gate). This office housed a multitude of documents / sketches from the golden age of the company and was hit by an aerial bomb at the end of the war.

According to Erich Stahl, many documents were under the ruins, which had apparently not fallen victim to the fire of 1921 . Unfortunately, no one cared about the saving of these valuable historical treasures, so that they were finally transported away with the rubble and was finally lost forever


I love the passion of the people all over the world which trying to close the gaps created in the knowledge of this era and do that with great success. Nevertheless, there are still many secrets that have not been revealed until today. And that makes the collection of these products really interesting.

Sources :

1. Dr. Therse Thomas : The role of the families Boch and Villeroy in the 18th and 19th centuries, doctoral thesis, Saarbrücken 1974, pages 121-162

2. Mettlacher Turm (December 1983 issue / no. 20): Association magazine of the Mettlacher Steinzeugsammler Verein, article: Dr. med. Therese Thomas: The fire in Mettlach 


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