200th anniversary of the visit of Tsar Alexander I to Schaffhausen and the steelworks of Johann Conrad Fischer in January 1814
19 January 2014, Klostergut Paradies

On this Sunday the Iron Library hosted a festive New Year's Matinee followed by an aperitif in the presence of some 140 guests from Switzerland and Germany. The occasion for the event was the Russian Tsar Alexander I's stay in Schaffhausen in January 1814, when he and his sister Katharina visited the steelworks of Johann Conrad Fischer, the founder of today's Georg Fischer Corporation.

The guests were welcomed by the Secretary General of Georg Fischer Ltd., Dr. Roland Gröbli. In two pointed presentations, Dr. Roland Hofer, State Archivist of the Canton of Schaffhausen, and Franziska Eggimann, Head of the Iron Library and Corporate Archivist of Georg Fischer Ltd., explained the historical background and context in Europe and in Schaffhausen.

Afterwards, pianist Valentina Pfister-Modestova and violinist Iryna Gintova skilfully whisked the audience away into the world of the Tsar's court with a selection of pieces by the Russian composers Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky. Heini Stamm, President of the Musik-Collegium Schaffhausen, was responsible for putting together the musical programme. There was also a rare opportunity to take a look at the ring set with diamonds and an amethyst, which the Tsar had presented to Johann Conrad Fischer as a gift in 1814.

Historical context

Tsar Alexander I in Schaffhausen

"Last Friday evening after 11 o'clock His Majesty the Emperor Alexander, with some entourage, arrived in this town. All the streets of the city through which His Majesty the Emperor Majesty drove were lit up." (Post- and Ordinaire Schafhauser Zeitung, January 12, 1814)

After his defeat in the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, Napoleon was pushed back across the Rhine by the Allies Russia, Prussia and Austria at the turn of the year 1814. The Russian Tsar Alexander I, who accompanied his army on its way to Paris, made a stop in Schaffhausen in the early days of January 1814 before continuing on to Basel to meet his allies. The Tsar and his sister, Grand Duchess Katharina, were received with all military honors.

The visit to the steelworks

During his four-day stay in Schaffhausen, the Tsar also visited Johann Conrad Fischer in his steelworks in the Mühlental. Fischer wrote about this later in his diary:

 

"The production in both of the latter industries [cast steel and file manufacture] prompted His Majesty the Emperor Alexander to visit him (Fischer) in 1814 in his steelworks in Mühlenthal near Schaffhausen, accompanied by his sister, the Grand Duchess Catharina, after which he received a precious ring with three rows of diamonds and an oriental amethyst in the middle as a gift from the Emperor."

This visit was a great honor for young entrepreneur Fischer and was seen as one of the highlights of his career throughout his life.