Eight-Hour Workday (1894)


First celebrated in 1890, May Day commemorated the Haymarket Massacre of May 4, 1886, a Chicago demonstration that began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour workday and ended as a deadly riot. This cover image from the May 1, 1894, edition of the Süddeutscher Postillon, a Munich-based political-satirical newspaper for workers, features a postillion (or messenger) posting a sign that reads “8-hour workday” on the facade of a foundry, where workers toil inside. The dark foundry interior exists at a complete remove from the cheerful outside world, with its spring flowers and buds.


Source: Süddeutscher Postillon, no. 9, 1. May 1894, Inv.-Nr. Do 56/1937.3, Deutsches Historisches Museum.

© Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

Helmut Gruber, Red Vienna: Experiment in Working Class Culture, 1919–1934. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Vernon Lidtke, The Alternative Culture: Socialist Labor in Imperial Germany. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Eight-Hour Workday (1894), published in: German History Intersections, <https://germanhistory-intersections.org/en/germanness/ghis:image-198> [November 29, 2023].