Contemporary history of Luxembourg

Perceiving deindustrialisation in Luxembourg and East Germany. Industrial decline within the ARBED company in transnational perspective

When the Luxembourg steel company ARBED acquired the Maxhütte Unterwellenborn steelworks in Thuringia in 1992, it became involved in a far-reaching process of industrial decline that had its roots in the disintegration of the Eastern Bloc in 1989. 15 years earlier, ARBED itself had gone through a similar process of decline in Luxembourg, triggered by the economic crisis of 1974. This paper seeks to examine these two case studies in a transnational perspective through the concept of deindustrialisation, shifting the focus to a history from below and analysing the experiences and perceptions of employees and workers during these periods. Through a diachronic comparison of company and workers' newspapers and magazines, from the Luxembourg ARBED plant from 1974 to 1979 and from the Maxhütte Unterwellenborn plant from 1990 to 1992, the paper unravels similarities in the deterioration of working conditions and the loss of social and professional recognition, as well as differences in temporal and regional dynamics. In essence, it argues that deindustrialisation must be seen as a transnational process.

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