150 Years of NGG

Opening of the Exhibition about the NGG history on April 11, 2015 in Erkner. © Facts & Files
Opening of the Exhibition about the NGG history on April 11, 2015 in Erkner. © Facts & Files

150 Years of NGG - The History of the German Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG)

From 2014 to 2016 Facts & Files researched the history of the Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG). The NGG celebrated its 150th anniversary year in 2015.

In 1865, cigar workers founded the first all-German union, the General German Cigar Workers Union, in Leipzig. Many workers from other branches of the food and catering industry followed their example by setting up lobby groups. They all had the same goal: the improvement of the living and working conditions of the workers. These had to be defended against political measures such as the Anti-Socialist Laws which remained effective until 1890. Already in the early years the trade unions started to establish international contacts.

Until 1933 the trade unions were dependent on political parties: there were Christian unions, free unions associated with the Social Democrats and liberal unions. Already in the 18th century there were support funds for migrant craftsmen like in England and consumer cooperatives to ensure the supply of affordable good quality food. In order to improve their living and working conditions, tobacco workers in the 19th century developed the idea of having their own production facilities. Later, consumer cooperatives, insurance companies and housing associations were created. Banks were also founded by trade unions. When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, all existing unions were forced into one central trade union organisation, the German Labour Front (DAF).

As a consequence, the DAF could also dispose of the confiscated assets of the trade unions. After the end of the Second World War the trade unions of the three Western zones and from the Soviet territory soon started to go their own separate ways. In the West, several local trade unions were set up while in the East the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB) was founded. Since 1990 there is an all-German NGG.

We researched these numerous aspects of NGG history, and featured these in an exhibition, an online presentation and a book publication.

In November 2015, the book “Vom Vorleser zum Mindestlohn” (From the Reader to the Minimum Wage) was published. The book is accompanied by a DVD with four films produced by the NGG itself on the occasion of the trade union congresses in 1954 and 1958 and as information films.

The agency Fürcho  designed the exhibition and the book. Cooperating with Nebulafilm we interviewed contemporary witnesses on the history of NGG and documented it on film. The interviews are accessible on 150.ngg.net in chapter “Menschen in der NGG”.


Beate Schreiber
P: +49 (0)30 / 480 986 20