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Schlumpf Affair

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Schlumpf AffairThe SCHLUMPF brothers were Swiss but the city of Mulhouse and its neighborhood were always important for them. Their mother was born in this industrial town and both brothers spent their school years in Mulhouse. They also started out in professional life there.

In 1935, the SCHLUMPF brothers started to take an interest in the textile industry. Patiently, they bought shares of the Malmerspach worsted wool Spinning mill, then entered the Board of directors and later became directors. As years went by, the other different wool spinning mills in the Départements of the Rhine and in the north of France fell in the lap of both brothers who developped them with virtuosity.

Next to his professional activity, Fritz SCHLUMPF, a collector in his soul, devoted an extraodinary amount of energy to collecting old cars.

In addition to his heavy professional obligations, Fritz daily saw to restoring cars and setting up his collection in the former H.K.C. factory in Mulhouse.
In 1976, everything is ready to welcome the guests : a luxurious and sophisticated decoration, lampposts, Wallace fountains, an organ, nothing is left to chance.

Reception halls and restaurants with sparkling velvet wait for the inauguration. The admission tickets are printed, the champagne glasses are ready to drink to the glory of the museum.

Unfortunately, at that time, the world crisis in the textile industry also reaches the companies of the SCHLUMPF brothers. Even if they refuse to lay workers off, both brothers have to face the evidence : like many other companies, they have to give up the production and file for bankruptcy.
The unions will only discover the collection in March 1977- after the 1976 cessation of activities of the Schlumpf group and the lay-offs of almost two thousand workers- and then decide to occupy the premises.

The SCHLUMPF brothers are held in their villa, located in Malmerspach next to the production site. Not only do the union activists of the factories but also outsiders become threatening.

After three days, at the French authorities instigation, the SCHLUMPF brothers are brought to the Swiss border, in Basel where they officially took up residence. The H.K.C. factory is then occupied and the whole world discovers and admires a prestigious collection which is quickly envied. Some people claim that the collection could be collected only to the detriment of the industrial activity of the Schlumpf companies, which is inaccurate. Others, especially the authorities, see at once the immense benefits it could generate for Mulhouse and the Alsace region.

Schlumpf affairIn 1978, the government ordered most of the Schumpf collection put on the historical register.

Cars are then sold in 1982 by the property managers appointed during the sales of all the possessions of the SCHLUMPF brothers for an absurdly low price of 44.000.000,00 Francs to the association owner of the National Museum of the Motorcar- the aforementioned association being essentially constituted by state, regional and local authorities such as the city of Mulhouse, the Alsace Region , the Haut-Rhin département , the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc-.
The SCHLUMPF brothers are thus deprived of all their possessions.
Another association, responsible for the management, has to run the Museum on a daily basis.

On July 10, 1982, the Museum opens its doors officially. In ten years it will receive over four million visitors and will be consecrated as "The first car collection in the world ". Countless procedures marked the judicial column of what has been called " the tremendous legal battle of the SCHLUMPF case ".
Fritz SCHLUMPF was blamed for making the employees of his textile companies work on the restoration of his classic and vintage vehicles. However the jurisdictions considered that the malpractices had a partially restricted repercussion as far as Fritz SCHLUMPF was the owner of the quasi-totality of the capital of most of the companies concerned and that the pursuit of the activities of the brothers at the head of their companies was not without appreciable compensation on the employment, and on the artistic, intellectual and touristic creation.

After the interventions of the presidents of the Bar Wachsmann and Schreckenberg and of Mr. Martin Meyer attorney in Strasbourg, the Court of Appeal of Paris, presided by the man who became the highest Magistrate in France some months later, officially reintroduced the SCHLUMPF patronymic in the naming of the Museum in May 1988.

After having visited the museum, the magistrates wanted to do the founders of the Museum justice. They determined : " That the action of gathering and collecting and the passion that inspired their authors constituted and continues to constitute a message and a testimony the creative initiative of which deserves protection as being the expression of a right of the personality close to the moral right ". They underlined Fritz and Hans SCHLUMPF’s personal initiative, considering that it deserved a judicial protection and that it was " the work of a man testifying of a specific time and of a creative genius ".

History too, generation after generation, will honour the SCHLUMPF brothers whose memory will live forever in the Museum they created.

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