The basis of the plot of the drama was a historical event – the uprising of the Silesian weavers of 1844.
House of Drayciger, the owner of the paper factory in Peterswaldau. In a special room, the weavers hand over the finished fabric, the receiver Pfeifer controls, and the cashier Neiman counts the money. Poorly dressed, gloomy, exhausted weavers quietly murmur – and so they pay a pittance, still strive to scrape money for allegedly discovered marriage, and in fact they supply a bad basis. There is nothing to eat at home, you have to tear yourself behind the machine in dust and stuffiness from early morning until late at night, and still not make ends meet. Only the young handsome Bekker decides to voice his displeasure aloud and even enter into an argument with the master himself. Draciguer was furious: this impudent drunkard from that horde of drunkards that a vile song was bawling around his house the evening before, the manufacturer immediately gives the weaver calculation and throws him money so that several coins fall to the floor.
The boy standing in line falls, he has a hungry faint. Dreisiger is outraged by the cruelty of parents who sent a weak child with a heavy burden on a long journey. He gives employees the order not to take the goods from children, but if, God forbid, what will happen, the scapegoat will, of course, be him. The owner is long spread that only thanks to him weavers can earn a piece of bread, he could turn things around, then they would have known how much they wanted. Instead, he is ready to provide work to two hundred weavers, the conditions can be handled by Pfeiffer. It turns out that the prices for finished products will be even lower. Weavers silently indignant.
The Baumert family takes a room in the house of the landless peasant Wilhelm Anzorge. A former weaver, he was left without work and engaged in weaving baskets. Anzorge let the tenants, but they have not paid for six months already. Look, the shopkeeper will take his house for his debts. The sick wife of Baumert, her daughter, the weak-minded son, do not depart from the looms. Neighbor – Frau Henry, who has nine hungry children at home, comes to ask for a handful of flour or at least potato peelings. But the Baumertes do not have a crumb, the whole hope that the father, the manufacturer-borne goods, will receive money and buy something from the food. Robert Baumert returns with a guest, a retired soldier Moritz Eger, who once lived in the neighborhood. Having learned about the need and the troubles of fellow villagers, Yeger is surprised; in cities to dogs – and the better lives. Did they not intimidate him with a soldier’s share,
And now the fries in the frying pan of the stray dog, Yeger expose a bottle of vodka. There is talk of a hopelessly difficult existence. In former times everything was different, the manufacturers themselves lived and gave live to the weavers, but now they are raking themselves. Here Yager – a man who has seen a lot of things, can read and write, would intercede with the weaver before the master. He promises to arrange a holiday for Drayciger, he has already agreed with Becker and his friends to perform once again under his windows the same song – “Bloody Bath”. He sings it, and words where despair, pain, anger, hatred, a thirst for revenge sound, penetrate deeply into the souls of those gathered.
Scholz Welzel’s tavern. The owner is surprised at why such a revival in the village, carpenter Wigand explains: today is the day of delivery of goods from Drayciger, and in addition, the funeral of one of the weavers. The visiting salesman is perplexed that here for a strange custom – getting into debt by ear, to organize a lavish... funeral. The weavers who gathered in the tavern scolded the landowners, who did not even allow wood chips to be picked up in the forest, peasants who were fighting an incredible rent for housing, a government unwilling to notice the complete impoverishment of the people. Yeger and Becker are hurled with a company of young weavers, they are tearing up the gendarme Kutsche, who came to pass a glass of vodka. The guard of the order warns: the chief of police forbids to sing an inflammatory song. But the dispersed youth are lucky enough to delay the “Bloody Bath”.
Apartment Drayciger. The owner apologizes to the guests for being late, the cases were delayed. The house again sounds a rebellious song. Pastor Kittelgauz peeks out the window, is indignant: it’s okay for the young buzoters to come together, but they are also old, respectable weavers, people whom he considered worthy and God-fearing for many years. The home teacher of the sons of the manufacturer – Weingold intercedes for the weavers, they are hungry, dark people, they just express their discontent as they understand. Drayciger threatens to immediately calculate the teacher and instructs the dye workers to grab the chief clerk. The detainee is brought to the head of the police and this is Yager. He behaves boldly, showering those present with ridicule. The furious chief of police intends to personally escort him to prison, but soon it becomes known that the crowd beat off the arrested man,
Drayciger is beside himself: before the weavers were still, patient, they gave in to exhortations. They were confused by the so-called preachers of humanism, pierced the workers, that they were in a terrible situation. The coachman reports that he harnessed the horses, the boys and the teacher are already in the wheelchair, if things turn out badly, you need to get out of here quickly. Pastor Kittelgauz is called to talk with the crowd, but he is treated quite disrespectfully. There is a knock at the door, a ringing of broken window panes. Drayciger sends his wife into the carriage, and he hastily collects papers and valuables. The crowd bursts into the house and makes a pogrom.
Weaving workshop of old Gilze in Bilau. The whole family at work. Junker Gornig reports the news: weavers from Peterswaldau were expelled from the denomination of the manufacturer Drayciger with the family, his house, dyeing, warehouses were smashed. And all because the boss has completely overcharged, told the weavers – let the swan eat, if hungry. Old Gilse does not believe that weavers have decided to do this. His granddaughter, who carried Drayciger’s skeins of yarn, returns with a silver spoon, claiming to have found her near the battered house of the manufacturer. We must take the spoon to the police, says Gilze, the wife is against – for the money earned for her, you can live a few weeks. Appears lively doctor Schmidt. One and a half thousand people are sent here from Peterswaldau. And what kind of devil did these people entice? You see, they started a revolution. He advises local weavers not to lose their heads, After the mutinous troops are coming. Weavers are excited – tired of eternal fear and eternal mockery of themselves!
The crowd is smashing the Dietrich factory. Finally, a dream came true – to break down mechanical machines that ruined the weavers who worked by hand. There is a report on the arrival of troops. Yager urges the Companions not to drift, but to rebuff, he assumes command. But the only weapon of the rebels is cobblestones from the pavement, in response, gun volleys are heard.
Old Gilze remains at the opinion: that the weavens started, – full nonsense. Personally, he will sit and do his job, even if the whole world is turned over. Struck to death by a stray bullet in the window, he falls on the machine.