Fröhlich & Wolter, Frowo

The founding

It started for Frowo in 1878 when Hermann Fröhlich began a small family business in Beierfeld as a plumbing company, but they made a wide variety of metal objects. Over the years, the company grew steadily, and from 1906 they also started producing storm lanterns. In 1912 the company was transferred to Hermann Fröhlich's son, Rudolf Fröhlich and his son-in-law Erich Wolter. At that time, the company was also called Fröhlich & Wolter.

During the First World War, Rudolf Fröhlich and Erich Wolter became soldiers of the German army. Hermann Fröhlich once again took over the company's management at that time. At that time, production was mainly based on products needed by the military. From 1924 the lanterns were tinned in a tin bath, which considerably improved the quality. They used a new tin mill for this. In 1926, the brand name became Frowo, a combination of the owners' last names, and became the logo of Frowo, a sheepdog with a lantern in its mouth.

Old Frowo logo
© Hans-Werner Jehn.

Frowo in competition against Feuerhand

During these years, Frowo had intense competition from Feuerhand, which was also located in Beierfeld and was much more significant; the sales of Feuerhand were about ten times as large as Frowo. There have also been several disputes over patents of storm lanterns with Feuerhand. In 1937, despite fierce competition, Frowo produced 1.45 million storm lanterns a year and many other products and employed 269 people.

Advertisement of Frowo Sturmlaternen © Hans-Werner Jehn.

Frowo during and after World War II During World War II

Frowo also had to switch to the production of war supplies. The lantern production eventually reached a complete standstill during the war because no more materials were supplied. While the Nier family, and Feuerhand, had no possibilities to produce on a larger scale after the Second World War, Frowo did. The company buildings were undamaged, they still had a workforce, and the machines were still available. This gave them a significant advantage over the competitors, who only started producing lanterns again later. After the Second World War, Gerhard Ludwig van Bernum joins the company Frowo. After the war, there was enough demand but a lack of material. They solved this problem by using remaining supplies and production waste; the pre-war program was largely set up again. This was successful for a short time, but Frowo struggled in the socialist planned economy. Rudolf Fröhlich and Erich Wolter also receive prison terms for alleged embezzlement. The decades followed were marked by a constant struggle for material and against state interference. Frowo has also produced many different products during these years. In the long run, they lost this battle; in 1972, Frowo was nationalized, and the company name changed to VEB Metallwarenfabrik Beierfeld. After this, the company mainly focused on supplying parts for the automotive industry. On March 31, 1994, Frowo finally went off the market.


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