In newly-built Bushing Plant, in the summer of 1884, the first light-bulb in Serbia was lit. Serbian army was preparing for war with Bulgaria and it was necessary to expand production and to work in all three shifts. A solution had to be found to illuminate the plants during the night shift. At the initiative of engineer Todor Tosa Seleskovic (panel 17), the first dynamo machine was purchased and imported from Nuremberg industrialist Sigmund Schukert. Its power was about 5 hp and the capacity was 30 light-bulbs and two arc lamps.
The installation was put into operation during the visit of King Milan and Queen Natalija to Kragujevac and VTZ. At that time, they did not have electric lighting in their court. A mini exhibition of VTZ production program was prepared then. In the presence of the highest representatives of the Serbian government and the people, the first installation of dynamo-electric light in Serbia was put into operation. At that time, this was a miracle even in the West.
During the following year, electric lighting was introduced in all departments of VTZ (panel 21).
World Exhibition of Industry in Paris in 1889
On the 100th anniversary of the great French bourgeois revolution, the great world exhibition of industry was organized in Paris in 1889. As the entrance to the exhibition hall, Eiffel Tower was built, which, at that time, was the tallest building in the world. The exhibition lasted seven months, and the Serbian stand had over 1700 exhibitors, including talented individuals and big factory manufacturers. Products that VTZ exhibited were noticed and they were the most visited part of the exhibition space of the Serbian stand.
Kragujevac factory was the only factory in the Serbian part that elaborated its exhibition in detail. 42 products were exhibited, including five machines, original Serbian designs, and innovations of mechanical engineer Todor Tosa Seleskovic.
Delicate objects were placed in a case, and machines and larger items were displayed around it. Care had been taken that all objects be made in the factory and that the materials were of Serbian origin. Hemp was from Krusevac and Leskovac, leather made of Serbian cattle was impregnated in Kragujevac.
24 large-format photographs were exposed, depicting factory buildings, workshops and drawings of mechanical parts. VTZ had a great competition. All the giants of the then European defense industry exhibited their products: Krupp of Essen, Mauser from Obendorf, Schneider from Cresoe and others. Products VTZ got extremely high marks. Rifle model Mauser Kokinka drew the greatest attention, as well as the collection of various gauges for rifles and bushings. Top experts in weapons praised the precision of the manufacturing.
VTZ won six medals; five silver medals for military skills weapons, tools, machines and devices for various tasks, saddler tools, and rope manufacturing devices and for product made of leather, wood and brush. A bronze medal was won for small arms and hunting equipment (showcase 11).
The biggest merit for appearing at the World Exhibition, for the design of new products, and the selection of items for the exhibition belongs to mechanical engineer Tosa Seleskovic. European press with largest circulation commended participation of VTZ in Paris. That was the first presentation of Serbian industry in the world.
From 1903 to 1914, newspaper of labour movement “Radnik” was released. Military factory workers, in spite of all obstacles, managed to take part in strikes and combat harsh conditions of work and life. In parliamentary elections in 1903, socialist Dr. Mihajlo Ilic was elected in Kragujevac (panel 19). As a constant campaigner for human and worker rights, he would fight the government and work for the benefit of the working class. Kragujevac Workers’ Society was founded in 1903, as well as local organizations of SSDP. Workers were not allowed to join unions and SSDP. The aim was to prevent the social democratic movement in the factory.
The first mass celebration of May Day was in 1904. Workers participated illegally, except in 1909, when they were permitted to be absent from work. The worst part was that in 1909, the workers met the artillery battery that was returning from military exercises. There was a fierce conflict between the officers and employees, but this time, workers fought back and therefore they were quickly dismissed from their jobs. Now the lawyer defending workers Trisa Kaclerovic was the lawyer who defended them and they returned to work after a few months. (panel 25, 26)