The interwar years meant for Timişoara a stage of important urban, economic, spiritual and cultural progress
Factories in Fabric
Factories in Fabric

The interwar years meant for Timişoara a stage of important urban, economic, spiritual and cultural progress. Numerous industrial enterprises, commercial units, banks, etc. have appeared in the economic landscape of Timisoara, some operating until recent years, others now being part of large multinational conglomerates.

The interwar years meant for Timişoara a stage of important urban, economic, spiritual, and cultural progress. Numerous industrial enterprises, commercial units, banks, etc. have appeared in the economic landscape of Timisoara.

The history of one of the most famous brands of the Timisoara industry, "Guban", had a timid beginning in 1935, with a single employee and a shoe cream. On September 15, 1937, Blaziu Guban together with his partners Kaldory and Kovacs founded the company "Guban", and in 1940 it became a factory.

Over time, Master Guban has campaigned for the production of quality products in our country. For 25 years, he studied the problem of the influence of boot cream on the durability of shoes and came on the market with a high-quality boot cream, produced in Romania, which extended for approx. 50-100% the shoe durability.

While in charge of the company, Guban Blaziu wanted to contribute to the development of the industry, stopping imports of products, bringing innovations in the production processes of that period, along with his employees, who were rewarded and encouraged to propose improvements. His vision was to make quality products for Romanians and to bring a new breath that would be in line with the trends of the fairs in the West. To this end, he began traveling to trade fairs in Budapest, Vienna, Basel, Paris, and Prague, where he exhibited "Guban" products and where he was inspired by new footwear models.

In 1952, Guban Blaziu donated the company to the Romanian state, obtaining an advantageous contract, through which the state undertook to invest massively in the development of the enterprise. The name of the factory was changed, from "Uzina Chimică Guban Timișoara" to "State Industrial Enterprise Bela Breiner Timișoara Chemical and Footwear Factory". The company increased its production activity, reaching in 1959 to have 475 employees, of which 394 directly productive workers.

In 1963, the company's name underwent further changes, this time being called "Victoria Shoes and Plastics Factory". The production has diversified, the company reaching to own plastic units and sections, garments, printing, carpentry, metal accessories, etc. However, the footwear section has always remained a priority for the already old owner who proposes "Guban Art" for women, men, and children, both for domestic consumption and export. Shoe designs succeed with amazing speed, impressing generations with elegance, sophistication, and convenience.

Bibliography:

https://guban.ro/istoric/ accessed in May 2021

Video

Factories in Fabric

About the Dermata factory (later Banatul)

Now from my father: my father studied Economics in Chernăuți and, being a Jew, he was very oppressed. He also had to wear the star, although he was baptized a Christian at the age of 13.

He was also a great industrialist, at "Banat", where his grandfather was the main shareholder. (...)

Now I remember that I have heard other stories about the Anhauch family . Yes, I have the book given by Banatim. I'll give it to you, if you want to read it. I had two: one I gave to someone, and one is with a dedication and that one I didn't give to anyone, but I'll give it to you because I know you’ll take care of it. I give it to you with all my heart. It's got pictures in it, how the factory used to be, when it was my dad's... now let's not deviate from where we started. Okay, you said your grandfather was a major shareholder. Yes, principal shareholder with the Rosenberg family: he had 74 shares and Rosenberg had the rest. He also owned Dermata in Cluj, but now I'm jumping back to your subject. In Cernăuți he had the Beresa factory, the liquor factory, very large, and he also had the Pojorița factory, near Vatra Dornei... it belonged to Bucovina!

Here was the first nursery and the first children's home in the city, in Dermata, one wonders. At the beginning, Banat was the Dermata of Timişoara, as was Cluj. When my father was director here, he built the first nursery and a home. Dr. Muţiu, who in the '80s was still the director of the Children's Polyclinic here, was the home doctor in his youth. For the employees’ children? For the employees’ children. I told my father: “Dad, why won’t you buy us a quartz? You only buy them for the clinic and we don’t have a quartz lamp.” Ultraviolet lamps used to be called quartz lamps. And he told me: “no, because when you need one, I’ll send you to Dr. Corcan - a famous pediatrician in Timişoara – and he’ll give you as many UV sessions as you need. These children can’t afford it and that’s why I buy the lamps for them.” He would also often pay for the meat and for other stuff, so that they’d have everything they needed. And let me tell you, as a sidenote, now at the centenary anniversary, where I was invited and I received a diploma for my father, in the presiding committee there was prefect Ciocârlie, the mayor, someone from Bucharest from the Ministry for Industry, and when they projected my father’s picture on the screen I started to cry. And manager Cazan, who is the general manager here now, also said: “he was a remarkably good man, you know.” When I stepped inside the factory, my heart sank. I was called twice to say what was where and I said here was the sewing floor, here was this, here was that and she says, “but you remember it well.” How can I not remember, I was 7-8 years old, but such memories won’t just go away! There was no exception, for Christmas and for Easter, the children of the workers always got some gift. Gifts. Yes! The boys received a train, a car and a pair of boots, the girls received boots, a doll or ... I'm sorry I don't have the pictures anymore - with so many moves I don't know where they disappeared - but I still can't leave, I'm looking for them. And one day my father called me, it was Easter, before the anointing was done ... I, having a flat foot, the only thing I had the advantage of was that my heels were put in my boots, that lift for flat feet. And there were two foremen: Paitaş Gheorghe and Ştefan. Stefan loved me very much and pulls me aside and says: "Marieta, I'll make you red boots, because I know you like red." And my father heard him and said to him: “Mr. Paitaş, please, the only thing you can do for her is put on her heels, otherwise you will make the boots just like all children. Either you make them with black lacquer or white, no matter what you do, but the same with everyone! My children have no other advantage! ” I will not forget for how long I live. He did you good, after all, because… A good thing, but he wanted to make tomatoes for me, because I liked red. I better not like red!

And now, when I’ve been invited to the 100th anniversary of the factory, when I walked through the door, an older lady was coming and she said: "If you don’t mind..." - I was in black because it was two months after my mother died - "Aren't you the daughter of director Anhauch?" "Yes, I am!" "Well, you look exactly like him! Madam, you don't know what a man he was!" "I know what a father I had!" "You don't know. I was sixteen when I came to the factory to work with my mother and the director gave orders to give to the workers the shoes they needed in instalments. We were five children, I didn't get shoes, because my parents couldn't pay so many instalments. And I don't know how it reached your father's ears and he wanted to see me. He said: Rojica, did you go to sign up for shoes? Mr. Director, I couldn't! But why Rojica? My parents don’t have money! He said: please go and get some, we'll see how you’ll mange later. Madam, when I went to the cashier to pay the first instalment, the cashier told me: no, no, no Rojica, the headmaster paid for your shoes." He gave her a pair of shoes... He was an extraordinary man! I'm telling you, we didn't have a search warrant. When the factory was taken over, he said: he wants to sleep peacefully, with his head on the pillow. He didn't need a shoe, a leather, others took a spare, he took nothing, absolutely nothing. After that, he worked as an unqualified worker for the academic professor Nădășan, who was at the time Iprotim, in Union Square.

At the design? Yes, he was cutting the boards. 290 lei salary. When did they take the factory? In '48. How did the family react? Very bad, how do I tell you... My brother was sweet, he was four years old and once, passing by on a tram, he says: "Mom, why do you say that the factory has been taken away, look, the factory is standing!" The way he reacted. With a child's mind. It's been taken since '48, yes. And then my father was hired with a 290 lei salary and I had 530 lei fee in high school.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that after the factory was taken over - I still have the deed – my father was allowed to keep his office furniture and a few things. He got the shed number three, where he kept all his stuff, plus a doll's stroller, mine. The workers really loved him. The workers made a zinc grave for my brother in '49, he died at the age of five and a half of hypertoxic scarlet fever. He was buried in two zinc coffins, can you imagine how much money that was, in '49 after nationalization? We were broke... Some furniture was sold, some jewellery was sold, some jewellery..., but it was a tough situation and in the end my father worked as a travelling lotto player. He used to go to restaurants with lotto, can you imagine? But he said, "I'm not ashamed."

But the workers, even after my father died in '58, at Easter and Christmas when the pig was being cut, we received the alms of the pig (in Banat they also cut a small pig at Easter). From the factory workers! And you said they helped at his funeral. Yes, they made my brother's grave, walled-in grave and came to my father in '58 with the envelope of money. These are things that you don't forget! It was my father's driver, Mr. Ceapu, he died recently, he was at the Catholic Church, or Mato, or Mr. Kovacs. But they also had a life, as I told you, that one day in '56 when there was the rebellion in Hungary. That's why I don't forget! I passed by there on foot, I don't know what was I looking for in the factory and a worker, Mrs Secoșan, saw me and said: "Marieta, you know I'm washing the windows so the director Anhauch can come back". If he hadn't been loved... Now it’s not that I'm praising my father, you can ask anyone to tell you...

Marieta Anhauch, born in 1937 in Cernăuți- excerpt from the interview conducted by Antonia Komlosi in Timisoara in 2005, published in: Smaranda Vultur, Adrian Onică, Bessarabians and Bukovinians in Banat (Basarabeni şi bucovineni în Banat. Povestiri de viaţă). Life stories, 2nd edition. Brumar Publishing House, Timisoara 2011.

 

About the Guban factory

Old Guban was a disastrous man. He had only four primary grades, no manners, he was rough, he would insult you. But he had an extraordinary intuition and intelligence. For business, you mean? Yes, yes... Relatively business, because during communism you couldn't do business. The factory that was funded wasn't his. People talk, but it's not true. It was built with the state money. When? He had an oven in his kitchen with a big boiler where he boiled boot polish. He was making fire with wood. But he made a great boot polish! It gave a sheen like no other. It was an emulation. That's how it progressed... He was earning quite well. In '53, as far as I know, he got a building on Eroilor, it used to be a vocational school, where he started making artificial leather. And the old man was director there. With excellent tenacity and interpersonal skills, he managed to create relationships from the above. It went all the way up to Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej. Now let me make a point: Dej was a smart guy; everyone noticed his intelligence. He was cruel, he was even a criminal, but he was smart. Unlike Ceaușescu, he had a certain cunning, but he was seeing things differently. Guban met him and he helped him. He realized he was a capable guy. Guban took advantage of that and developed the factory. He was originally a shoemaker. People know about Guban's factory by the shoes. Shoes accounted only 4% of the factory's production in 1990. Really? What else were they doing? Gubanul was the largest leather substitute factory in Romania, that is, artificial leather based on PVC - polyvinyl chloride. It was used in the automobile industry, in the upholstery of Dacia, Roman Trucks, CFR. All the leather goods were made of this: there was a factory in Sibiu... It was a semi-finished product that was used in another production cycle, which the general public didn't really know about. They knew about the shoes because that's what they needed directly. Spumotim was established here and then moved on Calea Buziașului. Old Guban was always trying to develop, at a time when all the directors were trying to do was stagnate, because to develop meant to create problems. In communism, that was the unwritten rule: to stagnate, to stay in your own sit, because otherwise you would create problems. He didn't. He wanted to develop. He created foil, he created foams, he made shoes, he made boot polish, he made saxophones. Have you heard of these saxophones? No. There was this Braun. What was one of the secrets? In the '50s the Communists didn't abolish the small craftsmen. They nationalized the factories, made them bandits... I don't know what, but the small craftsmen couldn't abolish them... But, as usual, perversely, they got in their own way. They had to pay taxes, they had nowhere to get raw materials, they shut themselves down. And then they were left without any perspective. Guban immediately brought in a lot of them, he was hiring them. He was a craftsman and had a nose for choosing his people. Miss, I saw craftsmen there who simply didn't profess, but officiated as a religious service. Like a ritual. Exactly. They had a behaviour, a work ethic, a bearing... You could put them at the table with any man of culture, they knew how to behave, they had vocabulary... I saw one there, Konig for example... With one of them you had an interview, and it was published: the entomologist. They were three brothers, all three first-rate craftsmen. The one I'm talking about, who worked at Guban, Ervin Konig, was an extraordinary man. In addition to his talent, he was... for example, he did the execution drawings for certain pieces. A machine broke down and had to be repaired. He would design the part that needed to be repaired and give it to the lathe operator, the miller and so on, who had to work according to a drawing. That would have been, so to say, small work. I was in charge of technical inventions at Guban. I was, among other things, responsible for industrial property, which is part of the intellectual property. That includes copyrights from all fields. Industrial property is about technical creation, we, some people, were in charge of protecting them... That was a good side of communism. We were fantastically lucky to get here. Maybe I wouldn't have lasted otherwise. This Konig made a machine... The finished product was wrapped in drums on the machines that made this leather replacement. But these reels couldn't go on forever, they had to be cut. And to ensure continuity, they had to be attached to each other afterwards. To do this, two metres of the new reel and two metres of the old reel were lost... and then they were pulled under tunnels and sewn together with a needle. Everything was hot, people got burned a lot and a bunch of material was lost. They said: "There's a great loss here." I say, "I've found the man to solve the problem." I said, "Mr. Konig, look at this thing... Can you do it?" "I can do it, how much do I get?", natural question. "Let me do the math." There was a table by which it was calculated. I also took a percentage of coverage, if something intervened so I wouldn't be left with the word unfulfilled. I said, "20,000 lei." It was a lot of money back then. He did the project. People worked afternoons to do it, I paid them overtime. It could be paid, it created conditions... The project was to be paid in three instalments. I paid him the first instalment, the second one and when I paid the third one, which was the biggest, the idiot Ceaușescu thought that there was too much money to be made from these things and he said that from January 1st 1974 (I think) he would change the law. According to the new law, very little was paid. And I had paid him only 10,000 lei. I was explaining to him in vain that the law had changed or ... it was a cheeky thing. And I had an idea: somewhere in the law it was written that the project is paid separately. I went to Bucharest three times and supported the project. And that's where the man you came across counted, because there were a lot of crooks who just wanted to win. I remember saying to the Textile Research Institute, they were the ones who gave the notice: "Mister engineer, how are we staying with the project?" He said, "Sir, in a project where you work with the Maltese cross and he did what he did, it's out of the question. He deserves all consideration." That's what he said without knowing him, can you imagine? And that's how you managed to pay him. Yes. I received 13,000 lei. It was based on the number of drawings, and he had almost 200 drawings. And so, I kept my promise to him and the machine worked exceptionally well. Three pieces were made. After that, they just chased him away... he left, retired. A young man came along who thought he was competing with him and said, "Mr. Konig, isn’t it about time for you to rest, to go home?" "Very well." He had a dignity, he immediately made his forms and retired. We could have still used him. A few years later, instead of building more of those machines, because more were needed, they imported one that was poorer in performance. Apart from that, we also met in another area: we liked the mountains. We made trips together. He had a slide collection; they were works of art... to know how to capture a landscape.

There was another one, Scheer Iosif, who used to repair mill engines from Oradea to the Danube. It was needed and he had many customers. The mills disappeared, then the profession disappeared, and he took a job at Guban. What attracted me to him was his presence, his behaviour, his dignity. You could see it in his gestures, in the way he spoke. He was competent. And with him a mutual sympathy was created. You were the youngest of them all. Yes, but we liked each other.

Traian Constantin Novac, born in 1928 in Timișoara - excerpt from the interview conducted by Antonia Komlosi in 2004, The oral history and anthropology group archive, coordinated by Smaranda Vultur.

About Azur factory.I was born on April 8, 1930, to Manojlovic Milutin and Manojlovic Zagorca, who had met at my aunt’s wedding in Novi Sad, where my father was - in English, there’s “the best man” - the best friend of the groom. He was a bachelor and he was the big boss of the factory and a shareholder in “Azur”, which was then named “Excelsior”. He was very well off, he traveled the world. He was very handsome... He was very handsome, indeed - this picture is not relevant, but I do have others. What about your mother? Mom was very pretty, she had blonde hair and blue eyes. Dad had brown hair, he was a bit dark-skinned, and tall. Mom was also quite tall. He was very good-looking... He looked very well indeed - this picture is not relevant, but I have other pictures. And your mother? My mother was very pretty, she was blonde with blue eyes. My father was brown, a little creole in the face, he was tall. And my mother was quite tall. 

And my mother had left college for a week to attend her older sister's wedding. Your mother was a student in... in Vienna, at medicine. And she came to her aunt's wedding and fell out with my father, who was eager to marry her. And my mother wouldn't give up medicine, she was very serious and very studious. She was a Yugoslav state scholar in Vienna, so not anyway. And in those days girls didn't go to high school. My aunt, who married a very rich merchant, Nenadovic, had her own staff: cook, maid, two nannies for the children, etc., she was pestering my mother to marry this Mr. Manojlovic, who is a great catch, and a good guy. What does she need medicine for?! Look, he's the director and shareholder of the Excelsior Paint and Lacquer Factory. My father went to Vienna as often as he could and took my poor mother to the opera and persuaded her to marry him. My mother had no idea how old my father was, and the day she signed the marriage papers she saw that my father was thirteen years older than her, and she almost fainted. (Laughs.) How old was your mother? When she got married, twenty-three. And my father was thirty-six.

Xenia Manojlovic, born in 1930 in Timișoara – excerpt from an interview by Simona Adam, in Timișoara, 2002, The oral history and anthropology group archive, coordinated by Smaranda Vultur.

About Banatul factory. Here was the first nursery and the first kindergarten in the city, at Dermata, you may ask around. It the beginning, Banatul factory was called Dermatitis from Timişoara, just like the factory in Cluj. When Dad was the manager here, he set up the first nursery and a kindergarten. Dr. Muţiu, who in the '80s was still a manager at the Children’s Polyclinic here, worked as a doctor at the kindergarten in his youth. For the employees’ children? For the employees’ children. I told my father: “Dad, why won’t you buy us a quartz? You only buy them for the clinic and we don’t have a quartz lamp.” Ultraviolet lamps used to be called quartz lamps. And he told me: “no, because when you need one, I’ll send you to Dr. Corcan - a famous pediatrician in Timişoara – and he’ll give you as many UV sessions as you need. These children can’t afford it and that’s why I buy the lamps for them.” He would also often pay for the meat and for other stuff, so that they’d have everything they needed. And let me tell you, as a sidenote, now at the centenary anniversary, where I was invited and I received a diploma for my father, in the presiding committee there was prefect Ciocârlie, the mayor, someone from Bucharest from the Ministry for Industry, and when they projected my father’s picture on the screen I started to cry. And manager Cazan, who is the general manager here now, also said: “he was a remarkably good man, you know.” When I stepped inside the factory, my heart sank. I was called twice to say what was where and I said here was the sewing floor, here was this, here was that and she says, “but you remember it well.” How can I not remember, I was 7-8 years old, but such memories won’t just go away! There was no exception, for Christmas and for Easter, the children of the workers always got some gift. 

Marieta Anhauch, born in 1937, in Chernivtsi – excerpt from an interview by Antonia Komlosi, in Timișoara, 2005, Bessarabians and Bukovinians in Banat (Basarabeni şi bucovineni în Banat. Povestiri de viaţă). Life stories, 2nd ed. Brumar Publishing House, Timișoara 2011.

Despite the poverty, as we were all workers and lived on small wages... the factories were whistling and ... There were many factories around here, in Fabric. First of all, there was the Leather and Glove Factory, then Teba, 1 Iunie, the Sock Factory in Badea Cârţan. Also at the market, near the bridge, there was Ilsa, where they produced fabrics. There were workers everywhere. There was the Railway Coach Factory, Guban and many more ... There were also smaller ones: the Rubber Factory, footwear workshops, Texta, Filt. Everyone worked in factories, women, men, young people, everyone. Once you’d finished 7 grades, at the age of 14 you became an apprentice and started work… So everyone had a job and that’s what they lived on. There were no unemployment benefits or... there wasn’t such a thing. There were some layabouts at the market, who would help the ladies with their shopping baskets, who helped around with this and that... and got some money in return.

Sipos Péter, born in 1925 – excerpt from an interview by Antonia Komlosi, Timișoara 2003, The oral history and anthropology group archive, coordinated by Smaranda Vultur.

At the intersection of Kogălniceanu and Drăgășani streets (see Jewish Timisoara by Getta Neumann, city map Jewish entrepreneurs between Bega and East Station) is the "Standard Hosiery Factory" of the Rohrlich family).

The factory was founded before the First World War by a Hungarian company in 1908 and the building was built according to the plans of the architect Szekély László. In 1921 the factory was taken over by a company from Bucharest and renamed "Standard - The First Hosiery Factory". This company sent Maximilian Rohrlich as director to Timișoara.

Maximilian Rohrlich fought as an officer in the Romanian army in World War I.

At that time (1921) the hosiery factory was the largest and most modern factory in Romania. The factory made stockings to the highest standards. The factory manager, Maximilian Rohrlich, introduced social and pension insurance for the employees, which was an absolute novelty at the time.

After the introduction of the anti-Jewish laws Maximilian Rohrlich was dismissed.

In 1949 the factory was taken over by the state (nationalized).

In 2000 the factory was declared bankrupt.

After 2005 the factory building was demolished. Only the entrance gate and part of the facade on Kogălniceanu Street remained.

Alfred Rohrlich, the director's son, recalled in a conversation with Michael Berger, his son-in-law, that the factory had trade links with Berlin and the United States. These he saw as a young man on the markings on cotton bales. There was, for example, written Behala (Berlin Hafen Anlagen), where they played.

Alfred (Fredi) Rohrlich was a pupil of the first rabbi Dr. Ernest Neumann, when he was a teacher at the Jewish High School.

 

Nicoleta Rohrlich-Berger from Berlin, granddaughter of Max Rohrlich (Bucharest, 1888 - Timișoara, 1948), director of the "Standard" factory (hosiery factory) in Timișoara, Fabric district

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