Where fashion is born – Goldberger Textile Mill

When talking about the Hungarian textile and clothes industries, many people might associate to nylon housecoats, jersey pulls or the May 1 Clothes Factory, though their traditions go back to a much longer time. Our current virtual exhibition allows you to follow the development of a small family blue dyer firm becoming the largest textile company of Hungary, while you can also get to know the touching story of the family behind the factory.

Once there was a blue dyer mill

2013_129_1.jpgThe ancestors of the family immigrated to Hungary from Bohemia and Moravia in the 18th century. Ferenc – whose surname was Goldberg that time – equipped his blue dyer manufacture in the still-existing Lajos Street of Óbuda in 1784. As dyeing is a rather water-demanding process, the location was meant to be ideal due to the nearness of the Danube and so it was, the firm became a profitable enterprise owing to the ambitious leading during a couple of decades. They bought a perrotin stuffer first in the country in 1845, which made dyeing automation possible. They did not miss the events of 1848 and provided the Hungarian army with uniforms. Unfortunately, after the defeat of the war of independence, Haynau punished them and levied a huge amount of indemnity on the rebellious Jewish family. A few years later in 1854, they received the wholesaler right in Pest again. In addition, Franz Joseph I also ‘forgave’ them and gave nobility to the family, thus they got the name Buday (Budai) before their surname.

The Company

19054.jpgThe factory became a real large-sized company under Bertold Goldberger’s leadership at the beginning of the 20th century, when several modernising measures were introduced besides large-scale constructions. The determining technology of the period the roller-print was installed, which allowed them to print 8- and 12-colour patterns besides blue dyeing. Nevertheless, the crisis did not avoid the textile mill either. When Leo Goldberger took over the company from his father in 1913, it was on the edge of bankruptcy. The crisis affected not only the Hungarian textile industry, a global over-production had been developing by 1914, and only the WWI could pull the textile industry out of this state, because the army’s orders flooded all fields of industries including the textile industry. By the end of the war, the factory became profitable again, and owing to Leo Goldberger’s ingenuity, the second heyday of the company began.

World fame with rayon

The boom was partly because they managed to purchase the exclusive Hungarian common right of the synthetic spun silk called ‘Bemberg’ that was created in Germany during the 1920s. After several years of experimenting, the factory’s own rayon ‘Parisette’ was born. The contemporary press praised the new material, on which the most beautiful patterns were printed. It became incredibly popular because of the illusion of silk and its favourable price, and advertisements of course. Goldberger-Bemberg fashion shows were held every day on the event ‘Magyar Hét’ (Hungarian Week) at the Corvin Department Store. Leo Goldberger was a talented, assertive businessman, who always recognized opportunities, thus he had great influence. Although he had a direct contact with the Governor, he was arrested first by the Gestapo on 19 March 1944. His wife and daughter used every endeavour at 60 Andrássy Road (Hungarian Nazi Headquarters) to save him, but in vain. He died as no. 65354 prisoner of the concentration camp in Mauthausen (Austria) at the age of 67. His factory was socialised, but it preserved the memory of the illustrious factory for many years, not only in its name. The factory operated in the 1960s under the name Budaprint until 1989, when it went bankrupt. Leo Goldberger’s daughter tried to revitalize the company and looked for investors, but without success, thus the company was wound up. This meant the end of a more than 200-year-old factory. Some pictures and newsreels survived, like this propaganda film from the 1950s boasting with the ‘Goli’.

Translated by Zita Aknai


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