The Holsatia Factories - founded by Julius Neumann, who was followed by Erich Buchholz

I. The Holsatia factories

In those times, everybody in Hamburg knew the Holsatia factories, since their establishment in the 1890’s, until their disguised “Aryanization” in 1938. But today, who knows anything about the Holsatia factories? Who remembers this unique project and could tell us anything about them? Who were the founders and what was so special about them?

After a long, arduous search, we got on the right track through two of Rabbi Joseph Carlebach’s thoughtful eulogies, the first one upon the death of the founder, Julius Neumann, in 1930, and the second upon the passing of his successor, Dr Erich Buchholz, in 1932. Both men were remarkable personalities. We also looked for some material in the Hamburg city archives. And what did we find? A page of an almost one hundred year old newspaper, a short description in a book about trade and a blurred, incomprehensibly complicated document about the “Aryanization” – until the final end.

The Holsatia was actually “only” a wood working factory with some ten workshops, but there they really manufactured everything: from the ordinary match-box to the most elegant cigar box; from functional, plain office chairs and tables to most elegant furniture, like a desk armchair or a chest of drawers…

The Holsatia factories, outside view

Nevertheless, in this case we are not only talking about final products but also about specially ramified phases of manufacture. Everything, really everything, was produced in and by the Holsatia factories; not only the wooden boards and strips, but also the hinges, mirrors and even the glue. There were wide expanses of peat in order to replace the missing raw material [like coal] since those were the first years after WWI. Moreover, the managers not only trained and groomed a new generation of professionals but also had a specially equipped workshop for apprentices.

About what happened inside we learn from the yellowed page 6 of the then German language “Overseas Newspaper” (Deutsche Übersee-Zeitung):

“200 factory workers managed to produce furniture of first-class quality. High praise was given for the models and specimen, the wood carvings by hand and by machine, the economic use of otherwise wasted material and scraps, and for the protection against the influence of the weather.”

There was praise not only for the material and manufacture of the Holsatia factories but above all for the care and the good conditions for the workers there, such as: reasonable working hours, hygienic facilities, and last not least set hours of culture activities for all the workers, from apprentice to foreman; this was really outstanding.

The article ends with the words: The Holsatia factories “make a considerable contribution to the reconstruction of the German Fatherland”.

Page 6 of the
Only the word “Jewish” was left out!

Both the founder Julius Neumann and his Zionist successor Erich Buchholz were Jewish.


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