History of Haus der Seidenkultur
The following narrative reports the history of Haus der Seidenkultur (HdS). Starting from the initial construction of the building in the second half of the 19th century, the narrative chronicles its use as a silk weaving workshop throughout the 20th century, until the founding of the Association of Friends of HdS and the transformation of the building into a museum in 2000. The narrative has been created by HdS in German language and it has been translated in English by Cynthia Beisswenger, a member of the HdS team.
Construction of the HdS Building
Unfortunately, all municipal construction records were destroyed in the Second World War. Therefore we cannot refer to the construction documents relating to the building. What is certain, however, based on the findings during the restoration in the year 2012 is that the building was extended several times. Dormer windows were installed in the rooms on the attic floor of the front building in order to gain more living space. It is also certain that the builder, Diepers, designed the complex as a combined residential/business building with production facilities at the rear. The house appears for the first time in the municipal address book for 1868, at the time still with the address Louisenstrasse 1e, the owner being Gottfried Diepers, silk producer. The separation from an earlier plot is documented in the cadastral land register supplements for that year, therefore it seems possible that was the year of construction although it is rather early.
Gottfried Diepers’ business not only occupied the building in Luisenstrasse but went straight through the block to the Mariannenstrasse. House no. 4 in the Mariannenstrasse also belonged to Diepers. In the municipal address book of 1871 this piece of land was recorded as being undeveloped, in the address book of 1879 it is entered as business premises of Diepers & Reeve. The fact that it belonged to the weaving workshop in the Luisenstrasse can be deduced from the fact that both buildings were sold to Gotzes in 1908.
This workshop complex was constructed at a time when home-weaving was being abandoned in favour of factory weaving. Home-weaving was operated on the putting-out system, the weavers acting as subcontractors for a silk merchant as it were. It is virtually impossible to find out whether ecclesiastical textiles were produced in this way. What is striking however is that in the address books of the town of Krefeld, the weaving workshops for ecclesiastical textiles are designated as a specific profession. Not only were very expensive materials used in this branch of weaving, the patterns produced were also very sophisticated. Using the highly technical Jacquard looms not only silk but also gold and silver threads were woven into complicated patterns. The home weaver would probably not have been able to cope with this. The weavers’ cottages on the Inrather Strasse 107-203 are still a reminder of this system of working. They are now a protected industrial monument.
Diepers went one step further in the weaving workshop for ecclesiastical textiles by moving from semi-finished products to finished products. Gotzes subsequently perfected this practice. The fabrics woven on the premises were processed further in the rooms beneath the weaving workshop. Liturgical vestments, paraments and banners were made there. Workspace had to be created for needlewomen and hand embroiderers. Over the course of time the layout of the rooms and the size of the windows were changed. Unfortunately, it is not possible to date these alterations precisely. The basic layout was however determined when the building was constructed.
The two entrances adjacent to one another are a special feature of the house. The left-hand entrance led to the private rooms on the first and second floors of the front building, the right-hand entrance to the business facilities and the production rooms. Two stairways are necessary in order to separate the building in this way. The salerooms on the ground floor and the lower rooms in the rear building were reached via the business entrance. This is where the embroidery and sewing workshops were situated. It was here that the customers were given advice and could try on the vestments. In the second room of the extension a piece of high-quality textile wallpaper was found when the suspended ceiling which had been installed at a later date was removed. This expensive wallpaper suggests that this room was not part of the finishing workshop but was used rather for representational purposes. The weaving workshop on the upper floor of the rear building is reached via the stairway located in this area.
The Seventh Town Extension and the Crown Prince District
Krefeld is located on the broken stone terraces formed by the river Rhine over time. Looking at the terrain on which the new district was emerging, it can be seen that it was located on the upper terrace where this sinks towards the middle terrace. This decline towards the middle terrace is hard to distinguish in the inner town area. The further north-west one goes the more distinct it becomes. It can be easily seen along the Bleichpfad (beaching path) and in Inrath it is very pronounced. Here the border between the high-level clay shelf-plate and the wet cleat area is most obvious because there is no building development.
At the time this difference in elevation was also the difference between living on dry ground and living on the marshy lowland. This is no longer obvious because a lot has changed. Today the Rhine has been regulated and the riverbed lies more deeply embedded. Consequently, the groundwater level is considerably lower. The canalisation now conducts the water quickly out of the town. In addition, the ground has been increasingly sealed as a result of road construction etc. In the past when the roads were asphalted, the water drained away or was conducted to the marshy lowland via drainage ditches. These measures led to a lowering of the groundwater level which has also been precipitated by groundwater extraction by the waterworks.
At the time the house was built in 1868 the situation was such that even the present Inrath district lay under water when the Rhine flooded. On February 28th 1784 the town of Linn was 1.70 metres under water and an appropriate watermark can still be seen on a house in the Issumer Strasse. In 1920 the Rhine also came close to the town following the breach of a dyke. The Spröden valley where Spröden square is today was a marshy area which was drained to such an extent that it was possible to create gardens there. The situation in Luisenstrasse was similar. Therefore, it is understandable that the builder of the house did not construct a cellar. A slotted foundation was the only sensible solution on the marshy gravel and sand ground. The low vaults discovered during the restoration in 2012 formed the foundation for the room floors and ensured that the building itself remained dry.
During the seventh town extension of 1843 which included the current Crown Prince District, the street network for the new district is more or less defined. The strictly geometric new street network is interrupted by the diagonally running Alte Linner Strasse which already existed as the historical route to Linn. The planning was carried out by the Düsseldorf senior civil servant and government building officer Franz Anton Umpfenbach in 1835. This planning was replaced by a revised version dated February 27th 1837 which was approved by the Prussian government on June 11th 1843.
The streets in the new district were given the names of the Prussian royal family:
- Luisenstrasse – Luise of Prussia (1776-1810), wife of Friedrich Wilhelm III, popular thanks to her commitment in the war of liberation against Napoleon.
- Mariannenstrasse – Marianne of Oranien-Nassau (1810-1883), wife of Prince Albrecht of Prussia (1809-1872) was divorced from her husband, a fact which was deliberately covered up at the time. She visited Krefeld on several occasions.
- Elisabethstrasse – Elisabeth of Bavaria (1801-1873), wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV who reigned from 1840-1861. She visited Krefeld in 1845.
Kronprinzenstrasse – referred to Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795-1861) who visited Krefeld when he was still crown prince on October 25th 1833. This gave rise to the naming of the parallel streets. The eponymous crown prince had already died before the street construction had been completed having also reigned as king.
Apart from Luise who was enormously popular with the general public, the other members of the royal family were chosen because they had visited Krefeld at some point and were therefore honoured by naming a street after them.
The names of the intersecting streets refer to local factors such as Linner Strasse and Canalstrasse along which the large effluent piping was conducted to the Rhine.
Starting at the Ostwall, the Crown Prince District grew further eastwards. However, the streets were not all equally popular. Construction of the Luisenstrasse was completed relatively quickly and Elisabethstrasse was also very popular whereas construction on Mariannenstrasse made only slow progress. Perhaps this was due to the gasworks which gave the street a more commercial atmosphere. The production of gas also resulted in smell nuisance. The Kronprinzenstrasse, now Philadelphiastrasse, was the eastern limit of the district. Within the present day road network it is extremely important as a through road. Originally it was located in the damp lowland which had once been gardens. The higher level streets were therefore more popular with Krefeld citizens looking to build houses.
The start of construction in the intersecting streets can be determined from already previously existing intersecting streets such as Canalstrasse (now Hansa-Strasse) and alte Linner Strasse. After rapid settlement initially, building work stagnated from the 1880s onwards and the building on the undeveloped land progressed only slowly. The inhabitants were mainly middle-class. Residential buildings, business premises and production workshops are located directly adjacent to one another. In addition to independent weavers, there were also many general managers, sales representatives, etc. The district is shaped by the textile industry although only 26% of the inhabitants were employed in that sector. The reason for this was that specialisation of the vocational fields at that time led to the development of specific ancillary industries. The former home-weaver was no longer to be found in this district. A particularly interesting aspect is however, that at the southern end of Luisenstrasse where Haus der Seidenkultur is situated, there was an accumulation of silk weaving workshops.
Nowadays, one only has to touch a switch and the light goes on. Prior to electrical lighting becoming common property, people were reliant on daylight. Once the sun had set it was dark and people had to make do with lamps, candles and pine wood spills. Nowadays this type of lighting is regarded as being romantic but to work on a loom especially when weaving coloured patterns such light is definitely unsuitable. There is a nice saying that at night all cats are grey. This refers to a characteristic of the human eye that as it becomes darker the cells responsible for recognising colours become inactive and the essential more light-sensitive elements are no longer able to absorb colour information. Naturally that makes it difficult to weave coloured patterns. People tried to increase the amount of light by positioning a mirror behind a flame so that as much brightness as possible was where it was needed. The different temperatures of the various types of light also influence the colour impression.
This is the reason why the weaving workshop was located on the first floor. Here it was considerably easier to take more advantage of the light irradiation than on the ground floor which was in the shade of the adjacent building. The looms were placed at right angles to the windows so that daylight reached the weaver’s workplace. The windows were designed as high as possible in order to light the full width of a loom, which was after all 502 cm for as long as possible.
This arrangement required a far more sophisticated ceiling construction as it had to bear the weight of the looms. In addition, it was necessary to transport the looms to the upper floor and to assemble them there. The additional costs which were also related to the construction of the rear building would not have been incurred if it had not been absolutely essential for technical reasons.
When the first gas lighting in Krefeld was presented to the astonished public in the town theatre on 16th October 1839, it was enthusiastically received. The newspapers reported on the glistening brightness which could be achieved. Gas lighting was not, however, widely installed because it was very difficult to supply gas. Until gas pipes had been laid over large areas it was necessary to install gas tanks in the individual buildings and these then had to be constantly painstakingly re-filled. In addition, electricity arrived as competition and this was much easier to handle. Light bulbs were simply more practical than the sensitive gas mantles. The street lighting was operated for quite some time with gas but for building lighting gas only played a secondary role. One reason for this may have been that in the 1860s purified petroleum oils went on sale displacing the rapeseed oil used previously. The lamps were modified and became easier to handle and cheaper. Compared to gas lamps they also had the advantage of being transportable.
At the time when the building was constructed, the gasworks belonging to the Puricellis had already existed in the Mariannenstrasse since 1854. In addition to supplying industry, the gas supply was focussed on street lighting. This was carried out by order of the town authorities but the Puricellis were free to supply private households from the mains supply for their own account. Despite the gasworks being almost directly behind the land on which the weaving workshop was located, piping doesn’t ever seem to have been laid to the Gotzes building. Unfortunately, the reason for this is not known. It can only be speculated. Perhaps it would have been too expensive to lay the pipes in the building and this prevented the owners from doing so. 1899/1900 the municipal power generating plant was built next to the gasworks. As electrical cables are easier to install than gas piping, the building was supplied with electricity very quickly. This would have ensured good quality lighting during the hours of little daylight.
As the weaving workshop was high up in the building and facing south, it was also possible to achieve maximum lighting with daylight. In order to achieve this, structural engineering problems in connection with setting up the looms on the first floor were simply accepted. As no subsequent reinforcements of the ceiling can be identified, it seems that this room allocation had been planned from the start. Nothing else makes sense because a subsequent alteration due to the changed lighting situation would not have been beneficial.
A further advantage of an early electricity supply would have been the ability to use electrical sewing machines. In the room at the rear on the ground floor a very antiquated electrical installation was uncovered during the restoration which points to the use of electrical sewing machines and adequate ceiling lighting. As part of this measure the room ceiling was taken down. A striking fact is that the electrical system was retrospectively equipped with a protective conductor. From this it is evident that the electrification must definitely have been carried out prior to 1930. From this time onwards special neutral conductors were used when installing such a system and this type of conductor had not been used in the first construction phase here.
Originally the building was heated with stoves. The weaving of ecclesiastical textiles is a delicate activity which requires great skill. In the weaving workshop, cold, damp and consequently stiff fingers were of no use. The precious yarns had to be handled with care so that the threads were not damaged or destroyed. The many fireplaces installed every few metres in the weaving workshop are evidence of stove heating. The stoves were difficult to operate and constituted a fire hazard and consequently they were replaced with central heating.
This probably happened under the new owner following the sale of the building as it is not very likely that Diepers (born 1833) would concern himself with the installation of new heating technology at a great age. This must have been one of the first investments made by the new owner. In line with the state of the art at the time either a gravity heating or a low pressure steam heating system was installed which was probably operated with a coke boiler. Unfortunately, the original heating is no longer there but the cross-sections of the piping laid at the time point to a low pressure steam boiler. An original preserved boiler pipe with a diameter of 89mm and insulated with diatomite seems to indicate a low pressure steam boiler. This was only needed at high temperatures in the supply line and such temperatures were not reached with a gravity heating which functions on the basis that warm water is lighter than cold water. The water was heated in the boiler and then rose in the piping due to the difference in density. The cooled water flowed back to the boiler on the opposite side of the heating circuit. This meant that warm water circulated through the radiators without a heating pump being needed. Nowadays such heating systems are completely outdated because they react very slowly to temperature changes and the water circulation virtually stops when there is little temperature difference in spring and autumn. In addition, such systems require large quantities of water which has to be heated and relatively large piping diameters. The low pressure heating reacted much more quickly but meant there was a danger of very hot radiators which could only be switched on or off, not regulated. The present heating systems are made of considerably less material and react much quicker due to the built-in recirculating pump.
It was easy to retrace the later installation of the heating system during the restoration of the building. The old wooden ceilings were partially cut off at the walls to allow the heating pipes to disappear under the floor. In room 4 which has a floor screed, the piping was laid on the floor surface. The heating system outlet from the cellar to the hall staircase was also installed at a later date. From the existing piping, all of which was laid on top of the plaster, it is possible to reconstruct how the heating system was extended. From this it is possible to trace the further building extension phases.
The Water Supply
Water was supplied by pumps, mostly public pumps but sometimes individual building pumps. For those buildings without their own pump this meant that each litre of water needed had to be fetched and carried back to the building. Drinking water and water to cook, to wash up, to do the laundry, for personal hygiene – every single drop of water needed had to be fetched. In the Luisenstrasse the public pump was situated in front of house 18. The effluent and sewage were disposed of in a cesspit which had to be emptied whenever it was full. If the buildings were terraced this was done via a passageway where possible, otherwise the contents of the said cesspit were carried in buckets or tubs through the building hallway to the cart with a collection tank waiting on the street. There was no doubt occasionally spillage in the process. Written historical evidence indicates that cesspits were emptied in this way in Krefeld. An effort was made to keep the nuisance in the neighbourhood to a minimum by carrying out the process when there was little traffic in the streets.
In historical maps there is no evidence of such a passageway for the blocks of buildings in the street where the parament weaving workshop is situated. The building in the Mariannenstrasse could have had an access to the cesspit. The building located there today has one passageway but as the building was reconstructed in 1954/55 having been damaged during the war, it cannot be directly assumed that sewage removal was done via this entrance.
The water supply is linked to the availability of a canalisation system. In order to keep the canals functioning especially here in the low-lying region with very little incline, it was necessary to use greater amounts of water to prevent silting-up, a problem which still occurs today with the modern canal systems due to increased efforts to save water. Krefeld’s canalisation came into being thanks to the textile industry, namely via an environmental scandal. The town effluent was conducted via the Fleuthgraben into the Niepkuhlen long into the 19th century. As industry grew, so the effluent changed. The dying works in particular contaminated the lowland areas with their effluent. Some of the ditches in Huelser Bruch were contaminated with dyestuffs and the fish died. Whilst in Huelser Bruch only people going for a Sunday stroll and the local farmers were disturbed by the environmental scandal but did little about it, the situation changed completely when the Niepkuhlen became contaminate with effluent since the wealthy Krefeld families had their weekend houses there. This is where the people fled to in the summer when the town disappeared in cloud of unpleasant smells. Large numbers of dead fish now floated in the ditches and the water gave off a terrible smell.
However, these residents (the wealthy) had all the means to fight against the environmental scandal. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the town. And it was successful; the effluent was no longer to be conducted into the ditches. The construction of a central effluent canal to the Rhine was planned. To enable such a canal to be properly functional in the lowlands which had hardly any gradient, it was simultaneously planned to construct a water supply system.
The construction of a central effluent canal was considered as early as 1862. The high costs had, however, put the town authorities off the idea. The clarification options known at time were also discarded because they had not yet been perfected. Having lost the class-action lawsuit, the authorities started to earnestly tackle the canalisation project in 1874 and it was completed in 1878.
The canalisation was laid so that it went via Bockum to Uerdingen and then into the Rhine. Originally it had been planned to let the canal pass through the Linn area but this met with strong opposition. If the effluent from Krefeld had to be conducted into the Rhine, then this should take place downstream of the town. The canal should also flow into the Rhine at the level of the riverbed, so that even when water levels were low the effluent could be dispersed quickly. Nowadays it is simply unthinkable that the effluent was conducted into the river completely unclarified but that was normal at the time. St. Florian’s principle was applied, as long as there is no unbearable smell here, then nothing else matters. Initially the self-cleansing powers of the river managed to handle the contamination but in the long run the Rhine developed into a cesspool.
In order to operate the canalisation effectively, the water supply system in Krefeld had to be fundamentally reorganised. The effluent had to be diluted so that the canalisation could be adequately flushed. Water had to be available to do this and the necessary canals built. No doubt the large consumers in industry such as the dye-works were approached. The aspect of feeding drinking water into the network was however a high priority when constructing the deep wells and water towers which were essential to supply water in a low-lying area. The well systems are therefore largely located in the groundwater current which flowed towards the town. Here there were no adverse effects due to seeping effluent from the town itself. The reason for doing this was a cholera and dysentery epidemic which led to the municipal hospital being enlarged with an isolation building for patients with contagious illnesses. In particular, the dysentery epidemic of 1871 which claimed 243 victims led to drinking water quality being subjected to testing. This is remarkable because the cholera bacteria were not identified by Robert Koch until 1883. The tests showed that all the wells on the western side of the town carried good quality water and this led to the municipal deep wells being located in water protection areas.
As far as the construction of the canalisation was concerned it made sense to increase the water consumption in the town, then the quantity of water fed into the system would automatically increase. The effluent would be diluted, the flow rate would be greater and the danger of silting-up would be less. This was achieved by extending the necessary drinking water supply system for reasons of hygiene. In addition, there was the possibility to upgrade the canal to a flushing canal. The canalisation proved to be exceptionally good as now the effluent was considerably less contaminated. A noticeable side effect was the drainage effect in the Bruch flatlands. At the same time the ditches and ponds in the mansion parks in Krefeld dried up.
The construction of the inner-city canalisation was started parallel to the building of the effluent canal. This dragged on for a long time however. It took decades before the exasperating cesspits disappeared from the town. In the first expansion phase the planning did not foresee the connection to the canalisation network. It was not until the inner city canalisation network had been re-organised and flush toilets began to be installed in homes starting in 1908 that excrement could be disposed of directly via the canalisation. For a long time, there was a danger of flooding in the urban area after torrential rain.
Working Conditions and Safety at Work
At the beginning of the 19th century weaving workshops were organised on the basis of the putting-out system. The weavers produced fabric for a merchant who then paid them for the product. There is a monument to this independent small entrepreneur typical for Krefeld in the green belt on the Südwall. It depicts a weaver, here in Krefeld called Meister Ponzelaer, who with the warp beam on his shoulder takes his work to his boss, to the employee of the merchant who placed the order. In most cases the material required to weave the fabric was provided by the merchant as a large quantity of material was needed to weave the silk and the weaver himself could not afford to pay for the precious thread. During the pre-industrialised period in the Rhineland this system was very successful. In 1826 there were 5876 manually operated looms operating and by 1850 the figure had reached 12520. At this time four times as many people worked at home than in the industry where almost 50% of those employed were women and children. Despite this low percentage the influence of industrialisation on the employment conditions of weavers in the putting-out system was significant as they had to compete with the industrial products. In many places in the Rhine province including Krefeld the introduction of machines or wage-cuts led to considerable protests. The first riots took place in Eupen in 1821 during which recently delivered combing machines were destroyed. In 1828 the wages of the Krefeld silk weavers were to be cut by 15%. As a result of the indignation which this caused some 2000 weavers marched through the streets and demolished the offices of the silk barons. The summoned hussars put a rapid end to the riot which was later designated by Karl Marx as the first weavers’ revolt in Germany. In 1830 a wage-cut of 16% led to a riot in Aachen in which as many as 4000 weavers took part.
Rules governing safety at work were developed because due to child labour which was usual at the time, the health of the recruits conscripted for military service had deteriorated dramatically. In 1828 it was already recognised that the more night work the children did, the worse was their state of health. As a reaction to this, the employment of children under the age of 9 years was prohibited in 1839. Children between the ages of 9 and 16 years only worked for 10 hours per day but on 6 days per week. For adults it was normal to work between 15 and 16 hours per day. .In 1828 dyers’ apprentices succeeded in getting the daily working hours reduced. They then only worked from 6.00 o’clock in the morning to 8 o’clock in the evening. The work of a dyer was physically very exhausting as the wet fabrics or skeins of yarn had to be moved in the dye and also raised – 14 hours each day minus breaks. If one adds to that the way to work and back, one can say that the workers left home at 5 o’clock in the morning and arrived home again at 9 o’clock in the evening – as already said on 6 days per week.
The first factory inspectors were employed from 1853 and could be said to be the first stage towards a factory inspectorate and safety at work regulations. It was not, however, until 1878 with the introduction of a supervision clause, that the possibility was opened up to carry out an inspection at companies at any time. Dangers were recognised as a result but it was difficult to implement solutions. The situation did not improve until workers’ compensation boards were set up which were interested in maintaining the health of workers. In 1891 a law relating to safety at work was passed in which a state trade control was anchored. This law also stipulated the conditions for the employment of children.
Children could now not be employed in factories until they had reached the age of 13. They were not allowed to work for more than 6 hours until they were 14 and not more than 10 hours until they were 16 years old. Work on Sundays and night work were generally prohibited for children.
Under this law the working hours for women were also limited to 11 hours per day. This 66-hour working week was therefore a significant reduction compared to the previous 84-hour week. This change had serious consequences for the textile industry as the women normally did the preliminary work for the men and consequently the men’s work was also affected. In 1990 the 10-hour day was introduced and in 1918/19 the 8-hour day. In both cases still based on the 6-day week which generally remained standard until the second half of the 20th century. From 1955/56 the 5-day week started to be introduced for which the trade unions vehemently campaigned with the election slogan “On Saturday my papa belongs to me”. In 1965 the 40-hour week became compulsory and was later reduced to a 35-hour week. This reduction was, however, withdrawn for many professions in which a 42-hour week is now normal again.
A building measure caused by the safety at work regulations was reversed when the HdS building was refurbished. A toilet with washbasin had been installed on the west side of the weaving workshop at some unknown date.
The Sale to Gotzes
Hubert Gotzes, born in Amern on September 5th 1850 learnt silk weaving from his distant cousin Theodor Gotzes who was involved in weaving ecclesiastical textiles and who had operated a weaving workshop for such fabrics in Dionysiusstrasse 24 since 1888. Following his training, Hubert Gotzes opened his own weaving workshop on Westwall 184. On October 21st 1905, the company Gotzes was registered in the Commercial Register of the Town of Krefeld as an independent producer of ecclesiastical textiles, paraments and banners. In the application for registration it was indicated that the company had started to work as such on May 1st 1905. The workshop on the Westwall was soon too small for the rapidly growing company. Therefore, Hubert Gotzes purchased the building Luisenstrasse 15 in 1908 together with the building Mariannenstrasse 4 from Gottfired Diepers who was 85 years old at the time.
It is assumed that Gotzes made some alterations after purchasing the building. It is probable that heating was installed and the building was electrified. He also probably initiated the first extension of the rear building with the weaving workshop.
Four of his sons also worked in the company. These were allocated the various functions as follows: Jakob was responsible for the administration, Matthias was one of the weavers, Josef was responsible for sales as a sales representative and Hubert the youngest son went to Chicago to supervise the subsidiary. There he produced liturgical vestments and paraments from the fabrics he received from the Krefeld-based parent company. He soon gained himself a good reputation for high quality products.
Time and again a letter from a nun from Chicago is quoted. She reported about a procession on the occasion of the 28th World Eucharistic Congress in 1926 when the participants were taken by surprise by a rainstorm. The liturgical vestments were drained of their colours and presented a sorry sight. Only the vestments produced by Gotzes retained their colour. It was the best possible advertisement for the company. Unfortunately, Hubert Gotzes did not live long enough to experience this triumph abroad as he had died on December 28th 1916 at the age of just 66 years.
Hubert Gotzes’ heirs
Initially the brothers Jakob (born March 29th 1883) and Josef (born April 4th 1886) took over the management of the weaving workshop as executors of the will. They probably chose to change the company into a oHG (offene Handelsgesellschaft = general partnership) whereas Hubert Gotzes had established it as a one-man business. One after the other the brothers left the oHG. Hubert (born July 7th 1893) went his own way with his company in Chicago. According to documents from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Krefeld the company was still in existence in 1932.
Jakob rented the adjacent building Luisenstrasse 17. He was registered there as a silk producer from February 18th 1927 to July 25th 1933. According to a notice at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry he withdrew from the company on December 5th 1930 due to illness. He does not appear in the address books as a private person until 1934. During the restoration work in 2013 a heating pipe was discovered which was connected to a joint heating circuit between houses 15 and 17. It can therefore be assumed that the brothers operated the weaving workshop in both adjacent buildings. In a survey carried out in 1946 it was indicated that 20 looms had been operated prior to the war. The logical explanation would be that it would not have been possible to set up such a large number of looms in house 15 alone. Consequently, the weaving workshop was considerably larger than first thought. Josef and Matthias probably continued to run the company jointly until 1933 although they both went their own way before then. Josef set up his own weaving workshop for paraments on Neue Linner Strasse 80. He was registered as living there from January 17th 1927 and in the 1928 address book he is listed with a weaving workshop for paraments.
The pattern cards needed to control the Jacquard looms had been shared out between the two brothers. Josef may even have taken looms with him when the building Luisenstrasse 17 was no longer used. Matthias then continued to run the company in Luisenstrasse under the name Hubert Gotzes.
Founding of the Association of Friends
In 1992 Erwin Maus closed down the company due to his age. Mr. Stangenberg (Member of the Town Council) and Paul Günther Schulte (Town Archivist) and Dr. Stratmann (Deputy Director of the Museums in Burg Linn) campaigned to preserve the industrial monument and became founding members of the Association of Friends. On 30 April 1993 the First Statutes of the Association of Friends were created. On 2 May 1994 the Association of Friends was registered in the Register of Associations with the code VR2645.
In 1999 the Association of Friends received funds from the NRW-Stiftung (Cultural Trust) and the Sparkassenstiftung (Bank Cultural Trust) to acquire the building in Luisenstrasse 15 including its contents from the Maus family.
On 10 December 2000 the first guided tour in Haus der Seidenkultur (HdS) was held. On 16 October 2003 Hansgeorg Hauser became Chairman of the Association of Friends of Haus der Seidenkultur, Paramentenweberei Hubert Gotzes e.V. Krefeld.
Hansgeorg Hauser became aware of Haus der Seidenkultur when he was approached by Dr. Frohn Director of the „Unternehmerschaft Niederhein” (businessmen’s group). He was of the opinion that Hansgeorg Hauser would have time to look after this little treasure once he had handed over his business (Hauser GmbH) to his son Stephan. Hansgeorg looked at the Gotzes business, a medium-sized business like his own where every D-Mark which was earned went back into the company. He agreed to take over.
He was to be awarded the “Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande” (Federal Cross of Merit) by the President of the District Court Krefeld on 22.3.1999 and he requested that the ceremony be held in Haus Gotzes, Luisenstrasse 15. Then he started to slowly make himself familiar with the task and became Chairman of the Associations of Friends in 2003.
Dr. Karin Thönnissen (Art Historian specialising in the textile industry) gave the museum the name Haus der Seidenkultur. In the meantime, HdS has become very well known.