The Marienthal factory
"Marienthal" is the name of the internationally most renowned site of Austrian rural research. It stands for a factory founded in the 19th century and the settlement built to accommodate workers at that factory. Marienthal is, therefore, only found on few maps.
The world came to know it as the site of the so-called Marienthal Study of 1933 which describes and examines the effects of unemployment there in the winter of 1931/32 after the local textile factory was closed down. It has since come to be regarded as one of the most significant community studies and as a pioneering piece of sociographic work.
Thus it was that Marienthal came to be generally equated with the circumstance of extraordinary unemployment. Alas, this association often neglects to appreciate the remarkable entrepreneurial and highly evolved blue-collar-worker culture for which Marienthal stands or its significance as a centuries-old site of rural industry.
The history of the former textile factory, now part of the Gramatneusiedl municipality, is checkered with change and transformation. The first factory on the site, a flax and tow spinning mill with the privileged status of royal endorsement, was founded in the 1820s by retired senior police officer Leopold Pausinger. It was closed down again a mere few years later after encountering financial difficulties. Shortly thereafter, in 1833, Hermann Todesco, a Jewish banker, bought the factory and erected a new manufacturing building on the grounds. With a workforce of up to 360 employees, Todesco ran his cotton weaving mill and woolen-goods factory into the 1840s. After its decline, Maximilian Todesco built a new weaving and spinning mill on the site in 1858. In its heyday, this business provided employment for 1,000 or so people. Over the next three decades, Eduard and Moritz von Todesco undertook further expansions to the factory, merged with the Trumau spinning mill and built workers’ quarters. From 1864 onward, the Todesco and Miller families held the majority stakes in an incorporated company now operating a cotton-spinning mill, weaving mill, bleaching, waterproofing and dye-works, and a printing shop at Marienthal.
The company's economic boom waned around the turn of the century. In 1925, the father and son duo of Isidor and Stephan Mautner acquired a majority holding in the company which, until 1930, was now called Vereinigte Österreichische Textil-Industrie Mautner AG. They ushered in renewed prosperity for the company, by 1929 employing a workforce of nearly 1,300. The fall-out of the Great Depression of 1929 eventually hit the shores of old Europe, albeit with delayed effect, and the Marienthal textile factory was forced to shut down in early 1930 on the grounds of its economic demise.
Time and again in the years that followed, leading up to World War II, sections of the factory were put back into operation. During World War II the factory was Arianized; in 1943 it was closed down because of the war. Once the war ended, a variety of entrepreneurs made attempts to re-establish the factory as a site for textile manufacturing. Operation of Marienthal textile production was finally and permanently halted on March 31, 1961.
That is when Para-Chemie bought the part of the grounds on which the former spinning mills as well as the dye-works and laundering and printing outfits were situated. Para-Chemie has been a Degussa company since 1962 and thus belongs to Evonik Industries AG. It manufactures acrylic glass for the Performance Polymers Business Unit. In 2010 Evonik Para-Chemie GmbH recorded revenue totaling €39.5 million.