Foundation of the Vereinigte Seidenwebereien AG
Our founding company, Vereinigte Seidenwebereien AG, was formally established on 16 September 1920, when it was entered into the commercial register of the Krefeld district court. Mannheim-based corporate historian PD Dr Stefanie van de Kerkhof has been researching the history of the company on behalf of Verseidag-Indutex GmbH, and she lends us an insight into the lengthy process of its incorporation as revealed in sources from the NRW State Archive in Duisburg and the Krefeld City Archive.
In the first year of economic crisis following the end of the First World War, four medium-sized silk companies in the Lower Rhine region were already engaged in cooperation with each other (Esters, F. Keller & Co., Kniffler-Siegfried, C. Lange & Co.). Less than a year later, on 8 June 1920, the official process of incorporation began with the adoption of the memorandum and articles of association and the appointment of the management and supervisory boards before the Krefeld notary public Justice Councillor Karl Alberts.
On 15 July 1920, the Minister for Trade and Industry gave his approval for the establishment of the company. But before this could happen, imperial stamp duty already had to be paid by the end of August. This was 5% of the share capital of 12 million marks, and the payment was to be made to the main customs office in Crefeld (as Krefeld was written at the time). Upon review, the auditors appointed by the Crefeld Chamber of Commerce then confirmed the act of incorporation (‘that the company has been established in accordance with the statutory provisions and that the articles of association have been duly drawn up and the statutory bodies duly appointed’). Finally, on 16 September 1920, the company was formally established by being entered into the commercial register, as documented by the newspaper announcement in the Krefelder Anzeiger.
The founders of Vereinigte Seidenwebereien AG (or Verseidag for short) were Dr Josef Esters (1884–1966), Hermann Lange (1874–1942), Rudolf (1874–1930) and Paul Oetker (1876–1927), and their mother Emilie Oetker (née Peters) (1853–1931), the widow of Albert Oetker, a noted philanthropist who had held the prestigious title of Kommerzienrat. All five were owners of several medium-sized silk weaving mills in the Lower Rhine region and in Bergisches Land. These mills were located in Anrath, Gräfrath near Solingen, Herongen, Krefeld, Schiefbahn, Süchteln, Wachtendonk and Walbeck. From 1920 to 1943, the company’s headquarters were at the Krefeld office of Deuss & Oetker, the largest of the founding companies, situated at the corner of Gartenstraße and Westwall.
In the period of economic crisis following the end of the First World War, they decided that extensive cooperation would put them in a better position to finance innovation and exploit synergies. Later, other shareholders joined the public limited company and its board of management. At the time it was founded in 1920, Verseidag was already Europe’s largest silk company. It produced mainly natural and artificial silk fabrics for the clothing industry. However, technical fabrics were also part of the product portfolio even before the First World War, as Deuss & Oetker, for instance, manufactured cartridge pouches.