REGINA LOWY WEINER
(Mother of Melanie)
Melanie Weiner Groedel
left: cir 1893
Koller studio imprint
on back of Melanie's photo,
Read more about the
Koller studio below.
Baron Hermann Groedel
Photograph taken at
the Koller studio.
family tree is fairly well documented from 1782 through the mid
1900s. Born in Friedberg, Hessen, Germany in 1856 to Zadyk Groedel
and Fanny Ahl, Hermann and his two younger brothers, Bernhard and
Albert, built an empire their father is said to have founded called
the Transylvanian Forest Industry Co. (also known as the
Transylvanian Forestcraft shareholder group), exporting lumber
throughout the world. It is said that at the time they were the
largest exporters of lumber in the world.
family had immigrated to Transylvania from Germany in the middle
1870s and acquired citizenship in 1890. Considered “nouveau-riche,”
they owned large tracts of property throughout the greater portion
of Central Europe, including Romania, Hungary, Poland and other
countries. One story about how the business started is that in 1879
there was a flood in Szeged, and Zadik sold the timber for the
reconstruction work. Another story mentions that the lumber business
began back in Germany.
following are locations where they owned land and the quantities:
their business headquarters and had 36000 hectares,
Bogdán: 2500 hectare,
Czechoslovakia; the colony of Gyulfalva with the woodlands Zágon:
8000 hectare and Kalabucs: 2000 hectare,
Transylvania; Musa Mare, Miklaos and Balescu (all together 6000
Buzeu, Romania (size unknown)
Wetlina (5000 hectare), joint owner of Wygoda-Weldzirz (all
together 33000 hectare)
Maramarossziget. (size unknown)
time, they owned the property that included the town of Wetlina,
Poland (1914-1926). It is believed that they also built or expanded
a narrow-gauge railroad that is still in operation as a tourist
attraction. The business headquarters was in Skole, Poland (now
Ukraine, see photo below.)
In 1903 and
1904, the family built and registered a shipping line in the UK to
transport the material worldwide. They had four ships built, three
of them having been named after each of the brother's wives,
Melanie, Margit and Gizella. Although all four steamers were built
and registered in the UK, and its headquarters officially stated to
be in London, the Groedel Brothers Steamship Company Ltd., was
really a Hungarian concern. This caused some interesting political
angst, as during World War I, the British Admiralty had
"requisitioned" the Groedel Brothers’ fleet from 1914 - 1916 and
paid the going rate into a public trust. Once it was discovered that
the ships were enemy owned, the British government auctioned off the
fleet. It's not clear whether the Groedel family ever received any
of the proceeds.
married Caroline Melanie Weiner in Budapest's Doheny Temple in 1885
by Rabbi Samuel Kohn. Melanie was the daughter of Nina Hertzfeld and
Adolph Weiner who owned a successful tailoring business in Budapest,
and was noted as a tailor to the king.
Groedels were Jewish but over time, Hermann, Melanie and the
children, converted to a variety of Christian faiths. It appears
however that Hermann’s brothers and their children continued to
the three Groedel families were bestowed with the title of Baron von
Gulyafalva by King Franz Josef and in 1905 upgraded to Baron von
Gulyafalva und Bogdan.
eldest daughter of Hermann and Melanie, married into the Lonyay
family whose members consisted of the former prime minister,
Melanie, and two of their children, Arthur and Paula, visited the US
in 1910 to socialize, visit relatives that had moved to the US, and
to learn how the American lumber industry worked.
returned to Hungary, Hermann's eldest son, Arthur, became a
diplomat. On March 8, 1914 Emperor Franz
Joseph appointed Baron Arthur his honorary consul in the Vancouver,
British Columbia consulate. Baron Groedel, the only Austro-Hungarian
honorary consul in Vancouver, handed over caretakership of the
office on July 4, 1914 to his cousin Egon Ulrich and left for
Europe. On August 12, 1914 Great Britain declared war on
Austria-Hungary. Baron Arthur Groedel, a lieutenant in an I. & R.
artillery regiment, was killed in action in July 1917 near Troy in
Baron Hermann died in 1930 and much of the land was sold off
in 1944. However, Baron Albert Groedel's sons, Victor and Hans, and
their wives, Anna Dolezal and Marie-Christine Von Callenberg
respectively, appear to have had their personal holding confiscated
by the Nazis, as well as their lives. After the war, the majority of
the family moved to Vienna where they lived out their lives. Only a
few remained in Budapest.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO OF PROF. K. KOLLER IN
The studio information
above (from back of the photo of the Barnoness) is written in both
Magyar and German. In Magyar the address is Harmingzad 4 in
Budapest. In German, the inscription reads "Prof. K. Keller, Kais.
Konigl. Hof Photograph, Dreissigstrasse 4, im eigenen (in own)
house." There is also mention of a gold medal won in Paris in
The atelier Koller was one of the most prestigious portrait-studio
of the time. Károly Koller was originally a drawing master. He
studied in Vienna and started his carreer in Transylvania. He moved
to Budapest in 1874, and one year later opened his own photographic
studio in Budapest, in the Harmincad street (in the downtown area).
He died in 1889, but it didn't mean the decline of the studio,
because his assistants Román Forché and István Gálffy continued the
business as the "Successors of Professor Koller". The studio was
visited by the highest aristocracy and by members of the royal
family. It was an elegant and highly-appreciated atelier.