Hermann Armin Freiherr Groedel von Gyulafalva und Bogdán (1856 - 1930)

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Birthplace: Friedberg, Bavaria, Germany
Death: Died in Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
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About Hermann Armin Freiherr Groedel von Gyulafalva und Bogdán

The Groedel 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 founded called the Transylvanian Forest Industry Co. (also known as the Transylvanian Forestcraft shareholder group), exporting lumber throughout the world. The Groedel 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. The following are locations where they owned land and the quantities: • Skole was their business headquarters and had 36000 hectares, • Poland; 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 hectare), • District of Buzeu, Romania (size unknown) • Master of Wetlina (5000 hectare), joint owner of Wygoda-Weldzirz (all together 33000 hectare) • Maramarossziget. (size unknown)

In 1903 and 1904, the family built and registered their own shipping line in the UK to transport the material worldwide. They had built four ships and three of them were 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 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. Caroline Melanie Weiner Groedel was a Jewish Baroness in Hungary. She and her husband Armin Groedel and his two brothers, first became titled in 1903 in Budapest. They were very large landowners in several of the surrounding countries, and it is said that at the time they were the largest exporters of lumber in the world. They even had their own shipping line. The Groedels at one time owned the property that included the town of Wetlina, Poland (1914-1926). It is believed that they also built 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.) Hermann was married to Caroline Melanie Weiner (b. 1865), daughter of Adolph and Nina Hertzfeld, in Budapest's Doheny Temple in 1885 by Rabbi Samuel Kohn. Melanie's father, Adolph, owned a very successful tailoring business in Budapest and was a tailor to the king. The Groedels were Jewish but several family members, primarily several of the brothers' children, converted to a variety of Christian faiths. It appears however, that Hermann and Melanie, and several others, continued to practice Judaism. In 1903, the Groedel brothers and their families were bestowed with the title of Baron von Gulyafalva by King Franz Josef and in 1905 upgraded to Baron von Gulyafalva und Bogdan. Paula Groedel, the eldest daughter of Hermann and Melanie, married into the Lonyay family whose members consisted of the former prime minister, Menyhert Lonyay. Hermann, 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 learn how the American lumber industry worked. After they 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 Turkey.

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. After the war, the majority of the family moved to Vienna where they lived out their lives. Only a few remained in Budapest.

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