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“Enemy Aliens”

February 13, 2013
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A mother from Vienna has brought her son to Birmingham to join in the 150th anniversary celebrations of her great-great-grandfather’s engineering firm – 98 years after the British Government branded her family as ‘enemy aliens’

Dr Ruth Brandauer and her son Jakob visited Brandauer, which once manufactured steel pens and now makes high precision metal pressings marks he electronics, medical, healthcare, construction and renewable energy sectors.

They visited their ancestor’s original factory in New John Street West (pictured) before a grand dinner at Birmingham’s Museum & Art Gallery in the company of guests from the city, local industry/heritage organisations, shareholders, other family members and employees past and present.

To coincide with the anniversary, the gallery Is currently hosting an exhibition of the firm’s Victorian steel pens and some of its high-tech modern components. Brandauer was founded in 1862 by Carl Brandauer and Joseph Letiere Petit and soon becamea central part of Birmingham’s dominant global pen industry.

At the outbreak of the First World War, after half a century of investment and innovation, the Brandauer family found themselves classed as ‘enemy aliens’ and stripped of their property.

Carl Brandauer’s son Frederick was arrested and imprisoned in a detention camp on the Isle of Man, where he committed suicide in 1918 rather than be repatriated to Germany.

Pen manufacturing continued to be the bedrock of sales until the early 1950s when the business switched its attention to making the most of the early stages of the electronics era, supplying components such as switch inserts, cartridge contacts and flat stylus arms.

Today, the firm exports 75% of its sales overseas to more than 20 countries, including millions of components to the United States and China.

Jakob Hutthaler said: “It was fascinating to see where my great-great-great-grandfather laid the foundation stone of what has become a great family business. Of course, I see it with mixed feelings, as the story was immediately over for our family when the First World War started.

“Going forward, I wish Brandauer another 150 years of success and I hope that we stay in touch.”

Article via: Works Management
Author: Ken Hurst


February 13, 2013
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