Marquart, Bonn-Beuel

The beginnings

The Bonn-Beuel production plant nearby the Wesseling site, founded as Dr. L.C. Marquart O.H.G. on December 1, 1846, looks back on a fascinating history. Dr. Ludwig Clamor Marquart, born in 1804 in Osnabrück as the son of a royal civil servant, laid the foundation stone. He was a qualified pharmacist who, in 1837, received permission from the city of Bonn to set up a pharmaceutical institute on private premises. Teaching started in the winter term of 1838 with five students.

The production plants in the 1950s
The production plants in the 1950s

When all his attempts to set up a Chair for Pharmacy or to open up a pharmacy had failed, Marquart closed his extremely successful institute and instead bought a piece of land at number 32, Thalweg, in Bonn. Here he set up a chemistry laboratory that on December 1, 1846, started producing fine chemicals, reagents, acids and pharmaceutical preparations, none of which had previously been produced on an industrial scale. After initial difficulties caused by the revolutions in 1848 and a devastating fire, the business soon began to develop very favorably.

In the ensuing years, Dr. L.C. Marquart O.H.G. received a host of medals and awards at many different trade and industry shows. The company’s customer base was spread across Europe, as it was the sole manufacturer of many preparations. Among the successful products were carbon disulphide and chloroform for anesthesia, which was produced as early as 1847. Dr. Marquart had also taken on industrial production of the Liebig-Horsford baking powder. However, the recipe and process instructions were sold to then unknown pharmacist August Oetker in 1890.

In January 1872 Marquart handed over the running of the company to his sons Louis and Paul. They extended the factory and built up the trade, mainly with Great Britain and the USA. Despite the success enjoyed by the business, Paul Marquart left the company following a disagreement in 1876 and founded his own company in Kassel.

The company moves

The City of Bonn had refused to grant permission for the company to acquire more land in 1872. Nevertheless, in 1885 the company buildings were surrounded with houses and the locals lodged complaints about the unpleasant smell. Therefore, in 1891, the whole factory was moved to nearby Beuel, taking over the former Augustenhütte (Auguste foundry), which was completely rebuilt. A few years later, the land previously occupied by a wallpaper factory was also acquired. Production of potassium permanganate, bismuth, lithium salts, caustic soda and dry potash was re-established in Beuel.

In strange hands

In 1892 Louis Marquart sold his father’s shares in the factory to Dr. Alfred Kölliker who had been a silent partner since 1886. At first, the company continued to operate successfully under Kölliker’s leadership. During the First World War, the special manufacture of lithium salts from lithium mineral came to a stop as there was insufficient raw material. There were increasing financial problems and in December 1918, Kölliker had to sell Dr. L.C. Marquart O.H.G. to its main creditor, the Cologne company M. Lissauer & Cie.

Dr. L.C. Marquart was converted to an AG on December 23, 1921 and gave up the reagent business. Instead, the factory produced dyes, barium nitrate and strontium compounds. It also converted production to processing chemical and metallurgical residues, ores and metals to metal salts for the galvanic glass and ceramic paint industry. Its customers included the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt vormals Roessler (Degussa AG since 1980 and predecessor of Evonik’s Chemicals Business Area) in Frankfurt, which was, among other things, a well-known manufacturer of ceramic paints.

“Aryanization” of the company in 1936

Meno Lissauer, the new owner of Dr. L.C. Marquart AG, was of Jewish extraction. Four months before the National Socialists seized power at the beginning of 1933, the first calls for a boycott of Jewish businesses and factories were heard. In December 1935, representatives of Dr. L.C. Marquart AG inquired at the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt whether it would be prepared to acquire the company. In the negotiations that followed, the Degussa staff responsible prevailed upon the authorities to allow employment of Jewish staff to continue. Their experience of many years was very important in the processing of raw materials that changed on a daily basis.

On August 27, 1936 Dr. L.C. Marquart AG became the property of the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt. Yielding to pressure from the Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF (German Labor Front), the Jewish employees were dismissed, despite all assurances.

The American historian Peter Hayes draws a more detailed picture of the “Aryanization” process at Dr. L.C. Marquart AG in his book “From Cooperation to Complicity: Degussa in the Third Reich” (Cambridge University Press).

Post-war years and reconstruction

Up to 60 percent of Dr. L.C. Marquart AG was destroyed in World War II. In May 1945 production ceased and shortly afterwards the factory was occupied by American troops. The factory was then integrated into the British occupation zone. In August 1945, production started up again with “Kalkasernat,” a potato beetle pesticide. Initially, lack of raw materials prevented the re-establishment of metal processing. Instead, a large plant was built for the production of Calsil®, an important filler for the tire industry. The metal operations were revived in the 1950s, preceded by cadmium electrolysis - unique in Germany - and a bismuth refinery.

Dr. L.C. Marquart AG prospered and was converted to a GmbH in 1961. It produced the fillers Calsil® and Durosil® and manufactured inorganic salts from the elements arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, zinc, lead, lithium, thallium, nickel, cobalt, copper, selenium, strontium and barium and also produced high-purity cadmium metal and cadmium pigments. Matting agents were also produced from 1963.

Calsil plant 1950
Calsil plant 1950

In 1979 L.C. Marquart GmbH was incorporated into Degussa AG as the Marquart factory. Matting agent production capacity was doubled in 1982, while the manufacture of various heavy metal compounds was gradually shut down. In 1998 Degussa discontinued production of cadmium pigment and the manufacture of inorganic salts. In the same year, the Marquart factory was integrated on an organizational level into the Degussa Wesseling site nearby. A year later, extensive demolition and renovation work was undertaken in the disused production facilities. A new infrastructure was created and in 2001, a new precipitator for matting agents and a turbine dryer were put into operation.

Today, historic Marquart site is part of Evonik Industries. It is a specialist operation for the manufacture of matting agents in the ACEMATT® product range - finely dispersed silicic acid for high quality paints.