Josef Weber, Chemist

The "Silk Weighter"

SKW

* 1863, Satteins near Feldkirch (Vorarlberg, Austria)

† 1944, Bochum

Dr. Josef Weber - the first important chemist at Chemische Fabrik Th. Goldschmidt who was not a member of the Goldschmidt family - has, unjustly, been almost forgotten, although he left his mark on the company to an extent that none of his successors ever achieved.

After studying Chemistry in Innsbruck and Geneva, where he was also awarded his doctorate in 1890, Weber started his professional career in a silk mill in Krefeld that went bankrupt only two years later. He then moved to Chemische Fabrik Th. Goldschmidt. Years later, Karl Goldschmidt commented that in Weber, whose brilliant reputation had preceded him, “he had secured the most valuable asset from the bankruptcy.” Weber’s first job after joining the company on June 1,1892 was the development of processes to manufacture chlorinated tin, which was urgently needed in the silk industry to weigh down the material. Working closely together with Karl Goldschmidt, Weber met this challenge successfully and made a very significant contribution to creating an important company from the small chemicals factory.

Karl Goldschmidt was fully aware of the contribution that his best employee had made: after Th. Goldschmidt AG was founded, Josef Weber was appointed member of the board in July, 1911, a post he held until his age-related retirement on July 31, 1930. In the mid-1920s, his annual salary was exceeding 50,000 goldmarks - making him better paid than any other manager in the company.

In addition to chlorine detinning, Josef Weber was also the driving force behind numerous other developments, including a process for manufacturing tin oxide and the production of glue film, which, in the 1930s, became one of the most successful products from Th. Goldschmidt AG. These successes and his long-term association with the company gave him the self-confidence to sharply criticize the new course that Th. Goldschmidt AG adopted between 1914 and 1918 with the appointment of Friedrich Bergius.

After his retirement, Josef Weber remained associated with the company for several years with a consulting contract before he died of heart disease on his 81st birthday.