Hatvan and the Deutschs

The achievements of the Hatvany-Deutsch family in Hatvan:
-Europe’s largest sugar factory, steam mill, bakery
-Provided livelihood for ten thousand people
-Doctors, infant care facilities, vacation home for needy children
Details and further information about the Holocaust-era history of the family can be found below.

The castle

The castle

Castle, factory, temple
In 1867 Ignác Deutsch purchased a piece of agricultural land in the northeast Hungarian city of Hatvan for it yielded high quality crops. A rundown castle originally built by aristocrat Antal Grassalkovich during the 1750s was part of the estate. Following the 1880s the renovated building became one of the most important venues of the family life of the Deutschs. They demonstrated their roots to the town as they chose the prefix hatvani (de Hatvan) when Emperor Franz Joseph ennobled József and Bernát, the two sons of Ignác, the founders of the company in 1879. The family name changed again in 1897 when they became Hatvany-Deutsch and then–leaving the" foreign sounding" Deutsch–only Hatvany after the family was granted the title Baron in 1910. The new owners of the castle stirred up the town of Hatvan, both economically and in terms of its cultural life. They founded Europe’s largest sugar plant, but also had a steam-mill, a tomato condenser and a bakery built. Some 1000-1200 workers were employed. However, combined with suppliers and those employed by the growing railroad company and all the family members, the Hatvany-Deutschs provided livelihood for some 10,000 people.

Although they sometimes had fierce wage disputes with workers, the family foundation supported widows and orphans of deceased employees. They also made generous donations to the institutions of the town of Hatvan. Sándor Hatvany-Deutsch put up a substantial humanitarian foundation, financed the construction of the Rabbi’s house and the renovation of the Catholic church and parish. Ferenc Hatvany donated 10 million Crowns in 1925 for the benefit of the needy of Hatvan and made substantial donations to the Red Cross, the Infant Care Center and the women’s associations of the Jewish and Catholic communities. Endre Hatvany established a scholarship grant for young medical students and also took the lead in the construction of a holiday village for poor children. Irén Hatvany was particularly popular among the urban population for her outstanding sensitivity for social issues. She supported local associations, artists and founded a neonatal medical home for 50 infants.

Charity activities were not confined to the town of Hatvan. Ignác Deutsch established a Jewish orphanage already back in Arad, for which his son, Sándor also donated generously. The family also played an important role in Jewish public life: not only did József hold an important position in the Pest Jewish Community (he was elected chief financial officer in 1906) but he also was a senior official of the Jewish Teacher Training College and a member of the Rabbinical Seminary’s board. This position was filled by his father Bernát during the 1880s. Various different family foundations also supported a high number of needy Jewish youth.

Wiping out their memory
Following the German occupation of the country in March 1944, the castle was seized by the Nazis and family members fled. Deutsch facilities, which had contributed so substantially to the development of Hatvan were seized by the Hungarian authorities who also began to round up local Jews. The ghetto was set up on the territory known as Lilitelep (Lili Estate) named after Lili Hatvany. Most of the buildings here had been built by the family. Jews had been rounded up in the sugar factory of the Hatvanys before deportation, where treatment was no less brutal than in other areas of the country. The Jews of the town and the surrounding area were deported by the Hungarian authorities from the sugar factory to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the middle of June 1944. Only 56 returned of the 453 deported victims.

Local authorities aspired to eradicate the memory of the Hatvanys. Two of the major thoroughfares of the town had borne the names of family members, these were renamed in 1944. The Hatvany-Deutsch Sándor Street was changed to Horváth Mihály Street, while the Hatvany-Deutsch József Street became Tabán Street. These have not been given back their original names ever since. A small street however is named after Lili Hatvany and the town also hosts the Hatvany Lajos Museum.