You know which was the major difference between the world 100 years ago an the world of today? The internet. Yes, life was harder an simpler then, but the main disparity was the internet and the speed of communication. Unfortunatelly, if back then we had companies that influence specially Europe, now their number is almost zero.

And the most important companies, as revenues and influence in the world were, obviously, the oil company. All with foreign capital, as today, mainly German but the allies, the French and Englisheven, invoking the provisions of the San Remo Convention, wew puting pressure on the Romanian state to divide these German oil companies.

After several rounds of negotiations conducted by the Averescu government with French and English diplomats, Romanian companies took over the majority stake, and the rest is equally divided between French and English capital.

The most important oil companies in Romania in centuries 19-20

English controlled Steaua Romana company, with the most modern refinery in Europe, when was built, in 1895, and another important company in the Romanian oil industry was the Romanian Astra Society, founded in 1910.

Between 1910 and 1947, the Romanian Astra Refinery belonged to the Dutch Royal Dutch Shell Trust. Until the beginning of the First World War, there are also the companies: Romanian-American (founded in 1904 as a subsidiary of JD Rockefeller’s American Standard Oil Company), Vega (founded in 1905 with German capital), Petrolifer Credit (1905), the Franco-Romanian Oil Company (appeared in 1905 and is considered the largest infusion of French capital on the Romanian oil market), Franco-Romanian Company Unirea Aquila (1906).

Romania was the first country in the world with a 275-tonne oil production recorded in international statistics around 1850. It was followed by the US in 1859, by Italy in 1860, by Canada in 1862 and by Russia in 1863.

The first commercial oil well was built in Romania. The first oil installations in the country were the oil pumps from Lucacesti (Bacau) and Bucharest was the first city in the world to be lit with lamp oil.

The engineers were as well extremely important in an fresh born industry, and between them there are Virgilio Tacit, inventor of the first device to prevent eruptions, Andrei Dragulanescu, who developed and tested the single-column well tube casing, Ion Basgan, who used the principle of sonicity in 1934, both in Romania and in the USA, for a new drilling system, the method for improving the yield and perfecting the rotary drilling by percussion rotation and by damping hydrodynamic pressures.

The method proposed by the engineer Basgan has been widely used in the USA, being introduced in Romania after 1944. Finally, Lazar Eldeanu, who developed a new method of refining oil and then other petroleum products. It is a selective refining that uses sulfur dioxide.

The story of Blazi Guban

The Guban shoes are still well known, and the braand still exists, being owned by an Italian company. The Guban factory was founded in 1937 by Blazi Guban under the name of Guban Timisoara Chemical Plant and operated as a workshop of chemical products and boot cream (near the Gara Mica).

The most interesting thing is that Guban managed to become director for life, following an agreement with the communist power, after he donated the factory to the state. It was the only one in the country which, after nationalization in 1948, retained its manager.

Guban’s shoes have beenweared by famous people, from former US President Harry Truman, to actress Sophia Loren.

The eternal battle between Nicolae Malaxa and Max Auschnitt

Nicolae Malaxa used the plant built between 1923 and 1927 with 82 machine tools purchased from Germany, making it the most sophisticated rolling stock in Europe at the time. More than that, Malaxa has contracted 180 skilled German workers for a period of between six months and a year, to begin the construction of the locomotives. Also, German workers also had the role of instructing the Romanian workers to take their place.

In 1928, after less than a year, the factory became operational, on its gates, leaving the first steam locomotive bearing the name of the Romanian builder. At the same time, Romanian workers were trained, who replaced the Germans at the end of the contract term.

Since then, Romania haven’t imported a locomotive again.

Together with engineer Henry Holban, Malaxa has set up an integrative strategy in the unified national space for automotive construction and exploitation. Between 1932 and 1934, the scientist George Constantinescu used the principle of sonicity in his invention, the Sonic Couple Converter, successfully applied to the locomotives and motor cars produced at the Malaxa plants in Bucharest.

In parallel with the production of locomotives, Nicolae Malaxa builds the seamless steel pipe factory (the current Republic plant), applying for the first time the American laminating process Stiefel.

In just 12 years (1928-1939), Malaxa plants have evolved from a rolling stock repair shop to the size of a leading industrial concern in Europe. And in 1945, the first Romanian car named Malaxa was manufactured in Resita.

Malaxa has initiated and implemented in Romania the following industries: rolling stock equipment (1939-1943); Diesel engines (1935); mechanical transmissions for motor vehicles, including control systems (1936-1937); seamless steel tubes (1937 after the Stiefel process); Diesel locomotives for CFR (1938); optical apparatus (1938).

Politicaly, Malaxa was a sympathizer of the legionary movement and financier of almost all political parties, including Garda de Fier and the Romanian Communist Party. The Malaxa enjoyed the friendship of the philosopher Nae Ionescu, succeeding through him to make relations in the legionary environment and to approach the German political circles.

During the Second World War, in May 1941, Malaxa was accused of collaborating with the Legionnaires, and consequently the factories were seized.

He was competing with his eternal enemy Max Auschnitt, a Romanian businessman who managed The Iron Factories and Resita Domains (UDR) successfully, leading it to become the Romanian firm with the largest capital RON 1 billion, the highest turnover and the most employees (16,669 in 1938, and 22,892 in 1948), for the favors of King Carol II, both being part of his camarilla.

Together with his brother Edgar, Auschnitt owned several steel and munitions businesses including the Titan-Nadrag-Calan chain, which had over 4,900 employees in 1938. He was among the managers of various foreign companies in Vienna or Munich, as well as of Romanian-based companies such as the Romanian Telephone Society and the Chrissoveloni Bank.

Malaxa won the battle for Carol II favors and Auschnitt was sent in jail for six years. He was freed by Antonescu after two years.

Both have failed to make a deal with the communists and continue their fight in USA.

The bankers that influence Romania

Zenni Chrissoveloni came to the Romanian Principalities in 1848 and set up a bank and an exporting company in Galati, which later expanded into Braila and Bucharest. 

Businesses then flourished under the leadership of Nicolas Z. Chrissoveloni, the son of Zenni, a period in which family investment in real estate and agriculture has developed.

In 1879 he bought from Dimitrie Mavrocordat the domains of Ghidigeni and Coraşti, where he built a school that still exists today, the village church, a villa and developed the cognac distillery there.

The bank lost its reputation during the crisis, but regain it and under the management of Nicky Chrissoveloni, the institution was so strong that on 3 June 1948 the profit reported for the previous year reached RON 2 billion, but the Communists nationalized the bank eight days later.

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