Jean-Guillaume GOLDENBERG (1778-1858)
The first metal industry in BAERENTHAL was created in 1745. The forge fabricated weapons.
Jean-Guillaume GOLDENBERG became director in 1826 and the factory boomed.
He developed a new procedure from England (the puddling process) for manufacturing steel. He had pudding furnaces installed, a rolling mill, and two shingling hammers that stayed operational until 1932. Approximately a hundred of the 850 villagers were employed under his direction.
At this time, the Zinsel valley consisted of numerous lakes, marshes and forests. The thick fog made the climate extremely damp and unhealthy. Insect bites caused a strange illness called “frieren” which in the local dialect meant “the shakes”. This illness wrecked havoc amongst the local population.
Jean-Guillaume GOLDENBERG detected the origin of this illness and organised an effective fight to stop the outbreak of this plague. First of all, he drained the lakes and marshes. Then he asked for permission from King Louis Philippe to create trenches at the edge of the forest along the Mulhthal Road for draining purposes.
By cleaning up the valley, he managed to eradicate the illness and created a much healthier atmosphere, so much so that 50 years later whilst under German occupation, Baerenthal obtained the label ‘Station de cure d’air’. What a turn round!
Jean-Guillaume GOLDENBERG died on the 18th February 1958 at the age of 80.
His name will always be associated with our village. He lies next to the protestant church and his grave is marked with a block of red sandstone inscribed with the following epitaph:
« La France lui doit l’importation d’une industrie et BAERENTHAL,
l’assainissement de la contrée »(France owes him the importation of an industry and Baerenthal, the sanitary condition of the region.)