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Jozef Franaszek

By Krzysztof Slowinski

In the year 1873 Jozef Franaszek (1840 - 1916), a man coming from a noble family and an independency insurgent of so-called January Uprising (1863 - 1864, against Russian Empire Army occupation),

Illustration 1 [shows the Franaszek family tomb]
Illustration no. 11[shows Jozef Franaszek bas relief portrait]

bought from A. Vetter in Warsaw a factory producing various types and colors of paper - packing paper, tissue paper, wallpaper, blotting paper etc. The factory was founded in 1829 by the company Sporlin & Rehan and located in Warsaw at the corner of Marszalkowska and Zlota streets. It was in 1910 modernized by J. Franaszek and moved to a new building at ul. Wolska (Wolska St.) and renamed to Towarzystwo Akcyjne Fabryki Obic Papierowych i Papierow Kolorowych.

Illustration no. 7 [shows original letter (bill) of 1915 on the factory's stationery]
Illustration no. 2 [shows graphic representation of aerial view of Franaszek factory]

After Jozef's death the factory was taken up and managed by his son Stanislaw Franaszek (1872 - 1933) who modernized and developed it so that the rate of employment reached the level of 290 workers.

His successors, brothers Jerzy (-1943) and Kazimierz Franaszek (1902 - 1944) decided to introduce new products based on their gained experience and current market analysis - photographic papers, plates and films. Preparations to realize the task were begun in 1936. It took about two years to complete the works. The efforts were crowned in 1938 with opening the biggest and most modern paper factory in Poland.

Illustration no. 3 [shows paper base preparation department]
Illustration no. 4 [shows sensitometric control department]

The production was started when all tests to reach the highest quality possible were performed and all planned products proved positive. Marketing of the new products preceded was with intensive advertising campaign in photographic journals, in press and in the company's brochures and leaflets, also in the air.

Illustration no. 5 [photographic papers NIGRONA, MIRAX and TONAR ads]
Illustration no. 6 [roll film MINIGRAN Panchro 28deg Sch]
Illustration no. 8 [advertising balloon]

The campaign backed by the brand name's excellent reputation soon gained regulare clientele in Poland and in Europe, and especially in Balcan peninsula countries and made possible to successfully compete on Polish and foreign markets with well-known and reputable companies.

The factory continued activity even after the outbreak of war (WW II). It wasn't taken over by German Nazi administration like many other companies that were forced to support German war production, and worked still under its own management. Making good use of the factory's abilities Franaszeks helped the anti-Nazi Resistance with providing special kinds of papers enabling fabrications of counterfeit identity cards and other documents. Franaszeks used to take care of the workers - they regularly paid wages, helped those who lost their relatives, and Kazimierz was active among the Warsaw community as one who used his connections to release the jailed and to help their families.
In 1943 the brother Jerzy died and Kazimierz kept the business alone.

On the first of August 1944 an uprising against Nazi occupation was triggered off in Warsaw by the Resistance Home Army to liberate the town from Germans. As the approaching Soviet Red Army came to a halt at the east bank of the Vistula river and stood there without advancing forward, the German Nazi army felt free to carry out Hitler's special order to bomb and to totally devastate Warsaw to raze it to the ground. The quarter Wola was the first to be destroyed. The destruction business was executed methodically - building after building, district after district, accompanied with the crime of genocide on civilians.

And there came the 5th day of August. Groups of people trying to take shelter from raging SS Nazi troops gathered in the Franaszek factory buildings. Among them were the factory workers and Kazimierz Franaszek himself with his little son Pawelek.

All of them were shot down to death and the building burnt out. The day was called The Wola Massacre as several tens of thousands people were then killed.

The factory's machinery and production facilities that survived, were later taken away and sent to Germany.

Illustration no. 9 [The Franaszek building photographed soon after Warsaw liberation in 1945]
Illustration no. 10 [The Franaszek family tomb at the Powazki Cemetary in Warsaw]

The Franaszek family gravestone bears the inscription engraved at the cornice:
... The ashes of Kazimierz Franaszek and his little son Pawelek. Murdered at Wola on the 5 of August 1944 by German barbarians.

The only building of the Franaszek factory (the FOTO department) that survived WWII was in 1949 rebuilt and included (with the former Lebiedzinski factory) in the state
enterprise Warszawskie Zaklady Fototechniczne FOTON. In 1988 a commemorative plaque of bronze honoring Piotr Lebiedzinski, the Franaszek brothers as pioneers of Polish photochemical industry, and some others as continuators, was affixed on the building.

Illustration no. 12 [Roll of FOTOPAN FF 120 film]
Illustration no. 13 [FOTON ad on a building wall]
Illustration no. 14 [Commemorative plaque on FOTON building]

FOTON manufactured various types of films and all grades of photographic papers.

After political system transformation in Poland, in 1990s, FOTON terminated its production. The buildings were taken over by other investor (FOTON Trading Sp. z o.o.) and now they serve for commercial activity.

- "RZECZPOSPOLITA" (daily newspaper) of 31 August 2009, an article "W koncu zabraklo nabojow" (Finally they've run out of ammo) by Agnieszka Rybak

- (website) NAC - Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (National Digital Archive), illustration no. 8

- (website) Fotopolska.eu, illustration no. 7 [original letter (bill) of 1915 on the factory's stationery] and photo no. 9 [The Franaszek building photographed soon after Warsaw liberation in 1945]

- (website) http://mojecmentarze.blogspot.com/2012/06/jozef-franaszek.html, illustrations nos. 10, 11

- (website) http://independent.pl/n/11984 , illustration no. 13

- (website) http://pl.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Plik:Fotopan_FF_120.JPG&filetimestamp=20110109165123 , illustrations nos. 12, 14

- "Spojrzenie w przeszlosc polskiej fotografii" ("A Look Back to the Past of Polish Photography") by Ignacy Plazewski, Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 1982

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