The Company "Naxos-Union" was foundet in 1871 by the jewish entrepreneur Julius Pfungst in Frankfurt am Main/Germany. The company had the sole rights to mine the emery sand, which is found on the island Naxos/Greece. Naxos-Union processed this emery to abrasive bodies and in 1880 they started with the production of grinding machines. After the death of Julius Pfungst (1899), the company was continued by his son Arthur, who was a doctor in natural sciences (chemistry and mathematics). He was very active in projects, that supported free education for underprivileged people and a very social entrepreneur. When the Naxos-hall was build in the years 1906/1907 in the Ostend (district in Frankfurt), also a canteen and additionally a wash-house, so that the employees could clean themselfes after work, were build. In that times no matter of course. Sadly Dr. Arthur Pfungst died very early, in 1912 at the age of 48 years. His mother Rosette and his sister Marie-Eleonore took over the management of the Naxos-Union. In 1919 the both women founded the 'Dr. Arthur-Pfungst-foundation', to which they transferred the entire corporate assets of Naxos-Union.
Marie Eleonore Pfungst was a very modern women for her times. She was never married and committed to women's rights and in 1897 she founded the 'Franfurt legal office for women rights'. She promoted many other social projects, and continued, as managing director of Naxos-Union, the corporate social policy, her brother Arthur already practiced. Sadly her social and economic commitment was gradually reduced by the Nazis' after their seizure of power 1933. Finally in 1935, she was forced by the Nazis to vacate the company and foundation. Even the name of the 'Dr. Arthur-Pfungst-foundation' was changed into 'Waldschmidt-Foundation' in 1939. (Which was changed after the WW2 back to the former name 'Dr. Arthur-Pfungst-foundation' and is still existing today.)
On the 15th September 1942, at the age of 79 years Marie Eleonore Pfungst was deported to the concentration camp Theresienstadt, where she died a half year later.
After researching the history of Naxos-Union and reading a lot more details than I mentioned in the text above about the former owners, especially Marie Eleonore, I wasn't sure anymore, whether I really should continue with my post, because the tragic fate of this strong, independent and emancipated woman, has touched me deeply. But I could imagine that Marie Eleonore would really like, what has settled in the old Naxos-hall in our days, so I decided to continue with the post - which becomes now more positive and definitely more colorful than so far.
The company Naxos-Union still existed after the 2nd worldwar. They used the Naxos-hall until mid of 1980's, than the company moved to Butzbach, another region in Hessen. After the closure of the fabric, the building was empty for years and threatened by decay. In 1988 a private investor bought it and the City Frankfurt rented it from him for a horrendous monthly sum. (Another scandal-story...). Since 1992 the hall is under monument protection, the most other buildings around, which also once belonged to the Naxos-Union, were demolished. Well, now as the city had rented this old fabric-hall, they weren't too sure, what to do with it. That was one of those rare moments, where 'culture' gets a chance here in Germany and so it was decided to use the Naxos-hall for the time being as a cultural meeting place. Stefan Mohr, streetworker and head of the 'Naxos-Atelier' told us, at that time the Naxos-hall was in a very poor condition. All windows were broken and the hall was populated by hundreds of pigeons. You can imagine how dirty it must have been...Ok, meanwhile the pigeons had to look for another home, new windows are installed and today the political cabaret 'Die Käs', the free theater 'Willy Pramel', and the fantastic 'Naxos Atelier' are located in the hall.
'Naxos Atelier' is a studio of the 'Jugendladen Frankfurt-Bornheim', a cultural institution under the responsibility of streetworkers, who support young people in practicing street art. That means not going out with spray cans and smearing historical walls, no they learn how to use spray cans to create ART, how to plan it, how to put their ideas into practise and also, how to calculate their budget (!) - because already van Gogh and Gauguin noticed: Colors are expensive!
Meanwhile some of the talented members of the Naxos Bande (group) are so famous in the street art scene, that they are requested for international street art projects all over the world.
Amazingly the ECB (European Central Bank) supported the work of the street art artists, when in 2012 their new skyscraper in Frankfurt was build. They provided parts of the fence around the construction zone and donated the plates and also the paint cans. The project was coordinated by Stefan Mohr, the head of the Naxos Atelier. Streetart artists from whole Europe came to Frankfurt to participate in the project. The graffiti changed all 3 month and was often highly political and included caricatures of ECB president Mario Draghi and German chancellor Angela Merkel. The ECB didn't tell the painters what to paint or not paint – just that there must be no fascism or sexism. The works has proved so popular that dozens of banks and money managers have been interested in buying the works.
Btw, the city Frankfurt finally bought the Naxos-Halle in 2006. Often I really think 'Wtf ..' when I read about useless projects, where the city throws money out of the window. But in this case, they made so many things right. They prevented the hall from being demolished, they supported this fantastic Naxos Atelier project and young people to live their creativity. And they ensure that the original history of the hall and their former owners will not be forgotten.
Thanks to Stefan Mohr, who told us so much about the Naxos-Hall and about street art, and to all the artists, who make our cities a bit more colorful and beautiful!