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Description

This audio clip is from an interview with George Schoenmann, recorded by Jewish History Association of South Wales/Cymdeithas Hanes Iddewig De Cymru (JHASW/CHIDC) in September 2018. In the clip, George talks about General Paper and Box Manufacturing Company.

George Schoenmann – a short biography.

George Schoenmann was born in Vienna in 1934. George’s father, Paul, a prolific businessman, had owned a cigarette paper factory in Vienna but after the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938) the Nazis confiscated all Jewish businesses in Austria. Paul received permission to set up General Paper & Box Manufacturing Company on the Treforest Industrial Estate in 1938; the family came to Wales as refugees in 1939 and moved to Whitchurch, Cardiff.

The company specialised in two areas: luxury cardboard boxes and cigarette paper. The boxes were assembled by hand in the factory. During the war, it also made tools for the Ministry of Defence.

Rizla bought the company in 1948 and Paul was forced out in 1951. He subsequently started a furniture company in Bridgend.

George attended school in Brecon and after the war worked for many of the Jewish businesses at Treforest, as well as his father’s furniture company. He set up his own company selling electrical spare parts in 1979, before retiring aged 70.

Transcript

The units in—that were built by the government on the Treforest Estate, they all seemed to be of one design. They were very plain, nothing fancy at all. Just a utilitarian building. I, I think it was about seven or 8,000 square foot and the building was—it had offices at the front and it was divided roughly into half and the slightly bigger half, probably 55 percent was devoted to cigarette paper and the other 45 percent was the box making division. They made boxes—well, I don’t know, you could put shoes in them—all that sort of thing. Although, of course, they didn’t do so well in the war because on the one hand there was very little new stuff being produced, and the one thing that you didn’t need was luxury boxes [laughs]. So, they did struggle a bit and the main revenue stream was from the cigarette paper.

Sources.

- Jewish History Association of South Wales/Cymdeithas Hanes Iddewig De Cymru, Oral history interview with George Schoenmann (20 September 2018)
- ‘End of an era for Rizla factory’, in WalesOnline [accessed 11 May 2022].

Depository: Screen & Sound Archive, The National Library of Wales.

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