The Siemens Brothers in Gedabey

Originally published on The Visions of Azerbaijan magazine.

Foreign companies and entrepreneurs rushed to the Caucasus in the late 19th century, a result of tsarist Russia’s attempts to modernize and industrialize the whole empire. The enterprises did not necessarily intend to exploit natural resources, but when they saw the promising, unexplored opportunities, resource extraction was the obvious way to go. One such enterprise was Siemens & Halske AG, founded in Germany in 1847 by Werner von Siemens and Johann Georg Halske.

The Siemens brothers came across the copper mine in Gedabey at almost the same time as the Nobel brothers got involved in the oil industry in Baku. Siemens & Halske AG had won a contract to build and maintain the telegraph lines in Russia, including the Caucasus, in the 1850s and 60s. During this period, Walter von Siemens spotted the lucrative business opportunity in Gedabey and convinced his older brothers, Carl and Werner, to invest in it.

The acquisition of the mine by the Siemens brothers met with strong disapproval from their partner, Johann Halske, which contributed to his break from Siemens & Halske AG. This was partly because the company’s core industrial focus was not mining, but telegraphic services, communications and electric power generation. The brothers never merged the mining business into their main company, but ran the mine as a private business of the Siemens brothers – Werner, Carl and Walter. Read more…

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