Pictorial sociography of Győr
This article is a tribute to the photographer József Glück, who with great diligence and skill captured for posterity the many sites of Győr in the first third of the 20th century. His local patriotism has left an invaluable reminder of the rapidly industrialising city of 100 years ago, including the historic and contemporary buildings of the time. For those interested in the city of Győr at that time, the Glück images offer a unique glimpse of what the city looked like a century ago. His pictures are second to none.
The visual representation of the residents of the city of Győr was, however, of outstanding importance for the socially sensitive Glück, beyond the sight and the capture of the buildings: we can see the simple workers of the time, people walking in the streets, children who appear in many places, bathers in the Kis-Duna or the Cziráky open-air swimming pool, the rowing world, which was already inseparable from the cityscape, and so on. Glück has created a veritable pictorial sociography of Győr of a century ago.
The following paragraphs of this post are taken in their entirety and verbatim from the work of Maria Nagy (1).
Glück was born on 11 November 1887 in Székesfehérvár, where he completed his schooling and learned photography. After years of practice he moved to Győr, where he continued his work. In 1898, he opened his studio at 13 Deák Ferenc Street (today Aradi Vértanúk útja).
In Munich he developed and enriched his photographic knowledge, and here he passed his master’s examination in 1909.
With his camera, which was still very rudimentary and heavy at the time, he was constantly wandering around the city, capturing the life of the streets and squares. From the beginning of the century until the outbreak of the Second World War, he photographed almost without exception the construction works and monuments in the city.
It is thanks to chance and the saving efforts of a few enthusiastic citizens of Győr that most of József Glück’s photographs have been preserved for posterity. Today, the Rómer Flóris Museum of Art and History holds his 24×30 cm glass negatives and several positive enlargements, while the Dr. Kovács Pál Library and Community Space houses 145 of his photographs.
He came home with honours from almost all the photography exhibitions of his time. From 1926 he was the chairman of the National Association of Hungarian Photographers, and from 1935 the chairman of the Economic Committee of the Győr Industrial Association, as a member of the board of the photography department.
He was an active and respected participant not only in the photographic profession but also in the public life of the city. He held positions in the Győr Singing and Music Society, the Firemen’s Association and the Ambulance Association, among others. He was also active in the School Committee of the Neolog Israelite Community of Győr.
He considered it particularly important that the students of the Israelite elementary school in Kossuth Street receive a modern education and enlightened upbringing.
For decades, he was a member of the city’s Law Commission. He was expelled in 1939 because of his Jewish origins. In 1940, he was elected to the supervisory board of the city’s Chamber of Industry, and later, as anti-Semitism intensified, he was deprived of his citizen’s rights.
His studio was closed down on 1 May 1942. In May 1944, he was forced into the ghetto with his family, and on 11 or 14 June 1944, he and his wife (Janka Singer) were deported to Auschwitz. He never returned from there and probably died in Auschwitz in June 1944 – the exact date is not known. One of his descendants, his son, is known to have lived in Israel: he visited Győr in 1990 and attended the opening of his father’s exhibition.
The images shown are from the collection of the Dr. Kovács Pál Library and Community Space, Győr, with the permission of the institution. (2)
(1) Győri Szalon https://www.gyoriszalon.hu/news/12828/66/
(2) Dr. Kovács Pál Library and Community Space, Győr