Bergh, van Den

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BERGH, VAN DEN , Dutch family of industrialists. zadok van den bergh (1769–1857) was a merchant and leader of the Brabant Jewish community, living in the small village of Geffen. His son daniel van den bergh (1794–1866) headed a textile factory from 1836, which under the name Bergoss (1856–1986) made Oss into a center of the textile industry. His younger brother simon van den bergh (1818–1907) continued their father's business, bartering groceries and dry goods for butter supplied by peasants from the surrounding countryside. In 1872, Simon, helped by his sons Samuel, Arnold, Henry, Isaac and Jacob, started production of "artificial butter," or oleomargarine, in a factory in Oss, in 1890 replaced by a bigger one at Rotterdam. Henry and Jacob opened a branch in London, while in 1888 a margarine factory was opened in Cleve (Germany). A few years later, in 1895, a factory was opened in Brussels. Subsequently, the firm developed rapidly and became one of the leading margarine manufacturers in Europe. In 1930 the Van den Bergh Margarine Union Ltd. merged with Lever Bros. Ltd., forming Unilever Ltd., which expanded into a giant international concern. Simon's son, samuel van den bergh (1864–1941), obtained a leading position in the firm, but was active in politics as well and within the Jewish community. He was a Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party from 1905 to 1909, and a Member of the First House from 1923 to 1938. He was also the Dutch delegate to the International Jewish Agency and a member of the board of the Dutch branch of Keren Hayesod. His son, the lawyer and professor george van den bergh (1897–1966), was active in the Socialist Party and was a Member of Parliament from 1925 to 1933. As the chairman of the board of the Zionist agricultural project in the Wieringermeer, he served the Jewish community. George's brother, sidney james van den bergh (1898–1978), was also active in public affairs. After serving as a commissioner for unicef, he was appointed minister of defense in 1959. The next generation too produced a Member of Parliament: George's son robert van den bergh (1913–1997) represented the Socialist Party from 1963 to 1971. Thereafter he became a member of the Council of the State (1972–83).


C. Wilson, Story of Unilever (1954); J. Becker, Het smouse kerkhof te Geffen 16431908 (1987) 44–77; F.J.M, van de Ven, "Bergh, Samuel van den (1864–1941)," in: Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland 3 (1989); J. Mulder, Sidney van den Bergh, een liberaal (1975).

[Bart Wallet (2nd ed.)]

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Bergh, van Den

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