History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Austria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1781-2020)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-16-8

Publication Date: 2020 May 2

Number of References in Bibliography: 1752

Earliest Reference: 1781

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Brief Chronology/Timeline of Soy in Austria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire

1781 – The earliest known reference to the soybean in connection with Austria is found in Illustrations of Very Rare Plants (Icones Plantarum Rariorum) (in Latin), by Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin. A superb color illustration (Plate 145) shows the soybean plant, with details of one pod and one seed. A professor of botany in Vienna, Austria, he refers to it as Dolichos soja. The description is entirely in Latin (see p. 146) – as is the book.

1786 – Professor Jacquin of Vienna, in a 4-volume book titled Collected Observations on Austrian Botany, Chemistry, and Natural History (Collectanea ad Botanicam, Chemiam, et Historiam Naturalem Spectantia) states in Vol. 1, p. 46-47, that soybeans thrive in Vienna in the open air.

Therefore: This is the earliest document seen concerning soybeans in Austria, or the cultivation of soybeans in Austria. This document contains the earliest date seen for soybeans in Austria, or the cultivation of soybeans in Austria (1786). The source of these soybeans is unknown.

1814-1815 – The Congress of Vienna is convened to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon I. The Austrian emperor Francis I (formerly Holy Roman Emperor Francis II) is the host.

1867 June 8 – The Austro-Hungarian Empire is established. Also called the “Dual Monarchy,” it has twin capitals at Vienna and Budapest. It lasted a little more than 50 years (51 years and 4 months). As Philip Isenberg, translator, observed (personal communication):

“There were many lands, and in fact many articles and ads from those lands that we have, which were part of the empire but were outside of Austria-Hungary, such as Bohemia and Moravia (in today's Czech Republic), Slovakia, Silesia (most of which is in today's Poland), parts of what are now in Romania and Ukraine, and others, just off the top of my head. So, for example, Prague and all those agronomists and seed dealers in Prague were in the empire but were never in Austria-Hungary, even if they had German newspapers.”

1868 Dec. 12 – The earliest known soyfood product, India Soy [sauce], is now available in Austria-Hungary – in Klagenfurt. It is imported and advertised by Gustav Scola (Sueddeutsche Post, p. 597).

1873 – Prof. Friedrich Haberlandt obtains his first soybeans at the Vienna World Exposition (Wiener Welt Ausstellung). In 1878 he wrote (p. 6): They were in part from Japan and China, and in part from Mongolia, Transcaucasia, and Tunis [later renamed Tunisia]. There were, in total, no less than 20 types (Sorten) as follows (table): Five yellow-seeded, three black-seeded, three green-seeded, and two brownish-red-seeded varieties from China. One yellow-seeded and three black-seeded varieties from Japan. One black-seeded variety from Trans-Caucasia [between the Black and Caspian Seas]. And one green-seeded variety from Tunis [the capital of Tunisia].

Note that most of the soybeans were not today's typical yellow-seeded types.

Though largely unnoticed at the time, this was an event of great significance for the history of the soybean in Europe.

Until recently it has been unclear exactly how Prof. Haberlandt obtained these soybeans. He probably obtained all of them from the Japanese exposition; Heinrich von Siebold, son of Phillip Franz von Siebold, had advised the Japanese to take soybeans to Vienna and he accompanied them to Vienna as an interpreter (J. Vollmann, 2 March 2010, personal communication).

1875 – Prof. Haberlandt begins intensive soybean trials in the experimental garden of the Imperial-Royal College of Agriculture in Reitergasse, Vienna. Only the early-maturing varieties bear seeds.

1876 early – Haberlandt sent samples of soybean seeds to seven cooperators in central Europe, who planted and tested the seeds in the spring of 1876, with good or fairly good results in each case. Each year, as results of trials were sent to him, he sent soybeans to a growing number of cooperators in Central and Eastern Europe. In this way the soybean was first cultivated in many countries in that area.

1876 Feb. 26 – Prof. Haberlandt’s first article about soybeans is published in the Wiener Landwirthschaftliche Zeitung (Vienna). It is titled “Der Anbau der rauhhaarigen Soja oder Sojabohne” (Soja hispida Moench)” (“The cultivation of the coarse-haired soya or soybean”). It is packed with interesting information about the plant, including his first analysis of the chemical composition of the seeds: They are a remarkably rich source of protein and vegetable oil.

1878 – Prof. Haberlandt’s magnum opus, Die Sojabohne (The Soybean.) is published in Vienna. This was the world’s first book written entirely about the soybean. The earliest such book in Japanese was written in 1909 (Report of a Survey on Soybeans in Manchuria. Part 5), in Chinese in 1910 (Ta Tao, by Li Yuying), and in Korean in 1993 (by Chang Jihyun).

Haberlandt’s 119-page work is primarily about research in Central Europe from 1876-1877 regarding cultivation of soybeans and their adaptability to this geographical area; he describes the location and results of every known soybean trial in Central Europe.

We now know that Prof. Haberlandt’s book was published by 27 Feb. 1878 thanks to an article on that date in the Neue Freie Presse (Vienna) (Morning edition, p. 12, col. 5).

1878 April 7 – Prof. Haberlandt has surgery on a tumor on his right thigh. May 1st – Death in Vienna (blood poisoning). Burial on May 4 at the Evangelical / Protestant Cemetery (evangelischen Friedhof) on Matzleinsdorfer Platz, Vienna.

It was widely believed that Haberlandt's untimely death caused a great loss of momentum in work with soybeans and soyfoods in Europe. For example, Thomas Williams of the USDA, writing in 1897, noted of Haberlandt's work:

Although he succeeded in exciting a great deal of interest in soybean cultivation while making his experiments, and distributed a considerable amount of seed, very little seems to have come of it; for at his death in 1878, the interest flagged, and the soy bean has failed to obtain the place as a staple crop which he prophesied for it.”

This, however, was speculation which seemed reasonable but, until now, could not be supported with documentary proof. One purpose of this book is to examine the extent to which Prof. Haberlandt’s work generated lasting interest in the soybean, how long that interest lasted, and in what forms.

1879 Jan. 18 – The earliest known advertisement offering soybeans for sale appears in the Wiener Landwirthschaftliche Zeitung (Vienna). The seller, Graf von Stockau'sche Gutsverwaltung, is in Napagedl (better known as Napajedla, is a town in today’s Czech Republic). This a small ad with a large, bold title, "Soja," states: The red-brown variety from China and the yellow variety from Mongolia, brought in by Prof. Haberlandt, available for 50 Kr. [Austro-Hungarian kreuzer] per kilogram.

1880 Dec. 3 – The soybean, a new introduction from Prof. Haberlandt, seems to be on the market in larger quantities for the first time this year (Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung, p. 4, col. 3. Morning edition)

1883 April – E. Meissl and F. Böcker of Austria publish the earliest known scientific study of the nutritional/chemical composition of the soybean, and of its oil and protein. They introduce (in German) the terms soy casein and soy albumin, and are also the first to state that soybeans contain lecithin.

A footnote states that they conducted their experiments in early 1880, but for various reasons presentation of the results was delayed until April 1883 (Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe {Wien} 87{Part 1}:372-91).

1884 – The first person to examine the seeds of the soybean under a microscope and to illustrate and give names to the cellular layers and contents of one cell that he sees is Thomas Frans Hanausek, who writes in German and lives in Krems an der Donau in Lower Austria.

1915 Feb. 1 – An important article titled “The Soybean” (Die Sojabohne), by C. Fruwirth (of Vienna), appears in Fuehlings Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung (p. 65-96).

1916 – The Introduction of the Soybean, a Revolution in the People’s Nutrition (Die Einführung der Soja, eine Umwaelzung der Volksernaehrung), by Maurice Fürstenberg (of Frohnleiten, Steiermark, Austria) is published in Berlin by Paul Parey (30 p.).

1917 – The Soybean: a Cultivated Plant of the Future, and Possibilities for its Utilization (Die Soja: eine Kulturpflanze der Zukunft und ihre Verwertungsmöglichkeiten), by Maurice Fürstenberg (of Frohnleiten, Steiermark, Austria) is published in Berlin by Paul Parey (40 p.).

1918 Nov. 3 – The Austro-Hungarian Empire comes to an end as it is on the losing side of World War I.

1921 – Ladislaus Berczeller (PhD, Vienna) applies for an Austrian patent for Verfahren zur Veredlung von Sojabohnen (Process for improvement of soybeans). He is issued Austrian patent No. 106,346 on 25 April 1927.

This is the earliest document seen related to Dr. Berczeller's work with soybeans. It is also his earliest known patent related to soy.

1921 Jan. 21 – Ladislaus Berczeller, PhD, of Vienna, is issued a German patent for making soy flour. His new product is the subject of a long article titled “'Manna' for the hungry” in the Times (London) (Sept. 28).

1921 Nov. – Mannabrot (Manna Bread), containing whole soy flour, starts to be made by Germann Stumpf & Sons with office and factory at III/6 Hauptstrasse Nr. 62-64, Vienna, Austria. In some unknown way it is connected with L. Berczeller. This is the earliest known commercial soy product made in Austria.

1925 – Agronomic trials with 20 different soybean varieties start to be conducted in Lower Austria at Platt by Fritz Drahorad and Franz Anton Brillmayer, his employee. Fritz Drahorad, PhD is Senior Commissioner of the Federal Institute of Plant Cultivation and Seed Testing in Vienna (Wiener Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung, 9 April 1932, p. 113-14).

1928 May 6 – Edelsoja (whole soy flour made by the Berczeller process), made by the Oesterreichische Soja-Aktiensgesellschaft in Vienna, is the 2nd earliest known commercial soy product made in Austria. It later became world famous.

1928 April 14 – Franz Anton Brillmayer, a seed breeder in Platt, near Zellerndorf, lower Austria, writes his earliest known article about soybeans. Titled “The Soy- or Oilbean, a New Crop Plant for Austria,” it appears on this date in the Bauernbűndler (p. 5, Vienna).

1929 – The Soybean, Its Significance, Culture, and Utilization (Die Sojabohne, Ihre Bedeutung, Kultur und Verwendung), by Franz A. Brillmayer and Fritz Drahorad is published by the authors in Vienna (62 pages). It is the first significant book about soybeans in Austria since Haberlandt’s classic in 1878.

Brillmayer, a seed breeder, who bred soybeans suited to Austria in Platt, Austria, also wrote other important books and articles:

1929 Dec. 21 – Brillmayer’s first ad for soybeans is published. Titled “The Soybean, the Plant with a Future,” it appears on this date in the Wiener Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung (Vienna, p. 51)

1931 July 23 – Egon Carl Winkler of Vienna applies for a German patent titled Verfahren zur Entbitterung und Veredelung von Sojabohnen oder aehnlichen Leguminosen [Process for debittering or refining soybeans or similar legumes]. He is issued German patent 626,405 on 26 Feb. 1936. That year his Dr. Winkler & Co. starts too make soy oil and soya flour.

1936 – Soybean Culture - a Matter of National Consequence: What Every Agriculturist and Interested Person Needs to Know (Soja-Cultuur - een nationaal Belang: Wat iedere landbouwer en belangstellende ervan weten moet), a 63-page book by Brillmayer and Drahorad, is published in Dutch, at The Hague.

1938 March 12-13 – The annexation (Anschluss) of Austria by Hitler. Starting in 1939, the Nazi’s under Hitler referred to Austria as the Ostmark.

1939 March 31 – For the support of the cultivation of soybeans in the Ostmark (Austria) an institution called the Soya Circle (Sojaring) is created. A government institution, it contracts for and supports the cultivation of soybeans in Austria. Hitler is starting to realize that the soybean will be an essential source of protein and oil in his Third Reich (Neues Wiener Tagblatt, p. 17)

1944-45 – “The only time when a significant amount of soybeans were grown in Austria was in the last years of World War II, when the crop was cultivated on about 2,400 ha.” (Wolffhardt, D. 1983. “The soybean situation in Austria.” Eurosoya. No. 1. p. 49-50).

1945 April 20 – Austria declares independence from Nazi Germany.

1945 Sept. – World War II officially ends. On April 30, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in Berlin and VE Day (Victory in Europe) was observed on May 8.

1947 – The Cultivation of Soybeans in Austria (Die Kultur der Soja in Oesterreich), by Franz A. Brillmayer is published (97 p.) Note: This book contains excellent histories of the introduction of the soybean to Austria, to France, to Germany, and to Eastern Europe.

1947 – Wonder Plant, “Soya” (Wunderpflanze "Soja") by Brillmayer (64 p.) is published in Vienna.

1947 – The Cultivation of the Soybean in Austria (Die Kultur der Soja in Oesterreich), by Franz A. Brillmayer is published in Vienna by Scholle-Verlag (97 p.). It contains a great deal of interesting historical information about soybeans in Europe.

1947 – The Significance of the Soybean for the Nutrition of Austria (Die Bedeutung der Soja fuer die Ernährung Oesterreichs), by Franz A. Brillmayer is published in Vienna by Wilhelm Frick Verlag (103 p.).

1948 – The Viennese Soy Kitchen (Wiener Soja-Küche), by Friedl Brillmayer (wife of Anton) & Henriettte Cornides is published in Vienna (65 p.). It is a practical cookbook with many innovative and tasty Austrian recipes.

1980 May – The first tofu and the first miso in Austria are made by Weg der Natur at Merzg. 34, Austria.

1975 – Dipl. Engineer Anton Wolf works actively to establish soybeans as a crop in Steiermark, Austria. His yields have averaged 3000 kg/ha. He has re-started the Soya Circle (Sojaring) and has 100 farmers as members, all growing soybeans under his guidance.

This book was made possible by ANNO – a new, free database of early digitized newspapers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. ANNO stands for AustriaN Newspapers Online.

In 2010 the Austrian National Library began a digitalization project in a public private partnership with Google. It digitized more than 1,000 early Austrian newspapers and magazines from 1689 to 1947+ and made the results available in a free, online searchable database. As of 2020, this project is ongoing. This opened an entirely new window on this history of the soybean and soyfoods in the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the mid-1800s until after World War II. For example, we see how seedsman advertised soybeans and what kinds of questions farmers asked about them. Here we find the results of Prof. Haberlandt's work in full display.

Wm. Shurtleff hired Philip Isenberg to translate about 505 articles or ads from these early newspapers. Of these, 460 (from 1869 to 1947) appear in this book. Some of these mentioned Prof. F. Haberlandt but many more showed his influence in the 20+ years after he died in 1878. This influence was previously unknown.

2012 – The Donau Soja [Danube Soya] Association is founded by Matthias Krön. It is an international, non-profit organisation based in Vienna. “Our goal is to promote the development of a sustainable and European protein supply.”

“The organisation supports soya bean cultivation in Europe, supported by the Donau Soja and Europe Soja brands. Through these brands, the sustainable production of non-GM soya is supported providing regional supplies of plant protein. ‘The Donau Soja and the Europe Soya Standard and their Guidelines (Donau Soja; Europe Soya) are foundations of the business. It is possible to be certified in the organic sector following our two standards.’”

Under Donau Soja, production and use of non-genetically-engineered soybeans in central Europe has increased dramatically (See excellent emails from Leopold Rittler of Donau Soja in April 2020, answering many questions and giving detailed statistics).

2015 – The largest soybean producing countries working with Donau Soja in the central Europe are (in metric tons): Ukraine 1,206,783. Italy 1,116,980. Serbia 392,000. Romania 262,000. Croatia 196,416. Hungary 147,420. Austria 136,481. Total Danube Soy Region: 3,711,024 metric tons. Total in Europe outside Danube Soy Region 4,329,197.

But note that Ukraine has 2,724,217 metric tons (a huge amount) outside the Danube Soy region.

Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Austria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1781-2020)