Menu text, no JavaScript Log in  Deze pagina in het NederlandsDiese Seite auf DeutschThis page in English - ssssCette page en FrançaisEsta página em Portuguêstopback


Peter Josef Schunck, 1873-1960

This biography is a html version of the text mentioned below, which I corrected at some places. The corrections are underlined.
The text comes from the introduction to the archives Schunck, set up by Peter’s son Leo. After Leo’s death, they were brought to the Rijckheyt archives, where an inventory list was added, of which the following text is a part.
It is a biography of the businessman Peter Schunck. You can find the complete text at ../schunck/ArchiefRijckheyt.php?lang=en
Of you can visit the Rijckheyt archives, Coriovallumstraat 9, Heerlen.

Until 1934

 Peter Schunck in the pedigree

Peter, born 1873 in Hauset, 38), was the successor of Johann Arnold. He led the company together with his mother 39).
When he was just a toddler, in 1877, he tought Mgr. Savelberg to flush wool bobbins for the old hand weaving looms. It's told that Peter Joseph, as a schoolboy, sold 25 overalls in one single morning 40) Except Peter also worked three sisters in the store 41).
The workshops produced clothing for farmers and miners. In addition there was the hosiery department and homeworkers were employed 42). Peter had several ancillary businesses. On account of the cement shortages during the war, two quarries: a marl and limestone exploitation in Kunrade, and a company called Meerssener Kalkwerken 43).

1912 - The busses of Schunck

He ran a bus enterprise which owned three busses in 1908 44). Thus Schunck was the first bus operator in Heerlen. The company maintained a service to the surrounding villages and transported clients freely to the store and back home. There was a laundry in Valkenburg.

 1924 – Laundry P.Schunck

With horse traction Maastricht and the Dutch mining district were served. After the First World War, the non-core subsidiary companies, which are not always profitable were sold 45). Finally, Peter Joseph was shareholder and secretary of the NV Heerlensche Glasverzekering-Maatschappij 46).
After the period of scarcity during the war followed in 1918 a further devaluation of the German mark, so that the textile in Aachen many times cheaper than in the Netherlands. Yet the company managed to maintain 47). Late 1920s the business was profitable again and a goldmine despite the competition of V&D and Hollekamp 48). More property was bought in which new branches were accommodated, such as in 1929 a separate beds and carpet shop, afterwards called Käller-Schunck 49). This and the previously mentioned property purchases by his father are demonstrated by the rise of the insurance premiums.

February 1904. Possibly the last picture of Johann Arnold Schunck, the founder of the company. Beside him, his wife Anna Maria Küppers. Behind him is Peter Joseph Schunck, his successor, 31 years old. The other ladies in the picture are 4 of the 5 daughters. Next to Peter: on the left Louise, on the right Anna. Next to the parents: Christine and Maria Josephina Hubertina. Elisabeth wasn't present because she was with the Sisters of the Love in Utrecht since July 13th, 1903, under the name Sister Arnoldine. Maria Josephina Hubertina would enter the cloister St. Josef in Brunssum as Sister Emma on August 16th, 1906.

In 1924 the company celebrated its 50th anniversary. Each client received a souvenir gift. A large portrait of the founder decorated the publication, which was produced on that occasion. Photos show an immense sea of flowers in the store. The local press dedicated much attention to the jubilee 50). In the thirties came the decision to close the sewing rooms and to change over to ready-made clothing. The fashion of Schunck was apparently good but old-fashioned. Menswear remained the core business 51).

Glass Palace

In 1934 the 60th anniversary celebration took place. On this occasion, the staff and the management have been immortalized by photographer Cohnen in front of the theater 52). At the same time, Peter could start the construction of the new department store in the place of the houses which he possessed. Five long years of discussions had preceded and - after a fence of the ”Vuile Hoekje” (Dirty Corner) was blowed over by a storm and after the threat of expropriation - eventually the construction could start. Son Leo had contact to V&D on expert architects. He had traveled the U.S. and Europe to take a look at department stores, while Peter, together with Peutz, traveled for inspiration among others to London and Nantes. Eventually they commissioned architect Peutz to avoid problems with the then mayor Grunsven of Heerlen 53). The famous street issue also played a role 54).

1935 Opening of the Glass Palace

At the front a bust of the founder Arnold Schunck, which the staff gave on this occasion to the management.
1)P.Knols, Bauunternehmer; 2)Carla Schunck; 3)Louise Schunck; 4)Christine Schunck; 5)Josephine Schunck; 6)Leonie Schunck; 7)Arnold Schunck; 8)Christine Schunck-Cloot; 9)Mia Schunck; 10)Nolda Schunck; 11)Peter J. Schunck; 12)Deken Nicolaye; 13)Pierre Schunck; 14)Archtect Frits Peutz; 15)Leo Schunck

After a construction period of about a year in 1935, the Glass Palace was opened. Due to the fall of the iron price it was considerably cheaper to build than originally budgeted. The opening and the reception attracted more than 2000 visitors 55). The staff gave a bust, depicting Arnold 56). The building was a stacking of marketplaces, protected from the weather by a glass coat 57) (The order of Peter Schunck : ”Design a department store like a stacked market next to the market”. For more information, go to the page Glass Palace at this site). Heerlen now had a real department store, where everything was sold, like any big city. Not an ordinary village bazaar, where everything was for sale too. However, Peter Joseph communicated explicitly that the store was a middle-class enterprise, no department store. Schunck limited himself to his own core business and didn't enter an unknown field 58). Still, the building also had some imperfections. Peters wife Christine provided correctly, that the glass would produce temperature problems and would be uneconomical in relation to the management of the compartments and the display of the merchandise 59). The tailor shop was provisionally housed on the fourth floor, while on the roof the penthouse with the roof garden was realized for Schunck himself 60). Architect Peutz published in leading international journals and thus he put Heerlen on the architectural map 61).
The national politics commented disparagingly. While in the mines the work week was reduced to four days, a department store was built: "Only a fool can put up such building in a depression like this. It is a daredevil undertaking ", said Minister Verschuur, who visited Heerlen at that time 62).
In 1939 Peter bought the building of the Twentsche Bank. Schunck now had the whole block in his possession. This gave him the possibilty to realise his 40 years old plan of an independent passage, that is to say a connection between the Emmaplein and the market place 63). (More info: see below)
In 1941 the clothing workshop was expanded with machineries for the trousers department 64). (Read more in the Interview with Pierre Schunck on his activities in the Dutch resistance. There he says among others: „In 1941 the license of the company Schunck in Heerlen for the production of pit working clothes came into danger if no separate production apparatus would be set up. I was asked to take care of the organization (my original profession).“ This way SKIL started - Schunck’s Kleding Industrie Limburg).
About 1942 it was decided to secure the family capital. To prevent it would be lost after the death of father (Peter Joseph), some general requirements were suggested. For instance, that the fortune should be protected against any mismanagement; that there should be a separation between capital and prestation; that those who ran the store with the father, should obtain a good reward and a certainty for the future, to continue the business; that the name Schunck should be beneficial to each child in the same way; that unwanted internal competition should be avoided; that everyone should have a chance - when his/her capacity was prooved - to work in the store or to represent the store. Father remained to sit at the steering wheel. In addition to these general requirements it was necessary to take into account the current situation. A collaboration between Leo and Pierre Peter Schunck and Arnold Käller was excluded (Although Pierre was shareholder, he was not in the management of the N.V. A.Schunck). Leo Schunck and Chris Dohmen-Schunck strove to unilateral action without control by the family, which could result lead to tension in the board. Arnold Käller wanted to start up an own business from parts of Schunck, for which both (Leonie & Arnold Käller-Schunck?) received a permission. Due to the scarcity of materials because of the war, the plan was not implemented.

The street question

Bongerd 1917
Glass Palace (1935)
St. Pancratius

 A = the connection between the
   old shop and the Glass Palace
 B = Vroom & Dreesman (see text)
 C = Logister’s umbrella shop

Then the city government took over the plan to build the connecting road in which Schunck was willing to deliver a contribution to the costs. V&D also was willing to collaborate. During the construction of the V&D department store (1921) and the Glass Palace (1935) that street was taken into consideration. The company Schunck mediated in problems between V&D and the municipality regarding the municipal sewage system or rather the Vlot. On June 30 1937 the local council decided to impose a construction ban on the ground, which was destined for the construction of the street. Schunck still was prepared for a financial contribution for the road construction. Afterwards, it would appear that in the building plans of V&D a passage was included, so that te city government would not be obliged to build this road. V&D on their part contacted Schunck to build in arrangement a connection between the planned V&D passage and the existing V&D passage. In 1939 Schunck prevented the municipality to sell to V&D a strip of land called the Vlot, which was the access to the passage of Schunck. The municipality of Heerlen eventually sought a settlement in the direction of a pedestrian passage instead of a road, because of the associated costs. It could not be expected, V&D would cooperate anymore, which was evident in 1939 and 1940. All atempts to negotiate by Schunck led to nothing. Schunck himself got the impression that the opposition of V&D arose only after the construction of the Glass Palace. Finally Schunck asked in his letter mentioned above of 1945, whether the City Council would be inclined to build the connecting road with a financial contribution of Schunck.


Peter J.Schunck + Fam
  The family Peter Schunck, Christine Cloot
 and children, about 1930.
 B: Josephine, Leo, Leonie.
 A: Chris, Lou, Nolda, Peter Schunck,
  Carla, Christine Cloot, Mia, Pierre

Father wished however a just settlement for all his children. Because of her merits, Chris would become full authority in Geleen and get the succession there in their own hands. For this reason in Geleen an NV was founded, whose shares she could buy with her shares of the NV in Heerlen. Leo would become an inviolable position in the NV Heerlen and a dominant position which safeguarded the succession of his descendants. Pierre who had stepped back before to not disturb the cooperation in the board wanted that his position as the oldest son wasn't lost for his children and claimed the same right of succession as Leo.
The problem Pierre - Leo could be solved by certification of the shares of their father in the NV in Heerlen. Eventually a thing specified in the instrument of limited partnership (CV), which Leonie Käller-Schunck, Josephine Stahl-Schunck and Joseph Peter (Pierre) Schunck were granted the right to join as a partner in the CV, if for 1 January 1946 a capital paid had 65). Something isn't correct here. Is it here Peter Joseph (Peter) or his son, Peter Joseph Arnold (Pierre)?
Pierre is apparently no new partner. Yet in 1966, Leo expected opposition from his side by a possible foundation of new business under the name Schunck, actually a repetition of the problem Käller 1942. In the mining district, the name Schunck was not to be used by other family members, if the same products were sold 66). (Leo expected this resistance particularly also because he had protested when Pierre opened a mens- and boyswear store under the name Schunck Jr. in Maastricht. Then Peter Joseph had exercised his authority by saying, Maastricht isn't in the mining district and therefore far away enough. A.S.)
Only a few records show the activities, especially of Leo, during the war and the period immediately afterwards 67) (NB: 1] You are reading the introduction of the Schunck Archive, not just about te business, but also private, as it was found in Leo's house after his death. 2] Heerlen and its surroundings were liberated in september 1944. A.S.). In June 1944, a journal of a committee for more and better plastering reported detailed on the shop windows of Schunck, where stucco was used and where the dolls wore historic XVIII century costumes 68).
During the Second World War the Glass Palace was struck three times. After the war (so after sept. 1944, until 1945. A.S.) it served as HQ for the US generals Patton and Simpson, and as a rest center for the Americans and the French resistance forces. Only after 1945 a clear growth started 69). Nevertheless, already in 1945 Schunck attempted to get a solid toehold in Maastricht 70).

In 1946 it became clear that expansion of the store was necessary. For this, the property Logister would be needed, which only 1960 could be bought for 2 million guilders 71).

75th anniversary

 Bronze bust
 of Peter Schunck

In 1949, the Glass Palace served as a shop again. In that year, the 75th anniversary celebration was celebrated. The Executive Board, consisting of P. Schunck Sr., L. Schunck and F. Dohmen, did things in style. A beautiful flyer was produced with golden letters and photographs, including some prints, which were already used on previous anniversaries. Peter Schunck was described as the founder of the new store, while Arnold was called the founder of the company.
The staff offered a bronze bust of Peter Schunck, created by Charles Voss. There was a great jubilee fireworks called Schunck’s triumph fireworks, dedicated to the whole mining district. There was room for tens of thousands.The preserved telegrams and congratulations give a good picture of the relationships of the company and of the involvement of the population in the event. Of course the local press spent much attention to the week of the anniversary. At that time, there were working 300 employees 72).


In 1953, the Market Hall opened with a (for Heerlen) totally new concept, called a base department, with a self service 73). In 1954, Peter opened a branch in Geleen 74). Photos witness of the magnificent windows 75). Still when he had reached a ripe old age, he could be found in his store every day 76).


† Peter Joseph Schunck

† Peter Joseph Schunck

On July 13, 1960, one year after the death of his wife, Peter Joseph died 77). He was called an active and noble man 78). Because of his prestations and his foresight was Peter in 1961 called "Peter the Great". He was indeed the central figure of the business center of the mining district, a daredevil, seer, by the Glass Palace showed that Heerlen became a metropolis 79). He was a man who took no excessive risk, says Leo in 1964 80). At that time [1964] a total of 400 employees worked in the Glass Palace and the establishment Geleen 81).

38) Elsewhere: Hergenrath, invnr. 468, doodsprentje; Krüll Shopkeeper Peter Schunck, 127
39) Invnr. 209, invnr. 495, biography
40) Invnr. 3 papers 75th anniversary
41) Invnr. 495, biography, the sisters standing back of the receipt book mentioned, invnr. 241
42) Invnr. 495, biography
43) Lime Quarry see invnrs. 289, 300, 307,355; Meerssener Kalkwerken, invnr. 307
44) Possibly 4 buses, Heerlen from town to town, 29; elsewhere: ... 3 buses, purchased in 1908. In 1912 there was a repair place, Heerlen from town to town, 96; 4 buses around 1924 purchased, invnr. 3, 75th anniversary, while a certain Pie Ramaekers driver in 1914 was one of the first buses, invnr. 446
45) Invnr. 495, biography
46) Invnr. 660
47) Invnr. 2, Invnr. 3 papers 75th anniversary,
48) Invnr. 495, biography
49) Invnr. 495, biography
51) Invnr. 495, biography
52) Invnr. 2
53) Invnr. 495, biography; invnr. 3 papers 75th anniversary.
54) Invnrs. 174, 175, 178. The letter in the latter invnr. of Schunck to B & W dated 22 November 1945 gives a clear summary of the origins and development of the dispute. In 1914, but certainly in 1915 by C. Canter and J. Rutten, possibly initiated by Peter Joseph Schunck, a plan for the construction of a road linking the Geleenstraat and Bongerd devised,
55) Invnr. 89 newspaper articles
56) Invnr. 88, picture
57)Invnr. 3 papers 75th anniversary; Peutz 1936, 63; invnr. 495, biography; invnr. 89 The draper
58) For the term bazaar and see invnr store. 177, V&D brochure on the opening; notice Peter Joseph invnr. 89 draper
59) Invnr.495, biography
60) Invnr. 89 The draper
61) See the bibliography and invnr. 89
62) Invnr. 3 papers 75th anniversary
63) Invnr. 155, item 1939, which also describes the Vlot Issue.
64) Invnr. 148
65) Invnr. September
66) Invnr. 8, 17,
67) Invnrs. 261, 262
68) Recorded in invnr. 89 For photos of the shop windows consult the index.
69) Invnr. 209
70) Invnr. 10
71) Invnr. 179
72) Invnr. 2, invnr. 3 papers 75th anniversary; invnr. 141
73)Invnr. 36, 1969 interview
74) Invnr. 188-192
75) See in particular the photo album invnr. 450
76) Invnr. 12 Tussen de Rails (Between the Rails) December 1961, pg. 32, 33
77) Invnr. 668
78) Invnr. 3, 75th anniversary
79) Invnr. 12 Tussen de Rails (Between the Rails) December 1961, pg. 32, 33
80) Invnr. 137, speech
81) Invnr. 36 Interview 1969.