Wilhelm Beetz (building contractor)

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Johann Gottlieb Wilhelm Beetz (born July 15, 1844 in Zehdenick , Brandenburg , † May 17, 1921 in Vienna ) was a German - Austrian building contractor and leading builder of lavatories in Vienna.


Sectional drawing of a "Beetz oil siphon"
Last of the underground toilets he built in Vienna
Obligation center in Schönbornpark
Urinal in Wilhelmsdorfer Park
Urinal on Puchsbaumplatz (1903)

Wilhelm Beetz, son of a dairy farmer, was originally a court clerk (city court bureau assistant). In 1880 he offered the Viennese magistrate to build and operate such establishments based on the model of Berlin lavatories. This was initially denied to him, but in 1883 he received approval for it. In the same year Beetz moved to Vienna, founded the company "Wilhelm Beetz", which still exists today, and set up his first public lavatory - imported from Berlin. As a novelty, there were toilets for women as well ( toilets for people of both sexes) , urinals for men were available from the 1860s, and at that time women were still doing their business with serving women with buckets.

In September 1883 the first such facility in Vienna was built with the public lavatory on Landstraßer Hauptstrasse . According to the contract, Beetz had to pay a - quite high - deposit for the construction, to pay space rent and to pay three percent of the gross income to the municipality of Vienna and to finance the installation and operation - costs for gas and water, as well as personnel - himself. The use was "extremely cheap" with 4 kroner and 2 kroner respectively. Beetz then asked for permission to set up another facility in the Volksgarten - one of the most popular places in the city center because it had been accessible to ordinary people since 1823.

Initially without any particular profit, the toulette facilities soon turned out to be lucrative. At the beginning of 1904 the company was already operating 58 lavatories; In the same year he built the first underground public lavatory (see: Public lavatory on the Graben ). The Beetz company built numerous other systems up until the 1930s, including in Budapest from 1895, and at times operated over 200 toilets and urinals in Vienna.

The first plants were small wooden house, modeled on the Berlin public conveniences, situated it was from a local construction company (the first-ever system had transported from Berlin by train to Vienna Beetz, soon developed Beetz a production model as the park ring yet original is preserved). It already had cabins for men, women, piss booths and a room for the waiting woman (toilet woman). Already at that time it was called a closet house (ie "closed" house) and was perceived as "practically designed, quite comfortable and luxuriously furnished".

Beetz became known worldwide through the invention of the oil siphon . The odor trap came about without flushing with water using a mineral oil ( urinol ). With that he created an early form of the dry urinal .

Beetz presented this water-saving product at many exhibitions and received numerous awards for it. Not only the city of Vienna decided in 1903 to switch to winter-proof oil flushing in 30 public urinals instead of having the defective water flushing system repaired, which could freeze in winter. In addition to companies in almost all European cities in 1915, his business partners also included companies in Turkey, Brazil, Mexico and even Africa.

Works in Vienna


  • H. Beraneck: The Viennese lavatories System Beetz . In: ZÖIAV 57.1905, p. 679f
  • Peter Payer: Indispensable props of the big city. A cultural history of the public lavatories of Vienna , Löcker Verlag Wien, 2006, ISBN 3-85409-323-3

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Beetz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Berliner Zeitung of July 20, 2005: We have become more discreter
  2. ^ Wilhelm Beetz on the company homepage , accessed on October 25, 2009
  3. Vienna Portrait Gallery: Wilhelm Beetz ( Memento of the original from March 24, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed October 25, 2009 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / portraetgalerie.wordpress.com
  4. a b c Harald Hartmann: Wilhelm Beetz and the public toilets of Vienna . on Sagen.at, part 1, accessed May 30, 2014.
  5. a b c Wiener Sonntagsblatt of September 23, 1883; quoted in Wilhelm Beetz , beetz.at - on the opening of the first system.
  6. a b c d e Wilhelm Beetz. In: Architects Lexicon Vienna 1770–1945. Published by the Architekturzentrum Wien . Vienna 2007. accessed on May 27, 2014.
  7. a b Wilhelm Beetz , beetz.at, accessed May 30, 2014.
  8. The Beetz plumbing company still exists today.
  9. Via Closet House. In: Wiener Bauindustrie-Zeitung 3, 1885/86, p. 454 f.
    This is also where the Austrian name “Häusl” for toilet comes from.
  10. Needs with oil lock in Vienna. In: Polytechnisches Journal . 292, 1894, Miszelle 1, pp. 167-168.
  11. ^ Wilhelm Beetz. In: arch INFORM ; accessed on May 2, 2015. (Section "Awards" at the bottom of the page; also includes this Wikipedia article)