The success story of the Dresdner Molkerei Gebrüder Pfund started with Paul Gustav Leander and Friedrich Pfund – the brothers that founded the Company in 1880. In the course of this unique history, the most beautiful Milk Shop in the world, as we know it today, was built.
Paul Pfund was born in Dresden on 18 November 1849. He attended a private high school in Dresden and at the age of 14 began an apprenticeship as an economist, as the profession of farmer was called at the time, on his father’s estate Reinholdshain.
Friedrich Pfund was born in Dresden in 1843. He attended public school and trained as a merchant. His passion, however, was acting. There he celebrated triumphs as a character actor. Due to health problems, however, he had to give up this profession.
Through his apprenticeship as an economist, Paul Pfund knew how to manage the estate in Reinholdshain. This soon yielded such high profits that he was able to buy the estate from his father in 1874. His wife Mathilde, whom he also met in the small town, started breeding Meissen noble pigs.
After five years, however, he was full of drive and aspired to something higher, a business in Saxony’s capital. Therefore, he moved to Dresden in June 1879 with his wife Sophie Mathilde, his children as well as 6 cows and some pigs.
Industrialisation took hold. The population grew rapidly and with it the need for agricultural products. But the simplest hygiene rules could not be observed. As a result, the milk usually arrived at Dresden’s citizens contaminated, sour or even watered down.
Paul Pfund could not put up with this dismal state of affairs and founded a dairy milk sanatorium at No. 1 Waldgasse in Dresden, today’s Görlitzer Straße.
The milk sanatorium clientele grew from day to day, so that the business premises on Dresden’s Waldgasse soon proved too cramped. For this reason, the company moved to Bautzner Straße 41, which was one of Dresden’s most important arteries.
The company gradually expanded through various purchases, such as a butter press and another milk separator. From year to year, the daily amount of milk processed increased continuously. In the year the company was founded, it was still 500 litres, but the volume rose to 40,000 litres in 1895.
Paul Pfund opened his second sales outlet in 1883. This was located on Postplatz in the Stadtwaldschlösschen in Dresden. The shop was run by his wife Mathilde.
In 1887, the new building of the main house at Bautzner Straße 79 was completed. A little later, Paul Pfund also acquired the small neighbouring house and converted it into a residential and commercial building.
In 1893, Paul Pfund opened a milk drinking hall at the Großer Garten in the heart of Dresden. Here you could buy or directly enjoy some milk or other dairy products while walking through the beautiful park.
The supply network of the milk drivers became ever denser, the range of products ever more diverse. Because more milk could be produced than could be consumed, Pfund was the first in Germany to produce condensed milk, and developed baby food with breast milk quality and milk soap for sensitive skin.
Condensed milk also marked the beginning of Pfund’s success abroad.
Paul Pfund was always on everyone’s lips with his developments and he was also an important pioneer in the pasteurisation of milk. Again and again he met with fierce resistance – but today we know that this process is indispensable for dairies.
In 1891, the representative main building on Bautzner Straße 79 was built and occupied in November of the same year. However, the dairy shop on the ground floor was not yet completed at this time. Together with Villeroy & Boch and their artists, the motifs for the salesroom were designed and the tiles subsequently hand-painted. The result was a unique picture book, which was opened in autumn 1892.
All wall surfaces, the ceiling and even the floor are covered with colourful tiles. Children playing, butterflies, squirrels, vast landscapes with grazing cows – there is something to discover in every corner. Even a portrait of an emperor and the English and American coats of arms are not missing.
Due to its unique design, the Pfund brothers’ milk shop was entered in the Guinness Book of Records in November 1997 as the “Most Beautiful Milk Shop in the World”.
The First World War also left its mark on the Dresden dairy Gebrüder Pfund. Numerous employees as well as Dr. phil. Kurt Pfund and Max Pfund went to the front in the first days of mobilisation. Condensed milk exports in particular collapsed.
The company also had to overcome many obstacles during the Second World War and, according to some reports, was even on the verge of expropriation. In the inferno of 13/14 February 1945 in Dresden, 35 shops and all food stocks were destroyed. Miraculously, the parent company remained untouched by both wars.
Despite all the setbacks in the past years, director Max Pfund did not abandon his company and, only a short time after the war, began supplying the people of Dresden with milk again by collecting it from the surrounding villages.
Another setback for the company came in 1946 when Max Pfund was confiscated by the Soviet military administration, which accused it of sabotage and poor hygiene standards. It was not until July 1974 that the public prosecutor’s office fully exonerated the managing director.
Time and again, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Pfund family prevailed. Purchases were made, employees hired and shops opened. They did not let the adversities of the post-war period get them down and faced every challenge.
In 1970, Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Paul Friedrich Pfund was appointed plant manager of the Dresden dairy Gebrüder Pfund. On 1 May 1972, however, the GDR Council of Ministers and the GDR Presidium decided on compulsory expropriation. The company was transferred to state ownership as “VEB Dresdner Molkerei”. It was completely closed down in 1978.
Due to a lack of value maintenance and mismanagement, a large part of the production had to be demolished.
It was only through the efforts of Johanne Elisabeth Pfund that the salesroom with all the mythical creatures, angels and turkeys could be saved. As early as 1966, she made a call to the Institute for the Preservation of Historical Monuments, which placed the shop under a preservation order.
In 1990, the heirs regained their old ownership rights. However, the owners relinquished the management of the company with a heavy heart. Today, the “most beautiful dairy shop in the world” is owned by a Dresden businessman.
After all these years of neglect, a renovation was necessary. Even though only just under 5 percent of the tiles had to be renewed, it was still a costly undertaking. Missing tiles were manufactured by Villeroy & Boch in its factory in Mettlach.
Today, the Dresden dairy Gebrüder Pfund still stands for quality and innovation. Although it no longer has its own production facilities, some products are made especially for the Pfunds dairy by regional farms and producers. Our milk soap is made according to an original recipe and enjoys great popularity then as now. Our anniversary cheese is also made especially for us.
With the opening of the Pfunds soap shop in 2020 and the Pfunds shop for regional products in 2021, the range was expanded with high-quality products and offers the people of Dresden and its guests products from the region, such as Wehlen, Stolpen, Wehrsdorf and Wittichenau.
If you would like to learn more about our history, you can order our book “Pfunds Molkerei” in our online shop. The author Jürgen Helfricht has dealt extensively with the history and all the events. The result is an entertaining book with lots of interesting background information. (Only available in German)