Cultural heritage

Family stories based on real events from the long history of the Gavrilović family.

Gavrilović Defeats Mayor Heinzel!

In an interview with Margareta Gavrilović, Gjuro Gavrilović’s wife, she describes her husband (owner of the Petrinja meat industry) as a great enthusiast of motorized vehicles. She says:“My husband, Gjuro, is first and foremost a dynamic man. He is crazy about cars.” This passion which captivated the entrepreneur from Petrinja was definitely a familial trait. He came from a family which always had the best four-wheeled machines: from VW Bugs, to BMWs and Jaguars, and the best names in motorcycles as well. His father, the first Gjuro in the Gavrilović dynasty, participated in the first motor race on Sljeme (mountain peak), way back in 1920. He naturally took first place. He rode the prestigious Indian Motorcycle, like the ones we see today from the Harley-Davidson Company.

Perhaps not as well-known for his motor-racing as was Gavrilović, Vjekoslav Heinzel also participated in the famous Sljeme Motor Race, and rode neck-to-neck with Gjuro Gavrilović, who won the race. That same year, Heinzel was elected Mayor of Zagreb. He achieved great prominence as one of Zagreb’s most successful mayors. He literally transformed the city by giving it a completely new appearance. He built “New Zagreb” the area south of the River Sava, whose name was officially entered into the City Guide as of 1928. During Heinzel’s tenure, entire regions of the city began to bloom: Peščenica and King Zvonimir Street, Trešnjevka, Volovčica, Sigečica, Kruge, Martinovka, Zavrtnica, and villas on Medveščak, only to name a few. He built and modernized new schools, infirmaries and hospitals. Seven hospital buildings alone were located on the Zeleni Brijeg area. He constructed city baths on Kvaternikov Square and today’s Nazorova Street. He expanded the Tuškanac Walkway and began the construction of two of the most modern edifices of that day: the Dolac Marketplace and the slaughterhouse in Laščinska Street – later known as Sajmišna Street, and today, naturally, as Heinzelova Street.

Newspapers wrote:“Heinzel’s name will be linked to the most significant period in the development of the city of Zagreb. Of course, it is not all Heinzel’s doing, though. He was lucky to be elected at a turning point in time for the Croatian people, when all moral, cultural and economic powers naturally sought a focal point to their lives and activities in the capital city. Zagreb was fortunate as well, to have found a dedicated ally who was in the right place at the right time. Other cities profited as well, but Zagreb thrived at a speed up to par with the Western World.”

Heinzel’s success was also due, in part, to the sportsman’s spirit he shared with Gjuro Gavrilović, and their love for motorcycles and cars. Heinzel and his wife, Berta, both plump and well-fed, took a great liking to Gavrilović’s Zimska Salami.