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The Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske was initially a general partnership. The company was transformed into a limited partnership in 1890 and into a stock corporation in 1897. In 1966, Siemens & Halske AG was integrated into the newly established Siemens AG.
Tonio Bödiker was appointed to chair the Directorate (from 1901: the Managing Board) of the newly founded Siemens & Halske AG in July 1897. A university-trained expert in administration, Bödiker could already look back on a long career as a Prussian civil servant, having served as President of the Reichsversicherungsamt, the German government’s top social insurance authority, from 1884 to 1897.
As head of Siemens & Halske’s Central Department, Bödiker was responsible for all overarching legal and financial questions as well as for matters relating to the company’s expansion and organizational processes. The administrative reforms he initiated were controversial within the company. In addition, he was criticized for his wide-ranging power. At the beginning of 1903, the Central Department was dissolved and replaced by a Finance Department. Tonio Bödiker moved from the Managing Board to the company’s Supervisory Board.
At the initiative of Wilhelm von Siemens, the 50-year-old university instructor in physics was hired by Siemens & Halske in 1892. He first headed the laboratory at the company’s facility in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin. Only a year later, he was granted a registered power of attorney and appointed co-director of the facility, of which he became sole director in 1895. From 1897 to 1911, Budde was a member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske. In 1903, he was appointed to the Supervisory Board of the newly founded Siemens-Schuckertwerke.
Emil Budde resigned his position at Siemens & Halske in 1911. However, as a member of the Supervisory Board of Siemens-Schuckertwerke, he remained associated with the company until his death in August 1921.
The engineer and physicist Alfred Berliner joined Siemens & Halske in 1888 at the recommendation of Hermann von Helmholtz. Assigned to develop the company’s business in the U.S., he began by opening an office to prepare an exhibit for the Chicago World’s Fair. After the establishment of the Siemens & Halske Electric Company of America, he was responsible for the construction of production facilities in Chicago. Berliner returned to Germany in 1893.
In 1897, he was appointed a deputy member and, in 1908, a full member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske. In this capacity, Berliner played a key role in the merger of the power engineering activities of Siemens & Halske AG with those of Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft, vorm. Schuckert & Co. to form Siemens-Schuckertwerke GmbH. From 1903 to 1912, he was Chairman of the Managing Board of the new company. Alfred Berliner was a member of the Supervisory Board of Siemens & Halske from 1913 to 1938.
A native of Switzerland, Otto Feuerlein joined Siemens & Halske in 1888. He held a doctorate in engineering and was appointed head of company’s so-called Transportation Departments in 1896. In this capacity, he represented the company at events such as the Brussels World’s Fair (1897) and the Paris World’s Fair (1900).
In 1902, Feuerlein was appointed head of Siemens & Halske’s incandescent lamp plant in Berlin, where he cooperated primarily on improving the carbon filament lamp, which was widely used at the time. Together with his colleague Werner von Bolton, Feuerlein made a major contribution to Siemens’ breakthrough on the electric lighting market with the production of metal filament lamps in 1905. The same year, Feuerlein was appointed a deputy member and, in 1908, a full member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske, of which he remained a member until 1919.
When Siemens & Halske transferred its light bulb production to the newly founded Osram GmbH KG in 1919, Otto Feuerlein was appointed a member of the new company’s Managing Board and head of its main production facility. He retired for health reasons in 1923.
The electrical engineer Adolf Franke began work at Siemens & Halske’s production facility in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin in 1896. His expertise in the area of telegraphy and telephony enabled the company to regain the position it had temporarily lost in the market for telecommunications products. Encouraged by Wilhelm von Siemens, Franke also worked in the new field of wireless telegraphy. He played a major role in the founding of Telefunken Gesellschaft, a leading German telecommunications company, in 1903 and in the construction of the large radio transmission station at Nauen, Germany, in 1906.
Franke was a deputy member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske AG already in 1903 and a full member in 1908. In 1921, he was appointed Managing Board Chairman. In 1932, Franke was appointed a member of the company’s Supervisory Board, a position he held until 1937. While on the Supervisory Board, he concentrated in particular on coordinating the company’s research activities.
Franke was involved not only in technical and organizational matters, but also in the training of skilled workers. In 1922, he founded the Fachschule für feinmechanische Technik e.V., an association for supporting the education of precision mechanics, which, in the same year, joined forces with the city of Berlin to open the Gauss-Schule, a school of engineering.
Heinrich von Buol
Heinrich von Buol studied mechanical engineering and electrical engineering at the Technical University in Vienna. In 1906, he joined Siemens & Halske in Berlin as a laboratory engineer. In 1915, he was appointed head of the Abteilung Drahtlose Telegraphie und Messgeräte, the company’s department for wireless telegraphy and measuring equipment. Starting in 1921, Buol was director of the Wernerwerk für Messgeräte, the company’s facility for the production and testing of measuring equipment, as well as a deputy member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske. Six years later, he was appointed a full member of the company’s Managing Board and, in 1932, its Chairman.
During Heinrich von Buol's term of office, which began with a reorganization of Siemens’ telecommunications business, the company’s revenue and workforce grew considerably.
Although an opponent of the Nazi regime, Buol was arrested by the Russian military when it occupied Berlin and transported to Moscow. While imprisoned, he took his own life.
Wolf-Dietrich von Witzleben
Wolf-Dietrich von Witzleben joined Siemens & Halske in 1919. Right from the start, he concerned himself with the company’s personnel and social policies. As the head of Carl Friedrich von Siemens' office from 1927 to 1941, he was the latter’s closest colleague and confidant. In 1930, Witzleben was appointed – additionally to his other duties – to head the company’s personnel department. In 1934, he was appointed a deputy member of the Managing Boards of both Siemens parent companies. He was made a full member of the two boards in 1939. In May 1945, he was appointed Chairman of the Managing Board of both companies, serving in this capacity until 1949, when he moved to their Supervisory Boards.
Witzleben’s services to Siemens consisted in maintaining the company’s unity and rebuilding it after the end of World War II. In addition, he advanced the training of junior managers considerably.
Witzleben was a co-founder of the Baden-Baden Entrepreneurs’ Talks (BBUG) and President of the Deutsches Institut zur Förderung des industriellen Führungsnachwuchses, the German Institute for the Promotion of Young Executives in Industry.
Ernst von Siemens
Ernst von Siemens was the son of Carl Friedrich von Siemens and the youngest grandson of Siemens’ founder Werner von Siemens. A physicist, he began work at Siemens & Halske’s Wernerwerk für Fernmeldetechnik, the company’s telecommunications facility, in Berlin in 1929. He was appointed a deputy member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske in 1943, a full member of the Board in 1948 and Chairman of the Board in 1949. He was appointed a deputy member of Siemens-Schuckertwerke’s Managing Board in 1945 and a full member of the Board in 1948. Between 1956 and 1971, he served as Chairman of the Supervisory Boards of both parent companies and of Siemens AG. Even after resigning as Chairman, Ernst von Siemens remained a member of the Supervisory Board until 1978 and served thereafter as a member of its Council of Honorary Chairmen.
Ernst von Siemens played a vital role in rebuilding the company after World War II. Primarily by reviving Siemens’ international business, he laid the basis for its successful reentry into the world markets. It was under his leadership that Siemens & Halske AG, Siemens-Schuckertwerke AG and Siemens-Reiniger-Werke AG were merged in 1966 to form today’s Siemens AG.
In addition to his managerial responsibilities, Ernst von Siemens was an active supporter of science and the arts. Today, he is best-known for the foundations he established.
After working as an assistant in the Physics Institute of the University of Munich for several years, Hans Kerschbaum joined Siemens & Halske in 1929. His first position was in the company’s Central Laboratory. In 1933, he was appointed a deputy manager at the newly founded Röhrenwerk, Siemens & Halske’s tube production facility. In 1941, he was appointed head of the Wernerwerk für Funkgeräte, the company’s radio equipment facility. Two years later, the 40-year-old physicist was appointed to the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske.
In 1945, Hans Kerschbaum was transported to Russia, where he was interned. In 1949, after his return to Germany, the Supervisory Board of Siemens & Halske appointed him a full member of the company’s Managing Board and head of its combined telecommunications factories and central development unit. He was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board in 1954 and Chairman in 1956. For the next ten years, Kerschbaum was responsible for the development of Siemens’ telecommunications business.
When today’s Siemens AG was established in 1966, he was appointed a member of the three-man Presidency of the company’s Managing Board. Two years later, he was appointed to its Supervisory Board. In 1973, Hans Kerschbaum resigned from the Board for reasons of age.
Learn about selected events from the company’s history in our History News, which we’re continually expanding for you.