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Family and company: following the tradition of the founding generation, members of the Siemens family are active in the company to this day. Here, we present brief portraits of the most influential personalities up to 1966.
Carl von Siemens
Carl von Siemens, a younger brother of company founder Werner von Siemens, made a name for himself mainly through his business activities in Russia. In 1853, he traveled to St. Petersburg to oversee the construction of the Russian telegraph network, for which Siemens & Halske had been granted a contract. He quickly proved himself to be a decisive, capable project manager. Under his leadership, the Russian business became a separate business in 1855 and established itself as an important pillar of support for the parent company in Berlin. In 1869, Carl moved to England, where he assisted his brother William’s business activities for more than a decade. In the early 1880s, he returned to St. Petersburg and injected new life into the company’s Russian business.
In the early 1890s, after Werner von Siemens had retired from active company management, Carl von Siemens became head of Siemens & Halske. In this capacity, he oversaw the company’s transformation into a joint stock company and the transfer of its leadership to a second entrepreneurial generation.
Carl von Siemens was ennobled by Tsar Nicholas II in 1895 for his services to Russia.
Arnold von Siemens
Werner von Siemens’ oldest son, Arnold, joined Siemens & Halske in Berlin in 1877. Two years later, he transferred to Vienna, where he headed the company’s office for Austro-Hungary. In 1882, he became a co-owner of Siemens & Halske. When the company was transformed from a general into a limited partnership in 1890, Arnold joined the company management, together with his brother Wilhelm and his uncle Carl.
In the summer of 1897, Arnold von Siemens was appointed to the Supervisory Board of the newly founded company Siemens & Halske AG. He was Chairman of the Board from 1904 until his death. In this capacity, Arnold – whom his father characterized as "modest" and "good-hearted" – devoted himself primarily to social and ceremonial duties within the company.
Wilhelm von Siemens
Wilhelm von Siemens, the company founder’s second son, joined Siemens & Halske in 1879 after studying natural science at university. His first position was in the company’s research lab. In 1884, he became a co-owner. Beginning in 1890, he was one of the company’s personally liable general partners. In the summer of 1897, Wilhelm – together with his brother Arnold and his uncle Carl – was appointed to the Supervisory Board of the newly founded company Siemens & Halske AG. Since his brother Arnold devoted most of his time to social and ceremonial duties, Wilhelm strongly influenced the development of the growing company’s business for decades.
In 1903, he cleverly took advantage of the structural crisis in Germany’s electrical engineering industry to merge Siemens & Halske’s power engineering departments with the electrical company Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft vorm. Schuckert & Co. to form Siemens-Schuckertwerke GmbH. That same year, he was instrumental in the founding of Telefunken-Gesellschaft, a manufacturer of telecommunications equipment formed at the behest of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
During his nearly 30-year tenure, he furthered the development of the company’s management and organizational structure to meet the challenges of the day. To secure the electrical engineering company’s technological leadership and innovative strength over the long term, he drove the centralization of the Siemens’ research and development activities – thus laying the cornerstone for planned, systematic industrial research at the company.
Carl Friedrich von Siemens
Carl Friedrich von Siemens began work at Siemens & Halske in 1899 as an apprentice at company headquarters. Starting in 1901, he held a variety of managerial positions at Siemens facilities in England before being appointed to organize and head the company’s Export Department in Berlin. In 1904, the youngest son of the company’s founder joined the Supervisory Board of Siemens & Halske. He was appointed to the Managing Board of Siemens-Schuckertwerke in 1909 and Chairman of the Board in 1912.
In 1919, Carl Friedrich von Siemens became the first member of the Siemens family to chair the Supervisory Boards of both Siemens & Halske AG and Siemens-Schuckertwerke GmbH. Under his leadership, Siemens increasingly became a "technical holding company." To realize the organization’s aim of achieving both unity and diversity, he fostered its decentralization by carving out individual business areas to form legally independent subsidiaries and equity investments that nonetheless maintained close business, organizational and technological ties. Based on the principal of "only electrical engineering, but the full breadth of electrical engineering," he ensured that all the company’s business activities were directly related to its traditional core areas.
In addition to his work at the company, Carl Friedrich von Siemens was also active in the public and political arenas, representing the German Democratic Party in the Reichstag, the German parliament, and holding numerous offices and honorary positions in business, academia and society.
Hermann von Siemens
The chemist Hermann von Siemens joined Siemens & Halske in 1918. His first position was at the company’s Physics and Chemistry Laboratory. In 1928, he was appointed a deputy member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske. The following year, he was appointed to head the Central Laboratory, where he made important contributions to the development of telex technology.
In 1934, Hermann von Siemens was appointed a full member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske, and in 1935, he took on the same role at Siemens-Schuckertwerke. Two years later, he was appointed to the Supervisory Board of both companies. In 1941, this grandson of Werner von Siemens was appointed Chairman of both of these boards. Upon taking office, he was faced with the challenge of leading Siemens through World War II. In this exceptional situation, he had very little freedom to make business decisions.
At his initiative, the electrical engineering company began decentralizing its Berlin management in February 1945 due to the imminent occupation of Germany’s capital by Soviet troops. In addition, Hermann von Siemens entrusted his nephew Ernst with leading the electrical engineering company on his behalf should he become unable to do so himself. This proved to be a far-sighted decision because Hermann was interned by the U.S. – one of the Allied Powers – at the war’s end due to his membership on Deutsche Bank’s Supervisory Board. In 1948, Hermann rejoined the ranks of the executive leadership at Siemens, and he chaired the Supervisory Board at both Siemens companies until 1956.
During the 1950s, his business policy focused on strengthening the company’s traditional core areas and investing in high-growth business fields such as semiconductor and data technology.
Friedrich Carl Siemens
Beginning in 1904, the engineer Friedrich Carl Siemens – a nephew of Werner von Siemens – headed Friedrich Siemens KG für Ofenbau in Berlin, a furnace-making company founded by his father. In 1919, Friedrich Carl became the sole executive partner of Fachinger Quelle, Staatl. Mineralbrunnen Siemens-Erben. Owned by Siemens heirs, this company held a lease on the state-owned mineral springs in Fachingen, Germany. Friedrich Carl’s father, an inventor and glass-factory owner, had leased these springs as early as 1896.
From 1918 to 1952, Friedrich Carl Siemens was a member of the Supervisory Board of Siemens & Halske, of which he was Deputy Chairman starting in 1942. In 1944, he was appointed to the Supervisory Board of Siemens-Schuckertwerke.
In May 1946, after Hermann von Siemens was interned by the Allied Powers, Friedrich Carl Siemens, who had been his deputy, became Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens & Halske for nearly two years. He held the same position at Siemens-Schuckertwerke from May 1946 to 1947. Early in the summer of 1948, Hermann von Siemens was released from American internment and resumed his position at the company’s helm. Friedrich Carl Siemens then returned to his role as Deputy Chairman of the two supervisory bodies.
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.
Learn about selected events from the company’s history in our History News, which we’re continually expanding for you.