Joachim Zahn

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Professor Joachim Zahn (born Wuppertal 24 January 1914, died Munich 8 October 2002) was the chairman of Daimler Benz AG between 1971 and 1979.

Wuppertal Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Wuppertal is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in and around the Wupper valley, east of Düsseldorf and south of the Ruhr. With a population of approximately 350,000, it is the largest city in the Bergisches Land. Wuppertal is known for its steep slopes, its woods and parks, and its suspension railway, the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. It is the greenest city of Germany, with two-thirds green space of the total municipal area. From any part of the city, it is only a ten-minute walk to one of the public parks or woodland paths.

Munich Place in Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Zahn was the youngest of four sons of a Wuppertal Lawyer. He himself studied law at Tübingen and later obtained a doctorate at Cologne based on a study on the limits of credit insurance. During the Second World War he served as an army officer in Russia and Italy. His career in commerce and industry began in 1947, and in 1958 he joined Daimler Benz as Financial Director. In 1965 he was appointed speaker of the management board, [1] and became chairman of the main board in 1971. His time at the top was noteworthy, among other things, for the building of Europe's largest truck factory, at Wörth (between Karlsruhe and the frontier with France at Wissembourg). Although he took over the company's chairmanship shortly before the economic crisis triggered by the 1973 oil shortages, the second part of his chairmanship coincided with a continuing period of profitable growth for the company which was able to accumulate substantial financial reserves: these would play an important part in the company's progress under subsequent leaders. Zahn himself remained actively involved with the business until his death, during his final years as an advisor to Jürgen Schrempp.

Tübingen Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Tübingen is a traditional university town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated 30 km (19 mi) south of the state capital, Stuttgart, on a ridge between the Neckar and Ammer rivers. As of 2014 about one in three people living in Tübingen is a student.

Cologne Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Cologne is the largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and its 1 million+ (2016) inhabitants make it the fourth most populous city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. The largest city on the Rhine, it is also the most populous city both of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, which is Germany's largest and one of Europe's major metropolitan areas, and of the Rhineland. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of North Rhine-Westphalia's capital of Düsseldorf and 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Bonn. It is the largest city in the Central Franconian and Ripuarian dialect areas.

Wörth am Rhein Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Wörth am Rhein is a town in the southernmost part of the district of Germersheim, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is situated on the left bank of the Rhine, approx. 10 km west of the city centre of Karlsruhe and just north of the German-French border. Daimler AG's biggest truck production plant has been located in this town since 1960.

Zahn's period at the helm was one of growth for Daimler-Benz. Between 1967 and 1976 passenger car output more than doubled, with an average annual growth rate of 6.9% during a decade when the overall growth rate of the German auto-industry was 2.3%. [1] The company's growth in the bus and truck sector outran that of the industry as a whole by an even greater margin. [1]

In 1973 he was awarded an honorary professorship by the regional government of Baden-Württemberg, giving rise to the misguided impression in English speaking countries that Germany's leading manufacturer of trucks and luxury cars was being led by an academic. He is better thought of as an expert in finance and taxation with a formidable and clear intellect, and a capacity to inspire affection and respect in colleagues. [2]

Baden-Württemberg State in Germany

Baden-Württemberg is a state in southwest Germany, east of the Rhine, which forms the border with France. It is Germany’s third-largest state, with an area of 35,751 km2 (13,804 sq mi) and 11 million inhabitants. Baden-Württemberg is a parliamentary republic and partly sovereign, federated state which was formed in 1952 by a merger of the states of Württemberg-Baden, Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The largest city in Baden-Württemberg is the state capital of Stuttgart, followed by Karlsruhe and Mannheim. Other cities are Freiburg im Breisgau, Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Pforzheim, Reutlingen and Ulm.

Remarkably, all four of the Zahn brothers from Wuppertal became captains of industry. This prompted banker Hermann Josef Abs to quip that there were so many teeth in the German economy that it was reasonable to speak of a complete bite. [2] ('Zahn' is the German word for 'tooth'.)

Hermann Josef Abs German banker

Hermann Josef Abs was a German banker. He was a member of the board of directors of Deutsche Bank from 1938 to 1945, as well as of 44 other companies, including IG Farben. As the most powerful commercial banker of the Third Reich, he was, according to economic journalist Adam LeBor, "the lynchpin of the continent wide plunder". The Allies arrested him as a suspected war criminal on 16 January 1946, however British intervention got him freed after three months despite a detailed report that would be published later. After World War II (1957–1967) he was chairman of Deutsche Bank, and contributed to the reconstruction of the German economy.

Sources and further reading

  1. 1 2 3 "Joachim Zahn: An exclusive interview by Edouard Seidler". Autocar : Pages 34–36. 17 September 1977.
  2. 1 2 "Unser Geheimnis ist doch einfach (our secret is really very simple): Interview mit Mercedes-Chef Zahn ueber das Mercedes-image (Interview with Mercedes Boss Zahn about the Mercedes image)". Auto Motor u. Sport . Heft. 17 1975: Seite 14–16. 17 August 1975.

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