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History: Robert Bosch

After his death

Robert Bosch’s legacy

Reading time: 6 minutes

In his will, Robert Bosch stipulated that the company was to be carried on after his death in a manner reflective of his wishes. The will paved the way for today’s corporate constitution. This constitution is based on the founder’s wishes that the company should secure its lasting entrepreneurial freedom, retain links to the Bosch family, and use its dividends to support charitable and social causes.

The legacy

Robert Bosch shortly before his death (1942).
Robert Bosch shortly before his death (1942).

On his 80th birthday, Robert Bosch announced his wishes for the time after his death: “I ask you to share this spirit of dedication to our common cause [...] and to continue in this spirit, for the sake of each and every associate, and for the sake of the company that, as my life’s work, is so close to my heart.”

In his will, Robert Bosch left precise instructions on how he wanted the company to be run after his death. The will paved the way for today’s corporate constitution, based on the founder’s wishes that the company should secure its lasting entrepreneurial freedom, retain links to the Bosch family, and use its dividends to support charitable and social causes.

In 1921, Bosch had founded the trust administration company Vermögensverwaltung Bosch GmbH to administer his shareholdings in the company and pool his charitable activities. In 1964, the Robert Bosch Stiftung acquired the majority of the capital stock of Robert Bosch GmbH from the heirs of the estate, transferring the voting rights accruing to the capital stock to the newly formed Robert Bosch Industriebeteiligung GmbH (Robert Bosch Industrial Equities). This was the precursor of today’s Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG (Robert Bosch Industrial Trust), the body that carries out the entrepreneurial functions that would normally fall to the owner. Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH carries on the charitable work of Robert Bosch in contemporary form and uses the dividend it receives in a manner that reflects the spirit of the company founder.

Robert Bosch had appointed the executors who would be responsible for interpreting his will. Seated at the head of the table are Robert Bosch junior and Hans Walz (second and third from left) (1954).
Robert Bosch had appointed the executors who would be responsible for interpreting his will. Seated at the head of the table are Robert Bosch junior and Hans Walz (second and third from left) (1954).
A plain, notarized contract attests to the establishment of the Robert Bosch Stiftung on June 26 (1964).
A plain, notarized contract attests to the establishment of the Robert Bosch Stiftung on June 26 (1964).
The deed setting up the Stiftung was signed in the company’s former administrative headquarters on Breitscheidstrasse in Stuttgart (1964).
The deed setting up the Stiftung was signed in the company’s former administrative headquarters on Breitscheidstrasse in Stuttgart (1964).
Since 1986, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has been housed in Robert Bosch’s former home on Stuttgart’s Heidehofstrasse (2005). © Peter Walser
Since 1986, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has been housed in Robert Bosch’s former home on Stuttgart’s Heidehofstrasse (2005). © Peter Walser

Even many decades after his death in 1942, the values and way of thinking embodied by Robert Bosch still permeate a company that is present all over the world, and now employs more than 390,000 men and women. The chairmen who followed in his footsteps have played a major role in this achievement, paying attention to his values and ideas.

Left: Hans Walz (1949). Right: Hans L. Merkle (2000). © E. Fiegel / Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo
Left: Hans Walz (1949). Right: Hans L. Merkle (2000). © E. Fiegel / Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo
Left: Marcus Bierich (c. 1984). © E. Fiegel / Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo. Right: Herrmann Scholl (2012).
Left: Marcus Bierich (c. 1984). © E. Fiegel / Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo. Right: Herrmann Scholl (2012).
Left: Franz Fehrenbach (2009). Right: Volkmar Denner (2012).
Left: Franz Fehrenbach (2009). Right: Volkmar Denner (2012).

Supplement

Supplement 1: Robert Bosch — His life and work

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Company history