Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi

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Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi

Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi (* May 21, 1778 in Gotha ; † May 27, 1841 ibid) was a German businessman and is considered the "father of the German insurance industry ".


Mother Sabine Elisabeth Arnoldi
Wilhelmine Arnoldi

Arnoldi was born as the first son of nine children to the married couple Ernst Friedrich Arnoldi (1747–1828), businessman and councilor in Gotha , and Sabine Elisabeth, daughter of master needle maker Johann Elias Krehl in Gotha, Hauptmarkt 38. His first marriage was in Weimar on September 21, 1808 with Rosine Wilhelmine Cronrath (1790–1823), daughter of the court carpenter Johann Wilhelm Cronrath. Wilhelmine must have been an extremely beautiful woman, because Privy Councilor Johann Wolfgang Goethe asked for a marble bust that Father Cronrath had made by the Weimar sculptor Carl Gottlieb Weisser (1779–1815). With his first wife Arnoldi had three sons and a daughter: Ernst August (1810–1877), Wilhelmine Elisabeth Karoline (1812–1846), Heinrich Johannes (1813–1882) and Johannes Arnoldi (1822–1883).

After Wilhelmine's death, Arnoldi married Christiane Rosenberg in Gotha on January 30, 1825; this marriage remained childless.

Arnoldi died on May 27, 1841 in his house at Hauptmarkt 14 and was buried in Cemetery II , opposite today's Arnoldischule high school .

Professional career and work

Father Ernst Friedrich Arnoldi

From 1794 to 1799 Arnoldi received practical training as a businessman in Hamburg at "Johann Gabe & Comp." , A renowned Hamburg export and import trading company, and learned the necessary theory at the Johann Georg Büsch commercial academy . The experience he gained there formed the basis for his successful professional life and work in his hometown of Gotha. In 1799 he joined his father's business as an assistant ("Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldi & Son", colonial goods trade and wholesale products) and became a partner in 1803, which he remained until 1812. In 1804 he founded a color wood factory and mill in Remstädt and an earthenware and porcelain factory in Elgersburg in 1808 .

Fire insurance

Arnoldi had insured his three companies with the London-based Phoenix Assurance . At the end of the 1810s, he had to experience the fire in his father's tobacco factory and was disappointed by the uncomfortable handling of the damage by the insurance company, which had gained a dominant position in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century, which led to excessive premiums for the insured , mostly merchants and manufacturers. In addition, the compensation was inadequate, which Arnoldi also felt.

His anger and dissatisfaction with claims settlement led him to write an essay in January 1817 on The Idea of ​​Your Own German Fire Insurance , which received an extremely positive response from his colleagues. In the Gothaer Guild Hall ("Association of the Commercial Guild Hall") on the main market, the seat of the first German commercial school founded by Arnoldi in 1818 ("Commercial School of the Guild Hall"), many discussion rounds were held in the following months, which led to the result that Arnoldi on September 2, 1819 in the Allgemeine Anzeiger published his proposals for the establishment of a fire insurance bank for commercial warehouses, merchants' houses and furniture of the same . Sixteen Gotha merchants immediately signed this policy paper. Gotha was chosen as the seat of the new insurance company on October 1st: the ducal administrative apparatus was comparatively slim, the city was conveniently located in the center of Germany, and there were no special levies for insurance companies in Gotha. After a short time, 118 companies and business people had registered. In November and December 1819 the "committees" were elected and constituted as founding bodies in five Thuringian cities (Gotha, Erfurt, Arnstadt, Langensalza and Eisenach) .

Arnoldi's statue on Arnoldiplatz in Gotha

On July 2, 1820, the plan of the fire insurance bank for the German trading booth, including the associated statutes, was decided by the first convened board of directors - the founding day of the fire insurance bank of the German trading booth , today's Gothaer Versicherungsbank VVaG . Arnoldi was appointed director and was honorary director from 1820 to 1822. Adolf Nagel was appointed as an authorized representative .

In the last months of the year approx. 350 insurance agents recruited across Germany. On January 1, 1821, business operations began with an insured sum of 2.8 million thalers; by the end of 1821 the insured sum was 13.5 million thalers and over 1,804 insurance contracts. For this year there was a 31% premium refund due to the bank constitution. This displaced the London-based Phoenix insurance company from its monopoly position on the German market. At the end of 1822 the insured sum was 26 million thalers, and the premium refund was 64%. In 1823 the Gotha banker Wilhelm Madelung was appointed bank director. From 1823 until his death in 1841, Arnoldi was a member of the Gotha Committee of the Fire Insurance Bank (member representation). In 1824 the Eisenach and Langensalza committees left the general meeting. In 1825 the bank received a new constitution, in which membership was extended to all classes and the obligation to make additional contributions was reduced from eight times to four times the annual membership fee. In 1830 the bank was renamed "Feuerversicherungsbank für Deutschland". Business operations in Bavaria were prohibited from 1836 to 1862.

Life insurance

Arnoldi memorial stone in Göttingen on Gothaer Platz

In 1823 Arnoldi wrote his first memorandum for the establishment of a life insurance bank, but due to the lack of the technical requirements, the project was not implemented until the translation of Charles Babbage's book on the technical basis of English life insurance came out in May 1827 . Only on July 9, 1827, Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha approved the public announcement of the plan and, in due course, the establishment of a life insurance bank for Germany. Arnoldi was advised by well-known experts from 1827 to 1829 on founding the company. B. by insurance managers, physicians and mathematicians. Business operations began on January 1, 1829 in Arnoldi's house on the upper main market in Gotha, creating the modern insurance industry in the legal form of the mutual insurance association . The portfolio at that time was 846 policies and 1.5 million thalers insured sum . By founding this insurance company, Arnoldi wanted to break the previous monopoly of foreign insurance companies, especially the London-based Phoenix insurance company, in Germany and thus prevent the constant outflow of premium money abroad. Its success was also due to the fact that its insurance premiums could be lower than those of its competitors due to the principle of reciprocity and profit-sharing. From 1829 to 1841 Arnoldi was bank director of the life insurance bank for Germany.

His motto in life was: "You act for yourself when you live for others". Arnoldi is also assigned the principle of “common good before self-interest”.

Other professional activities

Memorial plaque at the Arnoldischule in Gotha

In addition, Arnoldi was an economic politician and sponsor of various projects in Gotha and far beyond. In 1817 he founded the guild hall in Hauptmarkt 2 in Gotha, in which the first German trade school was established in 1818 for the training of young people in the trade.

Arnoldi was also involved in the construction of a secondary school in 1836 , the founding of the Deutsche Zuckerhansa, the construction of the court theater and the “ Thuringian Railway ” project.

Arnoldi was also successful in extracting sugar from beets instead of importing cane sugar with his sugar factory founded near Gotha in 1836 . In 1841 he persuaded his fellow sugar manufacturers to join forces in a cartel-like manner, a contract against the sharp reduction in cane sugar tariffs in the trade agreement between the cane sugar importing colonial powers and Holland.

In addition to Friedrich List , Arnoldi was with the German customs union movement for the abolition of internal tariffs and the introduction of import tariffs . Arnoldi also supported List's plans to install an all-German railway network that also included Gotha as a train station.

Memories and honors in Gotha

Memorial plaque on the birthplace
Memorial plaque on the house where he lived and where he died
Arnoldi tombstone
  • The house where Arnoldi was born on the lower Hauptmarkt, in which he founded Gothaer Feuer in 1820 , is adorned with a plaque with the text: "In this house / was born / EW Arnoldi / on May 21, 1778."
  • In 1830 the Arnoldi family had a 25 meter high observation tower, the Arnolditurm , built on the Galberg. This fell into disrepair during the GDR era in a restricted area of ​​the Soviet army and was removed in 1972. Arnoldi's father and Arnoldi himself had part of the originally bare mountain reforested as a mountain garden (a popular excursion destination for Gotha residents to this day).
  • In 1834 the members of the Arnoldi fire insurance bank paid an honorary gift of 15,000 thalers.
  • Thanks to an Arnoldis foundation (from the honorary gift?), The Ducal Realgymnasium was founded in 1836 , which was merged with the Illustre grammar school to form today's Ernestinum grammar school in 1859 .
  • In 1843 the classicist Arnoldi monument created by the sculptor Friedrich Leopold Döll was inaugurated on the square next to the court theater and the square was named Arnoldiplatz . In 1969 the memorial was dismantled and the individual parts were stored as rubble at Schloss Mönchhof in Siebleber.
  • An Arnoldi Foundation memorial stone on the Galberg refers to the transfer of ownership of the area by the family to the city in 1872 as a park area.
  • In 1877 a commemorative plaque was placed on Arnoldi's house on the upper main market square with the following text: “In this house / lived from 1823 until his death (May 27, 1841) / Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldi / Here he founded in 1827 to bless many thousands / the life insurance bank f. Germany. / On July 9, 1877. Spr. Sal. X.7. ". (The quoted verse 7 from the 10th chapter of Proverbs of Solomon reads: The memory of the righteous remains in a blessing, but the name of the wicked is rotten.)
  • In 1882 the higher civil school in Gotha was named Arnoldischule (since 1991 Gymnasium Arnoldischule ).
  • In 1911 the Arnoldischulhaus , built especially for the school named after Arnoldi, was inaugurated on Eisenacher Strasse .
  • In the entrance area of ​​the school building, a life-size plaster sculpture of seated Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldi by the Gotha sculptor Ernst Morgenroth has been a reminder of the school's namesake since 1911 . In 1946 the sculpture was destroyed by the Soviet occupying forces.
  • In 1921 the city of Gotha issued a 50 pfennig emergency note designed by the graphic artist Fritz Koch-Gotha , which shows a portrait of Arnoldi in a laurel wreath and the two main buildings of the Gotha life insurance bank and the fire insurance bank on the front.
  • In 1927, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Gothaer Lebensversicherungsbank, a bronze commemorative medal was issued by the latter, with a portrait of Arnoldi on the obverse and a portrait of Karl Samwer on the reverse .
  • From 1973 to 1990 the Arnoldi School held an annual Arnoldifest Week (officially "Arnoldi Workshop Week ") with cultural events for the students.
  • The so-called New Arnoldid Monument was erected on Arnoldiplatz in 1991 , a sculpture of Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldi, who was sitting on a stone, by Halle sculptor Bernd Göbel . Due to the very strongly curved back of the sculpture, it is disrespectfully called the hunchback in Gotha .
  • Directly opposite the Arnoldischule, on the other side of Eisenacher Straße, in the former cemetery II, under trees , stands Arnoldi's tombstone , on which every year the Arnoldi students honor the namesake of their institution on his birthday by laying flowers. In the course of the clearing of the cemetery in 1968/69, the Arnold grave monument was salvaged as being of cultural and historical importance and moved to the main cemetery . On May 21, 1993, on the occasion of the 215th birthday of Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi, it was re-erected as the only grave monument on the former cemetery grounds, but not at the original location, but about ten meters away.
  • In 1996, in front of the entrance to the auditorium of the Arnoldischule, the portrait head Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldis , created by the sculptor Rüdiger Wilfroth, was unveiled, a gift from the 1996 high school students to their school.
  • In 2003 the Arnoldidenkmal (now called the Old Arnoldidenkmal ), which had been demolished in 1969, was rebuilt on Ekhofplatz next to the main post office . As early as 1995, the Gotha Association for City History and Old Town Preservation had secured the remaining individual parts of the monument at Mönchhof Castle and had them added and restored in the following years.
  • In 2003, a memorial stone with an inscription was inaugurated at the former location of the Arnolditurm : “Location Arnolditurm 1830–1972. Citizens Tower Association eV ".
  • In 2009 the German Insurance Museum "Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldi" was opened in the former building of Gothaer Lebensversicherungsbank in Bahnhofstrasse .
  • In 2014, the district administrator of the Gotha district donated the Arnoldi Medal , which is intended to honor outstanding volunteer work at irregular intervals.
  • In 2020 a bronze bust of Arnoldis came from Göttingen to Gotha, which came from Max Hoene (1884–1965) and was erected in Göttingen in 1958. It was given its new location in front of the building in Gotha where the German Insurance Museum Ernst Wilhelm Arnoldi is based.
The Arnoldis monument created by Max Hoene now stands in front of the Bahnhofstrasse 3a building in Gotha / Thuringia.

Memories and honors in other cities

  • A bust by Arnoldi , created by the sculptor Max Hoene in 1958, stood for a long time at the headquarters of the Gothaer Versicherungsbank in Göttingen, and since May 2020 it has stood in front of the German Insurance Museum in Gotha.
  • At Gothaer Platz in Göttingen there is an Arnoldi memorial stone with the text: "EW Arnoldi founded Gothaer Mutual Life Insurance in 1827 / You live for yourself when you live for others".
  • The vocational schools I in Göttingen are called Arnoldi School .
  • Since 1977, the Arnoldi Prize, endowed by Gothaer Lebensversicherung AG and endowed with a total of 2,048 euros, has been awarded to students at the Göttingen Arnoldi School who have distinguished themselves through special achievements and dedication.
  • There is a bronze bust of Arnoldi on Arnoldiplatz in Cologne . The Gothaer Insurance Bank, Gothaer Life Insurance and Gothaer Health Insurance have their headquarters in the Arnoldiplatz 1 building.


Arnoldid Monument in Gotha

In the 2011 novel Dinner for One on Goth'sch it is claimed that Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi was the model for the character of Mr. Pommeroy in the famous sketch Dinner for One . From 1811 until his death, as a close friend of Duchess Karoline Amalie von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg, he celebrated the princess's birthday every year in the Gotha Winter Palace (together with his contemporaries, the grammar school professor Johann Georg August Galletti , the publisher Justus Perthes and Colonel Maximilian Franz Karl Ritter von Gadolla). After the death of her friends, the Duchess instructed her servant to take over the part of the deceased drinking and tapping into words. According to the novel, the anecdote about this strange birthday ritual came to Great Britain in 1845 after Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , the duchess's favorite grandson, where she was accidentally rediscovered in the 1930s by the playwright Lauri Wylie first adapted as Dinner for One for the stage, whereby Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi became Mr. Pommeroy . In the play Dar ninezschsde Gebordsdaach or Dinner for One in Goth'sch , which was performed on New Year's Eve in Gotha from 2009 to 2017, the servant's actor also imitated the late Arnoldi, who is always addressed here as a Kommerzienrat and portrayed as extremely stiff.


Web links

Commons : Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Erich AngermannArnoldi, Ernst Wilhelm. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1953, ISBN 3-428-00182-6 , p. 389 ( digitized version ).
  2. ^ Note under the bust in the German Insurance Museum.
  3. On the family cf. Eduard Zschaeck (ed.): Contributions to the history of the Arnoldi family . Gotha 1892, pp. 8-11.
  4. Spamer 1868, p. 723 (“at that time one of the most respected trading houses in northern Europe”).
  5. a b Brochure of the Insurance Museum (applies to the entire section)
  6. a b The English monopoly falls., accessed on June 29, 2015 .
  7. Mutual Insurance Association - History
  8. ^ Andreas M. Cramer: Genuine Goth'sch. Small handbook of the Gotha vernacular. Gotha 1995, p. 82.
  9. ^ Peter Riecke: Third Arnoldi monument in the city of Gotha . Ed .: Thüringische Landeszeitung. Weimar May 20, 2020, p. 15 .
  10. Peter Koch : Pioneers of the insurance concept . 300 years of insurance history in life pictures. 1550-1850. Springer-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-663-06643-9 , pp. 230 , doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-663-07556-1 ( limited preview in the Google book search - reprint of the book published in 1968 by the business publisher Dr. Th. Gabler in Wiesbaden).
  11. Arnoldipreis
  12. ^ Andreas M. Cramer: Dinner for One in Goth'sch. Gotha 2011, p. 19 ff.
  13. ^ Andreas M. Cramer: Dinner for One in Goth'sch. Gotha 2011, p. 74
  14. Dinner for One in Goth'sch