Evonik Degussa

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Evonik Degussa GmbH
legal form GmbH
founding January 28, 1873
Seat eat
Branch Specialty chemistry

The Evonik Degussa GmbH (until the end of 2006 Degussa AG ) is a in the specialty chemical active group with headquarters in Essen and since 2006 a subsidiary of resident also in Essen Evonik Industries AG . Predecessor companies were Degussa-Hüls AG and SKW Trostberg AG . An operations management agreement between Evonik Industries AG and the company came into effect on August 1, 2011 . Through the sale of the other divisions of the parent company in the following years, it is now focused on the former Degussa business.

Share of 100 RM in the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt from November 5, 1928

Degussa was a traditional Frankfurt company and best known as a gold refinery . The name of the group Degussa was an acronym for " De funnel G old- u nd S ilber- S cheide -A nstalt".

Key figures

Degussa was a multinational company specializing in specialty chemicals . In the 2006 financial year, 36,000 employees generated sales of EUR 10.9 billion and an operating profit (EBIT) of EUR 879 million. This made Degussa the third largest German chemical company and the world's leading supplier of specialty chemicals.


Degussa was on 28 January 1873 as German gold - and silver - refinery formerly Roessler AG in Frankfurt founded. It emerged from the Frankfurter Scheideanstalt, which had been in operation 30 years earlier and was initially leased by the former Frankfurt " Münzwardein " Friedrich Ernst Roessler (1813–1883) and operated as a private company . After the annexation of the Free City of Frankfurt by Prussia in 1866, the divorce was acquired and continued by his sons Heinrich Roessler and Hector Roessler .

Gold band embossing Feingold Degussa - vorm. Roessler in Frankfurt a. Main - German gold and silver refinery (1950s / 1960s)
Gold bar (5 g) stamped by the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt
Former Degussa headquarters in Frankfurt
Former logo of the Degussa chemicals group
Evonik Degussa plant in Rheinfelden (Baden)

The direct reason for the establishment of the new stock corporation was the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 with the introduction of the national currency mark , which made the particular currencies of the German states obsolete (e.g. the southern German guilder ). Accordingly, large amounts of coins were withdrawn from circulation; For the recovery of the precious metal contained therein , cutting capacity should be created on an industrial scale. When it was founded, the company also acquired the right to do banking with minted and unminted precious metals. The field of activity was soon to other precious metal products ( bright gold for ceramics - industry ) extended and chemicals. The main business was the production of perborate .

During the “ Third Reich ”, between 1933 and 1945, Degussa expanded with aryanization (acquisitions) of Jewish companies, real estate and patents and became heavily involved in the crimes of the National Socialist regime (see the section “ Degussa in the Third Reich ”).

In 1965 the Degussa Group generated sales of DM 1.446 billion and employed 12,400 people.

In 1980 the company was officially renamed "Degussa AG". The banking business, which Degussa AG had operated as an approved foreign exchange bank and foreign trade bank, was separated from the industrial business and transferred to the newly founded " Degussa Bank GmbH ".

From the introduction of the DAX in 1988, Degussa AG was one of the standard values ​​of the DAX 30. In 1990 Degussa employed 35,000 people and generated annual sales of DM 13.925 billion.

In 1999 Degussa and the VEBA subsidiary Hüls AG ( Marl ) were merged to form Degussa-Hüls AG ; thus the energy company VEBA became the main shareholder. The company's headquarters remained in Frankfurt am Main.

After the merger of VEBA and VIAG to E.ON AG, Degussa-Huls and VIAG daughter were SKW Trostberg merged in 2001 to form a new company that continued the old name Degussa. At the same time, the corporate headquarters were relocated to Düsseldorf . The merger made E.ON the overwhelming majority shareholder; Due to the sharply reduced market capitalization, Degussa left the DAX 30 in 2002 and was listed in the M-DAX .

In 2000 the precious metals activities of Degussa were spun off into a separate company, which now belongs to the Belgian Umicore Group as Umicore AG & Co. KG . Degussa thus parted with its former core business that gave it its name.

2003 known under a CEO Utz-Hellmuth Felcht the Degussa as a former co-owner of Degesch cause the Degesch the insecticide Zyklon B sales, which from 1941 to 1944 systematically for mass murder of the people in the death camps was abused. Degesch earned 200,000 RM per year from this product .

On June 1, 2004, 97.5% of the shares in Degussa belonged to RAG . On May 29, 2006, the Annual General Meeting approved a squeeze-out , so that on September 14, 2006 Degussa AG was a 100% subsidiary of RAG. The reason for this was that the E.ON Group had taken over the majority of the Ruhrgas shares from RAG and by spring 2006 had sold all of the Degussa shares held by E.ON to RAG, which the specialty chemicals company would become the mainstay of the RAG planned for 2007 Went public. Degussa's profitable construction chemicals division was sold to BASF to finance the share purchases . On June 1, 2006, the post of CEO of Degussa changed from Utz-Hellmuth Felcht to Klaus Engel .

Degussa was taken off the stock exchange and converted into a GmbH with effect from January 2, 2007. On September 12, 2007 the incorporation of Degussa into the newly founded RAG spin-off Evonik Industries AG was announced, which included all previous RAG divisions except hard coal mining .

Degussa is a founding member of the German Business Foundation Initiative . Michael Jansen , former General Representative of Degussa , was chairman of the board of directors of the “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” foundation established by the German Bundestag from 2000 to June 2004 , which pays reparations to former Nazi forced and slave laborers .


Participations in Germany:

Companies that emerged from Degussa

  • ALD Vacuum Technologies GmbH, vacuum plant construction, Hanau
  • Degudent GmbH, dentures and dental tools
  • Umicore , auto catalytic converter and precious metals business
  • Degussa Bank , Frankfurt
  • United Initiators , Pullach (the company no longer belongs to Evonik)
  • Industria Wohnen GmbH

Sale of trademark rights for the precious metal trade

In 2010, the August von Finck junior group acquired the rights to use the Degussa brand name in the precious metal trading sector. A company was founded in Munich with the name Degussa Sonne / Mond Goldhandel GmbH . In addition to silver and gold coins, the range of the precious metal trading company also includes custom-made bars with the company logo, which was designed based on the original Degussa logo. Thorsten Polleit has been the company's chief economist since 2012 . Up to and including 2013, the company advertised with the slogan “Degussa - Gold and Silver since 1843”. The company was forbidden to do so in the second instance by the Munich Higher Regional Court on the grounds that it suggests a business continuity that does not exist at all. In fact, the bar production of the former Degussa AG will be continued by Umicore.

Degussa in the Third Reich

In 1998 Degussa commissioned the American historian Peter Hayes to review the company's history during the Third Reich. A summary of Hayes' findings on Degussa's involvement in National Socialism can be found on the website's history page. The book “Degussa in the Third Reich. From Cooperation to Complicity "(Original title:" From Cooperation to Complicity: Degussa in the Third Reich ") by Peter Hayes was published in 2004.

Degussa was therefore heavily involved in the crimes of the National Socialist regime, including the persecution and robbery of the Jews, armament and preparation for war, forced and slave labor and the factory mass extermination of Jews. One of their subsidiaries (Degesch - " German Society for Pest Control mbH") supplied Zyklon B, which was used to gass prisoners in Auschwitz . Dental gold from murdered Jews was also processed in Degussa's smelting furnaces. Degussa is reported to have procured fissile material for the German uranium project .

Participation in Zyklon B production

Formally speaking, Degussa was only indirectly involved in the production of Zyklon B. The patent for the highly toxic substance was applied for for the " German Society for Pest Control mbH" ("Degesch"). Degesch was 42.5% owned by Degussa. From 1924 Zyklon B was manufactured as a pesticide by order and for the account of Degussa at Dessauer Zuckerraffinerie GmbH and sold through Degesch u. a. delivered to Tesch & Stabenow . Tesch & Stabenow (based in Hamburg) was responsible for deliveries to the Auschwitz concentration camp from 1941 , and Degesch also delivered direct to Auschwitz from 1943.

The proceeds from Zyklon B were insignificant in relation to Degussa's overall business, and since only about one percent of the amount of pesticide produced was used to kill people, none of Degussa's directors was ever charged in the absence of any reliable evidence of complicity. They returned to their positions in the late 1940s. Degesch managing director Gerhard Peters was sentenced to a prison sentence after the Second World War , supported by Degussa during the appeal proceedings and acquitted in 1955.

See also: Gas chamber (mass murder) #Gas chambers in concentration camps

Participation in the construction of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin

Degussa's involvement in the production of Zyklon B came back into public discussion in connection with the construction of the monument to the murdered Jews of Europe when it became known that both the concrete liquefier and the anti-graffiti coating (product name: Protectosil ® from the Silane product range ) of the memorial come from Degussa. Work on the memorial was temporarily interrupted to discuss the situation. On November 13, 2003, however, the Board of Trustees of the Memorial Foundation decided to continue building with further participation from Degussa: Degussa AG in particular has tried very hard in recent years to come to terms with the past and to reveal its own history.

See also


  • Peter Hayes: Degussa in the Third Reich. From cooperation to complicity. CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-52204-1
    • dsb., engl. Version: From cooperation to complicity. Degussa in the Third Reich. ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  • Sebastian Brünger: Company history and cultures of remembrance. Contract research on contemporary history from the 1990s using the example of Degussa. In: Zeitgeschichte-online, December 2012 ( URL )
  • Michael Knoll: German nuclear ambitions and Hessian nuclear weapons technology. Centrifuge research at Degussa (1955-1964) , in: Nassauische Annalen , Vol. 125 (2014), pp. 429–446.

Web links

Commons : Degussa  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Peter Hayes: The "Aryanizations" of Degussa AG. History and balance. In: "Aryanization" in National Socialism. Campus, 2000, ISBN 3-593-36494-8 .
  2. Hans Leyendecker : Degussa - The echo of the past . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . November 13, 2003 ( sueddeutsche.de [accessed November 8, 2019]).
  3. ^ Takeover of Degussa by RAG completed. September 14, 2006.
  4. ^ Comeback of the gold dealer Degussa ( Memento of November 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Financial Times Deutschland , November 2, 2011.
  5. Degussa with Thorsten Polleit as chief economist / Degussa Goldhandel GmbH sets the course for further strategic direction. Press release. In: ots.at. April 24, 2012, accessed May 20, 2018 .
  6. Frank Stocker: Court stops gold fraud under a false name. In: welt.de . January 5, 2014, accessed February 2, 2020.
  7. Degussa is only in there if it says Umicore. Umicore , December 16, 2011, archived from the original on March 8, 2016 ; accessed on June 29, 2017 (press release).
  8. ^ Peter Hayes: Degussa in the Nazi era ( Memento of November 14, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) 1998, accessed January 27, 2008.
  9. Book: "The Secret of the German Atomic Bomb"
  10. FTD: Companies and their Nazi Past ( Memento of December 10, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
  11. The gas for the mass murder came from Degussa AG hagalil.com, accessed January 27, 2008.
  12. ^ Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Third Reich, Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 455.
  13. ^ Degussa in the Nazi era. In: geschichte.evonik.de. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012 ; accessed on April 24, 2019 (see section: Degesch and Zyklon B ).

Coordinates: 51 ° 26 ′ 57.8 ″  N , 7 ° 0 ′ 58.1 ″  E