Cologne Fair

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Koelnmesse GmbH

legal form GmbH
founding 1922
Seat Cologne , GermanyGermanyGermany 
management Gerald Böse
(Chairman of the Management Board)
Number of employees over 840
sales 337.4 million euros (2018)
Branch Trade shows

Cologne Trade Fair (Logo until 2002)

The Koelnmesse is an international trade company based in Cologne . Koelnmesse organizes and oversees around 80 trade fairs, exhibitions and guest events every year. Up to 2000 conferences and other events take place annually during and outside the trade fairs in the congress centers of Koelnmesse and other locations.

Gerald Böse has been chairman of the management board and therefore trade fair boss since March 1, 2008. In addition to Gerald Böse, Oliver Frese and Herbert Marner are members of the management.


Cologne was already an important trade fair city in the Middle Ages . The first Easter mass took place here in 967. The model for the trade fairs of the modern age was the Cologne Werkbund exhibition of May 1914. At the instigation of the Chamber of Crafts in Cologne , the “Kölner Musterausstellungs-GmbH” was founded in 1916, the preliminary stage of today's trade fair company. Cologne was able to achieve its first state recognition as a trade fair city at the Reich Trade Fair Conference in February 1920. At the city council meeting on April 8, 1920, the trade fair project for the planned “Rhenish sample show” was presented in detail on the initiative of Cologne's Lord Mayor Konrad Adenauer . On March 2, 1922, the city council approved "that on the Deutz Ufer , on the site of the former Werkbund exhibition, buildings for assembly, exhibition and trade fair purposes" should be built with a floor area of ​​30,000 m². The foundation stone was laid on June 21, 1922 placed. Hans Verbeek (head of the municipal building construction office) and Hans Pieper planned the exhibition halls with construction costs of 150 million Reichsmarks. After only eleven months of construction, all work on the new exhibition site was completed in May 1923. The opening took place on May 11, 1924 with the Cologne Spring Fair as the first fair in the presence of President Friedrich Ebert and Chancellor Wilhelm Marx . This foundation was part of the plan to regain Cologne's former economic supremacy in the Rhineland . The first fair achieved this goal with 600,000 visitors and 2,800 exhibitors, while the Leipzig spring fair in 1924 only had 176,500 visitors. The final equipment of the exhibition center and its expansion was carried out by Adolf Abel by 1928 ; He rebuilt the exhibition halls and added the exhibition tower , the Rheinhallen , the “State House” and a garden. This was done in time for the Pressa exhibition : in 6 months of exhibition time at this internationally renowned newspaper and communications fair, a total of 5 million visitors came from May 12, 1928. 1,500 exhibitors (including 1,000 from Germany) from 43 countries made for an international media event. The exhibition halls offered an exhibition area of ​​66,500 m².

time of the nationalsocialism

Former entrance to the exhibition halls, as of 1977 during Anuga
Entrance to the north halls
East entrance, as of 2018
South entrance, status 2009
Today's exhibition grounds with Messe / Deutz train station (below), MesseCity under construction, east halls (center) and north halls (background), as of 2020
, Aerial view of the fairgrounds from the Rheinpark seen from

During the time of National Socialism , the exhibition halls were often misused for purposes other than those for the exhibition. Shortly after the seizure of power , Adolf Hitler spoke here on February 19, 1933 at an election rally of the NSDAP . From April 22 to 30, 1933, the “German Week” took place here under the title “Think German - Buy German”. Trade fairs followed, which reflected the National Socialists' ideas of a "healthy race". In October 1939, the Wehrmacht interned Polish prisoners of war in the exhibition halls; French prisoners followed in May 1940. From May 1940 the halls were used as an interim storage facility for Jews as well as Sinti and Roma who were deported from Cologne to Poland . There were also forced sales of Jewish property that the deportees had to leave in their homes. The memorial to the exhibition warehouse at the foot of the exhibition tower is a reminder of the misuse of the exhibition grounds during National Socialism. In November 1941, the Deutz exhibition center was converted into a collection and reception center. In June 1942 the trade fair was completely closed. The initiator of the fair, Konrad Adenauer, was arrested by the Gestapo on August 23, 1944 in connection with suspicions of the Hitler assassination attempt and taken to the "Cologne Exhibition Center", on September 25, 1944 he was transferred to the Brauweiler prison , released there on November 26, 1944.

After the war

Cologne, which has long been established as a trade fair city, began after the Second World War with the Cologne Autumn Fair on a poorly repaired site on September 14, 1947. The 450 domestic exhibitors were visited by 60,000 guests to find out about the first post-war production. After Leipzig (May 1946) and Hanover (August 1947), Cologne was the third major German city to organize a first post-war trade fair with a national impact. The economic upswing that started in Germany also reflected on the Cologne trade fairs. The first Photokina opened on May 6, 1950, followed by Anuga on October 6, 1951 after a 14-year break . Further trade fairs of international standing followed. In 1956 the pre-war exhibition volume of 66,000 m² was reached again, in 1974 a capacity of 159,000 m² was available, on August 17, 1967 the new Hall 13 was handed over to its destination, so that the capacity was increased in 1977 by the East Halls 203,000 m² increase.

The previous trade fair and exhibition company was renamed KölnMesse GmbH in October 2000 . The buildings in the Rheinhallen were used by Koelnmesse until July 2005 and then bought back early by the City of Cologne. In August 2005, the trade fair administration moved into the former KHD high-rise. As part of a master plan in 2006, kölnmesse presents its new concept of a new exhibition and congress center to be built elsewhere, which was implemented in a construction period of 16 months. 11 halls with an area of ​​284,000 m² were created, which were available on January 16, 2006, punctually for the opening of the international furniture fair . In the empty Rheinhallen, an office complex for the RTL media group and parts of HDI-Gerling insurance, which was taken over by the Talanx insurance group in 2006 , was built within the historic brick facade by May 2010 . From June 6th to 10th, 2007, the majority of the events of the 31st German Evangelical Church Congress took place on the grounds of the Koelnmesse.

Location and terrain

Administration of the Kölnmesse in the former, 61 meter high KHD high-rise (January 2009)

The Koelnmesse site is located in the Deutz and Mülheim districts on the right bank of the Rhine and is connected to regional and long-distance transport via the Köln Messe / Deutz train station . The area is divided into two hall complexes, the "East Halls" - extensions from the 1960s to 1980s - and the "North Halls", which opened in January 2006. These are located on the former factory premises of Deutz AG (formerly called KHD) and the neighboring former Cologne sports hall . The listed, former KHD high-rise, which is located directly at the new north entrance - which is now called the trade fair high-rise, has been used as the headquarters of the trade fair administration since 2005. MesseCity has been under construction since 2017, as part of which the south entrance is also being redesigned.


The Koelnmesse is an important factor for Cologne's economy and Cologne as a business location. The expenditure of exhibitors and visitors generates annual sales of 2.02 billion euros nationwide. Around 11,000 full-time jobs in Cologne alone are directly or indirectly dependent on the trade fair business; in total there are more than 18,000. Half of the overnight guests in Cologne are congress or trade fair participants from all over the world.

Every year Koelnmesse organizes around 80 trade fairs, exhibitions, guest events and special events in Germany and abroad. These events represent the world's leading trade fairs for more than 25 industries, such as B. the Anuga . Based on its exhibition area of ​​284,000 m² (as of June 2019), Koelnmesse is the third largest trade fair in Germany and among the top ten in the world. A total of around 3.2 million visitors from 224 countries and over 55,000 exhibiting companies from 126 countries take part in the trade fairs and events of Koelnmesse. The site offers capacities for conferences with over 19,500 participants and the framework for congresses with accompanying exhibitions.

2019 was the most successful year in the company's history for Koelnmesse. At over 400 million euros, it has achieved the highest turnover in its history and significantly exceeded the previous high from 2017, which was 357.9 million euros. Koelnmesse also reports a profit of more than 30 million euros for 2019.

Important trade fairs and fields of competence

Criticism and research on the construction of the north exhibition halls

A contract dated December 7, 2004 between Josef Esch Fonds Projekt GmbH (JEFP) and SK-Kapitalbeteiligungs GmbH (SBK) - a subsidiary of Stadtsparkasse Köln - secured a fee of 9.9 million euros for the company in the run-up to the new exhibition center in the event that the fund comes into play. On December 18, 2003, the city of Cologne decided on a solution in which Oppenheim-Esch came into play. As a result, on December 18, 2003, Kölnmesse sold a plot of land required for the construction of four new exhibition halls to the Oppenheim-Esch Fund at a price of EUR 67.4 million as part of a PPP contract . During the laying of the foundation stone for the north exhibition halls in September 2004, the building contractor named the construction cost of € 140 million, but the four exhibition halls caused actual construction costs of € 235 million. On August 6, 2004, the City of Cologne signed a contract with Oppenheim-Esch called “Lease for the Lease of a Property with Four Exhibition Halls”, in which the City of Cologne was granted a right to use the building site and the structures to be built on it for 30 years . The monthly rent was 1.725 million euros (20.7 million euros annually). In a contract dated August 11, 2004 with the designation "sublease contract for the leasing of a property with four exhibition halls", the wording of which largely corresponds to that of the main contract, the city of Cologne allowed Kölnmesse to use the structures to be constructed as described in the main contract. As a result, the investors' fund company received long-term, secure rental payments, secured by a de facto rental guarantee from the City of Cologne from August 2004. It secured excessive rents for the fund of 20.7 million euros annually with a term of 30 years. In the months that followed, the scandal spread. It became known that there would have been much cheaper offers and construction alternatives. Up to € 360 million in public funds were unnecessarily spent. The exhibition halls were completed on December 1st, 2005, on January 16th, 2006 the official opening with the International Furniture Fair took place in the new buildings.

In August 2005, the Cologne public prosecutor's office initiated investigations against Lord Mayor Fritz Schramma ( CDU ) for breach of trust. In October 2006 the EU Commission announced that it would file a lawsuit against the City of Cologne with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for violating European public procurement law . In October 2009 the European Court of Justice ruled that the award of the stand construction to the Oppenheim-Esch real estate fund was illegal. The city of Cologne had thus violated the EU procurement law codified in Art. 7 Para. 4 and Art. 11 Directive 93/37 / EEC of June 14, 1993 and is obliged to reverse the transaction or to pay the damage.

The EU Commission would now have been entitled to impose a three-digit million fine if the city of Cologne had not taken action. As a result, the city of Cologne appealed to the real estate company that the contract was null and void, alternatively issued an extraordinary notice of termination and discontinued the rental payments, whereupon the real estate company gave notice of termination due to rent arrears. With a decision of April 26, 2012, the EU Commission finally closed the proceedings because the contractual relationship objected to by the ECJ no longer existed. This also eliminated possible penalties. The Cologne Higher Regional Court dismissed the rent and usage compensation claims pursued in the documentary process, taking into account European public procurement law.

According to media reports from the beginning of 2016, the city of Cologne, the fund and Koelnmesse are about to sign a settlement agreement - after the pending coordination with various bodies and the European Commission.

Under pressure from the CDU, the former Lord Mayor Schramma, who was responsible for this process and against whom proceedings are still pending for infidelity in terms of exhibition construction by the Cologne public prosecutor's office, was elected to the fair's supervisory board by the CDU and FDP-dominated city council. However, because of public criticism, Schramma did not accept the post.

On November 7th, 2019, the Cologne City Council commissioned the "scientific review of the award for the construction of the North Exhibition Center and the company settlements in the" old exhibition halls "to be published in a suitable form via the public information system. It was published as a PDF file (Graeff report) on August 11, 2020.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. Annual Report Koelnmesse 2018
  2. Green light for Cologne's new head of the trade fair ( Memento of the original from December 14, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Gerald Böse is to become the new head of the trade fair
  4. ^ Edith Ennen: Cologne Economy in the Early and High Middle Ages , in: Hermann Kellenbenz, Two Millennia of Cologne Economy , Volume I, 1975, p. 113
  5. Marko Gebert, Fortress and City of Cologne , 2013, p. 388.
  6. Marcus Schüller, Reconstruction and Rise of the Cologne Fair 1946-1956 , 1999, p. 20.
  7. Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung, Volume 44, 1924, p. 249
  8. Marcus Schüller, Reconstruction and Rise of the Cologne Fair 1946-1956 , 1999, p. 58
  9. Marcus Schüller, Reconstruction and Rise of the Cologne Fair 1946-1956 , 1999, p. 24 ff.
  10. Jürgen Wilhelm, Das Große Köln-Lexikon , 2005, p. 355
  11. Ralf Blank / Jörg Echternkamp: The German War Society 1939 to 1945 , 2004, p. 422
  12. Marcus Schüller: Reconstruction and Rise of the Cologne Fair 1946-1956 , 1999, p. 63.
  13. Volker Frielingsdorf: In the footsteps of Konrad Adenauer through Cologne: Konrad Adenauer's work as Lord Mayor of Cologne (1917-1933 and 1945) , 2000, p. 77.
  14. Peter Fuchs (ed.): Chronicle of the history of the city of Cologne , Volume 2, 1991, p. 276.
  15. Marcus Schüller, Reconstruction and Rise of the Cologne Fair 1946-1956 , 1999, p. 116.
  16. ^ Anuga in Cologne. In: Zeit.Online , October 11, 1951
  17. This is the first time that the Bitburger Brewery's slogan “Please a bit” is presented
  18. Study by the Munich Ifo Institute
  19. Portrait of Koelnmesse , accessed on June 12, 2019 Template: dead link /! ... nourl ( page no longer available )
  20. Portrait of Koelnmesse , accessed on June 12, 2019 Template: dead link /! ... nourl ( page no longer available )
  21. According to different information (see for example the list of the states of the world or Fischer Weltalmanach 2012) there are a maximum of 200 areas on earth that can be understood as "states". Therefore, this figure from Koelnmesse will also include other, not precisely defined, autonomous areas.
  22. Annual Report of Koelnmesse 2018 , accessed on June 12, 2019
  23. / Die Wirtschaft Köln , February 4, 2020
  24. Stadtrevue issue 2/2010, The long shadow of the fair ( Memento of the original from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  25. The city of Cologne acted as a tenant and is liable for the rent payments as a regional authority .
  26. ^ WDR : "Expensive clique about new halls?" ( Memento from September 27, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), October 12, 2006
  27. ECJ, judgment of October 29, 2009, Az .: C-536/07
  28. RP : “The new building of the Cologne trade fair was illegal”  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , October 30, 2009@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  29. ^ Gregor Timmer: EU Commission closes proceedings around Cologne exhibition halls. The contested contractual relationship no longer exists. City of Cologne - Office for Press and Public Relations, May 10, 2012, accessed on May 10, 2012 .
  30. OLG Cologne, judgment of March 30, 2012 - 1 U 77/11 -.
  31. Handelsblatt, January 20, 2016
  32. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger : "Schramma im Messe-Supervisory Board" ( Memento of the original from November 21, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , November 19, 2009 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  33. Communication (public part). Documentation for the construction of the north exhibition halls (Graeff report). In: August 11, 2020, accessed on August 21, 2020 .
  34. ^ Peter Graeff: The coming about of the resolutions for the construction of the Cologne exhibition halls north. In: August 11, 2020, accessed on August 21, 2020 .

Coordinates: 50 ° 56 ′ 37.8 "  N , 6 ° 58 ′ 28.3"  E