Max Grundig

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Max Grundig in September 1970.

Max Grundig (born May 7, 1908 in Nuremberg ; † December 8, 1989 in Baden-Baden ) was the founder of the electronics group of the same name, Grundig AG , Fürth, and is therefore one of the most important economic pioneers in the Federal Republic of Germany.


Max Grundig was born as the son of the warehouse manager Max Emil Grundig, who came from Frauenstein / Saxony, and his wife Marie in Nuremberg and grew up there with his three sisters in very simple circumstances.


After Max Grundig was previously head of a Fürth branch of the Nuremberg installation company Hilpert, he and a later paid partner opened his own shop on November 15, 1930 next to the Fürth town hall (and across from the birthplace of his friend Ludwig Erhard ) at Sternstrasse 4 (today: Ludwig-Erhard-Straße, the house was demolished in 1995).

After the early death of his father, who died in 1920 as a result of an appendectomy, the Hercules bicycle factory - a former subsidiary of the Triumph factory , which was to belong to Grundig in the 1950s - only paid his mother a small pension.

In 1922, Max Grundig began an apprenticeship as a retail salesman at the Nuremberg heating installation company Jean Hilpert. He was noticed there as a hard-working apprentice with many ideas and was assigned to the office of the general manager . He soon won the trust of the childless business owner Max Hilpert, for whom he soon became a kind of “foster son”. In order to supplement the family treasury, which was always poorly filled, he still worked at home in the few free hours and painted tin soldiers.

At the age of 16 he began to take an intense interest in the newly fashionable medium of radio . Fascinated by the technology of the radio receivers, Max Grundig tinkered his first detector device with purchased components. The Grundig's small apartment developed into his experimental laboratory. In the same year, Max Grundig built his first picture radio receiver, which could convert signals from the German broadcaster Königs Wusterhausen into pixels.

Just turned 18, he visited the third Great German Funk Exhibition in Berlin in 1926 on behalf of his boss . A year later, Max Grundig was transferred to Hilpert's subsidiary in Fürth. In this branch he implemented his knowledge of radio technology and offered radios and accessories for sale for the first time. The branch did the main business with installation orders for the newly built Fürth city hospital. Through a negotiated share in the turnover, he was able to increase his salary from 60 to 600 marks and more. This made it possible for the 19-year-old to look after his family well for the first time.

At the age of 21 he married Berta Haag, their daughter Inge was born in 1930, the marriage divorced shortly afterwards, whereby he took over all financial obligations.

Max Grundig resigned from his position on November 1, 1930, in order to set up a radio business in Fürth . He was only able to persuade his mother with difficulty, as the landlord requested, to sign the lease as a surety . Together with his partner Max Wurzer, he opened the company RADIO-VERTRIEB FÜRTH, Grundig & Wurzer OHG, at Sternstrasse 4 in Fürth on November 15, 1930. Selling the radios was difficult at first. In the beginning, the business lived from repairs, which Grundig carried out itself, and from the sale of parts and accessories. The Christmas business in 1930 brought some sales in equipment sales, but word of the quality of the equipment he sells and the good customer service only slowly got around, sales increased and Grundig's shop was able to establish itself. Soon he employed two fitters and his three sisters in the company.


In 1934 Max Grundig paid off the partner and his company moved to a much larger shop at Schwabacher Straße 1. He now sold radios from all major manufacturers, records, turntables, batteries and accessories. He also benefited from the different voltages in the power grids in Nuremberg and Fürth (alternating and direct current). Anyone who moved from Nuremberg to Fürth and simply switched their radio on again caused the transformer to burn out. Max Grundig repaired these transformers on specially purchased wire winding machines and soon also produced new goods for sale to other radio dealers.

In 1938, Max Grundig and the soprano Anneliese Jürgensen (born November 14, 1913 in Flensburg; died December 14, 2007 in Bad Wiessee), would-be operetta star and daughter of the Flensburg wine merchant Jürgensen, married in his regular pub, Café Fürst in Fürth , had met. In the same year he already produced 30,000 small transformers for the increasing needs of the armaments industry . When the war began, the company mainly worked for the German Wehrmacht and repaired military communications equipment. Max Grundig was drafted into an army intelligence unit in 1941 and, after completing his training, was assigned to a transport command in Paris. With a not without dangerous Schwejkiade he achieved his relocation. As soon as the responsible commanding general had taken a 14-day vacation, Grundig reported to the deputy and explained that he had been transferred to Nuremberg on the command of the commanding officer. He got away with it and then served as a corporal in the command bunker of the Nuremberg Transport Command. He soon got permission to run his business in his military spare time.

After the air raids on Nuremberg in 1943, Grundig had the production facilities relocated to the village of Vach near Fürth, where it produced transformers, electrical detonators and control devices in the dance hall of the “Linde” inn and in the “Rote Ochsen” bowling alley until the end of the war. The increasing importance of the company Radio-Vertrieb Fürth in the war economy meant that Max Grundig was now made indispensable (UK) and retired from military service. He soon received major orders from AEG , which meant the production of 10,000 small transformers per day. The client supplied the material and the necessary workforce at the same time. 150 Ukrainian female forced laborers worked for the company from 1944. Since their supply situation was poor, Max Grundig regularly organized their meals. Konstantin Prinz von Bayern praises Max Grundig in his biographical collection "The Big Names", saying that he had friendly words and looks for his female forced laborers, "and, what was even more important for them, always bread". Siemens and AEG soon turned off engineers, because the orders became more valuable, and towards the end of the war the company also produced the control devices for the V1 cruise missile and the V2 rocket .


At the end of the war, Max Grundig was arrested and interrogated by the American military police, but released after three days. The Ukrainian female forced laborers who had worked for Grundig thanked their former boss for the comparatively good treatment: they stayed and guarded the company property in Vach. In doing so, they saved Max Grundig's belongings from looting and destruction.

On May 15, 1945 Max Grundig reopened the shop in Fürth with a few employees. He had the machines and supplies from Vach brought to an empty former tin toy factory at Jakobinenstrasse 24 in Fürth and began with 11 men and 31 women on 400 m² in June 1945 with the production of universal transformers that could be used in almost every electrical appliance . On November 7, 1945, he received the official business license. He had already started developing a tube tester in August in order to put the company on a broader footing. At the end of 1945 this first Grundig device, the “ Tubatest ”, came onto the market under the name RVF (Radio-Vertrieb Fürth). With it, even laypeople could test tubes of any brand in a very short time and read the performance in percent.

The Heinzelmann radio , assembled by the buyer himself from a kit, was the cornerstone of Grundig's success

Max Grundig actually wanted to sell radios again, but production by the traditional manufacturers found it difficult to get going. The construction of radio sets required a permit and the sale was strictly managed and required a purchase slip. Max Grundig met these hurdles in December 1945 with a groundbreaking idea. Together with his co-workers, he developed a kit that a layman could easily assemble into a radio and that he wanted to sell as a "toy". This legendary “ Heinzelmann ” radio construction kit was the start and breakthrough for the RVF device production. The namesake for the kit (initially nameless in 1946) was most likely the "Funkheinzelmännchen" by Hans Bodenstedt from 1924/1925, the title character of what is probably the earliest children's series on German radio. Series production finally started in August 1946 and it was delivered from the beginning of 1947. By the end of the year over 12,000 units had been produced and sold - a total of 100,000 for 22.5 million marks. The number of employees had grown to 291.

For a further expansion of the production of the "Heinzelmann" and for the planned complete devices, Max Grundig urgently needed larger premises. In March 1947 he bought a piece of land on Kurgartenstrasse and had a factory built in which, from October 1947, the 4-tube super “ Weltklang ”, a complete device with three wave ranges, was manufactured. Not least thanks to the wooden housing, which the audience preferred to Bakelite competitors, the device was an extraordinary sales success.

In the management building on Kurgartenstrasse in Fürth, which was completed in 1949, Max Grundig's office was located until the end of the 1960s; today, the café of the Fürth Broadcasting Museum is located there . In 1951, the first southern German television station started broadcasting regularly on the tower.

After the currency reform , Max Grundig changed the company name from "RVF-Elektrotechnische Fabrik" to "Grundig Radio-Werk GmbH", and a little later to "GRUNDIG Radio-Werke GmbH" and consequently expanded his production program. In a rapid expansion of production capacities, he also created the conditions to be able to serve the mass market of the early 1950s with its pent-up demand. In 1949 the monthly production was already 12,000 devices, in 1951 it was 34,000, in 1953 39,900 and by 1960 it had increased to 70,800. From 1952, Max Grundig was Europe's largest radio and tape recorder manufacturer in the world. The global brand GRUNDIG established itself.

Max Grundig expanded the business to other areas of entertainment electronics (1951 e.g. to the first television sets ) and was very successful with it. In 1963 he was given honorary citizenship due to his services to the city of Fürth . In 1971 the group was converted into a stock corporation, Grundig AG. In 1979 Grundig entered into a corporate law relationship with the Dutch Philips Group, the company to which he would hand over the majority of the shares and management of his entire group just five years later. In the 1980s, Grundig was the largest employer in Central Franconia with around 28,000 employees , after the total number of employees had reached its highest level of 38,460 in 1979. From his third marriage in 1981 with the Alsatian Chantal, b. Rubert, his daughter Maria-Alexandra comes from.

From early 1978, Grundig was still in his villa in Dambach logged in with primary residence, but at the end of 1977, Grundig had in him in Fürther Stadtwald built Forsthaus down in the two upper floors he entered as a permanent guest. A spacious and well-guarded suite in the Hotel Forsthaus was supposed to offer the entrepreneur as the alleged kidnapping victim protection from the potential threat posed by the then Red Army faction .

The main reason for the economic difficulties from the beginning of the 1980s were the cheap products from the Far East, which flooded the market en masse. However, he did not believe in relocating his production to the Far East: He was convinced that this would not work in the long term, because then there would soon be no work in Germany and thus no more purchasing power.

Another reason for the "difficult waters" at the beginning of the 1980s may be the fact that, with the rising production figures of the still young medium video between 1976 and 1981, Grundig offered a total of five incompatible home video formats ( VCR , VCR Longplay, SVR, Video2000 and Compact Video Cassette ), only to favor the Video2000 system developed together with Philips in 1979 . This video format, which was rushed onto the market and struggled with quality problems, had interesting properties, but could no longer prevail over the Matsushita Group's Video Home System (VHS), which was already widespread in the USA and Japan at that time . In 1984 the company's founder, Max Grundig, sold the majority of shares in his company to the Dutch electronics group Philips, thereby withdrawing from day-to-day business.

In 1986 Grundig acquired the calamitous " Kurhaus Bühlerhöhe " in the northern Black Forest not far from Baden-Baden and had it expanded into a luxury hotel by 1988. At a purchase price of almost 8 million marks, 150 million came to renovate the building according to plans by the architect Henner Hoos and the interior designer Jan Wichers, but the history of the house was to remain changeable. "Prime Minister Lothar Späth talked me into the totally rotten Bühlerhöhe," he said one day. But once in a while, after the transformation to what is now the “Schloßhotel”, Grundig stated to the biographer Egon Fein: “Now I've done everything. And, fine, what do I do now? ”After a fulfilling life with daily exhausting work, he suddenly had no more work to do. This was inconceivable for him. Grundig died four months after the completion of the Bühlerhöhe. He was buried in the family crypt in the main cemetery in Baden-Baden .

Since 1989

After a long period of financial difficulties at Grundig AG, its bankruptcy in 2003 could no longer be averted. Parts of the group had already been sold in the previous years (Electronic division) and production facilities had been closed (TV plant Vienna). What the bankruptcy left over from the Grundig Group's core business in 2003, TV and consumer electronics production, went to a Turkish-British investor who was primarily interested in using the brand. Grundig Intermedia GmbH has been 100 percent owned by the Turkish company Arçelik, which is part of Koç Holding , since 2008 . LCD televisions are manufactured under the Grundig name in a factory in Istanbul, for which former Grundig engineers took over quality management. Grundig Intermedia GmbH and Beko Deutschland GmbH are based in Neu-Isenburg , the managing director of both companies is Mario Vogl.

In 2014, the extensive art and antiques collection that Max Grundig built up in the course of his life was sold by the Munich auction house Hampel (auction catalog Hampel 2014). An attention-grabbing wooden Madonna in the enthroned Sedes Sapientiae type that was auctioned off as a Spanish original could, however, be unmasked as a Catalan Romanesque forgery of the 20th century in later art-historical / art-technological studies (cf. Heilbronner / Košar 2016 on the so-called "Grundig Madonna") ).

Former business partners and employees describe Max Grundig as a real entrepreneur, but also as high-handed, dominant and authoritarian.



  • Alexander Mayer: Grundig and the economic miracle. Sutton, Erfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-86680-305-3 (= The Work Worlds series ).
  • Christel Bronnenmeyer: Max Grundig. Made in Germany. Ullstein, Berlin 1999, ISBN 978-3-548-35877-2 .
  • Max Grundig. Liquidation of his Hohenburg estate in Lenggries, Bavaria, and the Grundig Villa in Fürth, Hampel / Fine Art Auctions auction house, Munich (auction cat. I: auction on March 27, 2014), Munich 2014.
  • Tim Heilbronner / Anna Košar: The Seated Madonna from Max Grundig's estate. A supposedly Catalan-Romanesque wood carving raises questions of authenticity . Part 1: Art-historical investigation = TH; Part 2: Art-technological investigation = AK In: Journal for Art Technology and Conservation (ZKK) 1/2016, pp. 5–35.
  • K. Jäger, F. Heilbronner (eds.): Lexikon der Elektrotechniker , VDE Verlag, 2nd edition from 2010, Berlin / Offenbach, ISBN 978-3-8007-2903-6 , p. 170

Web links

Commons : Max Grundig  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Knoll: Origins of the radio kit "Heinzelmann", p. 14. In: Rundfunk und Museum. Magazine of the Rundfunkmuseum der Stadt Fürth , issue 71, December 2009, pp. 9–16.
  2. Information sheet in the Hotel Forsthaus, Fürth, December 2018.
  3. The Bühlerhöhe "Cultural Monument of Special Importance" , (as of May 2018)
  4. The grave of Max Grundig
  5. Grundig - Imprint and contacts. Retrieved June 25, 2019 .
  6. List of all decorations awarded by the Federal President for services to the Republic of Austria from 1952 (PDF file; 6.6 MB)