Robert Bosch: Entrepreneur, Citizen, and Philanthropist

The Philanthropist

In 1910, Robert Bosch donated one million marks to Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences, thereby embarking on his "outstanding career as a philanthropist", as Theodor Heuss, who later became the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany, wrote in his 1946 biography "Robert Bosch: His Life and Achievements".

Heuss traces Robert Bosch’s origins to "a prosperous rural middle-class family that knew no material want, husbanded its wealth with dedication and sound judgment, and whose good nature and benevolence naturally led it to care for others, and especially the poor". Intellectual independence, family tradition and an early preoccupation with the social issues of the day form the roots of Robert Bosch’s philanthropy. Both in directing his company and with regard to his foundation, endowments and other public activities, Robert Bosch always aimed to contribute to improving people’s conditions of life and play a part in shaping society and the state. This desire to initiate social improvement guides the work of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the projects it funds. Robert Bosch’s aim was to support institutions and organizations he considered suitable to put his ideas into practice. He followed no strategic goal or program, preferring to motivate others to use their own capabilities to respond to the challenges of the time. Rather than substituting for others, he preferred to inspire them to act themselves, an approach that also informed his attitude to government.

Bosch sought neither honors nor public acclaim for his philanthropic activities. His prime concern was to provide practical support, prompted by a sense of civic duty "to make his growing wealth bear fruit for public welfare in the widest sense".

The most important foundations and endowments

1910
Robert Bosch donates 1 million marks to Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences

1914
Robert Bosch donates 100,000 marks to the city of Stuttgart for World War I relief. Bosch sets up "Kriegshilfe von Handel und Industrie", a trade and industry-led war aid project with a fund of 300,000 marks and establishes a war hospital in Bosch factory buildings.

1915
Robert Bosch founds "Homöopathisches Krankenhaus GmbH", a homeopathic hospital, with a donation of 400,000 marks. The "Schwäbische Siedlungsverein e.V.", a housing association, is awarded 1 million marks to create sanitary social housing.

1916

Robert Bosch donates around 20 million marks for charitable purposes, including 13 million marks for the construction of the Neckar Canal. The interest from the Stiftung Neckarkanal, the foundation established for the project, is donated to the city of Stuttgart to alleviate social deprivation. An association for the advancement of gifted children receives 2 million marks, and the “Verein Homöopathisches Krankenhaus", a homeopathic hospital association, receives 2.4 million marks for the construction of a hospital.

1917

The "Haus der Freundschaft" (House of Friendship) in Istanbul, Turkey, is built with the help of a donation from Robert Bosch. The "Hochschule für Politik", an educational project for a university of political science inspired by Friedrich Naumann, receives financial support.

1918

Robert Bosch donates 300,000 marks to the "Deutsche Liga für den Völkerbund" (German Federation for the League of Nations) founded by Matthias Erzberger. Bosch contributes 50 percent of the funding to establish the "Verein zur Förderung der Volksbildung" (Association for the Advancement of Adult Education), which will later become the German adult education movement. Esslingen Mechanical Engineering College receives 250,000 marks for an extension, and the Arts and Crafts School is granted 80,000 marks for the award of scholarships.

1920

From 1920 onwards, Robert Bosch introduces a range of social benefits for Bosch employees and their families.

1931

Robert Bosch donates 200,000 marks to the "Zentralleitung für Wohltätigkeit" (Central Administration for Charitable Work) for emergency aid in Württemberg.

1932

After the death of Karl E. Markel, Bosch grants an endowment to the foundation established in his name for the advancement of gifted children.

1936  
The "Robert Bosch Krankenhaus Stiftung", a hospital foundation, receives 5.5 million marks to build a homeopathic hospital in Stuttgart. The same year marks the start of support for Jewish charities through the "Walz-Hilfe" organization. Financial aid is also given to the "Deutsche Freiheits-, Widerstands- und Erneuerungsbewegung" (German Movement for Freedom, Resistance and Renewal). Bosch establishes the "Sonderkonto Forschungs- und Studienhilfe", a special fund providing financial support for research and education.

1938

Between 1938 and 1940, Hans Walz donates substantial sums to Karl Adler of the "Jüdische Mittelstelle", an organization in Stuttgart that helps Jews emigrate from fascist Germany. The Bosch factories provide refuge to victims of racist and political persecution by the National Socialists.

1940

On April 28, Robert Bosch officially opens the Robert-Bosch-Krankenhaus in Stuttgart.