The Magazine of the Foundation (No. 10, 2011)

From the Editorial Department
What does Robert Bosch stand for? Those who don’t work for Bosch and simply have a passing knowledge of who he was usually respond with the same answer: Robert Bosch invented the spark plug. That response, though, isn’t altogether correct. In truth, it was Robert Bosch’s employee Gottlob Honold who was the creator of the spark plug as it is still used in many modern-day vehicles.

By that same token, the spark plug answer isn’t so far off, for it represents an essential part of gaining a deeper understanding of Honold’s employer. Robert Bosch ignited sparks in so many different ways - sparks that set things in motion and that continue to do so even today.

As an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and citizen involved in the community, Robert Bosch made the extraordinary happen, assuming great responsibility in everything he did. While preparing for this anniversary, it became clear to us that this responsibility was his driving force and the energy that made it possible to ignite that spark.

Today, 150 years after the birth of Robert Bosch, the topic of responsibility is more current then ever. (...)
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(...) We are all witnessing how governmental institutions are reaching their limits when tackling key issues. Climate protection, the war on terror, and even financial market regulations are examples of nations’ extensive powerlessness. But countries are losing influence on smaller scales, too. In an aging, shrinking society, the social state cannot remain as it once was.

After decades of becoming accustomed to the idea of "more and more," the future ahead will mean making do with fewer state benefits. Churches, political parties, and unions are unable to compensate for national cutbacks. Millions of resignations in recent years have shown that people are increasingly feeling less at home within these traditional institutions.

At the same time, such realities do not mean we are destined to become a society of lonely egoists; in fact, quite the contrary is true. An increasing number of individuals are getting involved with their neighborhoods, in organizations, or for a certain issue or project - through volunteer work. They are playing an active role in shaping their surroundings or helping others by contributing their money and, above all, their time. They are taking on responsibility just as Robert Bosch once did. One of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s primary causes is supporting such civic involvement. We help spread good ideas, link networks, and overcome initial difficulties. Igniting the spark is still the goal today.

To celebrate Robert Bosch’s 150th birthday this year, we will be honoring several individuals for their outstanding social dedication and accompanying them in their work. "Die Verantwortlichen," as the campaign is called, shows the different ways in which Robert Bosch’s ideals are interpreted today. The chosen participants will be presenting their own projects online as a type of video journal for 150 days from the end of April to his actual birthday on September 23.

First, though, we’d like to present some information about Robert Bosch in this special edition. You can read anecdotes from his life, a birthday letter written to him by his grandson, and much more.

Who knows? Bosch just might ignite the spark within you, too.

Selected articles from the magazine (German):
Brief des Enkels

Christof Bosch, geboren 1959, hat Robert Bosch nicht persönlich kennengelernt. Er hat sich aber intensiv mit seinem berühmten Großvater und dessen Vermächtnis auseinandergesetzt. Zum 150. Geburtstag schreibt ihm der Enkel.

Damals – heute

Unabhängigkeit, Familientradition und die frühe Beschäftigung mit sozialen Fragen waren die Wurzeln des gemeinnützigen Engagements von Robert Bosch. Bis heute begeistern sich Menschen für seine Ideen. In seinem Sinne lässt die Robert Bosch Stiftung die Visionen von damals Wirklichkeit werden.


Prominente Gratulanten dürfen anlässlich des runden Geburtstages einer berühmten Person nicht fehlen. Wir haben ausgewählte Prominente unserer Tage um einen persönlichen Glückwunsch für Robert Bosch gebeten.


Über Bosch, um Bosch und um Bosch herum gibt es eine Menge erzählenswerter Geschichten. Manche haben es wie die »Büroklammer«-Anekdote sogar bis in die Manager-Literatur geschafft. Sie beschreiben den Menschen Robert Bosch in seinen Eigenheiten treffender, als viele Worte es könnten.

Die Verantwortlichen

Ein Schüler, der sich durch die Schularten gekämpft hat und nun anderen hilft. Eine Sozialpädagogin, die mit den Kleinsten gegen Sucht und Gewalt arbeitet. Eine Studentin, die unsicheren Jugendlichen Angst vor dem Studium nimmt.


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150 Years
of Robert Bosch