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Story 055 – 1919 – People

Courageous step into the future

1919 Wieland becomes a stock corporation

The fact that Wieland became a public limited company in 1919 had no financial reasons. Rather, the owners' main concern was to ensure that future generations would have a share in the company. However, the timing was unfavourable - soon inflation would shake the new stock corporation.

In December 1919, Philipp and Max Wieland, the sons of the founder, announced that the operation of their plants in Ulm and Vöhringen would be transferred to the newly founded "Wieland-Werke AG" with headquarters in Ulm. The two brothers each held half of the share capital of the joint stock company amounting to eight million Marks. Wieland & Cie.", which operated as a general partnership, would initially remain the owner of the production facilities and lease them to the stock corporation.

The shares of the AG were not traded on the stock exchange. The brothers were not interested in attracting investors, but in securing the company beyond their lifetimes - and in separating the ownership of shares between possibly numerous descendants from the operational management of the company. In addition, it was important for the "privy councillor" Philipp Ing. Wieland to be able to withdraw from the day-to-day business and to be able to devote himself better to his political and social commitments.

"Kommerzienrat" (Councillor of Commerce) Max Wieland became chairman of the board, his brother Philipp became chairman of the supervisory board. The supervisory board also included the industrialist Karl Schwenk, partner in the cement and stone works by the same name, and the infantry general Karl Auer, a brother-in-law of the Wieland brothers.

Although the first balance sheet of the new stock corporation showed a total dividend of 640,000 Marks (Reich currency) for the two of them, it cast a gloomy glance at the economic prospects: "We were only able to meet the great demand ... to a limited extent due to the fuel shortage.". For the second financial year, results were expected "which will be significantly affected by the economic crisis that has occurred in the meantime". An unfortunately correct prognosis: as early as 1922, a galloping inflation reduced the company's financial assets to such an extent that the properties and assets of "Wieland & Cie." had to be transferred to the AG; at the beginning of 1923, the venerable general partnership was liquidated. The climax of the catastrophic hyperinflation had not even been reached at this point in time; years lay ahead of Wieland which would be among the "bleakest in the history of the factory".

Extract Annual report 1919

The first annual report of "Wieland-Werke AG", founded in 1919, shows a profit of 948,566.85 Marks, money which would soon be devalued by the galloping inflation.

Wieland share 1920

When shares were still real paper: in 1920 the share certificates were still printed in an elaborate way – including the signatures of Philipp and Max Wieland.

Extract banknote 1923

Hyperinflation reached its peak in the autumn of 1923. A catastrophe that also severely affected the still young "Wieland-Werke AG".