When a 95-year-old has his office in a museum, it’s not without a certain comedy. Well, at least it’s not a natural history museum. Carl Hahn is sitting on his office chair in the adjoining building of the Wolfsburg Art Museum and is obviously in a good mood.
“Write that my assistant has never bought me chocolate,” says Hahn. He smiles at his joke – and at the same time radiates a dignity that gives an idea of what a great, cosmopolitan personality he was throughout his life.
White ID.4 in front of the door
Charming, quick-witted, funny. Dialogues with him go like this: Are you still here every day? Answer: “Where else should I be?” Home? “What am I supposed to do there? I have employees here! We have projects!” Hahn has parked his white ID.4 outside the door. Question: Do you still drive yourself? Counter question: “What else?”
Carl Hahn is a fine formulator. And only sometimes does he lose the thread. But at 95 you can.
Hahn grew up in Chemnitz, right next to the DKW factory, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. During the Second World War he fought as a private and was taken prisoner by the Americans for four weeks. His family flees Saxony from the Russians, his father Carl Hahn sen. is looking for new business ideas. “And then he invented the OB tampon,” says Carl Hahn jun. Together, Carl and Carl set up a feminine hygiene company (after a brief entrepreneurial stint with pressure cookers).
“We are not billionaires today because we later had to sell the business to the US company Johnson & Johnson as a financially poor inventor.”
Hahn pulls rudder around at VW
Today he is, among other things, an honorary citizen of Wolfsburg and Chemnitz and was “Man of the Year” in China in 2018. Do these awards mean anything to him? “Of course! Joy and satisfaction.” The best accolade, however, is that he still gets compliments from old VW colleagues.
Already in 1972 electric VW Transporter
Carl Hahn says he got his skills mainly in America. “My little European soul has learned a lot over the years.” The speed of the Americans and their pragmatism impressed him. The Americans, with their “number one mentality”, went to work “without hesitation”. To this day, we Germans could learn from the Americans.
About the person: Prof. Dr. Carl H Hahn Jr.
Born in Chemnitz, lives in Wolfsburg. Today, with the Saxony International School Carl Hahn, he is committed to ensuring that daycare children grow up bilingual. Info: www. carl-hahn.de