Dr Hans-Bernhard Bolza-Schünemann, former longstanding president of Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA), died on 23 July at the age of 84. With him the KBA group and its employees have lost a popular and highly respected senior executive, the German engineering industry an innovator and internationally esteemed representative, and the city of Würzburg an inexhaustible promoter and patron of the arts.
“The doctor” or “HBS”, as he was affectionately called by his staff, first saw the light of day as Hans-Bernhard Schünemann on 20 May 1926 in Bremen. He was born into a family of merchants who had been engaged in the printing and publishing trade in this Hanseatic city for many generations. Following military service and English captivity in the Second World War he studied physics at the Technical University in Braunschweig, completing his degree in 1949. In 1951 he gained a PhD in mechanical engineering at the Technical University in Stuttgart. That same year he joined Koenig & Bauer in Würzburg as a design engineer. In 1956 he was made assistant vice-president for sheetfed engineering, in 1957 deputy executive vice-president for engineering and development and in 1964 a full member of the board. This last appointment followed his legal adoption in 1959 by Dr Hans Bolza, the great-grandson of company founder Friedrich Koenig, following the premature death of Dr Bolza’s sons. Bernhard Schünemann thus became Hans-Bernhard Bolza-Schünemann.
In 1971 Dr Bolza-Schünemann was appointed president of KBA, and was to remain in office for 24 years, until 1995. With the persistence he typically demonstrated in pursuit of his goals this farsighted entrepreneur, tireless inventor and inspired engineer positioned the company among the topmost players in the international printing press industry. In the process he initiated some spectacular innovations in press technology and diverse acquisitions of other press manufacturers (Albert-Frankenthal in west Germany, Maschinenfabrik Mödling in Austria, Planeta Druckmaschinenwerke in east Germany) whose roots could also be traced back to the cradle of press engineering in Würzburg.
In 1995, at the age of 69, the architect of the KBA group’s breathtaking expansion retired as president and joined the supervisory board, where he served as deputy chairman until 2006. Even in retirement Dr Bolza-Schünemann continued to place his strategic perspectives and outstanding engineering skills at the company’s disposal, for example in the development of the 74 Karat digital offset press. On his 75th birthday in 2001 he received an award for 50 years service. Throughout his long life he never failed to impress younger executives and staff with his ideas, his expertise and his innate ability to motivate others.
Prolific inventor and design engineer
Dr Bolza-Schünemann contributed perhaps more than any other to driving technological advances in the print media industry through groundbreaking innovations. As the fifth generation to head the company, he identified strongly with the principles inherited from the two founders, Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer. Their invention of the mechanical printing press in the early 19th century signalled the end of the Gutenberg era and laid the foundations for large-scale print production.
Over 250 patents bear Dr Hans-Bernhard Bolza-Schünemann’s signature, and he played a decisive role in major technological advances. These included the development of a multicolour sheetfed gravure press, the Rembrandt MT III, in the 1950s, a high-speed letterpress machine, the Rotafolio, in the 1960s, the world’s widest newspaper press, the Jumbo-Courier, in the 1970s, and the first Rapida sheetfed offset press, also in the 1970s, whose 15,000sph output was way ahead of its time. In the 1980s and 1990s he actively promoted KBA’s pioneering role in keyless inking systems for multicolour newspaper and sheetfed presses. His outstanding achievements as an engineer were acknowledged in 1960 with the award of a Ring of Honour by the VDI (The Association of German Engineers) and in 2003 with the Leonardo da Vinci Prize by the AIPI (Association of Italian Industrial Engineers).
Internationally esteemed representative
Dr Bolza-Schünemann was also active for many years in an honorary capacity, on the management boards of the Fachgemeinschaft Druck- und Papiertechnik (Association of German Manufacturers of Printing and Paper Equipment and Supplies) and the FGD (German Printing Machines Research Association), and on the advisory board for print technology at the Deutsche Museum in Munich. In 1995 he was elected president of Drupa, the world’s definitive trade fair for the graphic arts industry. He was succeeded in this honorary office by his son Albrecht for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 fairs. Dr Bolza-Schünemann also energetically promoted the interests of regional businesses as a member of the Würzburg-Schweinfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce executive committee from 1968 to 1990. From 1983 to 1987 he was the Chamber’s chief executive, an honorary office now held by his son Claus, who is also deputy president of Koenig & Bauer. The assumption of social duties is a family tradition.
Alongside his enduring passion for engineering, Dr Bolza-Schünemann shared with his wife Renate a love of classical music (opera) and the theatre. Attending performances at opera houses the world over helped him to relax, and also provided inspiration for his business activities and innovations. A tireless promoter and patron of the arts in and around Würzburg, in 1966 he co-founded the local Johann Sebastian Bach Society, which continues to organise the annual Bach Festival to this day. He was a longstanding honorary member of the board, and from 1990 chancellor, of the Academy for Music in Würzburg.
In conjunction with the Koenig & Bauer Foundation, over the years Dr Bolza-Schünemann privately helped to fund a wide range of cultural activities throughout the region. If funding was inadequate, he would energetically drum up support and sponsors among the more affluent members of society. Following German reunification he organised a benefit concert in autumn 1990 which raised over DM200,000 for the restoration of St. Mary’s Church in Suhl, Würzburg’s twin town in East Germany. As a co-initiator of the “Rosenkavaliere”, a select circle of benefactors, he was instrumental right up until his death in raising funds to support the main theatre in Würzburg, which at one time was threatened with closure. Another of his life’s missions was to further the careers of young engineers through KBA’s Benno Bolza Foundation.
For his manifold honorary activities in the interests of the print media industry, German business and society in general Dr Bolza-Schünemann received countless awards, including the Distinguished Service Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany, the State Medal for outstanding services to the Bavarian economy, the Bavarian Distinguished Service Award, the Grand Golden Badge of Honour of the Republic of Austria, honorary fellowship of the University of Würzburg, the Grand Service Medal of the VDMA, the Golden Ring of Honour of the Würzburg-Schweinfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce, honorary senatorship of the University for Print and Media in Stuttgart, and honorary citizenship and the Ring of Honour of the City of Würzburg, his adopted domicile.
In accordance with Dr Bolza-Schünemann’s wishes the funeral was restricted to family members only. A memorial service for KBA employees and longstanding business associates will be held at 5pm on 13 August in St. John’s Church (Johanniskirche), Würzburg.
No flowers by request. Instead, donations are welcomed by the Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei (German bone-marrow donor database), account no. 616061488, HypoVereinsbank Würzburg, bank code 79020076, reference “Dr Bolza-Schünemann”.