The miracle of 17th June

Christmas speech

I feel that the last year has passed more quickly than all of the other years before. It seems to me as if the carols at our last feast have just faded away and we are already coming together again to celebrate Christmas. Why do people have the impression that time passes so quickly? The reason is the fact that so many things have happened since last Christmas that we never really have managed to reflect upon all of them. Thomas Mann made this phenomenon a main subject in one of his novels, The Magic Mountain. In this book he describes a character having the impression that time is dragging on because there is nothing happening in his life. But later, when the character is looking back on his life, he thinks that it has come to an end far too quickly. However, the opposite applies for people who have had many experiences in their lives. In retrospect, they feel that their lives were longer (as long as the whole novel of The Magic Mountain, which takes at least half a year to be read entirely).

In 2005 so many milestones have been set at EUROIMMUN that we will not forget this period too fast. 2005 has been a very successful year throughout. It was also a year which allowed us to profit from the fruits of our work from previous years.

After five years of construction work we moved into our fine new building 5, we finished the extensions in Groß Grönau, created a new technical infrastructure on the Seekamp site i.e. made a fundamental improvement of the electric power supply and established a new heating system, warm and cold water and waste water system – all of which will be the basis for further expansion of our company.

In cooperation with EUROIMMUN electronic engineers and computer scientists the construction department has developed several complicated and sensational machines and devices, among them for example the automated systems for the BIOCHIP production, which are admired by professionals coming from all over the world, an ingenious fully automated optical evaluation system (EUROLINEScan) for Westernblots, which has increased our turnover by millions, and a completely novel illumination device invented by EUROIMMUN for our fluorescence microscope. In terms of the reagents, we have significantly developed our product range. Wherever we present our diagnostic products, we receive many complements and much appreciation for our state-of-the-art product range and for the productivity of our company. By turning our company into a stock corporation and to economic success, our net equity has increased significantly and, in terms of finances, we have therefore reached safe waters.

Many of my dreams have come true. One of them was particularly important to me: the reconstruction of the main building in Rennersdorf, the third building after the spinning hall and the annexe.

We have knocked down and rebuilt a large part of the main building, preserving its time-honoured walls. A week ago we had our topping-out ceremony. The building was built in 1839 – the cloth manufacturer Benjamin Wiedemann had fulfilled his dream to build a nice little manufactory for glaze and wool spinning by taking up a state loan of 1300 Reichsmark. In 1935 the property was then bought by my grandfather Paul Stöcker with the money of my grandmother, which amounted to 26,000 Mark, as far as I know. My grandfather had already spent his own money on his numerous inventions. His manufactory started with small-scale spinning of harvest binding twine.

From 1945 my father continued the manufactory, after returning from the war. He also had a dream. He wanted to start a large-scale production of coarse yarn. He invented a knot crimper which allowed to recycle the ends of binding twine. This twine was considered as waste material in agriculture because it was hardly usable for spinning due to its many knots. The machine invented by my father tore the knots with its two crimpers thus producing the best raw material available in former GDR times – sisal of pre-war quality – when raw material was hard to come by. Thus, Stöcker’s harvest binding twine was the most tear-proof twine you could get in the GDR. The farmers queued up at our manufactory after the war during harvest time and also spoilt us a bit whenever times were bad. We then bought a 72-head spinning machine with all connected teasels and drawing frames. Because of the risk involved in this purchase, my elder relatives declared my father to be crazy. But my father now delivered binding twine all over the country and was able provide best quality. He was even forced to reveal the secret of his knot crimper, which was then copied several times in Karl-Marx-Stadt. The coarse yarn manufactory existed until 1960.

After we had left the country for Upper Franconia in the Federal Republic of Germany, the manufactory was confiscated and included into a textile factory in Olbersdorf. Until 1990 the manufactory in Rennersdorf was nationally owned producing industrial textiles. With some diplomatic skill we were able to repurchase the property from the government for a price which had by then amounted to 175,000 DM. But our investments into the building in the meantime have now already amounted to a double of the purchase price.

The fact that EUROIMMUN now has a subsidiary in Rennersdorf and these buildings have been renovated to offer a workplace for a hundred employees has again a lot to do with dreams. As a child I picked raspberries on the path behind the main building. In summer there were enough to fill several jars. There I dreamed of a large raspberry plantation in Western Germany, where we planned to move to participate in the big economic miracle.

When we came there in 1960, having lost our former social status and without a word of welcome by anyone, the only thing left were the dreams of our former home. At that time I was convinced that I would never see it again in my whole life. But finally first the children, later also their parents, were allowed to visit their relatives in the GDR, in most cases when a member of the family had passed away. Whenever we went there I realised how much the buildings were decaying. One day, in 1966, I was told off after having looked around too curiously during a visit of relatives. After this, I went to my path behind the main building and could only dream of a remote future when that lovely little spot called Kreppel, where I had spent my childhood, would be restored as it was due.

After the wall had come down I sometimes woke up from my sleep, daydreaming about a freshly renovated manufactory surrounded by green trees, contrary to the real situation, for example around 1990 when it was only surrounded by coal heaps und the buildings were just an inch from being sacrificed to the wrecking ball.

We were very lucky that at exactly the right stage, EUROIMMUN had reached a development status which allowed us to get involved in a project encompassing the property. Firstly, we had to expand anyway and needed more space; secondly, we had the confidence of several national banks and thirdly, there was always some profit left to be invested somewhere to avoid taxation. We also used government investment grants, but these did not represent a decisive factor.

As we have always been engaged in renovation work since the founding of our company, we have therefore become more experienced with every project. We have undertaken and successfully completed one construction measure after the other. With all this work we are taking good care to guarantee that all EUROIMMUN employees enjoy their jobs and are not dreading to come to work every day where, after all, they spend a third of their lives. In the past I often suffered from nightmares where I saw the construction work completely differing from my plans and having bad quality. Now these nightmares appear more rarely. Apparently, reality is reflected in my subconscious mind telling me that we are able to meet high architectural requirements – at first by our own efforts, now predominantly with the assistance of professionals from the construction industry.

Our company history has shown that dreams can become reality. This is what distinguishes dreams from illusions, such as socialism or communism, for the attempted realisation of which we had to pay a high price in the past: socialism as it exists in reality was different from what Karl Marx had imagined. It only created ruins, and our Kreppel is the best example. The socialistic planned economy could nothing but suffocate dreams. Planned economy ignored the power of dreams. The date of 17th June 1953, when a big national uprising took place in the GDR, is a symbol for all this. It would have been better to keep this holiday in June than to swap it for the holiday of the German Unification.

In Rennersdorf a ruin has been brought back to life – the national hymn „Risen from the ruins“ which was played at first in the GDR and which was then cancelled, could now well be reintroduced since no one is allowed or willing to sing the other hymn  “Germany above all”. Thanks to a dream, and only because so many people put their diligence, effort and craftsmanship in it, we were able to raise this time-honoured building in Rennersdorf from the ruins.

I wish you all that many of your dreams also come true. If someone, may it be political ideologists, the church, malicious spouses, chauvinists or capitalistic exploiters, wilfully tries to destroy your dreams, get rid of them! Hold fast to your dreams and some day many of them will come true.

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