Bosch, Robert

(1861-1942)
   industrialist; famous for applying socialism in the workplace. Born in Ulm, he studied precision-tool manufacturing; during extensive travels he became familiar with English socialism. In 1886 he founded the Werkstatte fur Feinmechanik und Elektrotechnik (Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering), a Stuttgart firm specializing in electrical ignition systems. A friend of Karl Kautsky, leader of the SPD, he revolutionized his factory in 1906 by introducing Germany's first eight-hour workday. With their forty-eight-hour workweek, his 580 workers matched the earnings of coun-terparts at other factories, whether they were working for hourly wages or by the piece.
   Bosch, an uncle of the well-known industrial chemist Carl Bosch,* preached compromise before confrontation. Although he was supportive of the Republic, he formed no political attachment and rejected a 1919 offer to become Recon-struction Minister. He held memberships on Wurttemberg's Socialization Com-mission and the National Economic Council* and also sat on the presidium of RdI. To preclude further radicalization, he promoted both the eight-hour work-day and creation of Workers' Councils* for industry. In 1929 he was one of two industrialists (the other was Hermann Bücher of AEG) to sign a protest condemning the plebiscite against the Young Plan.* His industrial standing did not dilute his progressive vision, an anomaly in Germany. The near-monopoly position of his firm was owed to the quality of its product. At the end of the 1920s, buoyed by his company's finances, he diversified in the face of an eco-nomic slump. Amidst the depression* he defended free enterprise against a growing protectionist disposition. Moreover, to alleviate unemployment, he rec-ommended shortening the workday to six hours.
   A liberal and individualist—he hoped to achieve an understanding with France—Bosch opposed Nazism. When he was invited in February 1933 to meet Hitler* at the home of Hermann Goring,* he politely declined. The Third Reich s most prominent industrial dissenter, he regularly hired people dismissed by other firms due to race or political opinion. When Carl Goerdeler* was relieved in 1937 as Oberburgermeister of Leipzig, Bosch made him his financial advisor. Until his death, he facilitated the escape of Jews* from Germany.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Heuss, Robert Bosch; Turner, German Big Business.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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