News |The passing of Berthold Leibinger

Entrepreneur and patron Berthold Leibinger died on October 16, 2018 in Stuttgart/Germany. He was 87 years old. The team and the Board of Directors of Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V. mourn this great loss and wish his family, friends and colleagues much strength.

We owe Berthold Leibinger a deep debt of gratitude. It was his love of literature and especially Thomas Mann, and his excellent transatlantic relations, which led the Berthold Leibinger Foundation to award a grant totaling 3.5 million Euros. The foundation not only funds the interior design of the house where the author and for ten years, but also the recreation of Mann’s library and a publication on the literary and political activities of the writer during his exile years in the U.S. The foundation also supports the Thomas Mann fellowships for intellectuals, business representatives, media professionals, and scientists from Germany who engage in intellectual exchange with and within American society.

Berthold Leibinger | By courtesy of the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung

Indeed, the intellectual connection to America, the very nature of democracy, and the preservation of freedom of thought are all particularly vulnerable treasures. Thus, must we be vigilant in our efforts to keep them intact.

– Berthold Leibinger

Berthold Leibinger was born on November 26, 1930. He began an apprenticeship as a surgical mechanic in his uncle's factory after the war. He graduated from high school in 1950 and started his apprenticeship as a mechanic with Trumpf. In 1951, he was admitted to study mechanical engineering at the Technical University in Stuttgart. He married his wife Doris in November of 1957. In 1958, he traveled to the United States, where he worked as a development engineer at the Cincinnati Milling in Wilmington.

In 1961, the family returned to Germany and Berthold Leibinger took over the management of the design department at Trumpf. The years in the USA, as well as later business trips to Japan, were a defining factor for Berthold Leibinger. In 1964, Berthold Leibinger joined the executive board at Trumpf and became a shareholder. As time went by, he used the proceeds from his patents and licenses to acquire more and more shares in the company. Leibinger’s inventions , including the nibbler for the preparation of welding edges, the copy nibbling machine, and the introduction of computerized numerical control to the Trumpf sheet metal forming machines were particularly successful products of the company. Today, Trumpf is the leading manufacturer of lasers and world market leader for laser machine tools.

Berthold Leibinger filed countless patents. In 2014 he received his doctorate from the Vienna University of Technology. When Berthold Leibinger established the Berthold Leibinger foundation in 1992, he decided that its mission would focus on four areas. In keeping with his personal interests, these were science, culture, church, and charity. Berthold Leibinger saw himself as a dedicated patron. This was true for all of the foundation’s missions, for literature and charitable concerns as well as for music and science.

Over the years, Berthold Leibinger has contributed more than 10 million Euros of his personal fortune to his foundation, and endowed it with a 5 percent share in Trumpf GmbH + Co. KG, ensuring the continuation of the active promotion of endowment purposes after his passing.

For decades, Berthold Leibinger helped shape the economic and technical development in Germany. He furthered the internationalization of medium-sized businesses and was much in demand as a political consultant. He held numerous positions in trade and industry, such as president of  the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of the mid-Neckar region in Stuttgart, president of the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, chair of the Consultative Group of the Innovation Forum of Baden-Württemberg, member of the executive committee of the Federation of German Industry and chair of the Innovation Advisory Board of the state government of Baden-Württemberg. He also shared his expertise while on the supervisory boards of such companies as BASF, Deutsche Bank and BMW.

In 1980, Berthold Leibinger was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 2006 he received the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany). The state of Baden-Württemberg bestowed the Grand Staufer Gold Medal on him in 2000. Further distinctions include the 2003 Social Market Economy Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Werner von Siemens Ring (2005), the 2008 German Founders’ Prize of the Start-up-Initiative (category lifetime achievement), the Arthur L. Schawlow Award (2011), the 2013 Award for Understanding and Toleranceof the Jewish Museum Berlin, and the Aachen Engineering Award (2014). In 2016, the Japanese government bestowed the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, on Berthold Leibinger.

For more information about the Berthold Leibinger Foundation, please refer to

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