The teams of Degussa and Eintracht Frankfurt in 1921
The teams of Degussa and Eintracht Frankfurt in 1921

100 years ago

Establishment of the first company athletic club

Ready, set, go! Hermann Schlosser, who was later appointed Chairman of the Management Board of Degussa, had the idea to start the company’s athletic club in 1921.

This club is the oldest of its kind among the Evonik predecessor companies. The Degussa athletic club consisted initially of a soccer team which was affiliated with the Eintracht Frankfurt club so that the players had a space to train and hold matches. The first match against an Eintracht club team took place on January 16, 1921. Because a list of the players still exists, but not the results of the match, the outcome was likely not favorable.
The Degussa athletic club added other activities in quick succession, including “Prellball” and “Faustball” – ball games comparable to volleyball in which the ball is bounced or struck with a fist – as well as track and field sports, gymnastics, and even tennis. Between 1927 and 1963, the ever agile sports instructor Georg Gebhard coached the enthusiastic Degussa athletes. Gebhard was especially well-known for leading his gymnastic exercises without a shirt. Running was a particular strength of the early Degussa sports teams. In 1937, the company sent two teams to the Frankfurt relay race “around the ramparts”; one crossed the finish line as the winning company team. Even today, the trophies endowed by management still demonstrate the great significance of sports within the company.

The National Socialists instrumentalized sports in order to create "business communities" in the companies that included superiors and employees alike. Numerous photos in Evonik's corporate archive show that Degussa also held major sports festivals during the Nazi era, for example in Frankfurt's Waldstadion, in which the entire workforce participated - as active participants or spectators.
Most sporting activities ceased during and immediately after World War II. It was not until 1950 that the Degussa sports department in Frankfurt resumed regular operations.

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