On 2nd January 1894, two friends, Max Schwarz and Otto Zschimmer, registered a business for chemicals, colours, and drugs. Their "general partnership" was entered in the Commercial Register in Chemnitz in the name of Zschimmer & Schwarz.

The two founders of the firm had met one another some years before, when working as commercial travellers - as this profession was known at that time - for the firm of H. Th. Böhme, a company which had also been founded in Chemnitz in 1881. This firm was likewise a "business for drugs, colours, and technical products" - and presumably the two salesmen, Otto Zschimmer and Max Schwarz, had recognized that such business offered good commercial potential.

In 1891 Otto Zschimmer had started to run a small heavy-chemicals business in Chemnitz, and about two years later the two friends decided to establish the firm of Zschimmer & Schwarz.

One key element, however, was missing - one which is usually of great importance in the foundation of companies - namely, their deed of partnership was not confirmed in writing. Max Schwarz and Otto Zschimmer simply reinforced their partnership with a handshake! This arrangement was maintained during the further developmentof the firm right hrough to 1939. Only then was a formal deed of partnership established, when Dr. Rudolf and Dr. Wemer Schwarz, the two sons of the firm's founder Max Schwarz, came to join the service of the Company out in the field.

However, returning to the time of the foundation, the business of the newly-founded firm developed well, and as early as 1909, the first of the Company's own production locations was opened.
This was in Greiz-Dölau in the easternmost part of Thuringia, only about 70 km from Chemnitz. The premises had reviously been an old woollen mill belonging to a firm called Treuter & Golle, which was acquired for a favourable price. After undergoing a number of changes, this production site was used for the manufacture of inorganic products - namely hydrogen peroxide, sodium carbonate, Glauber's salt, and aluminium sulphate - for application in the textile industries of Vogtland and Saxony.

At a later date, largely after World War I, Zschimmer & Schwarz began the manufacture of speciality products based on natural oils and fats for the textile and leather industries.

When Zschimmer & Schwarz was first established, Saxony was an important textile centre, and a number of firms grew up in this area producing textile auxiliaries. Some of them - like Zschimmer & Schwarz - developed strongly, and are still in existence today. Among these are names like Stockhausen, Rotta, and Dr. Böhme - which still maintain their reputation for quality in this important industrial sector.

Thus it was with H. Th. Böhme AG, as the firm became known after its conversion into a family company with limited liability and issued share capital in 1908. As the original employer of Max Schwarz and Otto Zschimmer, Böhme had started the production of finishing agents, textile oils, and soaps in a newly-built factory in the Neefestrasse in Chemnitz.

Zschimmer & Schwarz supplied textile auxiliaries to the centres of the textile industries which - right up to the end of World War II - were spread across Saxony, Thuringia, and Upper Franconia. In this conducive environment, the firm developed quickly in the twenties and thirties, acquiring further production sites, including - in 1927 - the Heinrichshall chemical plant near Bad Köstritz.
This was one of Germany's oldest established production units for sulphuric acid. In 1919, Zschimmer & Schwarz had also built up large stocks for tank transportation of liquid chemicals to downstream industries.

Another small sulphuric acid plant, located at Grünberg near Graslitz, and in Zschimmer & Schwarz ownership since 1913, is remarkable in that the German-Czech frontier passes right through its premises.

But the nucleus of production of Zschimmer & Schwarz remained undoubtedly at Greiz-Dölau, where progressively bigger and more modern plants for the production of textile and leather auxiliaries and tanning agents were installed in rapid succession. In addition, aluminium hydroxide was produced with the help of the so-called Bayer dissolution of bauxite, and processed to achieve aluminium sulphate and aluminium triformate, which can still be found in the product range today.

Early in the thirties, sulfonation of fatty alcohols was started in Greiz-Dölau. This was the beginning of the fast-growing sector "Suriactants" in Oberlahnstein after World War II.

For several years following World War II, a small manufacturing plant at Kassel also once again produced Cassel brown (Saft-braun) for use as a dyeing agent for the paper industry.

In May 1939, Zschimmer & Schwarz acquired the production site at Oberlahnstein. The site had previously been operated by the Flesch company, which had run into financial problems, resulting in the administration of the firm and the take-over of its shares by a consortium of banks. In addition to its tanning activity, the factory also produced leather and textile auxiliaries. Zschimmer & Schwarz took over the firm in Oberlahnstein in order to gain a production site in West-Germany.

Chemnitz, however, remained the Company's base. Here, at Beckerstraße 14, the headquarters offices, and accomodation for the owners were located in a building officially classified as a historic monument. But in March 1945, this beautiful building, combining office and residential functions, was completely destroyed in one night of bombing, and under the socialist authorities all that was left of it was subsequently razed to the ground.

In 1945, following the end of World War II, a partial expropriation of the firm was carried out. Three years later, in 1948, this process was completed, and Zschimmer & Schwarz was totally expropriated in what was then the Soviet-occupied zone. The five managing partners - Max Schwarz, Fritz and Erich Zschimmer (the sons of the co-founder of the firm, Otto Zschimmer, who died in 1932), together with Dr. Rudolf and Dr. Werner Schwarz - transferred the firm's offices to Brilon in Westphalia, from where they continued to operate a small chemical business up to 1958.

The Oberlahnstein factory, which had been acquired in 1939 and managed as a limited company, later became the subject of long disputes with its former proprietors, the Flesch family. It was claimed that the enterprise had been "aryanised" - that is to say expropriated, and court proceedings were instituted for restitution. These legal processes continued through the Allied Supreme Courts in Baden-Baden and Frankfurt right up to 1952.
Finally, the courts determined that the take-over of the firm by Zschimmer & Schwarz in May 1939 was both legitimate and uncontestable. Only then was the head office of the company transferred from Brilon to Oberiahnstein.

The first years after World War II were devoted to resuming production of auxiliaries for the textile, leather, and paper industries. Many of the formerstaff-members from Greiz, who - in the Russian zone or in the subsequently-formed GDR - could not see any clear prospect for their future, came to Lahnstein and were employed once more by Zschimmer & Schwarz. Favoured by the general re-establishment of Germany and Europe, the firm in Lahnstein grew rapidly. In 1945, under the control of the French occupying power, production was started with just 18 staff-members, and in spite of great difficulties in obtaining supplies of coal, raw materials, and spare parts. When the currency reform in West Germany signalled the start of the great economic revival, the turnover in Lahnstein amounted to around 4.5 million DM.

By 1960, Zschimmer & Schwarz had founded its first subsidiary, which was in France with commercial offices in Paris. During the following years, foundations abroad or take-overs of existing business followed in rapid succession, so that today the parent organisation, Zschimmer & Schwarz Chemie GmbH has 12 partnership firms in different parts of the world. The most recent link in this chain of partnerships is formed by the establishment of an office in Shanghai as a subsidiary of Zschimmer & Schwarz Hong Kong.

But without doubt the most significant new partnership of recent times is the acquisition on 1st July 1993 of the production plant at Mohsdorf, which now carries the name of Zschimmer & Schwarz Mohsdorf GmbH. Significantly in view of the early history of Zschimmer & Schwarz, the Mohsdorf site previously belonged to the former Böhme-Fettchemie Company, which name was adopted by the firm of M. Th. Böhme after it was taken over by the Henkel Group in 1935.

Following expropriation by the state, Böhme-Fettchemie became known as VEB Fettchemie - VEB being the abbreviation used to denote a state-owned business in the GDR. Like all firms belonging to the state following the reunification of Germany, VEB Fettchemie was managed by the Treuhand - and it was from this organisation that Zschimmer & Schwarz purchased the business.

Thus history has turned full circle. At the very beginning, it was through the firm of H. Th. Böhme that Otto Zschimmer and Max Schwarz had first met each other. Now, Zschimmer & Schwarz, the company they founded together, in the 100th year of its existence, is able to take up the opportunity of acquiring a major production site from the very firm which brought its founders together. The omens must surely be favourable for the development of Mohsdorf under its new ownership - to become part of the dynamic pattern of growth which has been witnessed over many years both in Lahnstein and throughout all the Group's subsidiaries.

On 2nd January 1994, the history of Zschimmer & Schwarz will begin its second century. Looking ahead, there is every confidence that - whether in Europe, Asia or South America - the Group's total personnel of some 700 members will take good care to safeguard and reaffirm the strong reputation of the Zschimmer & Schwarz Group and all its products among customers throughout the world.