Portrait of Hermann Schuelein

Portrait of Hermann Schuelein

Hermann Schülein


Among the German refugees of the 1930s there was scarcely an émigré in the USA who was a more successful businessman and brewer than Hermann Schülein. Schülein belonged to a small (and for the German-Jewish mass emigration entirely unrepresentative) group of business executives who managed to continue in their line of work in the alien circumstances of the “New World” and, remarkably, to build on the success they had known in Germany.


Among the German refugees of the 1930s there was scarcely an émigré in the USA who was a more successful businessman than Hermann Schülein (born January 21, 1884 in Munich, Bavaria; died December 15, 1970 in New York, NY). Comparable only perhaps with Otto Jeidels (banking), Jacob Michael (industry) and Kurt Enoch (publishing), Schülein belonged to a small (and for the German-Jewish mass emigration entirely unrepresentative) group of business executives who managed to continue in their line of work in the alien circumstances of the “New World” and, remarkably, to build on the success they had known in Germany.

As a brewery expert Schülein worked in an industry which was experiencing rapid technological change during the period in which he was active as an entrepreneur, creating a culture that balanced industrialized mass production with a marketing strategy designed to stress traditional values and German Gemütlichkeit. Schülein contributed notably to this development both in Germany and in the United States. Over a career spanning some fifty years in executive positions in the brewing industry, Schülein was active for almost exactly a quarter of a century in each country. In Munich, from 1921 on he headed his father’s brewery, Löwenbräu, and expanded its position as the leading brewing company in Bavaria. Schülein was part of the elite of the German brewing industry and, despite anti-Semitic attacks, he was able to maintain his position in the early years of the Nazi dictatorship. Schülein and his family left Germany in 1936, staying briefly in Switzerland and then moving to New York, where as managing director of Liebmann Breweries he rapidly succeeded in becoming again a successful entrepreneur. Liebmann had been established eighty years earlier by another German immigrant, and it was the brewery’s popular brand Rheingold on which Schülein’s reputation as a successful beer expert in the United States was based.[1]

Family Background

Hermann Schülein was born in Munich on 21 January 1884 as the second child of Josef and Ida Schülein. His father Josef (1854–1938), originally from Thalmässing near Nuremberg (Franconia), had settled in the Bavarian capital in 1873, where in 1878 he initially became a partner in a firm operating in the banking and exchange business.[2] In 1895, Josef and his brother Julius acquired a bankrupt brewery, built it up into Unionsbrauerei Schülein & Cie., and after a rapid expansion, converted it into a joint-stock company in 1903.[3] Bavaria had a long and important brewing tradition, and by the middle of the nineteenth century, lager beer, which is produced in a bottom-fermented brewing process and contains more alcohol, was being produced in mass quantities and had become one of Bavaria’s most popular products; even today it is jokingly described as a regional “staple food.” More importantly, for business purposes, lager beer was more practical for export to other parts of Germany and foreign countries, particularly following the comprehensive modernization of the brewing process thanks to the development of refrigeration engineering by Carl von Linde) and pasteurization. After its merger with the brewery Aktienbrauerei Münchner-Kindl in 1905, Unionsbrauerei ranked as one of the largest Bavarian breweries. In addition, before the end of World War I Josef Schülein acquired Schloss Kaltenberg, a castle located west of Munich, and, with his son Fritz, managed the estate’s brewery (in operation since 1870) and its agricultural land.

In the meantime the Schülein family had come to be regarded as “part of the bedrock of Munich” and Josef Schülein, invariably wearing a large, black, floppy hat, was one of the most notable business people in the city.[4] Josef Schülein and his wife Ida (born in 1861 in the town of Oberdorf, located northwest of Munich), had six children. The family was Jewish, and strongly connected to their religious background, but at the same time fully accepted as part of Munich’s economic elite. While anti-Semitism was widespread in Bavaria, it is unknown if the family suffered from attacks because of their religion. Through his acts of charity, his support of destitute children and donations of plots of land, he gained great personal popularity in Munich and was nicknamed the “king of Haidhausen” after the working-class district where Unionsbrauerei was located.[5] The esteem he enjoyed in economic circles was underlined by the city’s bestowal of the honorary title Kommerzienrat (“councilor of commerce”).

The eldest son, Julius (1881–1959), did not join his father’s business, but rather set himself up in an affiliated field. After receiving a doctorate in law and chemistry, he began researching the reutilization of brewing yeast, which until then had been seen as simply a waste product of the beer-making process. The Schülein family eventually established the Cenovis-Werke GmbH, with Julius at its head.[6] Cenovis, located on the premises of the former Münchner Kindl brewery, developed into the biggest yeast processing business in Germany; in time it operated processing plants in several other brewery centers in Europe. The yeast was used to manufacture food products and vitamin supplements, among which “Cenovis-Extrakt” became especially well known. Rich in vitamin B1, other vitamins, proteins, and mineral salts, it is still popular as a spread and condiment. The company also produced meat extracts, soup flavorings, instant soups, oat flakes, malt coffee, baking powder, custard powder and chocolate as well as pharmaceutical products and animal feed. In the Nazi period, the family had to reduce its share in the business and finally, in July 1938, Cenovis was sold—and thus “Aryanized”— to its biggest competitor, the largely Swiss-owned Maggi GmbH based in Berlin. It seems that Julius Schülein continued to be involved for some time in the export of bouillon cubes, granulated beef stock, the yeast concentrate philocytin, hops and beer-coaster cardboard from France to the United States.[7] He emigrated to the United States prior to the November pogroms, joining his family in New York on November 4, 1938.[8] There he worked in an executive position for the food producer Standard Brands, Inc. in Peekskill, New York, which had been formed in 1929 as a result of a merger, and manufactured food products developed by Schülein. He then directed the Vegex Company in New York until his death.

His sister Franziska, born in 1882, married in 1904 the Munich art dealer Theobald Heinemann, whose father David had founded the Galerie D. Heinemann in Munich in 1872. Together the couple took over the running of the gallery and also managed its subsidiary, Galerie Hansen AG, in Lucerne, Switzerland. They had two sons, Fritz and Paul. After her husband’s death in 1929, Franziska Heinemann ran the galleries jointly with her son Fritz. When the National Socialists came to power, the gallery continued to operate until 1937 thanks to a special permit; in early 1938 a gallery employee, Friedrich Zinckgraf, became a partner. In November 1938 all of the Munich gallery’s holdings were confiscated by the Gestapo, and in December 1939 Franziska Heinemann was arrested by the Gestapo and accused of committing a currency offense. On payment of a large sum of money she was set free and in early 1939 she emigrated to the United States, where her sons were already living. Franziska Heinemann died in New York in 1940.[9]

In the course of the pogroms of November 1938 Dr. Fritz Schülein (1886–1963), the fourth child of the family, was also arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau concentration camp. By this means the family was blackmailed into selling their interest in the Schlossbrauerei Kaltenberg brewery. The youngest child, Curt, helped secure American visas for his brothers Julius and Fritz from a friendly consul in Stuttgart, and along with their sister, Elsa, they also managed to escape to New York.[10]

Hermann Schülein attended university in Munich, studying political economy, philosophy and law and earned a doctorate in 1910 with a dissertation on the legal form of cartels. In 1913 he married Luise Fanny (“Lisl”) Levy, who came from a Jewish family in Stuttgart, but little else is recorded about their relationship. The couple had one daughter, Annemarie, born in 1916.

Business Development: Munich

Shortly after his graduation, Hermann Schülein took over as managing director at Unionsbrauerei in 1911.[11] On January 5, 1921 the stockholders agreed to a merger of Unionsbrauerei with the Aktienbrauerei Löwenbräu that was retroactively effective as of October 1, 1919. While his father Josef Schülein switched to the supervisory board (Aufsichtsrat), Hermann Schülein joined the board of directors (Vorstand) of this large enterprise, becoming chairman of the board before his official appointment as managing director in 1924.[12]

Unlike Unionsbrauerei, which was predominantly a local and regionally-known brand, the Löwenbräu brewery—in existence as a joint-stock company since 1872—was characterized by an exceptionally high proportion of sales outside of Germany. As early as 1887–88, exports accounted for 45 percent of total output and remained at that level until World War I, making Löwenbräu one of Germany’s biggest export breweries.[13] The company was severely affected by the collapse of the export market between 1914 and 1918, with weather also playing a part in reducing beer output from 713,791 barrels in 1912 to 346,211 barrels in 1919–20. In this situation a merger with the local brand Unionsbrauerei, whose production had also dropped drastically, was an ideal solution because of Unionsbaurei’s large urban clientele, its substantial real estate and numerous taverns.[14] In the revolutionary climate of postwar Munich, furthermore, Josef Schülein’s popularity among the unionized workers may have provided a distinct market advantage over other brands.[15]

After the merger, Hermann Schülein focused on the continued expansion of what had become Bavaria’s largest brewery.[16] In December 1921 another large Munich brewery, Bürgerbräu AG, was merged with Löwenbräu; further Bavarian breweries in the surrounding area were acquired, and in October 1922 a joint venture was agreed to with the Gabriel und Josef Sedlmayr Spaten-Franziskaner-Leistbräu AG. In arranging these mergers, the company was participating in a process occurring in several other sectors of the German economy, such as steel, electrical and chemical industry companies that were merging to form dominant conglomerates, and mirroring a parallel process in the United States that had seen the formation of large “trusts” in the early 1900s as strategic instruments to control the market. With official reauthorization of certain types of beer and the end of state rationing of food stuffs, the conditions were in place for a rapid consolidation from the beginning of the 1920s. The customer base was enlarged and new inns were acquired. Distribution within Germany—above all to Saxony, Thuringia, Silesia, Danzig and Königsbergwas resumed, with the result that, at the peak of the concern’s development in 1928–29, beer output reached 843,671 barrels.[17]

The brewery’s concentration on the local market continued, however, with exports remaining very limited as a result of the permanent loss of former markets in Belgium and Alsace-Lorraine and of the protectionist trade policies prevailing in the postwar era. Exports to the United States was relaunched, however. Hermann Schülein put Dr. Karl Messner in charge of this branch of the business; Messner would serve on the company’s board of directors from 1929 to 1957, taking over as chairman of the board in 1947.

It was in the 1920s that Schülein reached the peak of his business career in Germany. Hermann Schülein himself, who like his father bore the honorary title of Kommerzienrat, was acknowledged as one of the most influential German brewing experts, his reputation reaching far beyond Munich and making him an internationally recognized entrepreneur. Inside Löwenbräu, Schülein continued its traditions of above-average working conditions, pay and social benefits; externally, he extended his influence over the economic life of Bavaria by holding offices on the supervisory boards of various, predominantly Munich-based companies.[18] Most notable of these were the biggest German brewery concern, Schultheiss-Patzenhofer Brauerei-AG in Berlin (until 1934) and the Bank für Brauindustrie (until November 1934), a holding company belonging to the private banking establishment of the Arnhold brothers. In addition, Schülein was a committee member of Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank und Disconto-Gesellschaft, serving on its supervisory board from 1930 to 1932 and on its Bavarian advisory board between 1929 and 1934.[19] His influence was further enhanced by a seat on the executive committee of the German Brewers’ Federation.

Although ownership of a sizeable amount of real estate offered certain stability, Löwenbräu was severely affected, starting in 1929, by the consequences of the global economic crisis and the raising of the beer tax as a response to the Young Plan for German war reparations. By 1932/33 its beer production had dropped by nearly half to 470,947 barrels. But a genuine threat to the existence of the Schülein family was posed by the National Socialists’ accession to power in 1933.[20]

From the beginning of the twentieth century the family had had to endure anti-Semitic hostility, but now National Socialist hate campaigns and the boycotting of the Löwenbräu brand as a “Jew beer” took on threatening dimensions. Members of National Socialist Factory Cell Organizations (NSBO) within the company coordinated their actions with the intrigues of local rival firms. The attacks were also supported by Munich’s local government, and there was the real threat of municipal and state clients boycotting its beer. Consequently, in May 1933 five Jewish members of the supervisory board had to give up their posts, among them Josef Schülein, the chairman of the supervisory board Jakob Schulmann, and bank manager Friedrich Pasternak (a relative of the author Boris Pasternak).

Nevertheless, Hermann Schülein, with his indispensable expertise, managed to hold on to his place in the company management as a simple member of the board of directors, which from then on only acted collectively. For the moment Schülein was irreplaceable in his position since he possessed a unique combination of business experience and technical skills. He had learned the brewing craft from scratch and was considered an expert on the quality and processing of the grain that was decisive for the brewing process. He also had many important contacts and his popularity within the large Löwenbräu company made him an important role model for its employees. Finally, the Munich Chamber of Commerce was interested, purely for economic reasons, in ensuring that Löwenbräu continued its business without interruption. Thus, Schülein was able to carry on working for Löwenbräu for more than two and half years, until at the end of November 1935 he was compelled to withdraw from the business completely—“for reasons of health”—in return for a compensation of 150,000 Reichsmarks ($60,400 in 1935 U.S. dollars, or $960,000 U.S. dollars in 2010) and an annual retirement pension amounting to 27,000 RM ($10,870 in 1935 U.S. dollars, or $173,000 in 2010 dollars).[21]

Thus Schülein represents an exception in the German brewing industry inasmuch as he was able to continue functioning as a manager in a big brewing concern in 1935 in spite of his Jewish religion.[22] Schülein’s importance for the company and the high standing of the Schülein family were stressed at this time by the chairman of Löwenbräu’s supervisory board, August von Finck, a private banker who was also a prominent early supporter of Adolf Hitler:

“Your exceptional talent for commerce together with your complete mastery of the technical side of brewing has caused you to become, over the years, one of Germany’s premier brewery specialists, whose words and opinions have been highly regarded in the trade associations too. With your strategic foresight, dedication and ability, you have been able, over the last 15 years, to steer the Löwenbräu brewing corporation in Munich with a sure hand past numerous perils and pitfalls; and not only maintain but to enhance, both at home and abroad, its reputation as one of the most respected businesses in Germany. Today I would like to recall with special thanks your role in purchasing. Throughout the years you have had sole responsibility for the procurement of barley, malt and hops, and have followed the usability of the raw materials in practice with untiring industriousness. And so I am delighted to be able to say that in the German brewing trade you rank among the leading experts in barley and hops.”[23]

Schülein took his leave of the company’s employees, who showed great sympathy, and on December 12, 1935, he officially terminated his residence in Germany. When trying to leave the country on March 30, 1933, to escape the April 1 anti-Jewish boycott, he had been arrested and spent a few days in custody. This time, he succeeded in crossing the border into Switzerland at night, later recalling “With a broken heart I left my beloved Munich, which is still my great love.”[24] The escape had been arranged by the director’s secretary Joseph Simbeck, a close associate and authorized representative of Schülein, and from 1951 to 1960 a member of the Löwenbräu board of directors. The Reichsfluchtsteuer (Reich Flight Tax, levied on those fleeing the Reich) Schülein had to paid equaled 250,000 RM ($100,000 in 1935 U.S. dollars, or $1.5 million in 2010 U.S. dollars); Schülein was only able to pay it thanks to a loan he received from Löwenbräu.[25]

Switzerland offered Hermann and Luise Schülein and their daughter Annemarie a safe haven, to be sure, but its policy toward European refugees was particularly restrictive. Residence permits were frequently granted only for a short term; this was accompanied by the withholding of work permits and by regulations relating to assets and capital which were designed to prevent aliens setting up businesses. Entrepreneurs whose firms had been “Aryanized” in the Reich and who tried to transfer their activities to Switzerland met with widespread resistance.[26] For instance, Schülein’s request for assistance with regard to obtaining a residence permit fell on deaf ears among Swiss brewers, who were fearful of competition. They supported his projected move to Zurich vis-à-vis the authorities only in return for a written pledge by Schülein not to get involved in the brewing trade in Switzerland either directly or indirectly.[27]

Business Development: New York

On January 31, 1936, Hermann Schülein arrived in New York on board the Europa sailing from Bremen. He traveled alone.[28] This visit was evidently only for making preparations, as he soon sailed back to France. On August 27, 1936, again on the Europa, he officially re-entered the United States, and submitted his application for American citizenship just four weeks later, on October 26.

In New York, where the family initially stayed in a hotel, the situation at the outset did not look promising—Hermann Schülein, now 52 years of age, had no international training or qualifications and little or no knowledge of English, and next to no money after paying the Nazi regime’s confiscatory taxes. In spite of this, and under totally new circumstances, Schülein succeeded in making a remarkable new start in business, securing a position at Liebmann Breweries in Brooklyn and also completing a six-month intensive language course to learn English.[29]

Hermann Schülein was able to make a successful transition in part due to the technical and managerial expertise he could offer. He received surety on his application for naturalization from Samuel Simon (“Sam”) Steiner, a well-connected member of New York City’s brewing industry. Although it cannot be definitively proved, it is very likely that Sam Steiner and Hermann Schülein were in professional or personal contact in the 1920s. Steiner, who was originally from Laupheim, came to the United States in 1886 to open the firm of S.S. Steiner as the New York branch of the hop trading business his grandfather and father had founded in 1845. The Liebmann brewery used the high-quality hops Steiner imported from Germany for its beer production. When Steiner married Sadie Liebmann, a daughter of brewery owner Joseph Liebmann, in 1895, these business relations were consolidated by family ties (a common strategy among nineteenth-century entrepreneurs). Sam Steiner traveled back to Germany from time to time, and in 1898 with his brother Louis he became a partner of their father’s hop firm in Laupheim. When the company had to be liquidated in 1938, Sam and his nephew Julius, who immigrated to New York in 1923, managed to transfer the capital to the United States, and by 1936 they had established a new family-owned hop trading company in St. Gallen, Switzerland.[30] Steiner introduced Schülein into Liebmann’s circle, and it may have been of some significance that Oberdorf, where Hermann Schülein’s mother was born, was near Aufhausen, the town in Württemberg where the Liebmann family had its origins.

The Liebmann brewery’s founder, Samuel Liebmann, was born c. 1799 in Aufhausen.[31] He moved to Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, in about 1840. Owing to his political views and harassment by the authorities, but probably also for economic considerations, Samuel Liebmann decided, in 1850, to join the wave of emigration to the United States; at that time emigration was at its highest level yet and a little later, in 1854, would reach its peak with more than 250,000 German immigrants.[32]

His eldest son Joseph, whom he had sent on ahead, had acquired a small brewery in New York, and the family eventually established the firm S. Liebmann in the “brewing capital” of Brooklyn (which only became part of New York City in 1898). Later named S. Liebmann’s Sons, the brewery went on to become, despite strong competition, one of the biggest and most prominent breweries in the New York area. By 1914 its beer production had risen to 700,000 barrels from just 1,000 barrels in 1854.

After Samuel Liebmann’s death in 1872, the expanding enterprise remained in family ownership: while Joseph—commissioner for the brewing trade exhibit at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876—concentrated on the financial side, his brother Henry was the brewing expert and Samuel’s third son Charles worked as the engineer and architect. When the three brothers jointly retired in 1903, management of the firm passed to their six sons and thus to the third generation. From 1924 onward, when Obermeyer & Liebmann (another branch of the family business) merged into S. Liebmann’s Sons, the brewery operated under the name Liebmann Breweries, Inc. During World War I, Liebmann products were boycotted as “German beer,” and between 1920 and 1933 Prohibition forced the firm to switch over to producing lemonade and “near beer.”[33] With its small percentage of alcohol the latter had just a limited appeal and the number of customers steadily declined.

A decisive reason for Schülein’s appointment was, of course, his reputation as a successful brewing expert whose “special know-how, coupled with his sound business judgment, would bring manifold advantages to their [Liebmann’s] brewery, when combined with their own pre-Prohibition experience and outstanding knowledge in the field.”[34] On this basis, Schülein accomplished a profitable transfer of his specialist knowledge and experience in business planning, production methods, technology and brewing traditions. “In an astonishingly short period of time, Hermann Schuelein acquainted himself with the ways of the ‘New World’… Just as formerly Dr. Schuelein’s name was synonymous with ‘Loewenbraeu-Munich’… it is now similarly associated with Rheingold Beer in New York.”[35]

Besides the common German (and Jewish) background of the families Schülein, Liebmann, and Steiner and Schülein’s excellent reputation as a brewery expert another reason, however, could also have played an important role. The capital for the resumption of the brewery’s operations at the end of Prohibition might have come from Otto Bemberg, who was a member of one of the most famous Argentine industrialist families who immigrated from Germany to Argentina in the middle of the 19th century. A condition for the financial commitment could have been that Schülein and Philip Liebmann would lead the company.[36]

Schülein joined Liebmann Breweries as managing director in 1936. In 1950, in the wake of a reshuffle, he took over the position of chairman of the board from Julius Liebmann, a grandson of Samuel Liebmann, who had been a member of the management for 64 years.[37] Schülein only retired in 1960 at the age of seventy-six, fifty years after he had first joined Unionsbrauerei in Munich. Under the aegis of Hermann Schülein, Liebmann’s beer output rose from 375,000 barrels to over 3 million barrels (1953), nearly a tenfold increase.[38] Not only that—it was also ten times more than Löwenbräu’s production throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and it made Liebmann the sixth-largest brewery in the United States by 1950.[39] After the war, the Liebmann brewery acquired the John Eichler Brewery (1947, also in New York), the John F. Trommer Brewery (1950, New Jersey), and Acme breweries (1954, California).[40] At Liebmann Breweries, Hermann Schülein was in charge of technical development as well as production and sales.[41] A measure to ensure the quality of beer was that all brewers who were recruited had to have completed a course of study at Weihenstephan, a center of Bavarian and German brewing science.[42]

When Schülein became manager of Liebmann Brewery, he found the company dealing with the aftermath of Prohibition: “Twenty-eight states remained dry or restricted the alcoholic content of beer in 1938.”[43] Lager beer, which had been the specialty of Schülein’s brewery in Germany, contained less alcohol, and could be produced to meet these restrictive requirements. Schülein was accordingly able to make use of his many years’ experience, especially in the development and marketing of Rheingold beer, a brand which had belonged to Liebmann since the 1880s and was soon to play a central role in the brewery’s success.[44] The European character of the dry lager beer exactly suited the tastes of American consumers; no less important for generating increased sales, however, was the successful marketing strategy, for which Schülein received many awards and commendations.

A well-known component of the marketing was the popular song “My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer.” Among other exceptionally effective elements were the “Rheingold Girls” and above all the annual election of “Miss Rheingold.” Between 1940 and 1965 up to 25 million people voted in the contests, casting their ballots in over 35,000 taverns, delicatessens and grocery stores. The winner of each year’s contest, “Miss Rheingold,” appeared in a large-scale publicity campaign with her photograph on billboards and in magazine advertisements. In addition celebrities such as John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Paul Newman, and Louis Armstrong represented Rheingold in advertisements and in television commercials. Not least of all, Rheingold’s popularity increased after it became the official beer of the New York Mets baseball team. Rheingold Breweries sponsored the Mets radio and television broadcasts and linked its brand name with the team’s beer coasters and on beer and cups and inside Shea Stadium. The legendary American sportscaster Bob Murphy, the Mets’ announcer from 1962 until 2003, also did advertising for Rheingold.

Rheingold became the most popular beer brand in metropolitan New York for a period of thirty years. In view of the lower-than-average beer consumption on the West Coast of the United States, Schülein and Philip Liebmann endeavored to boost sales of Liebmann products there in the 1950s, expanding breweries they had taken over in San Francisco and Los Angeles.[45] In an interview given at this time, Schülein disputed the notion that European beer was superior to American beer, noting that all beers were based on the original Pilsner recipe – “They are exactly the same.” A difference lay in the European trend toward strong dark beer with high alcohol content, while in the United States there was a preference for the Pils type. Philip Liebmann predicted that the quality, popularity and consumption of beer would increase on the West Coast; beer was already a staple in two-thirds of all American households, he said, and was increasingly being consumed by women.[46]

In the long term, however, the Liebmann Breweries could not defeat the consolidation of the American beer industry. Although there is not room to discuss this in detail, it faced strong competition from brands such as Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Schlitz, which were not merely regional or national but rather operating at a multinational level. After Liebmann Breweries finally closed down in 1976, the Rheingold brand name lived on, owned by a succession of major corporations.

Social Status

The Schülein family eventually settled down in an apartment on the Upper East Side, on Fifth Avenue between 94th and 95th Streets overlooking Central Park. Their daughter Annemarie, who was twenty at the time the family emigrated, worked during World War II for Voice of America. Once all of his siblings were reunited in New York City, their families would gather frequently for family birthdays and other occasions. While all would eventually learn English and use it almost exclusively outside the home, among themselves they continued to speak in German.[47]

The naturalization process took a relatively long time in Schülein’s case, for reasons that are unclear, and was not completed until December 4, 1944.[48] He submitted his naturalization application in 1941, and in April 1943 a second hearing took place, at which the relevance of US citizenship for his position at Liebmann was emphasized:

“The applicant, an expert of highest rank in the field of brewery and employed by Liebermann Breweries, Inc. […] since 1936, would be eligible to hold a position as officer of the Corporation if it were not for the law that requires that all principal officers of the Corporation dealing in alcoholic beverages be citizens of the United States. […] Thus the failure to get his citizenship papers has made it impossible for the applicant so far to secure a position as officer of this company.”[49]

Schülein, for his part, was active in his support of émigrés arriving in the US, writing numerous affidavits and finding employment for them.[50] Moreover, until the 1960s he sat on the executive committee of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe, Inc., an organization founded in 1941 and later, as part of negotiations on reparations, championed the cause of Jews who had fled Germany for the United States. Schülein was also involved in Jewish life in New York: in 1940 he was a co-founder of the Beth Hillel Congregation in Washington Heights on 183rd Street, and functioned as its president until 1946.[51] The rabbi of the community until 1955, Dr. Leo Baerwald (1883–1970), had been rabbi at the main synagogue in Munich until 1940 and was able to settle in the USA thanks to Schülein’s help.[52]

His strong emotional attachment to his German homeland and to Bavaria in particular, was manifested in his membership of various German-American clubs and societies. For instance, he was an executive of the German Society of the City of New York, founded in 1784, and belonged to the Liederkranz of the City of New York, Vereinigte Bayern von Groß-New York, Bronxer Bayern, Club Bavaria-Weiss-Blau, Gemütliche Enzianer, and Bayerischer Volksfest Verein von 1874.[53] There were dozens of these associations in New York alone, and they were very important for sharing reminiscences of regional traditions, including songs and celebrations of traditional events such as the Oktoberfest. It is unknown if political issues were discussed during the meetings or there were arguments over sympathies for the National Socialists. It can be assumed that even monarchist tradition played a role within these associations, because some members idealized Wilhelm II, the former Kaiser.

Postwar Era

After the end of the Second World War Hermann Schülein’s strong ties to his homeland played no small part in the reviving of severed personal and business contacts with Munich. Löwenbräu’s business dealings in the United States had in fact been maintained even after Schülein’s emigration. Schülein himself was director of the Cerevisia Corporation—founded in New York in October 1936—in which Löwenbräu had a majority stake through the Zurich-based parent company Cerevisia AG. The corporation’s objective was to increase distribution of Löwenbräu beer in the USA and to sell hops and malt there—but the company had to be liquidated after just two years because of costs related to currency regulations.[54]

Not many details are known, but Schülein’s maintenance of his ties to Europe is one of a small number of examples of emigrants who stayed in contact with their former companies after leaving Germany. In summer 1948, Schülein paid his first visit to Germany and before long was “in close contact” with Löwenbräu.[55] An outward sign of this was his appointment to the supervisory board of Löwenbräu. The second West German enterprise whose supervisory board Schülein joined (along with the émigrés Henry Arnhold and Frederick Brunner from the major stockholder Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, New York) was the Bank für Brauindustrie, whose headquarters had been moved from Berlin to Frankfurt.

With the economic boom that commenced in the mid-1950s, exports acquired greater significance for Löwenbräu, accounting for approximately one third of its output in 1972, and about half of this went to the United States.[56] An undoubted advantage in exports to the US, and in contracts to supply US troops stationed in Germany, were the contacts that had been established by Schülein as well as by Karl Messner, who had been responsible for U.S. exports in the 1920s.[57] In the United States, contests for the election of “Miss Löwenbräu” began to be held in the 1950s, in obvious emulation of the advertising campaigns for Rheingold beer.

The Schülein family filed a number of compensation claims for a stake in their German businesses and real estate. In 1948 Hermann Schülein recovered ownership of the real estate of the Schlossbrauerei Kaltenberg which his family had been obliged to sell in 1939 to “Das Braune Band,” a National Socialist horse-breeding organization. In 1949, he reached a settlement with Löwenbräu that returned to him plots of land in Endorf, Rosenheim, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Munich and Utting, in exchange for which the Löwenbräu beer outlets there were permitted to continue operating.[58] Hermann Schülein reached an agreement with the new owner of a piece of farmland belonging to his family that led to the withdrawal of a restitution claim filed by the Jewish Restitution Successor Organisation.[59] The process of restitution took place relatively quickly and there seem to have been relatively few legal disputes. Many other immigrants, however, who were impoverished and often weakened by age and disease had to fight from abroad for years for their former property. It must remain open here whether this result was due to the fact that the Schülein family was still very popular in Munich, though Hermann Schülein unilaterally decided that not all of his relatives would receive the proceeds of the restitution, creating tension within the family.

In addition to his membership in various German-American societies, Schülein did a great deal to improve relations between the émigré community and postwar Germany, contributing to care package donations and leading fundraising campaigns to rebuild historic buildings damaged or destroyed in the war.[60] When Schülein came back to Munich in 1948“he was everywhere greeted with great warmth. Chauffeurs, servers, and workers recognized him on the street and surrounded him.”[61] For hours he drove through his hometown, and in subsequent years took part in numerous celebrations there. In a 1964 poem Schülein gave voice to his love of Munich, but also the pain of emigration:

When I see the towers
Then my heart aches.
Emblem of a city
which has me under the spell!
I was once banned from you suddenly
It has left deep wounds
But the old wounds have healed,
Heart to heart has found.
Now the world city with heart
remains forever you ‘Munich’.
As you always forgive your mother,
I today forgive my mother city,
Being proud that my cradle stood there
I greet my dear Bavaria!

Schülein was recognized for his commitment to establishing understanding between Germans and Americans. Among the honors he received was the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (founded in 1927 and today known as the National Conference for Community and Justice) in 1957. Schülein is perhaps an unusual example of a German-Jewish emigrant who established a positive relationship with Germany in the postwar era.[63]

In common with the great majority of these refugees, however, Schülein did not decide to return to his homeland on a permanent basis, neither at the democratic new beginning of the Federal Republic nor after his retirement from Liebmann. Despite renewed contacts with Munich and his enduring popularity among the people there, Schülein went no further than to pay annual visits lasting several weeks during the summer months—once, on the occasion of Munich’s 800th anniversary celebrations in 1958, bringing with him the Rheingold Girls.[64] When the mayor of Munich visited Schülein in his New York apartment in the 1960s to award him a medal, Schülein pointed out of the window to a building with two towers on Central Park, and remarked that he had rented the apartment because the view reminded him of the Frauenkirche in Munich.[65] Hermann Schülein died in New York on December 15, 1970, not long before he would have reached the age of eighty-seven.


The case of Hermann Schülein is an example of a prodigiously successful, German-American entrepreneurial transfer against the background of National Socialist rule. Even empirical studies of the 1940s have shown that in many cases one can speak of a relatively successful economic integration of the European refugees.[66] A considerable proportion of entrepreneurs managed to continue their business activities in similar fields. However, most of these companies started out as very small family enterprises, and often in the early days the living room served as an office and as a production facility. Even after several years, most emigrants’ companies were not comparable to their firms, factories, and shops in Germany in terms of size, number of employees and economic importance. It remains an object of further research to look at these thousands of small business owners, their fates, and their difficulties in the new environment. They represented the mass of entrepreneurs who emigrated from Germany in the U.S. during the period of National Socialism, but today we know far too little about their history.

Schülein however, despite his strong bonds with his hometown of Munich and what may be described as an essentially regional identity, after twenty-five years in the Bavarian brewing trade managed to establish himself as a brewery executive in the United States in 1936. Although he no longer enjoyed the broad—and probably lucrative—involvement in banking and financial circles he had in Munich, he was able to establish a solid position in a field he knew well thanks to two circumstances. In the first place, the renown that Schülein and his family had acquired over the decades in business and entrepreneurship extended beyond the borders of the Reich. Secondly, the fate of German émigrés in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s proved to be influenced to some degree by Germans who had immigrated in the nineteenth century. There can be no doubt that the personal contacts and family ties with the Liebmann family, active in the brewing trade in Brooklyn since the 1850s, played an important role in Schülein’s appointment to a management position in Liebmann Breweries.

Denied the opportunity of doing business in Europe, Schülein was able—in spite of minimal international experience—to turn to his advantage the know-how he had acquired in Germany in the production and marketing of beer and thus to contribute substantially to the success of Liebmann Breweries. Rheingold beer precisely suited American consumers’ preferences, and its advertising campaigns reflected the spirit of the times in the 1940s and 1950s. Thus, Schülein’s business strategy is a noteworthy example of how the food and beverage industry marketed itself in the postwar years. As Aufbau, the German exile newspaper in New York, commented in 1944 on Schülein’s sixtieth birthday, it is no wonder that “the American brewing industry did not fail to make use of his extraordinary drive and capability in work,” adding that Schülein was one of those fortunate individuals “who, staying in the same occupation, are able to demonstrate their abilities all over again, and prominently, in a new country.”[67] Whether Schülein’s new career was accompanied by the same prestige and prosperity as he had enjoyed in Germany before 1933 is a question that cannot be answered here. At all events, emigration to the United States was definitive: the family never returned to live in Germany. Emigration marked a turning point between two eras.

Today Löwenbräu, after various restructurings and takeovers, is only one subsidiary of the giant Anheuser-Busch-InBev brewing group; and in downtown Munich or indeed at the Löwenbräu complex there is little that recalls Hermann Schülein and his family’s once crucial role in the business. The same is true in Brooklyn, where Liebmann Breweries proved unable, in the long run, to compete with bigger breweries like Miller or and Anheuser-Busch. Amid increasing concentration in the US brewery industry, the company ceased operations in 1976. Yet the brand name Rheingold survived, owned by a succession of large-scale concerns; and in 1999 Walter Liebmann, a great-grandson of Samuel Liebmann, attempted a revival when he founded the Rheingold Brewing Company in White Plains (New York).


[1] Neither the Munich period nor the New York phase of Schülein’s entrepreneurial activities has been discussed in depth. One reason for this is the problematic situation regarding source material, as a result of which this essay can only be considered a first contribution toward a biography of Schülein the entrepreneur. We are grateful to Mr. Rolf Hofmann (Harburg), Dr. Richard Winkler (Bayerisches irtschaftsarchiv, Munich) and Dr. Martin L. Müller (Historisches Institut der Deutschen Bank, Frankfurt) for valuable information. Our special thanks also go to Mr. Tilman Leher (Munich), who has left us numerous materials that were collected as part of a planned film project on Hermann Schülein.

[2] Cf. on Hermann Schülein and the Schülein family thus far – although incorrect in many instances – Hermann Wilhelm,Die Schüleins – Aufstieg, Enteignung und Flucht: Zur Geschichte einer jüdischen Brauerei-Familie in München (Munich: Münchner Historia, 2000), also Wolfgang Behringer, Löwenbräu. Von den Anfängen des Münchner Brauwesens bis zur Gegenwart (Munich: Süddeutscher Verlag, 1991), esp. 252–253, Martin Münzel, Die jüdischen Mitglieder der deutschen Wirtschaftselite 1927–1955: Verdrängung – Emigration – Rückkehr (Paderborn et al.: Schöningh, 2006), 230–231, 265, 326; Jutta Ostendorf, Die Richard-Wagner-Straße in München. Die Häuser und ihre Geschichten (Munich: Volk, 2007), 90–103; Miriam Magall, “Wie gut sind deine Zelte, Jakob… !”: Spaziergänge im jüdischen München (Munich: MünchenVerlag, 2008), 76–79; Herbert Strauss and Werner Röder, eds., Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration nach 1933, vol. 1 (Munich et al.: Saur, 1980), 670–671.

[3] Wolfgang Behringer, Löwenbräu: Von den Anfängen des Münchner Brauwesens bis zur Gegenwart (Munich: Süddeutscher Verlag, 1991), 113–114.

[4] Richard Bauer and Michael Brenner, eds., Jüdisches München: Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2006), 157; Behringer, Löwenbräu, 113–114.

[5] Magall, “Wie gut,” 78.

[6] Cf. Wolfram Selig, “Arisierung” in München: Die Vernichtung jüdischer Existenz 1937–1939 (Berlin: Metropol, 2004), 835–838, “Julius Schuelein, Chemist, Is Dead,” New York Times, April 22, 1959, 33, “Julius Schülein,” Aufbau, May 1, 1959, 6.

[7] Oberfinanzdirektion München Records, nos. 8852, 8854 (Staatsarchiv München, Munich, Germany).

[8] Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897–1957, accessible through Ancestry.com. Julius Schülein’s son John Schuelein-Steel, born in 1914, was the father of the author Danielle Steel (born in 1947), who wrote about the history of her ancestors’ emigration in some of her books.

[9] On Franziska Heinemann and Galerie Heinemann, see Beate Schreiber and Frank Drauschke, “Heinemann-Online – Eine Datenbank für die Provenienzforschung,” Archiv und Wirtschaft 43 (2010): 177–184.

[10] Magall, “Wie gut, 79; Wiedergutmachungsbehörde Oberbayern records (WB I), Ia 118 (Staatsarchiv München, Munich, Germany); family information.

[11] Cf. above all Behringer, Löwenbräu, 252–253.

[12] A different account is given by August von Finck to Hermann Schülein, Nov. 11, 1935, Hermann Schülein Collection, AR 776 (Leo Baeck Institute, New York, N.Y.). According to him, Schülein joined Unionsbrauerei in 1910, becoming director in 1913, member of the board of Löwenbräu in 1920, and managing director of the enterprise on 18 January 1928.

[13] For a fuller discussion of this and what follows, see Behringer, Löwenbräu, 161–232.

[14] One of Löwenbräu’s taverns in Munich was the Bürgerbräukeller, where on November 9, 1923, the Beer Hall Putsch began and where Georg Elser attempted to assassinate Hitler by exploding a bomb in 1939.

[15] On the merger cf. Christian Schäder, Münchner Brauindustrie 1871–1945: Die wirtschaftsgeschichtliche Entwicklung eines Industriezweiges (Marburg: Tectum-Verlag, 1999), 284–288.

[16] Behringer, Löwenbräu, 252–253; Wilhelm, Die Schüleins, 27.

[17] Behringer, Löwenbräu, 238.

[18] Ibid., 252. Hermann Schülein probably received the title “Kommerzienrat” around the year 1925.

[19] Other companies with which Schülein was involved included Cenovis-Nährmittelwerke, Gabriel und Josef Sedlmayr Spaten-Franziskaner-Leistbräu AG, Bast AG (Nuremberg), Monoris Trockenfutterwerk GmbH, Chemische Fabrik Isaria Etzinge & Co., and Rheinhof-Hotelgesellschaft.

[20] On the Nazi era cf. Behringer, Löwenbräu, 244–253, Wilhelm, Die Schüleins, 27–38.

[21] Oberfinanzdirektion München Records, no. 8854; Lowenbrau AG Records, F2 (Löwenbräu AG, München), Nr. 6796, Bayerisches Wirtschaftsarchiv (BWA), Munich, Germany. Monetary conversions from German reichsmarks to contemporaneous U.S. dollars are calculated using Lawrence H. Officer, “Exchange Rates Between the United States Dollar and Forty-one Currencies,” MeasuringWorth, 2013; conversions from historical U.S. dollars to 2010 U.S. dollars are calculated using Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,”MeasuringWorth, April 2013 (both accessed August 22, 2013).

[22] Münzel, Die jüdischen Mitglieder, 390.

[23] August von Finck to Hermann Schülein, Nov. 30, 1935, Schülein Collection.

[24] Schülein in a radio interview on his 80th birthday, April 23, 1964.

[25] Thomas Wimmer, “Gedanken über jüdische Kultur in München,” in Vergangene Tage: Jüdische Kultur in München, ed. Hans Lamm (Munich et al.: Langen Müller, 1982), 498–500; Wilhelm, Die Schüleins, 33; Wiedergutmachungsbehörde Oberbayern (WB I), I a 5920, Staatsarchiv München (StAM), Munich, Germany; Finanzamt, no. 19273, StAM; Strauss and Röder, Biographisches Handbuch, 670; Behringer, Löwenbräu, 246–247. On legislation concerning foreign currency cf. also Löwenbräu AG Records, F2, no. 6796.

[26] Elmar Fischer, “Abwehr im Innern: zur schweizerischen Flüchtlingspolitik im Zweiten Weltkrieg,” Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 48 (2000): 214–238.

[27] Hürlimann & Hürlimann (Brauerei A. Hürlimann AG, Zurich) to Hermann Schülein, April 28, 1936 and June 23, 1936, Schuelein Collection.

[28] Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897–1957, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, microfilm publication T715, National Archives and Records Administration.

[29] Biographical documentation collection of the Research Foundation for Jewish Immigration (Archiv des Zentrums für Antisemitismusforschung, Berlin, Germany).

[30] Cf. Yitzhak Heinrich Steiner, “Die Firma Steiner Hopfen aus Laupheim im Laufe der Geschichte – Eine auf Tradition und Kontinuität beruhende Erfolgsstory,” in Jüdische Unternehmer und Führungskräfte in Südwestdeutschland 1800–1950: Die Herausbildung einer Wirtschaftselite und ihre Zerstörung durch die Nationalsozialisten (Laupheimer Gespräche 2002), ed. Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg (Berlin and Wien: Philo & Philo, 2004), 115–130. The original Hopsteiner firm, now located in Mainburg, Germany, is still one of the world’s leading hop-trading firms.

[31] On the Liebmann family cf. Rolf Hofmann, “Die Liebmann Brauerei in New York und ihre Beziehung zu den Familien Schülein und Steiner” (unpublished manuscript); cf. also Rolf Hofmann, “The Originators of Rheingold Beer: From Ludwigsburg to Brooklyn – A Dynasty of German-Jewish Brewers,” Aufbau, June 21, 2001 (accessed March 12, 2003), and Bill Yenne, Great American Beers: Twelve Brands that Became Icons (St. Paul: MBI, 2004), 130–145.

[32] The number for 1854 was 251,931; see Jahrbuch für Volkswirtschaft und Statistik 4 (1856), 289.

[33] Hofmann, Die Liebmann Brauerei; “Tapping Into the Rheingold Story,” Times Newsweekly (Ridgewood, N.Y.), Feb. 14, 2008 (accessed June 22, 2012).

[34] “Biographical notes on Dr. Hermann Schuelein, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors of Liebmann Breweries, Inc.,” Schuelein Collection.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Bemberg’s possible involvement is referenced in Tillman Leher and Richard Westermaier, unpublished film treatment for a documentary film about Hermann Schülein, p. 8.

[37] At the same time Philip Liebmann, a representative of the fourth generation, took over from his father Alfred as president. “Julius Liebmann Retires,” New York Times, Feb. 27, 1950, 29, “Julius Liebmann, Brewer, 89, Dies,” New York Times, Oct. 10, 1957, 33.

[38] “Hermann Schuelein – 75 Jahre,” Aufbau, Jan. 30, 1959, 17; “Biographical notes,” Schuelein Collection.

[39] Hofmann, “Die Liebmann Brauerei”; Amy Mittelman, “Jewish Beer and Brewing,” (accessed August 13, 2013).

[40] Yenne, Great American Beers, 133.

[41] “Biographical notes,” Schuelein Collection.

[42] Leher and Westermaier, Schülein film treatment, p. 9.

[43] Anita M. McGahan,“The Emergence of the National Brewing Oligopoly: Competition in the American Market, 1933–1958,” Business History Review 65 (1991): 229–284, here 261.

[44] On this cf. among others Hofmann, Die Liebmann Brauerei; Yenne, Great American Beers, 130–145.

[45] “Use of Beer Called Below U.S. Average,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 1954, A2; “Biographical notes,” Schuelein Collection.

[46] “Use of Beer Called Below U.S. Average.”

[47] “Marriage on Coast for Miss Schuelein,” New York Times, Jan. 31, 1954, 85 and family information.

[48] Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts located in New York City, 1792–1989, National Archives and Records Administration (Washington, D.C.).

[49] Records of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe, 6/7 (Archiv des Zentrums für Antisemitismusforschung, Berlin, Germany).

[50] “Hermann Schuelein gestorben: Ein grosszügiger Helfer der Emigration,” Aufbau, Dec. 25, 1970, 4.

[51] Strauss and Röder, Biographisches Handbuch, 670.

[52] Michael Brocke and Julius Carlebach, eds., Biographisches Handbuch der Rabbiner, part 2: Die Rabbiner im Deutschen Reich 1871–1945, vol. 1 (Munich: Saur, 2009), 47.

[53] Wilhelm, Die Schüleins, 42, Strauss and Röder, Biographisches Handbuch, 671.

[54] Information kindly supplied by Dr. Richard Winkler on March 8, 2012.

[55] Wimmer, “Gedanken,” 499.

[56] Cf. Behringer, Löwenbräu, 257–269.

[57] Ibid., 252–253.

[58] Wiedergutmachungsbehörde Oberbayern (WBI), No. I a 5920, No. I a 3276, and No. I a 79, Bundesfinanzdirektion (BFD) 850, StAM. Among other examples, Hermann Schülein donated some of this real estate towards the creation of a public park in Munich without consulting his siblings.

[59] Ibid., JR Ia 811.

[60] “Dr. Schülein gestorben,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, no. 303, Dec. 19/20, 1970.

[61] Quoted in Wilhelm, Die Schüleins, 42.

[62] “Wenn ich die Türme seh’ / Dann tut das Herz mir weh. / Wahrzeichen einer Stadt / Die mich im Banne hat! / Von Dir einst jäh verbannt / Hat Wunden tief gebrannt. / Doch sind verheilt die alten Wunden, / Es hat sich Herz zu Herz gefunden. / Nun bleibt die Weltstadt mit dem Herz / Du “München” fortan immerwärts. / Wie man der Mutter stets verzeiht / Verzeih’ der Mutterstadt ich heut’, / Stolz, daß meine Wiege dorten stand / Grüß ich mein liebes Bayernland!” Facsimile in ibid., 48.

[63] Family information.

[64] Die Schüleins, 42.

[65] Marita Krauss, “Heimat – eine multiperspektivische Annäherung,” in Heimat als Erfahrung und Entwurf, ed. Natalia Donig, Silke Flegel, and Sarah Scholl-Schneider (Berlin: Lit, 2009), 35–49, here 42.

[66] Maurice R. Davie, Refugees in America. Report of the Committee for the Study of Recent Immigration from Europe (New York: Harper, 1947), Sophia M. Robison, Refugees at Work (New York: King’s Crown Press, 1942).

[67] “Hermann Schuelein – 60 Jahre,” Aufbau, Jan. 28, 1944, 19.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Hermann Schülein
  • Coverage 1884-1970
  • Martin Münzel
  • Author Beate Schreiber
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date May 27, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018