Hans Kühne (1880–1969)
Hans Kühne was born in Magdeburg on June 3, 1880. His parents were Julius Kühne, a carbide dealer, and his wife, Elisabeth (née Erich). He attended school in Magdeburg and then did an apprenticeship as a pharmacist before entering the university in Leipzig in 1903 to study chemistry. After graduation in 1906, he accepted a position with the Chemische Fabrik Marienhütte in Langelsheim, and in the following years he changed jobs several times, switching first to the Chemische Industrie AG Gelsenkirchen-Schalke, and then moving to the Chemische Fabrik W. Feld in Höhningen as plant manager. Between April and September 1915, he served as a soldier in France. In 1916, he joined Bayer’s Inorganic Department in Leverkusen, where he developed the so-called Müller-Kühne process for producing sulfuric acid. In 1920, he was made an authorized signatory at Bayer. In 1921, he was named deputy director and chief of the Inorganic Department, and one year later he received his doctoral degree from the University of Cologne with a dissertation on the electrolysis of hydrosulphite. He married Helene Bucerius, with whom he had four children.
In 1923, Hans Kühne became an alternate member of the managing board of Bayer, and three years later he was named a full member of the managing board of I.G. Farben, a member of the Labor Committee of the managing board, and a member of the Technical Committee and the Chemical Committee. In 1933, he took over the running of the Leverkusen plant. In 1938, he was appointed chairman of the Southeast Committee of the Economic Group Chemistry (Wirtschaftsgruppe Chemie). In addition, he was given positions on the supervisory boards and administrative boards of various firms in southern and eastern Europe.
Kühne retired in early 1945. In 1947, he was arrested by the U.S. military government and prosecuted in the I.G. Farben Trial at Nuremberg, but he was acquitted in 1948.
(SP; transl. KL)