Friday, March 27, 2009

Ernst Rudolf Anders


Age: 63

Residence: Dresden, Germany

Occupation: Co-Owner, Teekanne Co.

Location at time of fire: Passenger decks, probably starboard lounge

Died in wreck

Ernst Rudolf Anders was a tea merchant from Dresden and was, along with Eugen Nisslé, co-owner of the Teekanne Company. As a young man, Anders went to work for Teekanne, which had been founded in 1882 as a subsidiary of R. Seelig & Hille. Along about 1890, Anders and Nisslé, a fellow co-worker, came up with the innovative idea of selling tea in pre-mixed and measured amounts. This allowed Teekanne to provide consistent quality regardless of year-to-year differences in tea harvests. This soon became Teekanne's main focus, and before long gained the company worldwide recognition.

In 1898, Anders and Nisslé took over the company, and the two families have owned it ever since. By 1913, Teekanne introduced their "TeeFix" and "Pompadeur" brands, which would continue to be popular in Germany almost a century later. During the First World War, Teekanne began to supply Germany's soldiers with pre-mixed, pre-portioned tea in small gauze bags. Known as "tea bombs", these were the forerunners to mass-produced tea bags.

After more than a decade of making these early tea bags by hand, in about 1928 or 1929, Teekanne developed the first tea bag machine. It could produce 35 fully-packed tea bags per minute, and was soon being marketed world-wide. Several years later, faced with the problem of the tea bag material giving the tea an unpleasant after-taste, Teekanne developed tea bags made of perforated cellophane, and later parchment. By 1937, under the TeeFix brand, these new tea bags were being marketed around the world.

In the spring of 1937, Ernst Rudolf Anders made plans to travel to the United States with his son, Rolf. Now a very successful businessman, Anders could afford to book passage for himself and his son on the Hindenburg. However, two weeks before the voyage, Anders suddenly decided to cancel his son's ticket and send him instead via steamer. Evidently, Anders didn't feel entirely comfortable with the idea of having both of them traveling on the Hindenburg, reportedly explaining simply, "Can't have two from the same family on one airship."

So, on May 3rd, 1937, Anders' family saw him off at the Rhein-Main airport in Frankfurt. As the Hindenburg rose into the evening sky, the clouds above her briefly parted, revealing a star above the airship. Frau Else Anders, perhaps nervous about her husband's last-minute decision to cancel their son's ticket, screamed and pointed, thinking that the star was, in fact, a spark and that the airship was catching fire. People nearby quickly reassured her that she wasn't seeing a spark and that the ship was in no danger.

Ernst Rudolf Anders watching icebergs off the Newfoundland coast, Wednesday, May 5th, 1937. (Image taken from home movies shot during the Hindenburg's last flight by fellow passenger Joseph Spah.)

Ernst Rudolf Anders, lower center with binoculars, enjoys the sights passing by the Hindenburg's observation deck. Probably along the North American coastline on May 6th, 1937. At left, silhouetted against an upright post, is fellow passenger Moritz Feibusch. To the right of Anders, facing the camera, is Lt. Claus Hinkelbein. (Image taken from home movies shot during the Hindenburg's last flight by fellow passenger Joseph Spah.)

Sadly, Frau Anders' apprehensions turned out to be well-founded. When the Hindenburg came in to land at Lakehurst three evenings later, Herr Anders was in the passenger section, probably in the starboard lounge watching the landing through one of the observation windows, when the ship suddenly caught fire. It is not known how Anders died, or whether he initially made it out of the ship alive and died in the infirmary or was simply trapped in the wreckage like many of his fellow passengers. He was later identified by a ring, his watch, and the spats and striped brown shirt he was wearing.

The approximate location of Ernst Rudolf Anders on the passenger decks at the time of the fire.

Anders' son Rolf, who may indeed have owed his life to his father's decision to cancel his booking on the Hindenburg, subsequently took over his father's co-ownership of Teekanne. Eight years later, on February 13, 1945, in the last few months of World War II, the Allies virtually incinerated most of Dresden in a two-day aerial firebombing campaign. The Teekanne Company's facility was badly damaged, and production was slowed. In 1946, what remained of the business was seized by the Allies, and the co-owners, Rolf Anders and Johannes Nisslé, were displaced. With only a backpack, a typewriter, and a bicycle between them, the two men fled to West Germany, They relocated to Viersen, just outside of Dusseldorf, where they began the process of rebuilding the Teekanne Company.

Within a few years, Teekanne was a leader in the tea business once again, and in 2007 the company, still owned and operated by the Anders and Nisslé families, celebrated its 125th anniversary.

(NOTE: For additional reference, the Teekanne website includes a section on the history of the Teekanne Co.)


Habich said...

Sad and moving story. I wonder if the photos are of public domain to be reused in other webs or have a copyright. Thanks

Unknown said...

Marie Anders thankful for pictures & life interest stories.

David72 said...

The person identified in the photo taken from Spah's home movies as Claus Hinkelbein is identified as someone else in another entry...

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