It all began with the Bosch spark plug, which revolutionised the automotive industry. German industrialist Robert Bosch is seen as one of the great technical pioneers, having advanced the motorisation of mankind with his inventions. Even before the First World War, his company was represented in 33 different countries. Unlike fellow industrialists Herbert Quandt, Friedrich Flick and Alfred Krupp, Robert Bosch’s activities were not motivated solely by economic interests. As an employer, he pursued social ideals, introducing company pensions, eight-hour days and holiday entitlements back in the very early 1900s. He was also a committed ecologist, homoeopath and, not least, an atheist, freethinker and pacifist – a norm-breaker who relied only on his own ideas. All through his life, his principles landed him in very hot water, forcing him to walk a tightrope between business and social ideals, international success and family drama, armaments production for the war effort and political resistance. When his spark plugs were used in the First World War, Bosch was suffering from heart condition. Nonetheless, it was primarily Bosch products that were at the core of almost every German tank and bomber aircraft in the Second World War. Unable to avoid forced labour being used to produce aircraft engine accessories at the Dreilinden Bosch plant near Berlin, Bosch actively supported the resistance against Hitler, rescuing Jews and secretly employing individuals persecuted by the Nazi regime. Robert Bosch would have been 150 years old in 2011.

This 90-minute documentary film tells the life story of this remarkable man using historical recordings, documents from the private family archive, dramatisations at the original sites of events, and interviews with his daughter and grandchildren. How do they deal with the weighty legacy of their father and grandfather?


Director: Birgit Schulz
Authors: Angela Linders + Birgit Schulz
Camera: Jörg Adams, Michael Kern
Sound: Jens Spöri
Editor: Katharina Schmidt
Research Archive: Michael H. Gerloff
Komposition: Pluramon
Speakersr: Hansi Jochmann, Bodo Primus
Production Manager: Mette Gunnar, Rolf Bremenkamp
Commissioning Editor: Martina Zöllner
Production Manager: Eikon Südwest in Cooperation with Bildersturm Filmproduktion
On behalf of SWR