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History of the site

Industriepark Höchst – a success story

1863 – Dyes made in Höchst

Theerfarbenfabrik Meister Lucius & Co. opens its doors

Industriepark Höchst started out small. Its success story began 150 years ago with a modest factory for coal tar dyes, a cutting-edge innovation at the time. Founded in Höchst in 1863 "Theerfarbenfabrik Meister Lucius & Co." – which translates as Tar Dye Factory Meister Lucius & Co. – was a pioneering start-up. Its first product was fuchsine, a magenta dye for which Meister Lucius & Co. still had to pay royalties. Fuchsine was soon joined by a steadily growing portfolio of dyes. The company received its first patent in 1863, the year it was established, for a lightfast green that shimmered strongly even in gaslight.

1869 – Madder red becomes a blockbuster

In the 1800s, trousers for uniforms were dyed red using a colorant extracted from madder root. In 1869, the dye factory succeeded in synthesizing the red colorant – known as alizarin – on a commercial scale. As a result, locals began to call the company "Rotfabrik", or "red factory". Alazarin became the company's most successful product.

1877 – Nassau lion

The Nassau lion, a logo that had been in use for quite a while, was officially introduced in 1877.

1898 – Company synthesizes indigo blue

Jeans, work clothes, sailor suits and full dress uniforms were dyed with indigo, a dark blue dye extracted from dyer's woad or true Indian indigo. However, indigo quality and harvests were very volatile. Adolf von Baeyer had successfully produced artificial indigo as early as in 1880. The company started a series of experiments to reproduce this synthesis at a large scale. It succeeded after around 20 years. Synthetisized indigo was much easier to use in the textile industry than its natural counterpart: it was easy to measure and achieved consistent coloration.

1883 – Pharmaceuticals made in Höchst

From a dye factory to a chemical company

Roughly twenty years after its founding, the dye factory turned into a chemical company. "Farbwerke vorm. Meister Lucius & Brüning" – or "Dye Factory Formerly Meister Lucius & Brüning" – started producing pharmaceuticals in 1883. Two years previously, in 1881, chemist Otto Fischer had successfully synthesized quinine. Farbwerke used Fischer's patent in 1883 to launch Kairin, a fever reducer and the first synthetic drug.

In 1904, chemist Friedrich Stolz invented a process to synthesize adrenaline instead of extracting it from livestock. In 1906, Farbwerke launched the hormone under the name of Suprarenin. One year previously, in 1905, Farbwerke had developed Novocaine, the first-ever artificially manufactured narcotic.

Successful partnership with Nobel Prize winners

Several famous personages have helped to write Industriepark Höchst's history: Robert Koch, founder of medical microbiology and immunology, gave his laboratory to Farbwerke. This marked the start of vaccine production for the company. Diphtheria was a much-feared and widespread disease in Germany, but had no antidote until Farbwerke began to mass-produce a vaccine using a process developed by Emil von Behring.

1910 – Beginning of modern chemotherapy with Salvarsan

Paul Ehrlich used dyes made in Höchst to help study cells under the microscope. Later, Ehrlich developed a remedy for syphilis. Again, Farbwerke factory mass-produced the product in a consistent quality and launched it, in 1910, as Salvarsan. This ushered in the era of modern chemotherapy.

1923 – Insulin made in Höchst

Höchst was also one of the first sites to produce insulin. Until the early 20th century, the only way to treat diabetes was with a strict diet. In 1912, however, Farbwerke began to research the use of animal pancreas extracts for diabetes therapy. In October 1923, it started selling "Insulin Hoechst" in Europe. To this day, Industriepark Höchst remains one of Europe's leading pharmaceutical sites.

From I. G. Farben plant to Hoechst AG

1925 – Formation of I. G. Farben AG

By the mid-1920s, Farbwerke had been folded into the conglomerate of "I. G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft", better known as I. G. Farben. The Höchst site became merely one of its many plants.

The I.G. Farben Höchst plant during the Nazi years

The Nazi party seized power in Germany in 1933. Like other industry sectors, I. G. Farben cooperated with the Nazi regime and fired all employees considered Jewish between 1933 and 1938.

Crimes of I. G. Farben

Once Nazi Germany started the war in 1939, I. G. Farben exploited prisoners of war, foreign workers, forced laborers and concentration camp inmates in their factories. No evidence indicates that the Höchst plant employed concentration camp inmates between 1940 and 1945. However, it did use around 8,500 foreign workers and forced laborers from over fifteen countries during World War II.

1945 – Farbwerke Hoechst US Administration

On March 29, 1945, American troops occupied the plant and the district of Höchst. In 1945, the Allied Forces ordered the dissolution of I. G. Farbenindustrie AG and put all plants under military administration. The companies amalgamated into I. G. Farben were resurrected upon the conglomerate's dissolution. The Höchst factory initially did business as "Farbwerke Hoechst US Administration" and never changed the spelling from "oe" back to the German umlaut. In 1947, it launched a new logo showing the tower and bridge of the Peter Behrens Building. In 1953, Farbwerke Hoechst was released from U.S. control.

1952 – Plastics made in Höchst

From coal to petroleum: the start of petrochemicals at the site

Production of Mowilith, or polyvinyl acetate (PVA), started at the park in 1928. However, the resource base for the chemical industry changed after World War II: coal-derived acetylene was largely replaced by petroleum-derived ethylene. It was the dawn of the era of petrochemicals and plastics.

Hosta plastics and fibers made in Höchst

In 1952, Hoechst acquired the right to make polyethylene from ethylene using a low-pressure process invented by chemist Karl Ziegler. Before the year was over, the company had built a facility that developed and marketed many successful types of plastic under the "Hosta" brand name. This material went into many everyday consumer items as well as machine parts such as cogs exposed to tremendous stresses.

Trevira synthetic fiber

To enter the synthetic fiber market, Hoechst had initially acquired a license to make polyester fiber, which it marketed to the textile industry as "Diolen" in 1955. Next, Hoechst launched its own invention, named Trevira. This wash-and-wear fiber was comfortable against the skin and easy to dye with specially developed, lightfast samarone dyes. Even better, clothing made with the fiber could be washed in washing machines, which were just making their debut. Trevira was highly versatile. Hoechst launched fashion collections under the name of Trevira Studio International, while Trevira Hochfest was used in manufacturing as a highly durable technical fiber.

1953 – From Hoechst AG's parent plant to Industriepark Höchst

Farbwerke Hoechst AG vormals Meister Lucius & Brüning

After World War II, the newly formed Farbwerke Hoechst launched several worldwide innovations. It developed "reactive dyes", whose molecules bonded chemically with wool, silk and nylon fibers and so did not fade over time. In 1957, Hoechst began to sell Remazol dyes, which gave cotton exceptionally vibrant colors. Reverin, an antibiotic introduced in 1958, effectively combated serious infections. It was the first-ever broad-spectrum tetracycline antibiotic that was administered intravenously.

1960 – New central research division develops innovations

In the 1960s, Hoechst AG established a central research division at its headquarters. The new unit produced many different innovations. In 1964, it scored a worldwide hit with Lasix, a saluretic for treating congestive heart failure. The new diuretic greatly increased excretion of sodium (natriuresis), but hardly affected potassium excretion. In 1972, Hoechst launched Trental, an anti-inflammatory drug that also improved blood flow. It would be a blockbuster for many years to come. Clarofan, an antibiotic launched in 1980, was another huge success and Hoechst's best-selling drug in subsequent years.

1965 – Chemical and biological wastewater treatment

In 1965, construction began on a huge facility for the chemical and biological wastewater treatment at the park. The second stage of the biological wastewater treatment plant was finished in 1977. The third stage of construction began in 1981. Its core components were newly developed Biohoch reactors that significantly increased overall effluent quality.

1995 – Farewell to Hoechst

In 1995, Hoechst acquired Marion Merrell Dow, a U.S. pharmaceutical company, and transformed from a centralized group into a strategic management holding. Globally, Hoechst turned its focus on chemicals, pharmaceuticals and agriculture and exited markets where it was not a global leader. It consolidated its pharmaceutical activities under a new company named Hoechst Marion Roussel. In 1999, Hoechst AG – now largely consisting of its pharmaceutical arm, Hoechst Marion Roussel, and its agricultural subsidiary, Hoechst Schering AgrEvo – merged with France's Rhône-Poulenc to form Aventis. It sold Crop Science, its agrochemical division, to Bayer in 2001. Aventis itself was taken over in 2004 by a French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi-Synthélabo, now known as Sanofi.

1997 – Höchst parent plant becomes Industriepark Höchst

Infraserv Höchst, a new operating company established in 1997, took over the operation of Hoechst AG's former parent plant, and the site – now called Industriepark Höchst – became home to many research and production companies.

1997 – The innovation site becomes Industriepark Höchst

Home to 90 companies

The farewell to Hoechst transformed one company's former parent plant into a multi-user site: Industriepark Höchst. Infraserv Höchst, the newly formed operating company, opened the site to non-Group companies in 1997. The park started out with roughly 40 occupants, but soon had over 90 tenants and more than 22,000 people working at the site. Investments totaling around EUR 6.3 billion since 2000 attest to the immense appeal of the industrial estate, which is Frankfurt's biggest trade tax payer and most important manufacturing site in the Rhine-Main Region.

1998 – Educational success story at the park

Industriepark Höchst is a prime location for education: Provadis was founded in 1998. This educator of industrial professionals trains young people in over 40 professions and offers around 250 continuing education programs. Provadis became Hesse's biggest training services provider. In 2003, the site opened its own university: Provadis School, an institute specializing in career-integrated and part-time programs for internationally recognized Bachelor's and Master's degrees.

2005 – The world's largest pharmaceutical water production plant goes online and the Cogeneration gas turbines were commissioned

Pharmaceutical water is specially treated water needed for the production of pharmaceuticals and food additives. The world's largest production plant for pharmaceutical water went online at the site in 2005. Cogeneration gas turbines were commissioned, achieving exceptional energy efficiency and cutting carbon dioxide emissions significantly.

2008 – New Logistics Center opens its doors

A site's success depends on excellent access to transportation systems. The trimodal port on the southern bank of the Main River interconnects road, rail and waterways. A new high-bay warehouse with around 70,000 pallet positions was opened. The Logistics Center operated by Infraserv Logistics features fully automatic storage/retrieval systems in two warehouse units and electric monorails in the materials handling hall. The park benefits from its proximity to Frankfurt Airport when shipping products to all corners of the world.

2011 – Biomethane made in Industriepark Höchst

The biogas plant started producing biogas from industrial sewage sludge and organic waste in 2007, using a novel, specially developed process. Since 2011, the biomethane upgrading plant has been upgrading this biogas to pipeline-quality methane and feeding it into the supply grid, which helps to conserve finite natural gas stores. A waste-to-energy plant produces energy sustainably.

2011 – World's largest plant for polyoxymethylenes

The world's largest polyoxymethylene production plant was dedicated at Industriepark Höchst in 2011. Marketed under the Hostaform brand name, Celanese's high-performance plastics are extremely versatile: they can be used in fasteners, household appliances, industrial gears, drinking water applications and the automotive industry.

2013 – Clariant Innovation Center

In October 2013, Clariant opened the doors of its new global center for research and development at Industriepark Höchst. The specialty chemical company invested EUR 100 million in the Clariant Innovation Center. 2013 also marked the 150th anniversary of Industriepark Höchst.

2014 – Weed Resistance Competence Center

Bayer CropScience's Weed Resistance Competence Center (WRCC) opened its doors at Industriepark Höchst to tackle the global problem of herbicide-resistant weeds.

2015 – Groundbreaking for new herbicide production plant

Bayer CropScience broke ground at Industriepark Höchst for the construction of a new Basta herbicide production plant in July 2015. Tenants have invested roughly EUR 6.3 billion in Industriepark Höchst since 2000.

Notable employees and researchers in the site's history

Pioneers of the "new economy": The company founders and the technical director

Industriepark Höchst formed around the nucleus of Theerfarbenfabrik Meister Lucius & Co., a producer of then-innovative synthetic dyes that established itself as a "new economy". This small company was established by chemist Dr. Eugen Lucius and his partners, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Meister and Ludwig August Müller. They were joined by chemist Adolf Brüning, who had gone to college with Lucius. Brüning joined the team as the technical director and took over Müller's shareholdings when Müller left the company in 1865. In 1867, the company changed its name to "Meister Lucius & Brüning". The three company captains practiced a clear division of labor: Meister was in charge of sales, Lucius researched in the laboratory, and Brüning oversaw production.

Picture: Eugen Lucius (links), Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Meister (Mitte), Adolf Brüning (rechts)

August Laubenheimer: Co-founder of the bacteriological department in Höchst

Professor August Laubenheimer joined Farbwerke Höchst in 1883, where he was initially in charge of dyes and synthetic drugs. Laubenheimer kept in contact with universities and external research organizations, paving the way for collaborations with future Nobel Prize winners Robert Koch, Emil von Behring and Paul Ehrlich. The chemist built up the bacteriological unit in Höchst and laid the groundwork for the production of immunological drugs and vaccination serums at the site.

August Laubenheimer, * 1848 in Gießen; † 1904 in Höchst

Robert Koch: Father of medical microbiology – Nobel Prize 1905

Robert Koch posited that microscopic organisms cause sickness – and proved his theory based on the lifecycle of anthrax. Later, he discovered the microorganisms that cause tuberculosis. This discovery won him the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1905. His momentous work proved the existence of causative organisms in the body and gave birth to the field of immunology. Robert Koch gave his laboratory to Farbwerke Hoechst. This marks the start of vaccine production at the site. Robert Koch's significance is shown by the Robert Koch Prize, awarded each year for outstanding biomedical research, and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German federal institute for infectious diseases and non-transferrable diseases. The forerunner of today's RKI was founded in 1891. Robert Koch served as the director of the institute until 1904.

Robert Koch, * 1843 in Clausthal; † 1910 in Baden-Baden

Emil von Behring: Originator of serum therapy – Nobel Prize 1901

In the socially immobile 19th century, Emil Behring lacked the noble birth or material wealth that would have easily opened many doors. The future Nobel Prize winner was the son of a teacher and needed a government scholarship just to finish high school. He single-mindedly pursued a career, however, and joined the military to serve as a physician. Later, Behring researched diphtheria antidotes at Robert Koch's institute. He discovered that the body's own antibodies could neutralize the toxins excreted by the diphtheria bacteria. Behring saw that these "antitoxins" could be used in a serum. He extracted them from the blood of infected animals whose immune systems had produced antibodies. The vaccination healed two sick children. Behring laid the scientific foundations of serum therapy. Not only was he raised to peerage for this achievement (his name was henceforth "von Behring"), he was also awarded the first Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1901. Farbwerke mass-produced a vaccine against diphtheria using the process developed by Emil von Behring.

Emil von Behring, * 1854, † 1917

Friedrich Stolz: Successful researcher from Höchst

Friedrich Stolz was born into pharmaceuticals, so to speak. He came from a family of pharmacists in Heilbronn and received a pharmacy degree from a Munich university. After graduating, he decided not to obey his father's wish for him to work at a city pharmacy. We are lucky this talented researcher did not listen to his father. Instead, he went to work as an industrial chemist in Höchst, where he made one discovery after another. In 1893, he developed Pyramidon from the antipyrine molecule. In 1904, Friedrich Stolz synthesized adrenaline instead of extracting it from animals. In 1906, Farbwerke launched the hormone as Suprarenin. In 1912, Friedrich Stolz developed an analgesic that was more effective against rheumatoid arthritis than Pyramidon: Melubrin. The drug's name was created by combining the initial letters in the names of the company's founders: Meister, Lucius and Brüning. Stolz was involved, albeit indirectly, in yet another pharmaceutical milestone: Novalgin, a drug derived from his Melubrin, was a standard pain therapy drug from the time of its introduction in 1922 until the 1970s. Friedrich Stolz, who had lived in a company-owned apartment on Paulistraße close to today's East Gate, was taken to his final resting place in the Höchst Cemetery in 1936.

Friedrich Stolz, * 1860, † 1936

Paul Ehrlich: Father of modern chemotherapy – Nobel Prize 1908

Paul Ehrlich used dyes when studying cells under the microscope. His dyeing methods helped him distinguish between different types of blood cells and thus diagnose numerous blood diseases. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1908 for his method, which could be used to determine the effectiveness of vaccination serums. Paul Ehrlich also tested and modified chemical substances to research their effectiveness against certain pathogens. This marked the beginning of modern chemotherapy. Paul Ehrlich and his assistant, Japanese bacteriologist Sahachiro Hata, discovered a drug to combat bacterial syphilis in laboratory experiments. Farbwerke began to mass-produce the drug in a consistent quality under a contract with Ehrlich. In 1910, Farbwerke launched the drug as a "healing arsenic" named Salvarsan.

Paul Ehrlich, * 1854, † 1915

Paul Duden: Trailblazer in acetylene chemistry

Chemist Paul Duden started working for Farbwerke in 1905 as the manager of the azo dye plant. When war broke out in 1914, he was the technical plant manager. In 1917, Duden laid the foundation for the future plastics production by developing a process for making acetaldehyde, acetone and acetic acid. A street in Kriftel has been named after the chemist, who is less well-known than his father, Konrad Duden, who founded Germany's gold-standard dictionary.

Paul Duden, * 1868, † 1954

Otto Horn: Co-founder of the plastics division

Professor Otto Horn is considered the co-founder of Hoechst's plastics division. Following the development of polyethylene from ethylene by chemist Karl Ziegler, Horn contacted Ziegler in 1952 and acquired the rights to his low-pressure polyethylene process. The people in Höchst had realized that polyethylenes could be used for various applications. Before the year was over, the company had built a facility that developed and marketed many successful types of plastic under the Hosta brand name. The material went into many everyday consumer items as well as machine parts such as cogs exposed to enormous stresses. Otto Horn became Hoechst's first head of research in 1957. The street connecting the South-West Gate to the South Gate is named after him.

Otto Horn, * 1904, † 1991

Zeitstreifen

Permanent "Zeitstreifen" exhibition at the East Gate visitor center

Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 7:00 am – 4:30 pm, Friday 7:00 am – 3:00 pm

Brochure "Industriestandort Höchst"

The "Industriestandort Höchst" brochure takes a look at the site's history and profiles the people who have contributed to its success story. Read it online here or email us to request a free print brochure while supplies last.

Catalog online

Publication details

Images: Hoechst GmbH, company archives

Editing, copy and image editing: Mathias Stühler, Corporate Communications, Infraserv Höchst