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Dr. Heinrich Salzmann (1859-1945) was one of the defining figures of German pharmacy of the late 19th and early 20th century. He was a pharmacist and food chemist holding a doctorate degree. He created Hageda (an acronym for ‘Handelsgesellschaft Deutscher Apotheker’), one of the first German pharmaceutical trading companies.
Salzmann was a contemporary witness of defining moments of German history. In his lifetime the German Reich was founded. German emperors Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II ruled the country. World War ensued, followed by Weimar Republic. Its collapse led to the rise of National Socialism and World War II.
In these trying times Salzmann proved himself a strong leader while staying true to his values altruism, respectability and incorruptibility.
His tenacity and prudence led the way with will power, foresight and hard work in his amatory. This attitude earned him respect among peers and superiors ever since he was a student. Salzmann became well-estimated in political and scientific circles receiving numerous accolades. There was a lighter side to him as well: Salzmann was well-known for his humor.
In Koblenz in 1902 Salzmann was elected chairman of the general assembly of the DAV (‘Deutscher Apothekerverein’). He would remain at the helm of the organization for three decades.
Even when the odds were against him Salzmann fought passionately for both himself and his profession. When the government favored the so-called ‘Personalkonzession’ (personal concession) and in its wake presented a draft of a ‘Reichsapothekengesetz’ Salzmann strongly opposed the disadvantageous proposal. For these efforts he would not reap the rewards though. In 1960 the ‘Apothekengesetz’ came into effect.
Between 1902 and 1920 Salzmann lobbied successfully to establish the ‘Maturum’ as a legal prerequisite for studying pharmacy thus allowing for a full-fledged study course. Reforming pharmaceutical education took a long time. Critical stepping stones included the introduction of compulsory proficiency in Latin. Renaming pharmaceutical occupational titles during further education helped in publicly conveying heightened social status. Internally, he strived to match theoretical pharmaceutical knowledge with practical hands-on skills.
While social and scientific advances were important to Salzmann he was well aware that sufficient funds needed to be secured by means of pharmaceutical taxes. Salzmann opposed the ever-growing power of health funds that tried to impose major concessions on the pharmacists in spite of already receiving governmental subsidiaries.
While Salzmann was not able to resolve the conflict altogether he did manage to keep the German pharmacy in business. Health insurance companies could have taken advantage of the burgeoning industrial pharmaceutical production to bypass pharmacies by creating an own distributional branch. Salzmann can take the credit for successfully defending the monopoly of German pharmacies. It is questionable whether it would have survived without his efforts.
The flipside of this monopoly is the obligation to maintain ongoing availability of the pharmacists’ services to the general public I.e. on-call duties. This concept was especially stressful for pharmacists that worked alone. Salzmann strived to alleviate the situation by introducing off-duty time on Sundays and at night.
As early as 1902 a one hour break on Sundays had been established. In larger communities pharmacies were allowed to take turns as long as one pharmacy was on duty. However the respective governments did little to further serve the pharmacists’ needs. It was not until 1960 before a satisfying bill was passed.
Salzmann had a hand in insurance policies helping with the implementation of the RVO (‘Reichsversicherungsordnung’). After World War I he proposed reasonable labor agreements that benefited pharmacists as well as their employees.
Salzmann was a philanthropist. He aimed to alleviate hardship wherever he could. To this end, he used financial instruments such as the Salzmann Foundation, a relief fund. Arguably, his trading company Hageda (Handelsgesellschaft Deutscher Apotheker) can be seen as an expression of Salzmann’s altruism as well.
Pharmacists in Berlin had grown upset with the delivery of low-grade bandaging material. Consequently, they proposed an industrial society in November 1902 for buying and selling textiles. As a result Hageda emerged on December 30th 1902. Salzmann became the first chairman of its supervisory board.
From the beginning Hageda had been designed as a trading company that would eventually branch out into pharmaceutical production. This concept reflects Salzmann’s far-sightedness and tactical talent. While he publicly attacked industrial pharmaceutical production in his role as chairman of the DAV he was well aware that it would eventually be the way forward. Thus, he aimed at keeping production in the pharmacists’ hands. In doing so he strived to secure one of his colleagues’ major revenue streams.
In 1903 the DAV examined the feasibility to expand Hageda over the entire German Reich.
The production of special pharmaceuticals (so-called specialties) necessitated appropriately-equipped laboratories. Salzmann felt that the joint production of specialties was profitable for the pharmacists’ community. He applied the same logic for other drugs that were cheaper to produce at selected sites and then distributed internally to pharmacies when demand arose. 1908 saw the foundation of the ‘Spezialitätenunternehmen des Deutschen Apotheker-Vereins’. Salzmann regarded centralization in Berlin as a means for economic success thus preventing regional fragmentation.
Hageda’s subsidiaries opened in Munich and Cologne in 1904 followed by Dresden in 1908, Wrocław and Hamburg in 1911, Frankfurt (Main) in 1912 and Essen in 1916.
Hageda engaged in a joint venture with the company ‘E. Glück Nachfolger’ in Königsberg in 1921. Salzmann turned down offers to open branches in Erfurt and Kassel in 1921 due to financial shortage. In the same year he did however open a soap factory in Berlin-Weißensee expecting good return on investment.
Requests to expand to Vienna (1908), Budapest (1914) and even Konstantinopel (1915) were turned down by Salzmann, mainly because of political reasons. In 1906 colleagues from Gdańsk had approached Salzmann. However it was not before 1919 that the affiliate ‘Gedania’ (Latin for Gdańsk) was established.
In 1909 the DAV, Hageda as well as the ‘Berliner Apotheker-Verein’ moved into a common headquarter, the ‘Vereinshaus Deutscher Apotheker’. It would prove invaluable in maintaining communication throughout the pharmaceutic community during World War I. Salzmann’s continued hard work as chairman of the DAV ensured pharmaceutical security of supply for the German people. His commitment was almost superhuman.
After the war the social democrats governed. Salzmann rightly feared socialization of the pharmacies. He prepared the craft for the immediate political menace and ensuing struggle by encouraging solidarity among pharmacists. Public ownership was to be avoided by any means.
Poverty and rising inflation meant falling demand for pharmaceuticals. For many pharmacists bankruptcy was looming. Salzmann reacted by increasing the pressure on the government, for example by increasing the number of petitions.
The Nazi Party (NSDAP) demanded consolidation of institutional powers of the health funds, physicians, pharmacists, and the DAV. Thereby, Salzmann was stripped of his powers. He was forced into retirement as Hageda’s chairman and as a public figure. He was left with nothing but his own pharmacy (‘Ranke Apotheke’) and his family.
His final stretches of way brought further hardship. In the night of February 15th 1944 he lost both his residential house and his pharmacy to an air raid. Salzmann and his wife Bertha had to move in with their daughter in Castrop.
The revered pharmacist and professional Politian died in Castrop on June 28th 1945. Ever since his name has been all but forgotten. His legacy has not received its due credit. This text strives to bring the great figure of German pharmacy that was Heinrich Salzmann back into the public’s mind.