Physicist and company director
Hermann Linde was born in Munich on 12 November 1917, the fourth son of Richard Linde and his wife Julie, née Hingkeldey. He attended primary school in Solln, advancing in 1928 to the classical Theresiengymnasium in Munich, where he completed his secondary education in 1937. He then completed his labor and military service, before contemplating further studies. While initially drawn to Protestant theology, he eventually decided to study mechanical engineering, however, his plans were disrupted by the advent of the Second World War. Linde fought as a soldier in Poland and France, until he was injured in the battle of France in 1940 and spent months in a military hospital. Two of his brothers were killed in action.
In 1941, as a result of his injuries, Hermann Linde was discharged from the armed forces with the rank of first lieutenant of the reserve and permitted to resume his studies at the Technische Hochschule München. The partial paralysis of his foot, however, led him to change the focus of his studies from mechanical engineering to engineering physics. He obtained his Diplom in 1945; three years later, under the supervision of Walther Meißner, Linde was awarded a doctorate for his dissertation on the freezing of vapors resulting from gas vapor mixtures at atmospheric pressure. One year earlier, he had married Anneliese Lipphardt.
Career at the Linde company
In January 1949, Hermann Linde began his career as a process engineer in the chemicals department of the Linde company in Höllriegelskreuth near Munich. He switched to the process engineering division one year later. Beginning in 1957, with commercial power of attorney, he managed the engineering office, the assembly office, and the calculation office, as well as the production areas in Höllriegelskreuth and Schalchen.
In 1961, he was appointed deputy and, in 1965, a full board member of the Linde company. Himself a devout Christian, he formulated ten principles of ethical company management. Under his leadership, what had been device engineering developed into large-scale plant engineering, with Linde serving as general contractor vis-à-vis the clients, assuming overall responsibility for individual projects.
Beginning in1970, Hermann Linde supervised the Sürth plant group near Köln and, one year later, the refrigerated warehouses, before being appointed Chairman of the Executive Board in 1972. When differences of opinion arose about management and organization, Hermann Linde resigned from the board in September 1976, having rubbed his colleagues the wrong way with his energetic resistance to unfair competition. He, by contrast, with his strong Christian ethics and social consciousness, always enjoyed the complete confidence of the employees and works council, who valued his kindness, integrity and sense of justice.
Second career as TUM professor
Hermann Linde followed the example of his grandfather Carl von Linde, who withdrew from the company management in 1890 and assumed a professorship at the TH Munich two years later. From 1977 to 1983, Hermann Linde held lectures on his area of expertise in “industrial processes at low temperatures” as a visiting lecturer. In 1982, he was appointed honorary professor. Together with Professor Helmuth Hausen (TH Hanover), former Linde employee and fellow graduate of the TH Munich, he published the standard work “Tieftemperaturtechnik: Erzeugung sehr tiefer Temperaturen, Gasverflüssigung und Zerlegung von Gasgemischen” [Cryogenic Engineering: Generation of Very Low Temperatures, Gas Liquefaction and the Separation of Gas Mixtures] in 1985.
For fourteen years, Hermann Linde was chairman of the board of the TÜV (German technical inspection association) Bavaria. He served as head of the Deutscher Kälte- und Klimatechnischer Verein (DKV, German Refrigeration and Ventilation Association), as vice chairman of the Verband der Technischen Überwachungs-Vereine (VdTÜV, Association of Technical Inspection Agencies), as a board member of the Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI, Association of German Engineers), and sat on the board of the DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology), on the DIN Presidial Board, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Deutsches Museum (German Museum), and on the Board Council of the Bund der Freunde der Technischen Universität München (Association of Friends of the Technical University Munich). The DKV awarded him the Rudolf Plank Medal in 1980. Hermann Linde was also distinguished with the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (Federal Cross of Merit First Class) and the Bayerischer Verdienstorden (Bavarian Order of Merit).
As a minimum requirement, the goods produced by the company should do more apparent good than harm to humanity.1
Hermann Linde was a classical music enthusiast, playing both violin and viola. He was involved in the church council for many years, donating large sums to church and social projects without seeking acknowledgment. He was also committed to cultural life in Pullach, where he resided for decades and was named an honorary citizen in 2002.
Even in old age, Hermann Linde was robust and mentally alert, retaining his youthful temperament. In 2007, he published the book “Die Familie Linde im Dritten Reich. Briefe und Kommentare” (The Linde Family in the Third Reich. Letters and Annotations) based on circulars written by his father and his brothers’ letters from the front he had discovered in his mother’s estate. The authentic contemporary documents examine the Nazi era and the Second World War from the perspective of a Christian family of entrepreneurs.
He also supported the appraisal of his grandfather Carl von Linde in the BR TV series “München leuchtet für die Wissenschaft” (“Munich Shines in Science”) by TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann. Linde, always unassuming and helpful, remained connected with his alma mater until the end of his life, supporting the university foundation, founded in 2010, with a substantial donation.
He passed away on 31 August 2015 at the age of 97, only 25 days after his wife Anneliese. The two had been married for 70 years. Three daughters, one son and numerous grandchildren survive them.
1. Principle 4 of the company management created by Hermann Linde, quoted in “Greuel im Vorstand” (“Horrors on the Board”), Der Spiegel, Sept. 13, 1976, p. 70.↑