In the 20th Century the Schöpflin family were at the very heart of Germany’s economic life. The family business grew from a general store to a national mail-order business. Members of the third generation of the family, meanwhile, have gone their own and very different ways. In 2001 Heidi Junghanss, Hans and Albert Schöpflin jointly established the Schöpflin Foundation. Today Hans Schöpflin continues to drive the development forward. The majority of the annual foundation funds available for the fulfillment of its purpose stems from the entrepreneurial activities of Hans Schöpflin (born 1941), which he started in the USA in the mid-1970s. (More information on the source of funds and Hans Schöpflin's "Family Office" are provided here.)
The Schöpflin family history begins in Haagen, which since 1974 has been a district of Lörrach in southern Germany. It was here that in 1907 Wilhelm and Wilhelmine Schöpflin opened a general store. In 1924, they boldly transformed the business into a textile wholesale company; and in 1930 they became pioneers of the mail-order business. In the beginning, their employees delivered parcels to the post office by handcart, and then later by horse and cart. Before the Second World War, the Schöpflin company employed around 900 people – and the Schöpflin sons, Hans and Rudolf, had also started to work in the family business. After the war and the period of occupation, the Schöpflin family began to further expand their business: during the so-called ‘economic miracle’ years, the Schöpflin catalogue could be found in most West German households. And in southern Germany the Schöpflin company also ran shopping centres. But the first economic problems began to emerge in the 1960s. In 1964, the Gustav Schickedanz family – and through them, the mail-order company, Quelle – acquired 74.9 percent of the shares in the Schöpflin company; and 1967 the remainder of the shares. In 1999 Quelle closed its operation in Lörrach and dropped the Schöpflin brand name: thus, the Schöpflin mail order company was consigned to history.
In order to gain insight into the activities of the family business, particularly during the Second World War, the siblings Hans Schöpflin, Albert Schöpflin and Heidi Junghanss, in consultation with the Advisory Board of the Schöpflin Foundation, decided in May 2023 to commission an independent academic study of the company's history with a particular focus on the period of Nazi rule. The study is being prepared by the Frankfurt-based "Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte". Initial results are expected to be available by mid-2024. The completed report will then be published in full.
The third generation of the family – namely Hans Schöpflin’s children – have gone their own separate ways and have never been involved in the Schöpflin company. Heidi Junghanss married and stayed in the area; the Schöpflin brothers, Hans and Albert, moved away.
In the 1970s Hans Schöpflin became a successful manager and entrepreneur in the USA, in the first instance working alongside Sol Price. Price always combined economic success with social responsibility. This was a formative experience for Hans Schöpflin. Since 1982 he has been a successful venture capitalist, investing in young companies whose ideas he liked – a concept that he would later use in his work with the Schöpflin Foundation. When, in 1995, his son died of a drug overdose, Hans Schöpflin’s life once again took another turn: his philanthropic work led to the founding, in 1998, of the Panta Rhea Foundation in the USA and, in 2001, to the founding of the Schöpflin Foundation (in German – Schöpflin Stiftung) in Lörrach-Brombach in southern Germany.
At the beginning of the 1970s Albert Schöpflin also emigrated to the USA. Here – and then later in Hamburg – he worked in advertising and journalism as a photographer and cameraman. Then he too had a major change of direction after 25 years in a successful career: today he works as an artist, under the name of Scopin.
In 2001 the Schöpflin siblings incorporated their original family home – the former Lindenhof Residence in Lörrach-Brombach in southern Germany built in 1896 - into the Schöpflin Foundation. In 2002 in the main house – known as the "Villa Schöpflin" – they opened a centre for addiction prevention. In 2011, the "Werkraum Schöpflin" was added to the Foundation's premises in Brombach. In the fall of 2021, the Schöpflin School followed, on a neighboring property newly acquired by the Foundation. On the "FABRIC" site across from Villa Schöpflin, the Schöpflin Foundation is testing a new kind of urban planning process.
All three siblings now live in the region. Heidi Junghanss and Albert Schöpflin are involved in the advisory board, Hans Schöpflin as chairman of the foundation's board. For future generations, the name Schöpflin will stand less for a mail order company than for the empowerment of children and young people, socio-political thought-provoking impulses, alternative forms of economic activity and experiments for a better future.