Emil Georg Bührle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Emil Georg Bührle
Born 31 August 1890
Pforzheim, Germany
Died 26 November 1956
Zürich, Switzerland
Residence Zürich
Known for industrialist and art collector

Emil Georg Bührle (31 August 1890 in Pforzheim – November 26, 1956 in Zürich) was an industrialist, art collector and patron. His art collection is now housed in the Foundation E.G. Bührle.

After studying philosophy, literature, history and art history in Freiburg, Bührle went to Munich. From 1914 to 1919 he was a German cavalry officer in the imperial army. In 1919 he joined the Magdeburg Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik and rose up to the attorney. The Magdeburger Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik bought the Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon in 1923, and Bührle became the CEO the following year. In the same year he was moved to Zurich. In 1929, Bührle became the majority shareholder of Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon in 1936 and sole owner of the company (later Oerlikon-Bührle Holding AG). Also in 1936, Bührle obtained Swiss citizenship.

From the 1920 marriage with Charlotte closed Schalk came two children. The following foundations are Emil Bührle attributed G.: "Emil Bührle Foundation for the Swiss literature" (1943), "Goethe Foundation for Art and Science" (1944) and the Foundation of the cultivation of the Kunsthaus Zurich (1954).


Emil George Bührle's role as industrialist is controversial and has been in recent decades. First, he has the standing before the bankruptcy Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon into a thriving company converted, on the other hand, arms production and arms exports morally always under pressure. The Independent Commission of Experts Switzerland - Second World War "has detailed examinations and assessments. Thus, before the second world war the Republican Spain (i.e. Franco opponents) and the independent Abyssinia (in the colonial war against fascist Italy) as supplies, as the Baltic countries, Czechoslovakia, Greece, China, Turkey, France, Holland and England. In the period from 1940 - 1944 (Switzerland was now completely fascist countries (Italy, Germany) and fascist-occupied countries (Austria, France) included) supplied the company Oerlikon-Bührle at the request of the Swiss government also supplied weapons to Germany and Italy . From the independent commission of experts, these weapons deliveries as not kriegsentscheidend or not kriegsverlängernd classified.

Art collector[edit]

Bührles first acquisitions were two 1920 watercolours by Erich Heckel, 1924 where a picture of Maurice de Vlaminck was followed. The actual construction of the collection Bührle started from 1936, when the financial conditions were propitious. The largest part of his collection (ca.75%) acquired the collectors in the period from 1951 to 1956. Among others, Bührle was advised by Nathan Fritz, gallery owner, and a small circle of international dealers in Paris, London and New York, in addition to which Georges Wildenstein, Paul Rosenberg, Max Kaganovitch and Frank Lloyd by the Company Ltd. Marlborough included. The collection includes medieval sculptures and paintings of old masters pictures mainly of French Impressionism and classical modernism, including masterpieces by Paul Cézanne (The Boy with a Red Vest), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (La petite Irène) and Vincent van Gogh (The Sower (after Millet))). Bührle continued the tradition of collectors in Germany, Scandinavia, Britain and the USA, who - before the First World War and in the inter-war years - made French modernism the center of their interest. This preference also coined many collections in Switzerland, such as a comparison with the incurred after 1920 collection "Am Römerholz" by Oskar Reinhart in nearby Winterthur. Two-thirds of the collection now displayed were acquired in 1960 by the heirs to the E.G. Bührle Foundation collection, and have since been introduced to the public. Also, the family-owned remaining works of art were always shown in exhibitions. At an exhibition featuring works of the collection in 1990 in Washington D.C. led to protests and discussions in the media due to Bührle's role as a weapons exporter in the Second World War and the sometimes not fully clarified origin of the pictures, some formerly Jewish-owned. Also on this issue, there was an "Independent Commission of Experts Switzerland - Second World War". Bührle had 13 paintings from French-Jewish property after the Second World War to return to the former owners or their second-generation descendants.


  • Christen, Ruedi: Die Bührle-Saga. Zürich 1981 ISBN 3-85791-033-X
  • Esther Tisa Francini, Anja Heuss, Georg Kreis: Fluchtgut – Raubgut. Der Transfer von Kulturgütern in und über die Schweiz 1933–1945 und die Frage der Restitution. Zürich 2001 ISBN 3-0340-0601-2
  • Heller, Daniel: Zwischen Unternehmertum, Politik und Überleben. Emil G. Bührle und die Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon, Bührle & Co. 1924–1945. Frauenfeld, Stuttgart & Wien 2002 ISBN 3-7193-1277-1
  • Hug, Peter: Schweizer Rüstungsindustrie und Kriegsmaterialhandel zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus: Unternehmensstrategien – Marktentwicklung – politische Überwachung. Zürich 2002 ISBN 3-0340-0611-X

External links[edit]