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History

Hedwig and Robert Samuel Foundation

A long tradition of help

June 3, 1932 is the official birthday of the Hedwig and Robert Samuel Foundation. On that day, the Prussian Ministry of State approved the Foundation on the basis of the founding charter and the foundation statutes, thus formalising the final act necessary to start the Foundation.

The foundation process was initiated by Robert Samuel’s testament executors, 3 Jewish businessmen and friends of Robert Samuel. The three were also the first board of the Foundation, but had to lay down this office at the end of the thirties due to national socialist pressure.

The Samuels endowed the Foundation with the Königsallee 14 commercial and office building in Düsseldorf as founding capital. Robert Samuel bought the property from the city of Düsseldorf and then built the so-called Hohenzollernhaus, designed by the Düsseldorf architect Hermann vom Endt 1910-1911, which up to the present day serves as capital resource and headquarters.

In the Third Reich, the at that time already enormously valuable building was fortunately not sacrificed to the desires of the various national socialist organisations, since they had blocked each other in their plans for taking over the property. In the Second World War it was damaged by two direct firebomb hits, but the structure remained intact.

Since the death of the co-founder Hedwig Samuel in 1976, who had the usufruct of house profits, the rent payments of the tenants of the Hohenzollernhaus constitute the most important source of income for the Samuel Foundation. First of all, however, they were mainly needed for an extensive refurbishment of the building and for the reconstruction of the top floor which was destroyed in the war. Nevertheless, the Foundation supported social projects in Düsseldorf during this phase. Among other things, donations were made for improvement measures in the old people’s homes of Gallberg and Flehe.

The foundation is active internationally

From the middle of the 80’s onward the project support could be extended. In addition to further project funding in Düsseldorf, the support of organisations with project work in Germany and abroad was added. Contacts with organisations involved in development cooperation raised awareness of the problems in underdeveloped countries, and focused on the funding of training as the most appropriate means of helping people to permanently leave the vicious circle of poverty.

This was the time for the Foundation to shift the funding focus to operational project work and geographically expand the radius of action. In a relatively short chronological sequence, representations of the Foundation were established abroad, in Costa Rica in 1987, in Nicaragua in 1989, in Nigeria in 1991 and in India in 1993, and as a consequence their own vocational training centres. Later, at the beginning of 2002, a representative office in Thailand was added. To date, the Foundation has helped more than 7,500 young people to get a qualified education in our own training centres.

Also active in Germany for more justice

In the district of Wersten in Düsseldorf, in 1991/1992 the Foundation built and incorporated a residential and commercial building with 25 above average equipped social apartments as a contribution to better housing for socially needy people.

Together with two other non-profit organisations, the Foundation established the in-patient specialist facility for children who had suffered violence and abuse “KID” in Düsseldorf in 1992 and has been operating it successfully since then.

The project “Café Eden” is an initiative of the Düsseldorf Theatre focused on the subject of flight and migration with the aim of contributing to the improvement of the integration of refugees into our society by creating a meeting place for all citizens. This meeting place combines art, culture, communication and exchange and is co-organised by the participants themselves and implemented in cooperation with other institutions and actors from the city in order to create a long-term and sustainable infrastructure. The Samuel Foundation is committed to this project and thus supports the work in favour of the weaker members of society.

We are proud of our history and with this pride we are looking confidently towards a promising future.

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