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The driving force

The founders of WALA were brought together in very different ways. Left to right: Dr Rudolf Hauschka, Max Kaphahn, Maja Mewes, Dr Margarethe Hauschka-Stavenhagen.
Photo: WALA Heilmittel GmbH’s historical company archive

Each and every individual who has worked and continues to work at WALA over the years is important to the company’s history. But which people were the driving force? Most people probably know that WALA is the brainchild of Rudolf Hauschka (1891–1969), after whom the cosmetics brand Dr. Hauschka was named. In fact, it was he who first steered the company alone. Even when he re-established the company after the Second World War, he operated it as sole owner. After the final change of location to the current headquarters in Eckwälden, however, the operating form of the company was changed and it became a general partnership with four partners in 1953. At WALA, we still refer to this quartet when we talk about the founders. But who were the other three?

Margarethe Hauschka at the age of 46.
Photo: WALA Heilmittel GmbH’s historical company archive

Margarethe Hauschka-Stavenhagen – WALA’s medical head

After Rudolf Hauschka, the most famous of the quartet is Margarethe Hauschka-Stavenhagen (1896–1980). She was a medical doctor and met her future husband Rudolf at the Arlesheim Clinical-Therapeutic Institute. She worked there as a junior doctor and dedicated herself to artistic therapy and rhythmic massage. Her meeting with Rudolf Hauschka was a lucky twist of fate. In Arlesheim, he developed his process for producing natural remedies, in addition to producing plant-based paints for therapeutic painting. In 1943, they married and Margarethe, as a doctor at WALA, had a decisive influence on the development and expansion of the company’s pharmaceutical treasure trove. She was in charge of medical-scientific management.

Max Kaphahn (left) and Rudolf Hauschka in 1956 in front of the shell of the WALA building in Boßlerweg 2.
Photo: WALA Heilmittel GmbH’s historical company archive

Max Kaphahn – the numbers man

Max Kaphahn’s name (1894–1975) may not be known to the general public. He was a former supervisor of Rudolf Hauschka. When Hauschka was detained in Vienna by the Nazi authorities in 1941 – he was not allowed to leave the city – it was Max Kaphahn who hired him and thereby made it possible for him to travel again. Kaphahn was a member of the board of the Berlin beverage company C.A.F. Kahlbaum. The company produced, among other things, fruit liqueurs containing alcohol. But Kaphahn also wanted to offer alcohol-free and vitamin-rich fruit preparations. After initial meetings in Vienna, Kaphahn obtained a travel permit for Hauschka. Initial production trials in Berlin were promising. Due to the difficult conditions in Berlin because of the war – as bombings became more frequent and raw materials scarcer – the production of these fruit tonics was established in the Bohemian Forest. It was here that Hauschka set up a small manufactory for Kahlbaum and his supervisor Kaphahn, which he was able to maintain until 1945 with a small group of employees.

When Hauschka began to rebuild his own company – WALA – after the end of the war, he and Kaphahn practically swapped roles. Hauschka was now registered as owner and Kaphahn, who had business experience, took care of the administrative and financial affairs of the company as an employee. In this role, he was so dedicated to the economic well-being of the company that he was appointed managing director when the general partnership was founded in 1953. He held this position until his death in 1975. Max Kaphahn was instrumental in the business development of WALA after the war and in laying the foundations of its particular business model, which led to the founding of the WALA Foundation in 1986.

Laboratory director Maja Mewes accompanied the company with her ideas until her death in 1996.
Photo: WALA Heilmittel GmbH’s historical company archive

Maja Mewes – the soul of the company

The fourth of the founding quartet was Maja Mewes (1909–1996), Max Kaphahn’s partner. She was an educated, cosmopolitan woman who found in Kaphahn’s company a spiritual home that she had long sought after. Energetic and imaginative, she was essential to the prosperity of WALA. She first helped with production in the tonic factory in the Bohemian Forest and after the end of the war, she followed Kaphahn and Hauschka to Höllriegelskreuth. There, she helped to re-establish WALA as a company, where her main activity from the outset was in the ‘heart of the company,’ the plant laboratory. As head of manufacturing, she developed many processes and shaped principles that are still used today. As the youngest of the founding quartet, she also witnessed the transfer of the general partnership into a foundation in 1986. Although she had already retired as a shareholder at the time, she remained present in the company throughout her life and was closely associated with it. After Rudolf Hauschka’s death, it was she who was regarded as the ‘soul of the company’.

From then to now

The driving force of our founders still has an impact today, shaping our daily work. To this day, we use manufacturing processes developed by Rudolf Hauschka and have access to a wide range of medicines for our customers. Without the commitment of his three colleagues, the seed certainly would not have been planted. Just as today around 1,000 WALA employees ensure healthy growth without losing sight of their roots.