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– Philip Rosenthal was an astounding person. What many could not do with several lives, he packed into one. His life story is always closely linked to contemporary history, by which he was influenced and which was at times influenced by him. Raised in an upper-class family and educated in Switzerland and England, during the Second World War he went from being a „rich young man to a poor dog“ – as he once said himself. This, however, did not stop him becoming a successful entrepreneur. His enduring characteristics include talent, assertiveness, a sense of justice, and even more charm and flashes of genius.
– Miner, Foreign Legionnaire, bakery apprentice, waiter, journalist, politician, entrepreneur. Philip Rosenthal was what, nowadays, we would call a job hopper. He tried out a lot of things and took something from every one – especially life experience. His motto was „openness in thinking, stubbornness in negotiations“. The fact that he was a lateral thinker, cared little for conventions and had a wealth of good ideas is evident in the career he forged for himself at Rosenthal. In 1950, he returned from exile in England to work as an advertising manager for the company founded by his father in 1879. He advanced at breathtaking pace, just as Rosenthal did. This was down to a revival of the outmoded porcelain department with the introduction of the studio-line by Philip Rosenthal in the early 1960s.
– Nevertheless, commercial success alone was not enough for Philip Rosenthal. In 1972, he entered politics, the SPD to be precise. „Social democracy also has its fair share of fools, pigheaded mules, party fanatics, self-centred people and all manner of other character traits. It just has a few less than the other parties,“ he said to justify his decision. His favourite topics in politics, too, were co-determination and co-ownership. „Neither the free market economy nor public ownership are sacred cows. Those that don‘t recognise this are cattle themselves,“ considered Philip Rosenthal, who set about implementing his own ideals of equality. He gave his employees a stake in the company and put almost all of his private assets into a foundation in order to train gifted employees (and their children) to be business leaders and give them the chance to study. Intelligence, character, determination, social conscience – these are the characteristics that Philip Rosenthal saw in the ideal manager of the future. Upon his own children, he imposed a „need to put aside a nest egg to see you through difficult times, a good upbringing, a solid vocational education and the self-trained assurance that you can get by on your own“, as he told the news magazine „Der Spiegel“ back in 1968. Philip Rosenthal moved up the ranks quickly in the political scene, too, becoming parliamentary undersecretary in the ministry of economic affairs under Karl Schiller and remaining a member of the German Federal Parliament (SPD party) until 1983. And he was ever conscious that: „Those who have never been poor are worse off.“
– This might have been why Philip Rosenthal also preferred driving around in his beloved VW Bus as opposed to a Mercedes. But he loved physical exercise even more. He would often go walking, skiing, rowing and swimming. But the term exercise seems too understated for him; competitive sport would probably be the better word to describe it. Even in 1989 – when he was already 73 years old – he swam around the island of Gran Canaria (190 kilometres in several stages). Over thirty years before this, Philip Rosenthal would climb relatively high mountain ranges, and headed an expedition to the Himalayas – and was extremely ambitious. He even managed to climb two 6,000-metre mountains on his first ascent and they are now named after two of his children: Shealagh and Turpin Peak. Philip Rosenthal is a summiteer in the truest sense of the word.