From Luther to Dow – prominent connections between Saxony-Anhalt and the USA

Cultural historical roots and economic ambitions bring partners together

The USA, partner of this year’s Hannover Messe, are one of the most important partners for the economy of Saxony-Anhalt. Since 1991, American investors have invested more than 2 billion Euros (US$ 2.3 billion) and created around 7,000 jobs, making them the biggest foreign investor in the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. Within four years, the exports to the USA doubled and in 2015 they rose to 1.07 billion Euros (US$ 1.21 billion). This places the United States in third place among the most important export destinations of Saxony-Anhalt, after Poland and Great Britain. But there are more connections than just business; there are also common cultural and historical roots. This will be impressively proven by the Luther exhibitions in the USA in 2016 in the run-up to the anniversary of the Reformation in three North American cities. The specialist audience and interested general public can look forward to unique exhibits, which have mostly never been shown before outside Germany.

“During the past few years, many companies from Saxony-Anhalt have managed to get a foothold in the US market”, says Andreas Müller, foreign trade expert of the Magdeburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The North Americans’ desire to spend, heightened by the strong dollar and comfortable interest-rate policy, is strengthening this trend, he says. The chamber supports companies interested in foreign trade from the idea to the delivery transaction, especially with information on information and safety conditions, legal regulations and certifications. As a member of foreign chambers of commerce in the USA, the chamber can broker service for the companies on site from one source. “The cooperation is professional. Our overseas partners react very quickly to enquiries”, says Müller in praise.

As examples of companies who are successfully developing their export business with the USA, he names the companies form Saxony-Anhalt like Primed Halberstadt Medizintechnik GmbH, manufacturer of high-quality products for respiration, infusions and wound care, SCHIESS GmbH, exporter of extremely modern large machining centres and Völpker Spezialprodukte GmbH, producer of montan waxes. Böhnke & Luckau GmbH, machinery and plant engineer for the confectionery industry, was able to secure its first major order on the US market with two pouring machines for the industry giant Hershey, one of the oldest chocolate manufacturers in the USA.

The cardan-shaft producer IFA Rotorion as well as citim GmbH, among others, have invested in their own production plants in the USA. IFA supplies the American automotive industry with longitudinal shafts from its factory in Charleston; citim, specialist for rapid prototyping and additive production (3D printing), produces in Kennesaw for the automotive industry, motorsport, aviation and consumer goods production among others.

The important US investments in Saxony-Anhalt include, for example, Dell in Halle, PURALUBE in Zeitz, Novelis in Nachterstedt and the IBM Services Centre in the state capital Magdeburg. Last year the US concern Dow was named an “Outstanding US Investor in Eastern Germany” by the German American Chambers of Commerce. Dow has been very involved in Saxony-Anhalt’s chemistry region for 20 years at the sites Schkopau, Böhlen, Bitterfeld, Leuna and Teutschenthal, established the industrial estate concept ValuePark, is part of the training association Olefinpartner and runs a training centre for technical and scientific occupations.

Saxony-Anhalt also has something else outstanding to offer the USA, in the form of the Luther exhibitions: with the support of the Federal Foreign Office and under the direction of the State Museum of Prehistory, in the city of Halle, three special exhibitions on the Reformation movement are being shown together with the Luther Memorials Foundation in Saxony-Anhalt, the German Historical Museum Berlin and the Friedenstein Castle Foundation Gotha. “Here I stand…” Luther Exhibitions USA 2016 is the name of the cooperation project that will be realised from October 2016 to January 2017 parallel, with various focuses in New York, Minneapolis and Atlanta. The special occasion of the exhibitions is the 500th anniversary, in 2017, of Martin Luther’s posting of his theses in Wittenberg, which is an event of global historical importance as the starting point of the Reformation.

"Here I stand" is in total accord with the aims pursued by the Investment and Marketing Corporation Saxony-Anhalt (IMG), the economic development agency of the federal state: the raising of Saxony-Anhalt’s profile as "Luther Country" on the occasion of the Reformation Anniversary taking place in 2017. The IMG will be advertising all three exhibitions in the framework of its cultivation of US markets and providing information about the many sights and events – especially for the Reformation Anniversary 2017. In connection with the exhibitions, various presentations on Germany as a travel destination and on "Luther Country" are currently being prepared for reporters and multipliers, including some being produced in cooperation with the German National Tourist Board.

“In Minnesota in the Midwest of the USA, more than 70 percent of the population have Western European roots, with the largest proportion being made up of inhabitants of German descent and there are many Lutherans among them”, explains Project Director Dr. Tomoko Elisabeth Emmerling in Halle. “In this region, a wide audience is interested in the subjects of the Reformation, Luther’s life and work, and the cultural and historical environment of the 16th century.” The Institute of Art in Minneapolis, which itself has an “incredible collection”, is therefore just the right place for the project partners. A comprehensive cultural and historical exhibition is being displayed in Minneapolis with archaeological finds from exhibitions in Mansfeld, Eisleben and Wittenberg, with manuscripts, books, paintings and goldsmithery. It documents the life circumstances of the reformer and his family and bears witness to the cultural wealth of Central Germany.

A first-class treasure trove of an exhibition is being presented in The Morgan Library & Museum in New York, with many important writings. “We are happy to be able to show a unique manuscript in the house of its donor for the first time”, says Emmerling. It is a letter from Luther to Emperor Charles V., in which he gives his reasons for refusing to retract his theses before the Reichstag in Worms. This letter, which never reached its addressee, was bought at an auction in Leipzig in 1911 for more than 100,000 gold marks by John Pierpont Morgan, banker and founder of the Morgan Library. Morgan gave it as a gift to Emperor Wilhelm II, and the Emperor gave it to the Luther House in Wittenberg.

A cabinet exhibition focussing on the subject of “Law and Mercy” will be shown at the renowned Pitts Theology Library at Emory University, Atlanta, which itself possesses significant collection items relating to the history of the Reformation. In the foreground of the exhibition will be Lucas Cranach’s Reformation picture motif “Law and Mercy”.

The cooperating partners will be breaking new ground with an additional, innovative, digital exhibition, which will make it possible for institutions, church parishes and schools to present a Luther exhibition in their own premises. From October, it will be possible to call 3D scans, infographics and posters on the internet from all over the world, at


„Here I stand…“ – Luther exhibition USA 2016

Dr. Tomoko Elisabeth Emmerling
Project Management
Phone: +49 (0)345 29849888

Press inquiries for photo footage about the Luther exhibitions to be addressed at:
Dr. Bettina Stoll-Tucker
Phone: +49 (0)345 / 52 47 320

IHK Magdeburg – Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Andreas Müller
Expert on Foreign Trade
Phone: +49 (0)391 5693149

Author: Bettina Koch