Jörg Woltmann, owner of Königlichen Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin, met with Gerhard Schöningh and Countess Rothkirch for an interesting conversation about preserving cultural assets. Writer Sandra Winkler and photographer Anna Rose captured the session for KPM's customer magazine WEISS issue no.2.

Portrait of Jörg Woltmann in a dark blue jacket, with red tie and pocketkerchief
Jörg Woltmann completed an apprenticeship as a banker and studied business administration in Berlin. In 1979 he founded the private bank Allgemeine Beamten Bank (ABK). In February 2006 he took over the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin as sole shareholder.

Gerhard Schöningh bought the Hoppegarten racecourse , Jörg Woltmann the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur. Both entrepreneurs have saved a Berlin cultural asset from bankruptcy - and put a lot of work into it. Tini Countess Rothkirch is the helping hand at Hoppegarten. The three met for a conversation.

JÖRG WOLTMANN: Mr Schöningh, you flew in from London a few years ago and purchased the Hoppegarten racecourse in Berlin. As an entrepreneur, I certainly found that exciting. We all know that the racecourse is a Berlin gem. But it has also always been a neglected child. Why did you invest your private assets?

GERHARD SCHÖNINGH: Horse racing has always been a great hobby of mine. I have lived in London for 35 years and have regularly attended very good races in England. In 2006 a friend of mine told me, "Did you hear that Hoppegarten is going to be privatized?" I already knew the track from a visit in October 1989, exactly three weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Until the end of the Second World War, Hoppegarten was the number one racetrack in Germany. It was called Die Zentrale. Since I had the money and time to spare after selling a company, I requested the documents, looked through them and thought: "That sounds exciting, and something completely different would be great. So let's apply for it."

Gerhard Schöningh sitting on a light yellow velvet couch
Gerhard Schöningh moved to London in the early 1980s, where he has been working successfully as a fund manager ever since. In March 2008, he acquired the 207-hectare Hoppegarten complex. It is the only racecourse in Germany that is in private possession.

WOLTMANN: I was very impressed by this decision. And Countess Rothkirch, as chairwoman of the racing club Hoppegarten, then brought us together at a dinner.

COUNTESS ROTHKIRCH: Yes, I remember sitting in a restaurant outside in the summer and you, Mr. Woltmann, said to Mr. Schöningh: "We are the two crazy people here in Berlin."

SCHÖNINGH: Certainly we could spend our time and energy much more profitably.

WOLTMANN: But not better!

SCHÖNINGH: Although it's a lot of work. I originally thought I'd put in one or two years of intensive presence in Berlin, revitalise the races, renovate the buildings and build a good team. [...]

Portrait of Tini Countess Rothkirch in green cardigan with matching green earrings with pearl charm and pearl necklace
At 24, Tini Countess Rothkirch became Germany's youngest PR manager at the Berlin InterContinental. She has volunteered at the Hoppegarten racetrack since 1991. In 2008 Gerhard Schöningh asked her if she would like to support him as chairman of the race club committee.

WOLTMANN: I can tell you a thing or two about that. You buy a company and don't have a clue what to expect. [...]

SCHÖNINGH: Absolutely. I may have been a little naive at first and I may have made some mistakes, but you learn from that. Now I have a clear picture of how we can lead Hoppegarten into a good future. I didn't have that ten years ago. The opportunities we have are much better than I originally thought. And very positive overall.

WOLTMANN: I think so, too. I joined your racing club right after we had dinner.

ROTHKIRCH: You were one of our first members. We started small, today we have 130 members. On big race days we have 250 visitors - including members and their guests. The club is located in the grandstand with the best view of the racetrack. We want to promote horse racing in the region, among companies, the Berlin society. [...]

Read the rest of the interview in KPM WEISS Magazine issue no. 02.

  • Jörg Woltmann, Tini Countess Rothkirch and Gerhard Schöningh sitting on light yellow velvet sofas, having a conversation
    Conversation flows over tea and coffee served in fine KPM porcelain.

Cover of the KPM magazine WEISS 2018
Shaping the whole story WEISS Nr. 02

For the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (Royal Porcelain Manufacturing) Berlin, Storyboard created an elegant, sophisticated magazine: WEISS. It combines company history and product presentations with personal insights, conveying the values of a traditional company, while portraying KPM's contemporary progress. The second issue of WEISS was designed with an entirely black cover.