The Joachim Herz Foundation

Our work is characterized by the strategic combination of individual support, concrete project work and structured support.


Education and science are the foundations of a free society. We promote access to the creation of new, application-oriented knowledge. With our projects and funding, we strengthen education, science and research in order to make an effective contribution to the self-determined lives of individuals and the freedom of all.

Basic principles of our foundation work

As a civil society player, we aim to contribute to the performance and freedom of society. We do this by helping people to develop their personal and professional potential. The focus is on self-determination through personal responsibility and initiative, self-reflection, a willingness to perform and openness to the world.

To this end, we promote education and science in research and teaching in the natural sciences, business, law, medicine, engineering and personal development. Interdisciplinary projects and research approaches play a special role and will be the focus of our funding activities in the future. We are convinced that the combination of different perspectives is a target-oriented way to meet the challenges of the future as a society.

We fund and implement projects and provide individual, project and structural support.

Unlike publicly funded institutions, we can react quickly and flexibly and are prepared to support experimental and high-risk projects in order to try out new things. Failure is allowed, because we see ourselves as a learning, agile organization that responds to findings through evaluation and adapts projects and ways of working to achieve the best possible effectiveness.

Our foundation is in a position to make a substantial contribution to mitigating the increasingly urgent climate change. This threatens both the efficiency and the freedom of society and thus represents one of the major current societal challenges. We are therefore committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) - both in our content work and in our capital investment and work organization.


Particularly relevant goals for us are:

  • Quality education
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • climate protection measures
  • Health and well-being
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Statute & Governance Code

Our founder, Joachim Herz, wanted to use the foundation's assets permanently for the promotion of education, science and research. The focus is on the natural and economic sciences, as well as law, medicine and the promotion of teaching institutions, students and charitable organizations.

The organization chart is available here.


When Joachim Herz died in 2008, his assets amounted to around 1.3 billion euros (market value). This was the base of our foundation assets. In 2020, a total of 18.9 million euros was used for charitable purposes, in 2021 it was 20.7 million euros and in 2022 around 24.6 million euros.

The foundation's capital is predominantly invested and tied up in business. This is in line with the founder's wishes and is also stipulated in the statute. The majority of the capital is invested indirectly with Beiersdorf AG, as well as other corporate investments. In addition, the Foundation has a real estate portfolio in the USA and Germany. The assets are supplemented by a broadly diversified securities portfolio. In all investment decisions, we pursue the goal of maintaining the assets in real terms over the long term and generating current income.

Our contribution to climate protection

Energy consumption, travel, events, materials and waste produce emissions. To keep these as low as possible in everyday work, we subsidize the HVV-ProfiTicket for our employees. The food served at the Foundation's events is vegetarian and is primarily sourced from regional suppliers.

The photo was taken from the tower of the foundation building. View of part of the green roof and the foundation garden.
View of part of the green roof and the foundation garden.

The foundation stands on a former commercial site in the Oehleckerring industrial estate in Langenhorn. In the course of the new construction, the area was extensively unsealed. A spacious garden area was created. In addition, the roof is greened over almost the entire area and can absorb additional rain. We generate heat and electricity with our own combined heat and power plant. In summer, when the heat is not needed, it is used to cool the building by means of an absorption system. Surplus electricity that we do not use during the day is fed into the power grid at night.

Waterlogging of the Peenemünde Bog

With the "Peenemünde Moor" project, we have set ourselves the goal of ensuring the long-term and complete CO2 compensation of our business operations (carbon neutral). To this end, we have concluded a 25-year contract with a non-profit subsidiary of the German Federal Foundation for the Environment (DBU). The aim of the planned rewetting project is to safeguard and develop the contiguous lowland moorland areas in the Peenewiesen meadows on the DBU Peenemünde Natural Heritage Site.

Information on the Peenemünde Natural Heritage Site is available directly from the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt.

Joachim Herz

Individualist and man of conviction

Joachim Herz was unconventional and cosmopolitan, loved the USA, the can-do mentality there and the entrepreneurial spirit. Values such as freedom and individuality were important to him. He believed that wealth obliges social responsibility and that both individual and structural support can create new opportunities, especially for young people.

Joachim Herz at his desk in the office of the old roasting tower at the end of the 1990s
Joachim Herz at his desk in the office of the old roasting tower at the end of the 1990s

When his father Max Herz founded the mail-order coffee company Tchibo together with Carl Tchilling-Hiryan in 1949, shortly after the Second World War, Joachim Herz was eight years old. He experienced early on how much hard work is involved in building up a family business. His childhood was marked by thrift and modesty, as the family lived in the usual circumstances of the post-war period. This basic experience had an impact on the rest of his life - for although he later inherited such an enormous fortune, he condemned waste throughout his life. He is said to have been unpretentious and equipped with a direct manner - he cleaned his windows himself. He kept his distance from Hamburg's high society and rejected the glamor of the city center.

Blick aus der Helikopter-Perspektive auf das Gewerbegebiet in Hamburg-Langenhorn. Zu sehen ist der Kaffeeturm von Tchibo und die Gewerbe drum herum.
Photo of the premises of the Joachim Herz Foundation or rather the former Pedro coffee roasting plant in Hamburg-Langenhorn around 1997.

The way to his own company

For his own company, he acquired in the 1970s from the Tchibo community of heirs the commercial space of the chain of stores "Java Kaffee Geschäfte GmbH & CO. KG" in Langenhorn. However, he never roasted or sold coffee; among other things, he had a real estate management company in the U.S., which still exists today. The foundation is located on the former company premises and is thus a deliberate continued commitment to the location.

Because of his father's entrepreneurial history, Joachim Herz considered it essential that young people should have a basic understanding of economic contexts and scientific education. Only in this way would they be able to take their place in a democratic, free-market society in a self-determined and responsible manner. We are still committed to these values in our work in promoting education, science and research today. The guiding principle developed from this, "Knowledge creates freedom," is the guiding principle for all areas of our work. We think Joachim Herz would like that.

A pair of sneakers behind the back seat

Down in the "tower" of the foundation today is his beloved old VW bus. It has become the foundation's mobile, which employees borrow when they need it. Behind the back seat is still a pair of old sneakers - one of the many tangible reminders of a generous, unconventional and very special man: Joachim Herz.

Zu sehen ist ein alter VW-T3-Campingbus in einer grau-metallic-Farbe. Joachim Herz sitzt im Zwischenraum und trägt eine Sonnenbrille. Er schaut direkt in die Kamera.
Joachim Herz in his VW camping bus in the 1990s

You might also be interested in

nach oben