Else Kröner (1925 – 1988) not only laid the foundations for Fresenius, a healthcare group active worldwide that currently employs over 190,000 men and women and is listed on the DAX stock market index. She also entrusted her entire estate to Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, which today numbers among the largest non-profit foundations in Germany.

The desire to do good equally displayed itself in her private life and influenced her decision to adopt five children. To this day, the power of Else Kröner’s unremitting creative inventiveness is of the greatest benefit all over the world. Her life’s work speaks of open-mindedness, interest in her fellow human beings, courage, and a great faith in medical research.

  1. Else Fernau in the early 1930s in the midst of Dr. Fresenius’s plant-breeding plot in Schmitten. He had a hunting and vacation lodge built there in 1916. The building served him as both garden shed and place to retreat to.
    Else Fernau in the early 1930s in the midst of Dr. Fresenius’s plant-breeding plot in Schmitten. He had a hunting and vacation lodge built there in 1916. The building served him as both garden shed and place to retreat to.

    Our founding benefactress is born on May 15, 1925 in Frankfurt am Main bearing the name Else Fernau. Her mother, Therese Fernau, is housekeeper at the home of pharmacist Dr. Eduard Fresenius, and lives there in an attic apartment with her husband and daughter, Else.

  2. Else with her “Uncle Doctor” and dog at the hunting lodge in Schmitten, 1931.
    Else with her “Uncle Doctor” and dog at the hunting lodge in Schmitten, 1931.

    Else Fernau’s father dies on March 27, 1929. After his death she continues to live with her mother at the Fresenius couple’s home.

    Dr. Eduard Fresenius is the proprietor of the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy in Frankfurt am Main and founder of the company “Dr. Eduard Fresenius Chemisch-pharmazeutische Industrie KG” in Bad Homburg. He and his wife, Else Fresenius, look after Else Fernau as if she were their own daughter. 

  3. Look at the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy in 1910. Dr. Eduard Fresenius had taken over the pharmacy from his father in 1906.
    Look at the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy in 1910. Dr. Eduard Fresenius had taken over the pharmacy from his father in 1906.

    Else Fernau successfully passes her German A-level exams in 1943. Like all high-school graduates, she is subsequently obligated to serve with the German Reich Labor Service (“RAD”). In 1944 she begins a two-year internship at the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy. That same year Dr. Eduard Fresenius’s wife Else passes away.

  4. Else Fernau in her younger years (around the 1940s).
    Else Fernau in her younger years (around the 1940s).

    Dr. Eduard Fresenius dies in February.

    Else Fernau is joint heir to the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy, which was destroyed during the war, and to the firm “Dr. Eduard Fresenius Chemisch-pharmazeutische Industrie KG”, which only had few men and women on staff left at the time.

    In the 1946/1947 winter semester Else Fernau begins her university pharmacy studies in Mainz.

  5. During her studies Else Fernau worked at the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy. Around 1950.
    During her studies Else Fernau worked at the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy. Around 1950.

    Following a transfer to the University of Erlangen, Else Fernau takes her exams for a degree in Pharmacy there in 1950.

  6. Else Fernau in Schmitten in 1955
    Else Fernau in Schmitten in 1955

    Else Fernau runs the Hirsch-Apotheke pharmacy and the chemical-pharmaceutical company* (later on Fresenius). Little by little she focuses more on the company. She ultimately hands over managing the pharmacy to a colleague.

    In the early 1950s she becomes acquainted with Dr. Hans Kröner, an economist and lawyer from Munich. She consults him more and more often on legal issues and with regard to business matters.

    * For simplification, referred to as “Fresenius” as of this year.

  7. In the mid-1950s Else Fernau and Dr. Hans Kröner get to know each other better. In 1964 they get married in Frankfurt am Main.

  8. Fresenius takes over the sales and distribution of dialysis machines and dialyzers made by various foreign firms and gains significant shares of the market.

  9. 1974_Nov_EroeffnungStWendel_2_ArchivFresenius
    Else and Hans Kröner during the plant tour in St. Wendel in 1974.

    Fresenius beginnt in St. Wendel, Saarland, mit der Herstellung von Infusionslösungen und medizinischen Kunststofferzeugnissen. Heute stellt Fresenius Medical Care in St. Wendel modernste Polysulfon-Dialysatoren her.

  10. Fresenius commences production of the A2008 dialysis machine at a newly acquired factory in Schweinfurt. The A2008 is awarded a gold medal at the Leipzig Trade Fair.

  11. Fresenius is converted into a German stock corporation. The chair of the Supervisory Board is assumed by Else Kröner.

  12. Else Kröner around 1983
    Else Kröner around 1983

    On May 19, 1983, the non-profit foundation Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung receives approval from the government’s district president in Darmstadt. With a capital stock of merely DM 50,000 at first, in its early days the foundation’s opportunities for funding are extremely limited. That’s why Else and Dr. Hans Kröner initially support only smaller-scale research projects referred to them by their large circle of acquaintances.

  13. The Kröners at a tour of the Schweinfurt factory in May 1988.
    The Kröners at a tour of the Schweinfurt factory in May 1988.

    Else Kröner dies unexpectedly on June 5, 1988.

    As per the last will and testament, her entire estate is thus passed on to Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung. The foundation enters a new phase, administratively and financially. Dr. Hans Kröner and Dr. Alfred Stiefenhofer, the executors appointed by Else Kröner, now head the foundation, whereby Dr. Hans Kröner represents the central figure behind Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung during the years of consolidation. Until shortly before his death in 2006 he shapes the foundation in the sense intended by his late wife.

  14. The foundation begins to develop wide-ranging instruments for funding as the financial possibilities for the foundation grow in the early 1990s together with the economic prosperity of the Fresenius corporate group. Prizes for medical research are offered at first.

  15. Commencement of institutional funding: The first Else Kröner Fresenius Center is founded.

  16. Research fellowships for physicians are added along with innovative funding mechanisms in university-level medicine, for example the graduate research programs launched in 2010.

    The Else Kröner Fresenius Award for Development Cooperation in Medicine is presented for the first time to acknowledge special achievements in this sector.
     

  17. Else Kröner Fresenius Prize for Medical Research 2013
    Else Kröner Fresenius Prize for Medical Research 2013

    The first presentation of the Else Kröner Fresenius Prize for Medical Research takes place to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Else Kröner’s death – one of the most highly endowed prizes for medical research worldwide.

  18. The Funding Line Hospital Partnerships – Partners Strengthen Health is initiated together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

  19. First call for proposals for Else Kröner Clinician Scientist Professorships in order to improve the compatibility of clinical activity and research for medical practitioners.

  20. The special call for proposals toward preventing droplet infections is initiated in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

     

    Purchase of the Villa Victoria as new foundation headquarters in Bad Homburg v.d.H. The planning phase for remodeling begins. 

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    Else Kröner Clinician Scientist Return-To-Work Grant

    The foundation Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung turns 40. Up to this time roughly 2,400 projects involving a total volume of 580 million euros have been funded.

    A call for applications for the Else Kröner Clinician Scientist Return-To-Work Grant is announced for the first time. It is intended to support reentry in the profession following a family-related time-out. 
     

  22. In addition, the Else Kröner Fresenius Center for Optogenetic Therapies is inaugurated in Göttingen. 

    The new construction of the old hunting lodge in Schmitten where Else Kröner had lived most of the time towards the end of her life is completed and inaugurated