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A school in Pirmasens has been renamed the Käthe Dassler Realschule plus, to honor the life and work of Käthe Dassler. During the weeks of preparation leading up to the opening ceremony and the permanent exhibition teachers and students were in awe as they researched and worked on exhibits of Käthe’s life story. This remarkable woman was born in 1917 in Pirmasens as the daughter of a businessman, then married Adi Dassler from Herzogenaurach and together with him built up adidas and developed it into a global company.

As part of the research, teachers had a phone call with Helga Lang, Adi and Käthe Dassler's former head secretary. Here are a few excerpts from this remarkable call.

Dear Mrs. Lang, we are very happy that you have taken the time to talk with us about your former boss. What was your relationship with Käthe Dassler?

Helga Lang: Most of the time, I worked for Adi Dassler. After his death, I worked for Käthe Dassler. I remember having many good conversations with her.

How did you come to adidas?

After finishing commercial school, I was hired by the company at 15 years old. I worked at a small extra desk between Käthe and Karin Dassler (one of Adi and Käthe's daughters). Since I knew shorthand, I was able to be of help in writing down and keeping records of many conversations.

My time with adidas was interrupted several times. I had to help my parents in our butcher's shop and later had my own children. But Adi Dassler always brought me back into the company.

What was Käthe like?

She had very good people skills, especially when it came to dealing with her employees. Käthe Dassler had an eye for hiring good people. Most employees worked for adidas for decades.

Käthe Dassler was clever and smart. She always knew what had to be done when things weren't working. And she was very diligent, always "on call".

The teamwork with her husband was perfect. She wrote out the plans for orders and recorded quantities and sizes of products. Later, Mrs. Dassler was responsible for the exports to all continents. She seemed to do everything just off the cuff. I always admired that. Without Käthe Dassler, the company would never have become what it is now.

Did you know Käthe Dassler as a family person? What values were important to her?

Yes, family was very, very important. Mrs. Dassler had a lot of support from her housekeeper, "Vroni" Bretting, and from her own sister, Marianne Hoffmann (who had also moved from Pirmasens to Herzogenaurach and got married in Franconia.). This helped Käthe Dassler to juggle her time between family and the company.

What was important to Mrs. Dassler when dealing with her employees?

She was very keen on honesty and commitment to the company. We felt good in the company because the bosses liked us, and we liked the bosses. I enjoy looking back at our company outings, where they would charter buses that took us to nice destinations. One time we went to the Rhineland and another time to Upper Bavaria. Whenever the carnival party was an the townhall in Herzogenaurach, the entire Dassler family would be there, and the bosses would always have the first dance. Despite their devotion to their employees, Adi and Käthe Dassler always held a healthy respect and distance. We had a great respect for them.

What do you think of the fact that we are naming our school after Käthe Dassler?

Helga Lang: I was delighted to see that the "female boss" is also being honored for once. Those who worked with her held her in very high regard.

Continue reading in part 3 of 3...