HHLA Mourns Former Chairman of the Executive Board Helmuth Kern

The former Senator for Economic Affairs of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and former Chairman of HHLA’s Executive Board, Helmuth Kern, has died in the night from 8 to 9 November. On behalf of all staff, the Chairman of the Executive Board Klaus-Dieter Peters expressed his heartfelt sympathy to the family and honoured Kern’s achievements in the service of HHLA, the port and the City of Hamburg.

Klaus-Dieter Peters, Chairman of HHLA’s Executive Board: “The news of his death has affected us deeply. We mourn Helmuth Kern who, as Chairman of the Executive Board from 1976 until 1991, played a significant part in shaping what was then Hamburger Hafen- und Lagerhaus AG, and who laid the foundations for HHLA’s continued success right up until the present day. As Senator for Economic Affairs of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, as Chairman of HHLA’s Supervisory Board and with 15 years’ service as Chairman of HHLA’s Executive Board, Helmuth Kern was responsible for initiating the modernisation of the Port of Hamburg to become an international hub for container handling, thereby creating the platform for our company’s past and
continuing successes. Many HHLA employees have fond memories of Helmuth Kern, and we will honour his memory in gratitude for his great dedication and his tireless commitment. On behalf of the Executive Board, the Group works council and all of our staff, I would like to express our heartfelt sympathy to his family and loved ones.”

Helmuth Kern was born in Hamburg on 4 December 1926. He began his career as a clerk, authorised signatory and managing director at various Hamburg companies. Being highly involved in socio-political matters, he entered the Hamburg Parliament for the Social Democratic Party in 1957, remaining a member until 1982. In 1966, Hamburg’s mayor, Herbert Weichmann, appointed him Senator for Economic Affairs and Transport. His time in office is not just associated with the modernisation of the Port of Hamburg; important infrastructure projects such as the construction of the Köhlbrand Bridge, the expansion of the Port of Waltershof, the creation of the Hansaport ore and coal terminal and the inclusion of Altenwerder in the port extension area all bear his name.

Helmuth Kern became a member of HHLA’s Supervisory Board in 1964, assuming the Chair of the committee on 6 July 1966. He therefore already knew the company very well when he became Chairman of HHLA’s Executive Board on 1 May 1976. His term of office included the development of electronic data processing in order to create the basis for efficient, automated container logistics. As part of his “River Elbe Policy”, he established ties with the eastern and central European hinterland which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, helped HHLA to quickly open up this region. Helmuth Kern stepped down from HHLA’s Executive Board at the end of April 1991, shortly before his 65th birthday.