HHLA mourns Peter Dietrich

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) is mourning its former Chairman of the Executive Board, Peter Dietrich, who passed away at the weekend at the age of 79. On behalf of all the staff, Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA’s Executive Board, expressed deep sympathy and regret to his family: “With the passing of our long-standing Chairman of the Executive Board, Peter Dietrich, HHLA has lost an entrepreneurial personality and the Port of Hamburg has lost a proactive creator.”

Peter Dietrich was at the head of HHLA for twelve years, from 1991 to 2003. It was his idea to construct the largely automated container terminal CTA in Altenwerder. This facility – in operation since 2002 – today remains the standard for efficient container handling. He drove forward development of today’s Hafen City in collaboration with the Mayor of Hamburg, Henning Voscherau (SPD).

Dietrich also laid the foundation for the Intermodal segment. He recognised at an early stage that the railways would have to play a greater role as the volume of container transport increases. Consequently, Polzug Polen-Hamburg-Transport GmbH drove eastwards in 1992, and became the first private company on state-owned railways. In 1995, HHLA invested in Czech railway company Metrans.

Angela Titzrath paid tribute to Dietrich with the following words: “It is to Dietrich’s credit that we can today say that HHLA stands on a firm foundation, for which the staff of HHLA will remember and thank him.”

Peter Dietrich was born on 8 April 1938 in Wilthen, Saxony. When he finished school in the GDR in 1957, he knew that his country was unable to offer him a future, so he made his way to the West. He worked in rapeseed fields and at the Port of London, and also spent some time at sea. After studying civil and industrial engineering in Stuttgart and Berlin, he initially travelled to Nigeria, straight into the confusion of the Biafran War for independence. Officially, he had been sent to carry out work for Hamburg machinery exporter Coutinho Caro, but he was also there to rescue German families from the war zone in secret.

After a three-year period in Italy, he arrived in Hamburg where he came to the attention of Helmuth Kern, Chairman of HHLA’s Executive Board and Senator for Economic Affairs. In the following years, they together changed the fate of the company and of the Association of Hamburg Port Enterprises (UVHH). From 1974 to 1985, Peter Dietrich was a managing partner of Piano Consulting GmbH, before switching to the HHLA Executive Board. He was also Managing Director of Hamburg Port Consulting from 1977, which he successfully established and expanded into the largest port consulting firm, with over a hundred employees. In 1991, he succeeded Kern as Chairman of HHLA’s Executive Board and Head of UVHH.

Peter Dietrich was an open-minded person. He explored many countries and continents on his motorcycle and his restlessness took him a long way in life. On leaving HHLA in 2003 he said that, for him, having no challenges in life meant idleness and stagnation.