How Berlin and Hamburg laid the foundations for today's German economic powerhouse

If you’re looking for the roots of big business, you can’t ignore Germany. From the medieval bankers of Augsburg, to the booksellers of Frankfurt, the world of international commerce would not be the same without the contributions of Germans.

Published: Fri 23 Apr 2021 14:47 CEST
How Berlin and Hamburg laid the foundations for today's German economic powerhouse
Getty Images
Across the nation, no cities more epitomize the evolution of business and trade than Berlin and Hamburg. Together with Kuehne Logistics University, we examine the role they have both played in creating today’s world of business - and how KLU's Preparation Program prepares you for a career in Europe's powerhouse of commerce. ~

Are you interested in studying business in Germany but not sure where to start as an international resident? Check out KLU's programme which makes you eligible for Bachelor studies in Germany. Enrolments close mid-2021!
Berlin: Adapting to survive
Germany’s capital, Berlin is now known as one of the world’s biggest startup hubs, with online movers and shakers like HelloFresh, Zalando and Blinkist calling the city their home. However, business has had a long presence in Berlin, adapting to the circumstances of the age. 
When Berlin was founded in the 15th century, it was merely a crossing of the River Spree, on a trade route between larger cities. However, after it became a noble seat, and later the capital of Prussia, it prospered with the service industries that are associated with a royal court. 
This was nothing, however, compared to the boost it would receive with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution. The city’s position as both the capital of the new German nation, and a railway hub meant that it soon became a massive industrial centre, exporting goods - especially electrical parts and devices - across the country and Europe. 
Berlin would take a number of catastrophic blows during the course of the 20th century, with the Great Depression, the utter devastation of the Second World War and division by the Berlin Wall each having an impact. For many cities, this would be enough to leave them as a backwater. However, for Berlin, this was not the case. 
In the years since the fall of the Wall, Berlin has become a centre for startups, attracting top talent in the Information Technology and creative industries through a number of initiatives. For many, it is seen as another Silicon Valley and Europe’s undisputed technology capital. 
Berlin’s undisputed strength as a centre of commerce is its resilience and ability to adapt to changing circumstances - through financial catastrophe, war and division, it has picked itself up and started again. 
Looking for a pathway towards an exciting career in business? Have a look at the KLU Preparation Program.
Photos: Getty Images
Hamburg: Together we are stronger 
Hamburg’s reputation as a centre of commerce is more obvious than Berlin’s. Located not far from the North Sea coast, on the River Elbe, the settlement was the perfect place to bring goods inland as medieval cities in the region grew. 
Throughout the centuries, the citizens of Hamburg knew that their continued existence depended on working with others. Over the years, the city has made sure to be an integral part of larger groups, first becoming an Imperial Free City in 1189.
However, Hamburg’s most famous involvement was with the mighty Hanseatic League. This collection of cities located across modern Netherlands, northern Germany and Poland wielded immense power during the High Middle Ages. This was largely due to the sharing of resources and free trade between the cities.
Goods could pass between cities of the Hansa without exorbitant duties, encouraging merchants and shipbuilders to flock to the city. Sharing of resources meant that problems caused by war, famine or plague could most often be resolved through shifting of goods and sharing of infrastructure. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the capture of Klaus Stoertebeker and his crew in 1403, pirates that had plagued the Hanseatic League for years! 
In the 19th century, Hamburg became one of the biggest trading ports in the world, with millions passing through the port on the way to places like the United States. Indeed, the port was extended, with the beautiful ‘Speicherstadt’ of warehouses, built on heavy log foundations, being a true marvel of engineering. 
These developments have led to Hamburg becoming a diverse, multicultural city with its own distinct style of cool. From the rebel spirit of St Pauli, to the modern sheen of the ‘Elbphi’ (concert venue), the city buzzes with a truly modern energy. 
Hamburg continues to be a major European shipping port today, through firm international connections and a strong understanding of global logistics. The people of the city understand that it is only engaging through the wider world and cooperating, that their prosperity continues. 
The perfect places to learn
It is because of the proud heritage of these two German cities that Hamburg's Kuehne Logistics University, a renowned institute of business learning, has chosen Berlin as the base for their Preparation Program. The Preparation Program leads directly into the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, that is taught at the Hamburg campus. 
KLU’s Preparation Program readies international students for their Bachelor of Science in Business Administration by ensuring they have introductory German skills (equivalent to A2 level) and the state-recognized Feststellungsprüfung from the State of Hamburg. Following the completion of the Preparation Program and the Bachelors degree at KLU, students then have a firm foundation for a vibrant and fulfilling business career.



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also