The roots of the American German Business Club go back to Bonn in the 1960s, the capital of a new Federal Republic of Germany. A major impetus to form a US – German business club began on June 24, 1963, when American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer toasted one another at the American Embassy Club on the Rhein. John F. Kennedy spoke of the renewed life of the US-German relationship, leaving the following day for Berlin where he was to give his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. This became the catalyst to deepen ties.
AGBC’s birth place was the “American Embassy Club on the Rhein.” Most embassies of the post war era, with the exception of the French “Circle Français” did not have facilities to hold receptions and formal balls, so the American Embassy Club opened membership to all friendly nations including German nationals. The club enjoyed extraterritoriality under the authorization of the so-called Adenauer Letter, which was an extension of High Commission of Germany (HICOG) occupational rights to offer club members tax free articles and entertainment, including a commissary, post exchange, snack bar, movie theater and use of the American Embassy Club facility. This was the cradle of today’s American German Business Club Bonn.
The progressive opening of the club to a wider clientele was indicated by a continuous adaption of its name: starting as Bonn American Businessmen Club, it was soon renamed to be the American German Businessmen Club, to be changed again to American German Business Club when business women increasingly joined the meetings. Throughout all of this time, the club was continuously nurtured by close contacts with the American Embassy departments, many of whom were members.
The luncheon meetings of the club attracted eminent speakers like Walter Leisler Kiep, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Robert M. Kimmitt, and the Chair of the Supervisory Board of KPMG, Reinhard Goerdeler (left to right).
The membership of the Club - like the club’s name changed. Established during the Cold War the Club evolved into a big Association spread and well known around the whole country after the fall of the Wall. The huge shift happened during the 1990s when AGBC founded new chapters in Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and other. In 1990 we registered the AGBC e.V., the association of all national and international AGBC clubs. Back than and now many Americans and Germans live and work in both countries and the main aim emphasis of the organisation is to strengthen the long-standing cultural ties. In accordance with a shift of social priorities from defense industry to economic relationship, the AGBC has focused on being a sound platform for discourse and exchange of ideas of all matters related to commerce and mutual undertanding.In acknowledgment of our activities for the benefit of the German society, AGBC Bonn has been certified to be “gemeinnützig” since 1998. In 2009, our activities were acknowledged by the U.S. government when then U.S. Ambassador Timken awarded us with the "Ambassador's Award" for fostering U.S.-German relations.
American German Business Club Bonn has been focusing on building a sound platform for discourse and exchange on all matters related to commerce and mutual understanding. Today’s American German Business Club Bonn e.V. members represent commerce, political, cultural, scientific, education and legal professions.
AGBC Club in Bonn not only the oldest, but also one of the most active chapters within the Association. Introducing the new format of the regular meetings such as "Let's talk business" and less formal "'WhatYaDoin" we keep and cherish traditions such as, for example, our annual Thanksgiving dinner together. Personal networking to improve business contacts is a key point of all AGBC events, but it is are an informal place to meet friends and newcomers alike. All AGBC events are as a general rule conducted in English.
Some prominent guest speakers:
Reinhard Gordeler - Chairman of the Supervisory Board, KPMG
Robert M. Kimmitt - US Ambassador to Germany
Jack Bligh Minister - Foreign Commercial Service, US Embassy
Manfred Wackers - President, Transrapid International, Munich
Fred Irwin - President, American Chamber of Commerce, Frankfurt
Ray Marks - Group Vice President, GTE Spacenet Corporation
Irmgard Schaetzer - Construction Minister, FRG
Janice Bay - Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy
George Vinovich - Governor of Ohio
Dr. Mathias Spude - Deputy CEO, BDLI e.V.
Dr. Peter Friess - Director, Deutsches Museum Bonn
Werner Hoyer - General Secretary, FDP
Sir John Noble - CEO Kamera Werke Noble, GMBH Dresden
Werner Fraas - Managing Director, MCI International GmbH
John Janas - Managing Director Germany/Eastern Europe Time Warner International
Wolfgang Handel - Director, Berlin 2000 Marketing
Wolfgang Nagel - Construction Minister Berlin
Wolfgang Hering - Management Board Member, Klockner & Co.
Dr. Gerhard Reckel - German Federation of Wholesale and Foreign Trade
Dr. Angela Volle - German Society for Foreign Policy (DGAP)
Walter Hirsche - Minister of Economic Affairs for the State of Brandenburg
Joachem von Uslar - Kulturdexernent der Stadt Bonn
Ulrich Weisser - Vizeadmiral, Leiter Planungsstab, BMVg
David L. Benton - III Major General, Chief of Staff, USAREUR
Wolfgang Arnold - Vice President D. Bundeszentrale fuer Polit. Bildung
Dr. Dieter Benecke - Inter Nations
Wedige von Dewitz - FRG Ministerial Secretary, a.D.
Johannes Schneider - President ABERTAX Goup, Director IBC Solar AG
Professor Dr. Ing. Lothar Franz - President Bonner Luftsportverein
Alexander Muhlen Dr. - German Ambassador, a.D.
More memorable pictures from our archive: