A Journey Through Time - Wacker Chemie AG


A Journey Through Time

The road from the “Volkseigenen Betrieb Chemiewerk Nünchritz” to the modern WACKER site in 2014 was a long one. And Wolfgang Korneli is among the ranks of those who traveled this road every step of the way.

Wolfgang and Karin Korneli in front of the town hall in Riesa, where they got married over 30 years ago.

It almost didn't happen. In the fall of 1983, it was far from easy for Korneli to get a job with VEB Chemiewerk Nünchritz, even though he fulfilled all the job requirements: a high school diploma, a technical certificate, and even a degree in Process Engineering with top marks. Having completed his apprenticeship in Guben on the Polish border, he was supposed to return to the company where he trained after qualifying. However, Korneli did not want to go to Guben. He wanted to go to Nünchritz on account of a girl he had met from nearby Riesa a few years earlier.

So Korneli took a chance and sent an application to the personnel office in Nünchritz – and got lucky. He started there as a young engineer and worked on the construction of a facility that was very modern, given the conditions at that time – though the word “modern” certainly did not apply to payroll processes. In 1983 in former East Germany, wages were still paid out in cash. The man in the cash office counted the money out loud and Korneli overheard what the “two guys in front of me in the line earned.”

On May 21, 1983, Wolfgang Korneli married the girl he had met at his sister’s wedding five years previously. She was the groom’s cousin and, like his sister, her name is: Karin. This resulted in a surprising changeabout, explains Wolfgang Korneli: “My sister’s name was Karin Korneli and now her name is Karin Schandert.” “My wife’s name was Karin Schandert and now her name is Karin Korneli.”

His wife Karin, a gifted artist, also has her place at the Nünchritz plant – not in person, but through her paintings on display in the cafeteria.

A change of an entirely different type occurred at the chemical plant after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A company from the West bought out VEB, shut down out-of-date systems and kept the more modern ones running – among them the only existing trichlorosilane plant in former East Germany. But real “winds of change” came to the plant, recalls Korneli, in 1998 when it was taken over by WACKER. Shortly thereafter, Korneli’s department saw the construction of new facilities, for which he later assumed process management responsibilities. According to Korneli, a great thing about the new owner is that “Right from the start, WACKER integrated us as full partners.” Fifty-six-year-old Korneli’s area of responsibility has grown continuously throughout the years – today he is head of downstream process support, i.e. the production of intermediate and end products. Incidentally, his son chose the same career and now works as a chemical engineer at Process Development in Burghausen. His wife Karin, a gifted artist, also has her place at the Nünchritz plant – not in person, but through her paintings on display in the cafeteria.

Wolfgang Korneli and his wife always wanted to stay in Nünchritz, even during reunification. They only travel abroad on vacation. Last year, they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on the Seychelles.