Reference Work Entry

International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

pp 2-2

Abbe, Ernst

  • Christoph GolbeckAffiliated withResearch Group “European Civil Society”, University of Muenster

Basic Biographical Information

Born in 1840 in Eisenach, Thuringia (Germany) to a rather poor working-class family, Ernst Abbe went on to become an award-winning physicist, professor at the University of Jena, successful businessman, and a generous philanthropist to his employees and his adopted home town of Jena. Abbe owed his superb educational biography to his outstanding intellect but also to a couple of benefactors who repeatedly helped him financing his studies. After he received his habilitation from Jena University, he joined the company of Carl Zeiss, an optician, and became an associate of the Carl Zeiss stock corporation in 1875, which by then was one of Germany’s most important companies. The same year Abbe started the company’s health insurance scheme, what would over the upcoming decades become one of the most generous corporate benefit schemes of its time. In 1889 he established the Carl Zeiss Foundation in order to ensure the sustainability ...

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