After a short but severe disease Dr. Eng. h. c. Walter Hunger passed away in Wuerzburg on December 4,. 2008 surrounded by his family. A life filled with initiative and unremitting creativeness has come to an end. Improvisation, research and development as well as entrepreneurial spirit were the substances of his life. Being a dedicated engineer he always used to be a trailblazer for new technologies. These main ingredients formed the base for the development of a successful family-run enterprise rich in tradition to one of the world’s best established manufacturers of hydraulic components – the globally operating Hunger Hydraulics Group.
After his birth on April 4, 1925 and being left behind by his mother in the maternity ward due to economic hardship Walter Hunger led a childhood full of privation in various foster families. After graduation from school the 14 year old started a traineeship as a blacksmith. In 1942 when he had already become a journeyman he was drafted to the German Armed Forces where he was employed as a dispatch rider and a stablehand by the regimental commander. When he reached the age of 20 in 1945 he had already passed the examination for his master craftsman’s diploma and decided to become his own boss. His first sales coup was a horse carriage with rubber tires demounted from ordnances. This was followed by a tilting mechanism for trailers which was highly on demand so that Walter Hunger himself had to manufacture the hydraulic cylinders for the tilting vehicles. In 1950, Walter Hunger purchased an old saw mill in Frankenberg, Saxonia, and constructed the first production hall on his own account out of debris. Already in 1951 he received export orders from Poland, Austria and Romania and expanded to be one of the biggest private companies in GDR.
However, in 1956 the government of GDR initiated increasing reprisals against the flourishing private enterprise. Two years later the state demanded a majority shareholding of the state and all patents be handed over to the state. Thereupon, Walter Hunger and his executives decided to leave the country in 1958. Last autumn was the 50th anniversary of this event. The 34 year old did not capitulate at all after his arrival in West Germany, but started to build up a new company in Lohr am Main – Walter Hunger Comp. OHG.
From this moment onwards the rise of the Hunger Hydraulics Group could not be stopped. More than 200 patents and trademark rights form the strong basis for the products developed by Hunger - especially the large and special cylinders, but also sealing and bearing elements as well as hydraulic components like rotary distributors, rotary actuators, valves, spherical plain bearings and rod ends, abrasives, trailer and semi-trailer couplings etc.
In 1991 Walter Hunger’s companies in East Germany were reassigned and he was granted the honorary doctorate of the Technical University of Chemnitz. A special tribute and appreciation of his work was demonstrated in the granting of the Umweltpreis (Prize for Environmental Care) by the then federal minister for environment and current Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. In 1996 Walter Hunger was granted the Federal Cross of Merit for his social commitment and his entrepreneurial success.
He was a role model and visionary, his message always used to be to preserve the achievements and to create the new. Who got to know Dr. Walter Hunger is aware that halting and resting were not part of his vocabulary. Even in the age of 82 he was personally present at Hannover Fair 2007 to welcome the guests and present the innovations of Hunger Group.