THE death has been announced of Mr Heinz Hermann Thiele at the age of 79. Thiele was a German entrepreneur who was a majority shareholder and long-time chairman of Knorr-Bremse’s executive and supervisory board as well as a majority shareholder and former chairman of Vossloh. 

“Heinz Hermann Thiele was one of Germany’s leading industrial managers,” says Knorr-Bremse. “Through his entrepreneurial vision, in more than 35 years he built up the Knorr-Bremse Group from a medium-sized company in a difficult economic situation into a profitable, globally successful corporation with almost 30,000 employees and annual sales of around €7bn. 

“Thiele had already placed the management of the company in the hands of external managers almost 15 years ago. A further step towards securing the future viability was the IPO in 2018, when he opened the company to the capital market and other investors.” 


At Vossloh, Thiele had successively increased his shareholding in the company to most recently 50.09%.  

“Through his enormous financial but above all personal commitment, he safely guided the company through the intensive multi-year process of realignment and restructuring,” Vossloh says. “During his time as chairman of the supervisory board, he actively set the course for making Vossloh the successful company it is today.” 

“We have all been extremely saddened by the sudden death of Heinz Hermann Thiele,” says Vossloh’s CEO, Mr Oliver Schuster. “Thiele was a close companion to Vossloh whom we appreciated for his straightforwardness, entrepreneurial courage, decisiveness and unique discipline. He was always a fair and highly valued partner to us, both personally and professionally. We will always be grateful to him for what he did for Vossloh.” 


Thiele was born in Mainz on April 2 1941. After fleeing East Germany, he grew up in West Germany in modest circumstances after the destruction of the family property in Berlin. Thiele started a law degree course at the University of Munich in 1962.

In 1969 Thiele began his career at Knorr-Bremse as a legal clerk in the patent department. From 1975, he was entrusted with the development and expansion of the Commercial Vehicle Systems division, and in 1979 was appointed to the company’s executive board, where he served for 28 years.

In 1987, Thiele became chairman of the executive board of the Knorr-Bremse Group, whose shares he successively acquired from 1985 onward. Thiele was chairman of the supervisory board of Knorr-Bremse from 2007 to 2016, when he was appointed honorary chairman of the supervisory board. Thiele became deputy chairman in July 2020.