100 Things You Should Know About Daimler | #15

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Why, despite everything, Stuttgart is called Benztown

It was a downright revolutionary event when, in 1952, the majority of the people in Baden and in Württemberg voted to create a single state. There’s no doubt that the new state was (and still is) a success, even though some animosities remain. These become apparent not only during soccer matches, but also in daily life. People used to say that while Swabians work, people from Baden think. On the one hand are the pietistic and honest but deep-pocketed Swabians, while on the other are the vivacious epicures from Baden who don’t always take things too seriously. However, these two groups actually complement each other perfectly, as is demonstrated not only by the success story of Baden-Württemberg, but also by that of Daimler and Benz. The companies of the two inventors combined 26 years before the new state was created. Moreover, the merged company was called Daimler-Benz until 1998.

Gottlieb Daimler, a Swabian, was born in Schorndorf and he invented the automobile in Bad Cannstatt in 1886. Carl Benz, on the other hand, was from Baden. He was born in Mühlburg near Karlsruhe and invented the automobile in Mannheim at the same time. Amazingly, the two men didn’t know each other and they never met. To this day, the respective regions are proud of the origins of the two inventors. As a result, people in places such as Sindelfingen and Untertürkheim have traditionally said that they work at Daimler, while those in Rastatt and Mannheim say they work at Benz. Although this provides some historical context, why on earth do members of the younger generation usually now refer to Stuttgart as “Benztown”?

This curious name goes back to the 1990s, when Stuttgart began to distance itself from its image as a conservative industrious city where the sidewalks were traditionally rolled up every night. Vibrant nightclubs suddenly began to appear in the city center and Stuttgart became a hotbed of techno music, along with Frankfurt and Berlin. The city spawned a number of hip-hop bands, such as Die Fantastischen Vier, Massive Töne, and Freundeskreis, who caused quite a sensation and helped to suddenly make Stuttgart a place that could almost be called “hip” — a city in which you could also party.

DJ Thomilla - private shot (~1998)
DJ Thomilla - private shot (~1998)

During this time, DJ Thomilla teamed up with Peter Hoff to found the label Benztown Productions. The name was clearly inspired by the expression “Motown” for Detroit, which is the home of the US automotive industry. The new label’s success soon became a household word. Even US superstar Puff Daddy recorded a song at Benztown Productions after giving a concert in Stuttgart. And even though the label no longer exists, the name “Benztown” is still used as a synonym for Stuttgart as a place to go out in the evening. It shows that music brings people together and sometimes helps to overcome old ways of thinking.

Christian Scholz

was born in Benztown, but doesn't speak Swabian as his parents aren't originally from Stuttgart. And what's more: He studied in Baden, the other part of the state of Baden-Württemberg. That's probably why he thinks that both parts of the state are love- and liveable. So, let's say he's just a perfect example for "Multi-Kulti à la Ländle".

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