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MARCH 2006

Foundation Monte Cassino established!

Entrepreneur Richard Hartinger (RiHa beverage-group, Europe´s leading fruit juice producer) and Joseph Klein from Wolfsburg established Monte Cassino foundation.


At the foot of the still visible rebuilt Abbey Montecassino in Italy underneath the flags of the countries of this world there are graveyards followed by graveyards. More than 16.000 soldiers of the World War I and over 107.000 of the World War II from overall 32 nations are buried here. In the fight against each other cruelly their lifes were robbed, now in death they are quietly united and together they warn about the scares of the wars. The more than 24.000 graves just for German soldiers established graveyard in the rocky landscape at the foot of the Abbey let us only suspect today which commanded war insanity there once ranted. Here, at the so named Gustav-Line in Italy, allied and German troops fought the biggest folk battle of the World War II. Approximately 50.000 German soldiers under the fire of 1.600 guns were supposed to hinder over 200.000 allied fighters to pass through. The world´s eldest Benedictine Abbey became completely destroyed and put in ashes by the heaviest bomb attack on one single building due to the fact that it was thought, German soldiers would have barricaded themselves there. Also the city Casino and other surrounding villages and cities were completely destroyed in due course of the fights.

Until today ones who died in the ware are found. Yearly the graveyards get bigger and bigger. Here, the few survivors, war veterans, relatives of the ones who died from all over the world meet each other. In the meantime enemies of the earlier days have become friends and like-minded people. “As a memorial for the dead soldiers and for the insanity of a war, this battlefield must never fall into oblivion, ” Joseph Klein (85) explains, who was lieutenant of the German armed forces in the war and one of the few survivors of the battle for Monte Cassino. There - at the foot of the Abbey, whose historic treasures could be saved thanks to a German officer - the man from Wolfsburg met also the entrepreneur Richard Hartinger. The today 76 years old enlarged the small fruit juice business in Rinteln, founded by his father in 1934, to one of the biggest beverage companies of Europe. “My father created the basis for today more than 2.000 employees of the family owned business, on which top today my eldest son and I stand together. But my father had no chance to experience the rise of the business, which he once established. He became a victim of the battle of Monte Cassino.” The owner of the RiHa beverage group here often visits the grave of his father and already supports the care of the graveyard through donations, like Joseph Klein did in the past as well. With the Monte Cassino Foundation, they have now established together, they want to reach that the German soldier graveyard at Monte Cassino durably preserves for all generations, the ones who even experienced the World War II, as well as a memorial against the war, and they want to reach that the occurrence at that time also doesn´t get in oblivion with the following generations. Information about this issue should be made accessible especially for schools and visits of the Cassino of school classes from the nations involved in the fights should be supported. “Moreover centrally positioned between world-culture-heritage counted places like Pompeii and Rome, Cassino itself offers a destination for excursions, not only for school classes”, the agile entrepreneur explains. For this it is necessary to have museum and graveyard employees of foreign language. Every day survivors and members from all over the world come here. They look for the graves of their comrades, their fathers or their relatives,” he explains further, “and these people speak rarely Italian.”

Joseph Klein, who has brought it with diligence and entrepreneurial thinking to affluence at his old age, expounds further: “At no battle in the World War II were as many nations involved as in the battle about Monte Cassino. Virtually no other place is therefore more suitable as an international memorial against the war and to the commemoration of the victims, no metter which nationality or on which side they stood.

Our wish is also that at this place people of different nations meet each other, get to know each other and learn to understand each other. Just like I did here, as combatant with my ancient rivals, of whom many have become friends today.” “To remember the dead persons and to hold the memory in people´s mind, to protect following generations against the scare of the war,” Richard Hartinger sums up the sense and purpose of the Monte Cassino Foundation. “And we invite everyone to support us in this task ”.