This is a year of anniversaries, we have the International Year of Astronomy celebrating 400 years since the telescope was first used as an astronomical instrument and also the 400th anniversary of the publication of Kepler’s Astronomia nova, the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing and this weekend 40 years since Woodstock. I would however like to bring to your notice an anniversary that is both local, for me, and international.
About 20 kilometres away from where I am sitting typing this into my computer is the sleepy little Middle Franconian town of Herzogenaurach. If you are a foreigner learning German and you can pronounce this name correctly without stumbling then you are making good progress. This town is remarkable for the fact that it is the home of not just one but two of the world’s largest producers of sports articles; in fact when I first came to this area in the 1980s they were respectively the worlds number one, ‘adidas’, and number two, ‘Puma’. Nowadays adidas is the worlds number two behind the dreaded Nike and I’m not sure where Puma stands but I think it’s still in the top five. On the 18th of August adidas celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brother Shoe Factory) was founded in Herzogenaurach in 1924 by Rudolf and Adolf Dassler to manufacture football boots. Over the next forty plus years they expanded their range and in 1948 they broke up with Adolf firing Rudolf who went off and founded Puma. In 1949 Adolf founded adidas, the name consisting of his nickname Adi and the first syllable of his family name. Their respective successes are partially a result of their bitter rivalry.
If you are in the area and you need some article of sports clothing then go to Herzogenaurach, just outside the town on the road from Erlangen there are factory outlets not only from adidas and Puma but also from every major sport article producer in the world. Nowhere else can you get such a wide choice of brand name sport shoes so cheaply.