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29.11.1971: ALDI Boss Kidnapped
Just after midnight, the phone rang at the Albrecht family home in Essen. His wife Cilly, who was worried by this stage, answered only to hear the voice of her husband’s captors.

"We have kidnapped your husband. No police, no press. You will hear from us,” the voice on the other end of the line said.

Intimidated and in fear, the Albrecht family only called Essen public prosecutor’s office and the police two days later. Guntram Lauer, one of the leading lawyers, remembers the incident well.

"At that time we thought it was the work of criminal gang, that it was a well thought out plan and that we should approach the matter with care. We believed that Mr Albrecht was in grave mortal danger."

A 70-man investigative team was set up at Essen police headquarters. It was the first time such a kidnapping had taken place in Germany and the officers working on the case had little experience.

Theo Albrecht’s captors demanded a ransom of DM 7 million (3.3 million Euros). But after tense negotiations, the Albrecht family reached an agreement with the kidnappers. Interestingly, the police had assumed a low profile in the talks, as the Albrecht family had requested.

In tough negotiations the Albrecht family was able to reach an agreement with respect to the handover. Theo’s brother Karl negotiated his brother’s release.

Although the police tapped phone conversations and continued their investigations, they were not present at the handover. The Albrechts, fearing for Theo’s life, had agreed that they would be the only ones there.

Ruhr Bishop Hengstbach acted as a mediator, handing over the ransom money in return for Theo Albrecht, who later told the press about his experience.

"Well, I am healthy,” he told reporters. “I am, of course, very, very tired. It was a very exhausting business."

The kidnappers turned out to be amateurs and were caught after a recording of their voices was broadcast on the radio. An owner of an electrical appliance shop contacted the police to say that a man whose voice matched that broadcast on the radio had come into his shop the previous day to settle his debts. His name was Paul Kron and he had paid the owner with two DM 500 notes which had come from the ransom money.

Kron, who was known as Diamond Paul, had been previously convicted for several burglaries. He was arrested the same day.

His accomplice turned out to be his former lawyer Heinz-Joachim Ollenburg. Ollenburg, who was always in debt and enjoyed a party life, had represented Kron in court. The Düsseldorf lawyer with a fake high school diploma was already far away by this time, in Mexico. Yet the Mexican police arrested him and extradited him to Germany.

It was just a month later that Kron and Ollenburg were brought to trial in January 1972.

"Mr Kron did, of course, keep stressing the fact that he was lead astray, whilst Mr Ollenburg attempted to represent the whole thing as a sporty adventure," remembered prosecuting lawyer, Guntram Lauer

Despite the prosecution demands for a 12 year sentence, Kron and Ollenberg were each given eight and a half years’ imprisonment. It was also a bitter blow for Theo Albrecht who had been mentally scarred by the kidnapping.

Albrecht only received a portion of the money back. Kron claimed he had not seen any of the ransom money with the exception of a few thousand Deutschmarks. Ollenberg insisted that he had gone fifty fifty and voluntarily returned half of the money. The other DM 3.5 million have not turned up to this day.
   
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Zitat des Tages
The boss of a large German supermarket chain was kidnapped on 29 November 1971. Which one?
  Aldi
  Lidl
  Kaufhof
  Send