The Jewish pharmacist Oscar Troplowitz (1863–1918), born in Gliwice, transformed the Beiersdorf pharmaceutical laboratory in Hamburg—a producer of medicated plasters—into a modern pharmaceutical and cosmetics group. A number of its brands, including Nivea, Hansaplast and Tesa, are still sold all over the world today. When Nivea cream came on the market in 1911, it was the first stable lipid moisturizing cream in the world.
With a keen sense of the aesthetic and technological developments of his day, Troplowitz contracted much of the advertising of Beiersdorf’s products to the pioneer of industrial and advertising films, Julius Pinschewer.
Not only did Oskar Troplowitz expand Beiersdorf into a corporation with worldwide operations, he also assumed social responsibility for his employees. His company was among the first to introduce the 8-hour day, paid vacation, maternity leave, and a company pension. As a private citizen he was an active patron of the arts.
When the National Socialists seized power, a systematic boycott of the "Jewish" company Beiersdorf began. In reaction to the threat of Aryanization, the "non-Aryan" members of the board of directors and the supervisory board stepped down and left Germany.