Identified: mystery German torchbearers in Bognor and elsewhere

A couple of newspapers recently reported on the number of Germans carrying the torch as it makes its way through Bognor – but neither identifies why they’re carrying the torch.

We can reveal that a number work for or have connections with Olympic sponsor Samsung.

Dirk Schafer carried the torch in Bognor. His image is the same as that used on a Samsung worker's LinkedIn profile.

Dirk Schafer carried the torch in Bognor. His image is the same as that used on a Samsung worker’s LinkedIn profile.

Dirk Schafer‘s profile on the official torchbearers site does not have any nomination story, but a poorer quality version of the same image is used in a social networking profile for the Sales Manager:

Dirk Schafer's online profile, which also lists his home as Schwalbach

Dirk Schafer’s online profile, which also lists his home as Schwalbach

The address listed is that of Samsung Germany.

Klaus Schumann, meanwhile, does have a nomination story.

"to participate in the games 2012 by running the torch is not only an honour by itself; to me it means being a piece of one great Olympic puzzle instituted by human mankind. What an exceptional story to tell everyone back home, starting now and in the next 50 years to come. I'd be endlessly proud to be an Olympic diplomat by running the torch across London's street"

Klaus Schumann doesn’t mention anything inspirational in his story, nor does he mention his employers Samsung. But he does use the same image for his LinkedIn profile.

Unusually for a nomination story, it is written by the nominee himself, and doesn’t mention any contribution to the community or sporting achievement. Nor does Schumann mention his employers. But he does use the same image for his LinkedIn profile as Senior Sales Manager at Samsung:

Klaus Schumann is a Senior Sales Manager for Samsung in Germany. He will be carrying the Olympic torch in Bognor

Of the other names carrying the torch on the same day without any nomination story:

Of course, they could still possess inspirational stories – but none give any.

More German torchbearers with a Samsung connection

Looking beyond that day but staying with German torchbearers, carrying the torch in Eastbourne without a story, is Michael Peuckert.

Michael Peuckert is carrying the Olympic Torch in Eastbourne - he works as a photographer with Samsung products featuring heavily in his work

Some simple digging confirms that Michael works as a technology journalist for connect magazine reviewing Samsung products:

Michael Peuckert is carrying the Olympic Torch in Eastbourne - he works as a photographer with Samsung products featuring heavily in his work

Michael is one of three technology journalists nominated by Samsung, according to Fabien Röhlinger, founder and executive editor of tech blog AndroidPIT, who is one of the others along with Lisa Brack of Chip Online. As one of the few journalists to write about their involvement in the torch relay, he writes [thanks to Franzi Baehrle for the translation]:

“It was Samsung itself calling my attention to a great competition. They were searching for three German journalists to participate at the Olympic torch relay and who once want to carry out the honor of carrying the fire for about one kilometre themselves. Samsung itself has no impact on the selection of the subjects. This is solely down to the olympic committee. This again chooses its participants very carefully.

“And so it happened that you had to apply there with a story – written in English. But what qualifies you to carry the torch a bit towards London? In my story I remembered the year 1992, when the Olympic Winter Games were held in Albertville in France. My uncle and his family live in Chambéry, which is also located in the French high alps and with this close to the venue of the games at that time. Of course the committee was searching for people who have rendered outstanding social or athletic services to carry the torch. That time my cousin was accorded this honour. He was and is a very good athlete in several disciplines. I was really happy for him then and admired him. But I knew: even if I would go in for sports – it would never be enough to reach a higher level. That I may be having this chance through Samsung was a little bit like a sign from above/the hand of fate.”

It’s worth noting that his nomination story was not published on the official website.

Volker Mitlacher, carrying the torch through East Grinstead, only provides an image on the torchbearer site:

Volker Mitlacher is carrying the Olympic Torch in East Grinstead

But he does look rather like the CEO of IT company Systeam with the same name:

Volker_Mitlacher, CEO of Systeam - is he carrying the Olympic torch?

Systeam were announced as partners of Samsung in Germany late last year.

Dirk Wittmer, from Ratingen in Germany, has a nomination story which simply says “Our company is sponsor of the regional football association Ratingen 04/19 and of the Dumeklemmer Triahtlon Ratingen.” It’s almost certain that his company is Euronics Germany, one of the sponsors of that triathlon, and where Wittmer is Chairman of the Board and has an address in Ratingen.

The CEO of Euronics UK also carried the torch, in Salisbury, while the MD of Euronics in Hungary carried the torch on July 13, although he has since been removed from the official site.

Joerg Ehmer is carrying the torch in Bexhill on Sea. Like Dirk, his nomination story does not mention any contribution to the community or charity, or sporting achievement, but merely says:

“This huge event where people participate in sport from all over the world has inspired me since my youth. Next year, to participate as a torch runner and thus be in this national event would make me very proud.”

A Dr Jörg Ehmer is listed as a managing director of ElectronicPartner GmbH. Born in 1966, he would also be the same age as the torchbearer, and his registration on this register of directors gives the same hometown of Glashutten.

On the same leg as Jörg will be Detlef Löffers from Lüdinghausen. He has no nomination story, but shares a name with the CEO of IT distribution company DELO, who signed a deal with Samsung in 2010.

It’s hard to pin down Andreas Wienecke - could he be this hotels entrepreneur? (International Hotels Group are one sponsor with places to give out) Or could he be the Samsung customer care worker mentioned here? (At 56, the latter seems less likely). Martin Vogt could be Dr Martin Vogt, but that person’s academic history doesn’t sound like that of a 42-year-old, nor is it likely that he would not use his title. I’m waiting for an answer from his office UPDATED: No, it is not. Ryustem Kobakov is a mystery.

But it’s clear that the list of examples from Samsung of ignoring LOCOG’s guidelines not to nominate executives continues to lengthen.

See previous report on the executives whose names were removed from the official website.

UPDATE (Monday July 16 2012): Following these and other leads up in Germany, Claudia von Salzen reporting for daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, says Samsung say that 35 people are running on behalf of the company on July 16 and 17. She adds the following details:

“All in all, 18 of the 26 torchbearers from Germany running Monday and Tuesday whose names we know either work for Samsung, are business partners or write about Samsung products.”

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3 thoughts on “Identified: mystery German torchbearers in Bognor and elsewhere

  1. I was in Petworth today and saw Martin Vogt as he was called take over the torch – but the organisers refused to give us any info about him apart from the fact he was German. What is this all about? Am so sad – as it was a lovely day with hundreds of school children cheering what they believed were local ‘heroes’. Can someone explain…

    • That is sad. Do you know if any pictures were taken? I know a German reporter who thinks she might know who he is, and an image would help confirm that.

  2. Pingback: Hinir kapítalísku Ólympíuleikar | Gögn

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