Karl Joseph Wilhelm Juchheim (1886-1945) was a German confectioner who first introduced baumkuchen, a traditional German layered cake, to Japan. Today, the Juchheim Company, founded by Karl Juchheim and his wife in 1921, continues to sell baumkuchen and other sweets according to Juchheim's original recipe in pastry shops throughout Japan.
Karl Juchheim was born and raised in Kaub, Germany. In 1908, the 22-year-old Juchheim moved to Jiaozhou Bay located in the Shandong Province of China. Jiaozhou, known to the Germans as Kiautschou, was at the time a German protectorate but still under Chinese rule under a treaty agreement made in 1898 (see Jiaozhou Bay Concession). In Jiaozhou, Juchheim began working at a café. In 1909 he began his own pastry shop where he sold cakes. After a five-year stay in China he returned to Germany for a short time in order to find a wife. Through his uncle, he met a 22-year-old woman named Elise in the Spring of 1914 and became engaged to her shortly after. Although only recently returned from China, Juccheim and Elise returned to Jiazhou shortly after their engagement. They got married on July 28, 1914 and together started another pastry shop in the city of Tsingtao in the Jiaozhou Bay.
Shortly after World War I broke out, British and Japanese forces began the siege of Tsingtao. Karl was sent to interment camps in Osaka, Japan as Prisoners of War. While interned, Elise gave birth to their first child on November 4, 1915.
Karl Juchheim and other prisoners were later relocated to Ninoshima, Hiroshima in 1917. At the Industrial Promotion Hall (atomic bomb dome now), there was German exhibition (3.4 to 3.12, 1919) that Juchheim began baking and selling baumkuchen in Japan.
After the war, Karl and Elise opened their own pastry shop in 1921 in Yokohama with the name E. Juchheim, named after his wife. As a pastry chef Karl Juchheim was responsible for the production of the cake and pastries while his wife, Elise, took care of sales. The Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923 destroyed their shop completely. The couple then moved to Kobe, borrowed a large sum of money, and opened a new store, the candy company's Juchheim. The store was a great success and saw growth soon after it opened.
Because of the Pacific War, by 1944 the lease to their shop was terminated because production was no longer possible. The family then moved into the hotel Rokkosan. There, Karl Juchheim died on August 14, 1945, a day before the surrender of Japan. For cost reasons, his body was cremated. After the war, Elise was expropriated and, by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, deported back to Germany. Elise Juchheim returned to Japan in 1953. Both Karl and Elise Juchheim are now in the cemetery buried in Ashiya.
Today, the headquarters for Juchheim Co., Ltd. is in Kobe, Japan. Its characteristic design is in tradition for about 40 years. The company boasts that produce confectioner's products to date according to the original German recipe. Juchheim in Japan has many branches and subsidiaries. Their shops are especially known for their baumkuchen cakes, Frankfurter Kranz, cookies, and apple pie.