The Rape and Destruction of the German Transportation Industry -- from plenty to plunder!
An historical assessment, by Gerry Frederics
The year 1948 was a turning point for Germany. She had been mercilessly destroyed to a degree practically unfathomable to the normal human mind. Millions upon millions of people had been killed in air raids, in combat, during the ethnic cleansing of her eastern provinces of Silesia, Prussia, Pommerania and in the bastard-state Czechoslovakia, that artificially created dagger in the heart of the most creative, civilized and industrious country of Europe, all with the express approval and encouragement of the victorious allies.
The destruction visited upon Germany during WW2 has no equal in the annals of recorded history, because it not only meant the utter destruction of her industry, but her agriculture, her civilian population centers, her currency, her military, her reputation, her incredible cultural centers, her very soul. Just to have thought (or indeed to think in the year 2004) as a German, was defamed, demonized and spat upon and people were forced to recant their very convictions. Millions of Germans were worked to death, or had their health irrevocably ruined as slave laborers in the former Soviet Union, in France and the UK. The crimes committed by the allies against the entire German nation are so horrendous as to defy description. Every human right so loudly proclaimed by the western democracies was trampled (and is being trampled still) underfoot.
Human rights do not apply to Germany, neither now, nor in the past. When in the early 1920’s over 90% of the population of upper Silesia voted to again become part of Germany, the WW-1 victors declared the vote null and void, trampling all human rights and rights of self-determination underfoot, without even making an attempt at justification! Remember, if voting would cause change, it would be prohibited! Democracy as practiced these days is a sham to keep the stupefied people believing they are ‘free’. It has demonstrably been the English speaking world which has clamored for the destruction of Germany for over 100 years (Saturday Evening Post in the year 1895: ‘’Germany must be destroyed’’, a drum beat repeated over and over again and still being repeated, albeit these days behind closed doors). England with Jewish connivance and never ending baiting had skillfully maneuvered first the Kaiser and subsequently Hitler into a war. The famous Jewish historical novelist Emil Ludwig (real name: Emil Ludwig Cohen) cynically stated in 1934: ‘’Hitler will have his war, whether he wants it or not’’. The English-speaking world subsequently pursued their criminal fratricidal genocide with an unequalled brutality that made Atilla look like an amateur.
England's Lord Shawcross, her most famous legal mind, stated in 1984. ‘’I have come to the realization that Hitler did not want war. It was us who declared war .’’, etc. ad nauseum. His admission of historical truth was subsequently swept under the rug, never to be repeated in public print again.
This war against Germany is continuing to this very day, with atrocity propaganda films being churned out by Hollywood, with incessant WW2 atrocity propaganda being repeated ad nauseum, until it has become part and parcel of the educational system of the entire western world. That is atrocious, that is nauseating! Even perfectly decent, highly educated people are convinced of the alleged perfidy of the Germans, all the while listening to Beethoven’s Ninth, admiring the paintings of Lucas Cranach, driving their BMW, VW, Audi, or ‘Chevrolet’ – most models of which in reality are German Opels, eating their Kuchen and admiring King Ludwig's incredible castles in Bavaria's singularly beautiful countryside.
It never enters their minds that alleged German perfidy and her culture, her very nature, are mutually exclusive.
Deductive reasoning isn’t possible after people have been religiously inoculated against Germany. And it is this insidious inoculation which not only continues but is being actually increased in intensity worldwide with the active co-operation of the German government in Berlin, an utterly corrupted puppet regime if ever there was one.
In 1948 it had become quite clear that the Russian behemoth was about to pounce on the west. They shut down all traffic to Berlin, leading to the Berlin Airlift and the myth that Americans were ‘the good guys’. The truth is, the only reason the Americans conducted the air lift was to prove to the Russians they were not going to back down. They gained a tremendous propaganda victory and the heartfelt thanks of the entire German nation as a bonus.
This was no mean trick, considering the US Army under General Eisenhower had been responsible for the murder by neglect, torture and starvation of about a million German POW’s and untold thousands of civilians due to starvation-level (less than 1200 calories per day) food rationing between 1945 and 1947.
The USA finally understood that without a strong Germany, Europe was going to be lost and that was the reason they finally permitted Germany to re-construct herself, under tight controls and supervision of course.
They found a man, who despite having been a cowardly defeatist in WW1 turned out to be a fine German chancellor – Konrad Adenauer. He grew under pressure and became a real Chancellor, at least as much as he could considering the political handcuffs the Allies had shackled him with.
A nation without transportation of every kind is a modern day impossibility, so it was transportation which was one of the things foremost on the minds of those responsible for the rebuilding process. ‘’Built things with which to move people, goods and supplies, do it now!’’ – was the slogan of the day.
The automobile industry was slowly coming back to life, albeit on a drastically reduced level occasioned by the massive allied theft of entire factories, plans, materials, the kidnapping of engineering teams etc. ad nauseum. Germany had boasted of one of the world leading automobile and truck industries in the 1920s and 1930s, industries which were reduced to a mere handful of small companies valiantly trying to rebuilt in 1948.
Entire once famous factories with the most modern equipment had disappeared, either because of bombings or because they had been dismantled and stolen by the allies, usually both! It can be stated as a fact, that whatever was left was stolen, including the light switches, even the very bricks of which the buildings had been constructed and yes, you read correctly. For example, the entire production line of the Opel Kadett was shipped to Russia to eventually form the basis for their auto industry, or the production line of the DKW - RT-125 motorcycle was dismantled, shipped to England and ended up being the arguably best BSA motorcycle ever built. It certainly was the most reliable one. Stöwer, Horch, Wanderer, Audi, Framo, Mannesmann, Maybach, Phaenomen, all gone.
Some, such as Adler or Borgward came back to life (even if only for a few years), resurrected from utter destruction by sheer will power. Paradoxically it was Hitler’s very own creation the VW which ended up conquering the world a few years later.
To discuss the automobile or truck industries requires an entire series of large books all their own. It requires an encyclopedia to discuss the electronics, aircraft, optical, chemical, and related industries Germany had. In all of these, they were essentially leading the world in terms of innovation, quality, reliability, even styling!
The sheer beauty of a Mercedes 540-K, a Horch 120-PS, an Audi-50 Cabriolet, the gorgeous Wanderer Sports Roadster, the small Tornax 500 Roadster, an Adler 2.5 Diplomat and a host of others attest to this.
Not only cars or motorcycles, but for example the timeless elegance (not to forget the technical excellence and originality) of a 1959 Saba Radio Set with built-in record changer is something today's Japanese and Korean manufacturers of plastic stereo trash can’t even begin to imagine.
The Automotive Museum at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas has an Adler ‘’Autobahn’’ on display (amongst dozens of others from all nations), a car whose gorgeous, streamlined styling was not only breathtaking but also decades ahead of its time and looking at Albrecht Goertz’s creation, the BMW 507 Roadster makes ones heart stand still!
I will discuss mostly the motorized two-wheel industries and even that only in a very abbreviated manner. The micro-car industry, virtually a German creation of the early 1950s, will be touched on only insofar as a motorcycle manufacturer was involved. It would require a very large book to do justice to the Micro-Car by itself.
There is one Mirco-Car I’ll have to devote some attention to – the Kleinschnittger, because it was as unique as the Messerschmitt hybrid scooter-car-airplane-cockpit on wheels.
Motorscooters will be discussed in the second chapter, except Heinkel, who also built a Bubble Car and Messerschmitt, who built a hybrid scooter-Micro car of extraordinary character. These men simply don’t fit into any category.
The motorcycle had always been very popular with Germans of all ages. During the 1930s Germany boasted the largest motorcycle manufacturers world-wide.
There were far in excess of one million motorcycles registered for daily use in the year 1936. This was followed by France with a 540.000 and the British isles with about 533.000. It must be remembered here, that the French had only an insignificant motorcycle industry and largely rode German makes. American cycles (Harley and Indian) were not exported to the European continent. Harleys were built in license in insignificant numbers in Japan. In addition, in the US cycles were almost exclusively used by police forces and only a few were found in the hands of the average motorist in the USA.
So it was no surprise when German motorcycle production took off like a space rocket in the years 1948 – 49. The total plunder of all German factories, including all engineering plans, experimental designs, even the kidnapping of entire engineering teams forced the Germans to start anew. Consequently a slew of new models appeared, models which incorporated fresh thinking and new designs.
Raw materials were always at a premium, since all industries vied for the same steel, oil, plastics, electric wiring, wood etc. As a consequence, German designers started using new materials and particularly learned how to use less steel and the like to built a superior product. The result was the creation of a thoroughly modern industry at the very edge of technological evolution.
The Germans were not permitted to participate in international racing until 1951. Predictably an additional set of handcuffs was applied – namely the prohibition of the supercharger. This had been decided upon by FIM the international body of motorcycle racing. This organization was wholly dominated by the British, despite its French origins. German machines had dominated the world’s racing circuits during the 1930s with engines equipped with superchargers, hence the prohibition.
1. the British and the Italians had a 6 year headway in engineering and technology, an intact infrastructure,
2. perfectly working factories with nary a nut or bolt out of place, and
3. unlimited supplies of raw materials.
[The British at least. The Italians had had to suffer neither rape, nor plunder nor any restrictions, unless of course one would like to mention the ‘liberation’ of their cities by Moroccan troops in French uniforms, a liberation which expressed itself in the mass rape of Italian women who had heretofore been absolutely unmolested by the Germans. Aside from that, Feldmarschall Kesselring had declared all Italian cities ‘open’ and had removed all German troops prior to the arrival of the ‘liberators’. For this act of kindness he was accused of war crimes and put on trial.]
Despite these massive advantages, the winning season of the British was short-lived, namely the year 1951.
Thereafter a few victories on the continent, victories which were usually attained in races and in classes in which the Germans neither did, nor ever had participated. Starting in 1952, it was NSU, BMW and DKW who dominated international racing, just as they had before the war. German drivers and machines collected no less than 14 world championships between the years 1950 and 1960 – and this after the most unbelievable never-ending rape, plunder and destruction any nation had suffered in recorded history!
Racing aside, the motorcycle industry was churning out excellent, even some fabulous machines which became the envy of the world and subsequently formed the basis for virtually the entire Japanese motorcycle industry, an odious subject addressed throughout this article.
Within a short period of time there existed 39 different manufacturers who produced 163 different models! This is no misprint. Additionally there were manufacturers who produced so-called Mopeds, a moped being a motorcycle with very small 50-cc engines.
Even the moped came in a dizzying variety of models, types and shapes, some were regular motorcycles, some were scooter-like, some were a cross between a scooter and a motorcycle. Of this there were 42 different models produced by 26 different companies. Again, this is no misprint. Let us not forget the charming Italian idea, the motor scooter.
Of this there were 26 manufacturers which produced 41 varieties, including the ‘’Bubble Car’’, an idea originated by the Italian Iso Rivolta company and perfected by BMW and Heinkel. The Messerschmidt is usually lumped together with the ‘’Bubble-Cars’’, but has no relation to any of them and was an entirely separate development, nay a different form of transportation altogether.
All told the Germans produced a total of 246 different motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, all between the years 1950 and 1960! (Give or take a few, I can’t guarantee there weren’t some more) Additionally those 246 different two-wheeled machines displayed a bewildering kind of individuality. There was every type of internal combustion engine ever devised by man, including a Wankel (rotary) engine model, one cylinder, two cylinder, three cylinders, 4-stroke, two-stroke, in-line, V-shaped, boxer-types. Most of them sought their own individual solution to whatever mechanical or design problems arose.
The awesome creativity shown within the framework of this one industry alone is surely unique. It is here where the strength of the German spirit, indeed of the spirit of western man shows itself most clearly – creativity. Whereas the Asians slavishly and shamelessly copy everything imaginable without ever developing anything whatsoever under their own power, Western Man creates.
I have not even mentioned the great variety of bicycles with or without either chain-type or in-hub transmissions, all completely equipped (by law) with electric generator lighting front and back, luggage carrier, mud guards, chain guards and in the case of ladies bicycles, a net covering the rear wheel in order to avoid the skirt being caught in the spinning spokes. Interestingly, German designer Fritz Fend, the father of the Messerschmidt Kabinenroller, developed a bicycle with shaft-drive in the 1970s. It was never mass produced due to technological problems – problems the Adler company of Frankfurt had solved 40 years earlier, when they produced a bike with shaft-drive between 1934 and 1940.
I have not mentioned the motorcycles produced in the communist-controlled part of divided Germany either, even though IFA built an extraordinary two-stroke Boxer-engine model. This machine, designed by x-DKW engineers failed in the marketplace due to lack of a proper sales organization, shortage of materials and other priorities, such as to design and produce military vehicles which were then essentially ‘given’ to the Soviet Union in the mad, never-ending exercise of the extortion of German products and ideas.
To be sure, of this bewildering variety not all qualified to be called world-leading, but large numbers did in fact lead. Additionally it can be said that of all the various makes and models which existed, none could be called mediocre, much less bad. All exhibited the German characteristics of fine workmanship, quality materials and innovative thinking.
No one wanted to be left behind and the numerous motorcycle trade shows were brimming with engineers from the various companies examining very closely what the competition had to offer. Those which in my considered opinion led the world in innovation, technology and overall development were:
1. Adler (motorcycles and office machines),
2. BMW (motorcycles, cars and the famous ‘’Bubble Car’’, the Isetta),
3. DKW (motorcycles, cars, vans, scooters),
4. Horex (macho motorcycles),
5. Riedel-Imme (revolutionary motorcycles),
6. Maico (futuristic motorcycles, a scooter and a line of superior micro-cars),
7. NSU (innovative motorcycles, cars, outstanding micro-cars and the Wankel engine),
8. Victoria (motorcycles, scooters, bicycles and a lovely micro-car),
9. Zündapp (macho motorcycles, outboard engines and an unusual micro-car),
10. Messerschmidt (highly individualistic tandem-seater micro-car),
11. Heinkel (scooters, outstanding moped, a ‘’Bubble Car’’ and proprietary engines)
12. Triumph, aka TWN (Triumph Werke Nürnberg, builders of unique motorcycles)
13. Part 2 covering some scooters and one tiny, incredible Minimal-Micro-Car!
This factory had been in existence since the 1870’s, starting with a three-wheeled bicycle whose design parameters already showed extreme forward thinking. Compared to any other bicycle built by anyone else at the time, it was futuristic. Between 1900 and 1940 they had built some of the most advanced automobiles and trucks of the times, commanding a large share of the inter-German market. They never forgot their humble beginnings, building excellent shaft-drive bicycles and typewriters throughout their existence.
In the 1930s, Adler came out with some very futuristic and even elegant designs. For example, the Adler Autobahn, a futuristic car indeed and even today it seems other-worldly in its beauty and clarity of design. Arguably one of the most gorgeous cars of its times was the Adler 2.5 liter Diplomat with a body designed by Glaeser. This car sported a 6 cylinder 2.5 liter engine with three carburetors, a 4 speed transmission, and had a top and (!) cruising speed of over 150 km per hour. It must be remembered here, that in those days multi-carbureted engines were a rarity and 3 speed transmissions were the norm, not only in Germany but anyplace else in the world as well. The Diplomat was a highly sophisticated, extraordinarily elegant touring car for well to do people. It sported tremendous luggage capacity and streamlined styling which frankly was (and still is) absolutely breathtaking. The Adler Diplomat Streamliner Cabriolet with factory body work was no less exciting.
One of the most important cars Adler came out with at the time, was the Hans Gustav Roehr designed Trumpf Junior. This machine was as modern as could be, with front wheel drive, transmission shift lever on the steering wheel ( many years later adopted throughout the industry worldwide), rear-opening doors when ALL cars had front opening ones and a host of other features. This car was snapped up by the Wehrmacht in the war because it was as reliable as they came and performed admirably well even under extremely adverse front-line conditions. This car, like practically all other German cars, was used by the military with nary a modification being necessary.
During the war Adler was an important part of the defense industry. In the summer of 1944 when Frankfurt was destroyed by allied air attacks, Adler was wiped out, over 85% of its buildings going up in flames.
Three years after the war, they started from scratch, at first with a new car-proposal which was scrapped because management thought it too expensive to built. They concentrated on motorcycles instead, building three single cylinder models of 100-, 125- and 150-cc’s. A 200-cc and a 250-cc 2-stroke twin rounded up the model line up. All Adler engines were of the two-stroke type, something exceedingly popular in Germany.
Since the Adler engineers literally designed everything from scratch, their bikes ended up being far different from the norm, being extremely low-slung, their low center of gravity giving them extraordinary handling characteristics and a modern look which has stood the test of time well. The Adler machines were all very sporty, particularly the 250-cc model which was a hit on the road racing, rally and reliability trial circuits of the 1950s.
During the middle 1950s Adler started having serious financial difficulties due to the advent of the automobile on German roads. Large numbers of shares belonged to the Dresdner Bank, which talked motorcycle-hater Max Grundig of electronics fame into buying the company. Grundig continued manufacturing office machines marketing them world-wide for many more years. He, however, unceremoniously scrapped the motorcycle arm of the manufacturing concern and did absolutely nothing to stop the massive Japanese and English theft of Adler technology during the mid 1950s. These days there are many Adler Clubs and events surrounding the make. Inveterate fans are forever restoring the machines and there’s even an incredible home built 750-cc 6-cylinder and a 375-cc 3-cylinder Adler being proudly driven by their private builder-engineers.
The English company Ariel stole the plans for the 250-cc twin as early as 1954. They built this model well into the 1960s, making it one of the most successful as well as technically advanced ‘English’ bikes of all times. The Ariel was used for every type of work, from transportation, to delivery services, to hauling things (in a side car & on a trailer). This marvelously elegant, sophisticated machine did everything well, unlike its oil-dripping, forever not starting British counterparts, largely miserable machines which require the owner to be partially masochistic.
In addition, it was this Adler motorcycle, which formed the technical basis for practically all two-stroke multi-cylinder Japanese bikes, such as the Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki during the 1960’s, ‘70’s and even 1980’s. Without them and other German companies such as DKW or NSU (which was robbed blind by Honda), the Japanese would still be building second-rate bicycles.
The city of Frankfurt, never out of money when it comes to supporting utterly useless third-world (unkind people call them ‘turdworlders’, not that I would ever think of such an awful thing to say!) immigrants and paying obscene amounts of blackmail to alleged Holocaust survivors (how can you survive a non-event?), stood idly by while a great, truly creative industrial enterprise disappeared from the scene.
The fact that the German government (and the city of Frankfurt, as well as apparently Max Grundig, an industrial giant in those times) permitted this plunder of ideas, that they did nothing to stop the demise of this genuine industrial gem can only be explained by the probability they were told by the occupying powers not to interfere with ‘Free Market’ forces.
Of course, national masochism, self-hate and utter moral corruption caused by Jewish re-education have laid the foundation for these disasters and are continuing to do so on an ever increasing scale! The death of the German spirit is evidenced (as if anymore evidence were necessary) by the behaviour of ‘’German’’ employees at Hercules when that venerable company was killed off in the early 1990s and they visciously destroyed any and all stock remaining, rather then donating it to a museum, or simply giving the engines to long-term employees as a parting gift.
This company is one of the oldest in Germany. The letters stand for Bayrische Motoren Werke, not because the company is in Munich (capital of Bayern, or Bavaria), but because the founder of the company was named Bayer. The original BMW factory was in the Saxon city of Eisenach with the Munich plant merely supplying parts. During WWI they developed aircraft engines. During WWII they did massive development work on airplane jet engines. In the early 1920s they designed the first boxer-configured motorcycle with drive-shaft, an instant hit with those who could afford it. This design has been kept until this very day.
In the late 1920s they struck a deal with Austin of England and built the Austin-7 in license, calling it ‘’Dixie’’. It was this model which was the first BMW car. Soon thereafter they came out with their own design, a pretty little sports roadster, the BMW 315.
All subsequent cars were extremely sporty, yet elegant, particularly the cabriolet models whose beauty was truly breathtaking. In 1938 they came out with the ‘328’-Roadster, a two-seater which became the standard of the industry. It is the most successful road-racing sports car of all time, winning every race it ever entered, including the Mille Milia of Italy in 1940. It’s engine, transmission and drive-line formed the basis for a large array of cars after WWII, including the arguably best English car of the post-war period, the Bristol-504. The Bristol was designed by Herr Fiedler, chief engineer for pre-war BMW. As an aside, The English (in this case) did not steal the designs, nor did they kidnap Herr Fiedler. It was a (in this case) legitimate, maybe even fair transaction based on pre-war co-operation between BMW and the British company Frazer-Nash which had successfully built the Frazer-Nash-BMW automobile in Britain during the 1930s.
This brings to mind a question – Since Hitler Germany allegedly prohibited co-operation with foreign firms, how did all this happen?
BMW’s motorcycle production was limited to three models, the single-cylinder 250-cc, the boxer-twin of 500-ccs and the one of 750-ccs.
The latter two were more often than not, driven with heavy side-cars (Steib) and were ideally suited to transport a small family plus luggage since they could even be ordered with side-car drive and reverse gear. The 250-cc single cylinder model was suited for side-car usage as well and was seen oftentimes thusly equipped. All models used shaft-drive rather then chain-drive and all engines were of the four stroke variety. Their frames were of press-steel design, a huge step forward in stability and weigh-saving.
These large BMW’s not only dominated pre-war racing in their class, but in the 1950s as well, particularly the very popular Formula One side-car races. There simply existed no match for these machines.
The British tried their level best to steal the engineering plans of the pre-war racing bikes after the war. It is said Norton of England succeeded. This they hotly denied.
The reliability of these motorcycles is legendary. When Fieldmarshall Guderian decided to form a motorcycle-scout unit in 1936, inspired to do so by the Belgian Army which had had such units in the 1920s, he choose BMW and Zündapp (more on that make later) side-car machines, even though the big NSU’s, Victorias, or the monster 800-cc Horex would have served just as well. The only major modifications for military use were the addition of a reverse gear and side-car shaft drive. Those mods were designed and engineered by Zündapp. Steib, side-car manufacturers non-pareil co-designed a new side car for military usage, a design later copied by the Soviets for use in their armed forces.
In the year 1943 they received electrically heated handlebars, finally offering their riders some degree of protection from frost bite. These heated handlebars were designed and built by Triumph-Nürnberg. These bikes subsequently served literally as war-heroes, particular on the Russian front under the most incredibly difficult circumstances. The side car was used as a heavy, anti-aircraft machine gun mount. A trailer hitch was placed between the bike and its side car and the machines were often used as tractors to tow small artillery pieces, including four fully equipped soldiers, all on quasi impassable Russian mud-roads! This with machines of 750-ccs, strictly designed for the civilian market! If I hadn’t seen pictures of these things in old German newsreels, I wouldn’t believe it either!
BMW started to rebuilt as soon as feasible, after 1948 in Munich. They began building fabulous cars based on pre-war designs as well as two models of cycles, the 250-cc and the 500-cc varieties as early as 1949. Later they enlarged the engines to 600-ccs and later still 750-ccs. Today in the year 2004 they produce amongst many models, a one-liter water-cooled 4 cylinder machine and a gorgeous air cooled 900-cc boxer, continuing the tradition started in 1923. Today’s BMW motorcycles (vintage 2004) are indisputably the standard of the world.
During the early 1950s BMW executives saw an Italian Micro-Car designed by Iso Rivolta and obtained the rights to modify and built the ‘car’ at once. They re-designed the machine totally adding their own 250-cc engine (later enlarged to 300-cc) and a host of technical and stylistic innovations.
When it was finished, it was introduced to the world markets and became a tremendous hit. This was the famed BMW Isetta, which formed the basis for the latter BMW Isetta-600, equally revolutionary on all levels, albeit less successful. Both of these ‘Bubble Cars’ had a front-opening door, air-cooled BMW engines and earned fame due to the well known BMW characteristics of quality, originality, performance and reliability. These two Micro-cars saved BMW financially during the difficult times of the late 1950s. They were the most successful of all micro-cars ever produced.
These days one can buy a new (!), albeit lacking in quality, 1958 BMW manufactured in Russia. It's called the URAL and then there is a Chinese bike, the Chan Tian which is a carbon copy of the 1941 (!) BMW RS-600 – built today in 2004! The difference is that the Chinese openly admit their debt to BMW and have even produced a truly gorgeous two-seater side car for an up-graded, modernized version of the bike. The Chan Tian is a gas!
When mentioning ‘DKW’ these days, one is met with a blank stare. Well, once upon a time in the 1930s and again in the 1950s it was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, not to forget its extraordinary cars. It was the primary driving force behind the development of front-wheel drive (today over 90% of all cars have it), the development of plastics usage within the framework of automotive designs (imagine a car today without plastics!), the foremost developers of the two-stroke engine (and one of the very few to use this principal exclusively)
They also pioneered motorcycle electric starting ( a feature of great technical difficulties in the 1930’s) and its products were exported all over the world. The large ‘Ladepumpe’-(the Ladepumpe was the German version of the supercharger) DKW racing bike was always a contender and one of the few to successfully challenge large BMW’s on the world’s racing circuits.
Ewald Kluge, riding a DKW during the English Tourist Trophy race in 1938 (The Pride of Britain, never before having been won by a non-English machine or non-English driver) achieved the most spectacular victory ever recorded in motor racing history, a win by eleven minutes. In comparison - today's winners do so by a few seconds!
The DKW RT-125 is the most copied motorcycle in history. The design was stolen by BSA of England, Harley Davidson of the USA, a dozen or so companies in the former Soviet Block and by Yamaha, which didn’t even bother to hide its theft, but merely replaced the DKW logo with its own.
When the German military was revived by the USA in order to serve its masters in Washington D.C., DKW furnished all courier machines (175-ccs and 250-ccs single cylinder 2-strokes) and designed the Kübelwagen of the 1950s, the Munga, using its 3-cylinder front-wheel drive power plant as a basis. The beauty of the 1955 DKW RT-350 twin is practically unmatched to this day. And all of that is only the tip of the iceberg!
In the very early 1920’s a Danish designer and entrepreneur my the name of J.S. Rasmussen set up shop in Zschopau, Germany. He hired some engineers and went to work building a small steam engine and subsequently a tiny motor. This motor was initially designed as a teaching tool, a toy so to speak, had 18-cc, ¼ hp and featured a host of technical innovations.
It was marketed as ‘Das Kleine Wunder’ (the small miracle) and was so successful that Rasmussen decided to enlarge it and offer it as a bicycle motor. As such it was sold by the untold thousands and formed the financial as well as the technical basis for the factory which was rapidly expanding. By the end of the 1920’s, DKW was mass producing motorcycles and outpacing its competition in sales success. Rasmussen understood the importance of competition success and entered his machines in every reliability or rally event , usually with great success.
He started another company in the middle 1920s called Framo. Initially Framo’s purpose was to built parts, especially electric parts for the mother-company. Thusly, by the end of the 1920s, DKW was largely independent of outside contractors for its parts supply.
Years later GM, Ford and Chrysler of the US followed their example. (GM=Delco, Ford=Philco and Chrysler=Mopar).
Framo also built one of the first Micro-Cars in the world, the Framo 300, a three-wheeler, using a 300-cc DKW 2-stroke motorcycle engine. This little car was highly successful and was sold mostly as a vehicle for tradesmen and deliveries, representing stiff competition for Goliath and Tempo, the latter company which as ‘Tempo-Bajaj’ put India on wheels in the late 1960s. It was during this time frame that the Auto Union was formed – Horch (luxury cars), Audi (high class cars), Wanderer (middle class cars, bicycles and insignificant small motorcycles) and DKW (smaller cars and motorcycles), hence the four rings one sees on the Audi of today.
In 1932, they showed their first car, the DKW Fwd, a car considered by experts to be one of the more significant developments in motor car history. With the advent of the Hitler era, German motor sport and development took a tremendous leap forward, Hitler being an enthusiastic supporter of all motorized things.
The Hitler era saw DKW blossom into the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, one of the major automobile manufacturers in Europe, a real force in international motor sports events and on the export market - in short, a company at the forefront of the industry.
As an aside, during the 1936 season, the rally team of DKW featured a lady-rider –Ilse Thouret – and no one gave her special consideration. She, unlike the frothing-at the-mouth hysterical utterly unfeminine ‘feminist’ of today didn’t need it and would have refused it had it been offered. Not only was Mrs. Thouret a motorcycle racer of the first rank, she was also the coach of the national women’s fencing team, an Olympic class runner and swimmer as well as a multi-lingual, sophisticated lady from the upper classes of society in Hamburg, equally at home in the ball room or on the race track. After the war she and her two daughters formed a motor-scooter racing team which registered considerable success during the early 1950s. She won over 100 First Class prizes in her career, in all the various different disciplines in which she excelled. Compare her with today's militant, uncivilized, howling lesbo-feminists, not to forget those ‘women of color’! How pitiful that bunch is. How pitiful!
During the war DKW produced mostly the NZ-350 single cylinder 2-stroke used as messenger bikes by the Wehrmacht and other, diverse means of transport for the military. After Germany’s military collapse in May 1945, almost the entire factory in Zschopau was disassembled and shipped to the Soviet Union, only to be left to rot somewhere. Before this plunder, the English stole the production line of the RT 125 and gave it to BSA (British Small Arms). They built the bike for about 20 years, later enlarging the engine to 200-cc capacity! The Soviets copied the NZ-350 and the RT 125 for a few years.
Meanwhile in the city of Düsseldorf Auto Union men who had survived the war as well as allied ‘’thumb screw justice’’ went to work re-starting the company. The once magnificent Auto Union had been totally smashed and confiscated, but some pre-war plans of DKW cycles and cars had survived. Within a short time, DKW was again producing extraordinary front-wheel drive automobiles with three-cylinder two stroke engines (originally designed in 1941) as well as motorbikes. The rate of development was breathtaking and by the year 1954, DKW was well on its way to recapture pre-war glory.
• While the Germans were busily rebuilding, redesigning and struggling to again attain a place in the sun, foreigners of all nationalities were engaged in a feeding frenzy of stolen German technology.
The Swedish company Saab (Scania), produced its first car whose engine was a carbon copy of the DKW three-cylinder design of 1941. They built this car well into the 1960s.
They managed to avoid the appearance of impropriety by having hired a pre-war DKW engineer who ‘designed’ the engine for them. One can state without fear of contradiction, that it was the DKW engine which formed the basis for Saab’s subsequent success.
The Swedish thieves weren’t alone - BSA of England has been mentioned already as having been one of the plunderers. Harley Davidson in the USA didn’t want to be left out of the feeding frenzy and built the RT-125 as well, albeit unsuccessfully. The Czechs carbon-copied the RT-250 and called it the Jawa, even though the Jawas quality was lacking (some people can’t even copy something correctly), the Poles built a version of the RT-125, predictably of very poor quality and lacking all reliability. Not only that, they built this copy in the former Stoewer Automobile and Truck Works, a once modern and highly productive company which they had ‘inherited’ including the most up-to-date industrial equipment and plans. Stoewer was one of Europe's premier automobile and truck manufacturers before the war and has since, under Polish ‘’ownership’’ predictably disappeared.
The Japanese had a field day copying everything shamelessly down to the last nut and bolt, one of the first Yamahas being a single cylinder DKW RT-125. They didn’t even bother to hide their industrial theft, copying the machine down to the minutest detail. British Ariel did exactly that with the Adler Twin in 1954, calling the result of their theft ‘Leader’. The Russians didn’t want to be left out in the cold and built the pre-war NZ-350 as well as the RT-125 in various versions. And there’s probably a lot more! Surely this shameless, unchallenged theft of just one company’s technology is unique in the annals of industrial history.
The DKW NZ-350 ended up the most successful 'Russian' motorcycle of all time. They built the machine well into the 1990s, albeit with modern modifications, but never altering the basic design. This information comes from a Russian motorcycle fan by the name of Juri Szadsky from the city of Krasnodor. Juri seems to know of what he speaks. He was a bit upset, that the largest German DKW web site never mentioned any of this.
It is common among the present day masochistic Germans not to mention other nations' debt to German technology - mustn't upset anyone now, must we? They might accuse us of being Nazis! The Germans are the only people in history, who consciously bury their own past, who consciously accuse themselves of things they demonstrably haven't done and who consciously prostrate themselves before those who have murdered and robbed them on a hitherto unknown scale. It is really quite sickening, this disgusting spectacle of revolting German servility. The Russians openly acknowledge their debt to DKW, whereas neither the Japanese nor the British do. They don't even answer any inquiries.
While this massive theft of ideas and patents was taking place, the German government sat idly by, looking the other way. One doesn’t have to wonder who put the handcuffs on them and blackmailed them into not interfering with the ‘Free Market’.
The international community interpreted the word ‘’free’ rather loosely, namely anything German was ‘’free’’. The Soviets went so far as to disassemble entire factories, including light switches, water pipes, anything useful, using German slave laborers at starvation rations.
And of course the Americans kidnapped the entire team of rocket scientists who ended up designing ‘’America’s’’ moon rocket.
In the early 1950s it looked as if DKW would dominate the 350-cc class in international racing with the quickest bike of its class, their three-cylinder machine, nick-named ‘The Singing Saw’, due to its high pitched scream at full throttle.
They were already either winning every race or coming in second in the 250-cc and 125-cc classes and that to another German make, NSU! The 350-cc three-cylinder bike, as advanced as it was, lacked reliability and therefore fell short of its promise. Today, it would be unbeatable. In those days, the quality of the oil was such, that at high temperatures and extremely high revolutions, it would tend to loose its lubricating qualities, certain disaster for any engine. While this machine ran, it outdistanced everyone on the track, no matter which size, alas – that pesky oil problem. In all other endeavors however, they built products superior in quality, reliability and styling including an excellent 8-seater bus, hot competition for the internationally successful VW Kleinbus.
The DKW Hobby – an elegant small scooter featuring a fully automatic transmission (a first), the 4-wheel drive 1950s Kübelwagen, called Munga and arguably the most gorgeous sports roadster of its time, the Auto Union 1000 Sp (Sp meaning ‘Special’, not Sports) were also built. This lovely car was elegance personified and easily on par with the Mercedes Benz 190-SL Roadster, albeit a bit slower.
The government contract for the military ‘Munga’ was unexpectedly cancelled, putting undue strain on the company. Why this contract was cancelled is a mystery, since the Munga had proved its mettle under trying, military circumstances. This plus market forces, caused them financial difficulties and rather then the government stepping in to save the company (as it would have been done in Japan) Mercedes Benz bought the company toward the end of the 1950s.
Mercedes apparently had no interest in the company, which begs the question, if they had no interest why did they buy it? They scrapped the entire enterprise without a thought and one must wonder why? Who was behind this? Not even a feeble attempt was made to keep this once magnificent, time honored, creative and prestigious industrial enterprise alive.
Mercedes has been involved in a number of ‘disappearances’ of diverse German companies, including but not limited to the Borgward Group – makers of numerous types of automobiles and trucks, including many outstanding models, AEG - once the powerhouse of the European electronics industry, time honored motorcycle manufacturer Horex, Hanomag makers of locomotives, tracked vehicles, earth moving machinery par excellence, heavy duty trucks and rock solid middle class automobiles as well as diverse other companies such as Dornier aircraft, the company which designed and built the world's largest airliner, the DO-X so many years ago. What Mercedes touches turns to gold only as long as it is ‘Mercedes’, otherwise it is mysteriously bankrupted.
Today Mercedes invests untold millions in ‘The Sick Man of American Automobile producers’ – Chrysler and its Japanese counterpart Mitsubishi. The financial drain and blood-letting of the German economy that this represents staggers the imagination.
Who is blackmailing Mercedes into doing this? How is it possible that a premier German company is apparently being used to destroy the German economy? How does one explain it? Coincidence? That’s clearly impossible!
Happily, there are DKW fan clubs worldwide these days, even a very active one in South Africa and one in Russia. They literally venerate the make!
This was an honored motorcycle manufacturer going back to the year 1923. It was then, that a Herr Kleemann founded the firm in the picturesque city of Bad Homburg. The name Horex is derived from Ho (Homburg) and Rex (meaning King in Latin).
This town is nestled in the Taunus mountains outside Frankfurt and represents one of the most elegant gambling meccas in Europe. When not in Baden-Baden, Dostojewski came here to gamble away his fortune. His heart-wrenching semi-autobiographical novel The Gambler has its setting here. Anyone who visits Europe without seeing Bad Homburg is missing something!
Herr Kleemann joined forces with venerable engine manufacturer Columbus and started building motorbikes which distinguished themselves by their rock-solid quality and reliability. The model line-up ranged from a simple 250-cc single cylinder four-stroke model to a monster 800-cc twin side-car machine which participated in truly hair raising side-car races in Germany. The firm was almost totally wiped out in the war, but it took them a mere 2 years to introduce a new bike to the market, the 1950 Horex Regina.
What set this machine apart from the rest was its traditional English influenced design. There was nothing revolutionary about it, rather it was evolutionary coupled with high quality and the look and feel of a traditional motorcycle.
The new things Horex incorporated were all improvements, such as tremendously efficient air-cooled brakes and a fully enclosed chain which reduced noise and wear-and-tear to a minimum, not to forget a highly modern front suspension system which gave the Regina an air and feel of luxury. This understandably appealed to folks who wanted something familiar, something they could identify with. Horex built this machine in 250-cc, 350-cc and 400-cc configuration, one model being more successful than the next.
The 350-cc and the 400-cc Regina ended up being the best selling machines in their class worldwide – and this at a time when English BSA’s, AJS’s, Ariels and the like controlled the world markets and German industry lacked any export strategy and was just recovering from the most devastating war in recorded history!
The Horex Regina 400 has been claimed to have been one of the best side-car machine ever. This was an important consideration in those days, since motorcycles were used as amongst other things, family transportation – dad in the driver’s seat, young son behind him, mommy and little daughter in the side car.
Horex came out with a thoroughly modern model, the Imperator but experienced technical difficulties with it. This was a macho two-cylinder 500-cc machine, alas it suffered from teething problems which cost Horex tremendous amounts of money.
This bike never gained the love and affection the Regina universally enjoyed, even after the initial teething problems had been resolved. This machine was sold to American police departments as a ‘’Zündapp’’, when Zündapp ran into delivery difficulties.
• It remains a mystery to this day, how Zündapp (and Horex) let the lucrative contract with American police departments slip out of their hands, into those of the Japanese --- Was this another ‘Free Market coincidence’?
In 1959 Horex, like so many German motorcycle manufacturers, ran into severe financial troubles and was bought by Mercedes, which unceremoniously threw this time-honored old German industrial company onto the scrap heap of history.
Obviously Mercedes had no interest in the company and had bought it only to fulfill its apparent role to destroy German industrial capacity, a terrible, traitorous price to pay in order to be allowed to stay in business internationally.
A Horex cult has in the meantime sprung up, with Horex clubs, Horex Rallies, even Horex Choppers and all sorts of unbelievable variations, such as a Horex with 4 Regina engines coupled in line (!), creating a massive-macho Horex-monster of 1600 air cooled ccs.
A Japanese (of all people!) company is building a macho bike these days, which they call ‘’Horex’’. They could have called it AJS, or Matchless, or Indian , but no – they call it ‘’Horex’’ and are waxing enthusiastically about how the name Horex represents German technology and love of motorcycles! It shows the love people have for this make, so shamelessly abandoned when a little help and re-organization was all that was needed to save it from oblivion.
5. RIEDEL -and His Incredible ‘’Imme’’.
Herr Norbert Riedel was a forward looking engineer, of great individuality raring to go after the restrictions the allied had imposed on Germany had been eased somewhat. Riedel had garnered a lot of experience as an engineer for the firm ‘’Ardie’’ before the war.
While at Ardie, he had designed a highly unusual machine, a 2-stroke V-twin of 500-cc with automatic transmission and shaft drive. This in 1937 when literally no one had ever heard of an automatic transmission, much less a 2-stroke V-twin of 500-cc. In short, this guy was sort of a motorcycle visionary.
He had already in 1947, a time of mass starvation and lack of even the basic necessities of life in Germany, managed to gather around him a small group of dedicated mechanics and engineers who worked for a bowl of hot soup a day, no exaggeration!
They put together Riedel’s version of a modern motorcycle. How he managed to obtain the raw materials to built a working prototype remains a mystery. Suffice it to say, his ideas were decades ahead of their time. This machine lacked a proper frame, it being made up of the gas tank, the engine-transmission unit itself and the rear-wheel chain drive held together by a sort of backbone. The front fork consisted of only one side, as did the rear fork, which was made up of the case within which the chain was running. The rear suspension consisted of a single, centrally mounted spring. The engine-transmission was one, clean unit, looking like a smooth egg. When the rear-wheel went up, the engine went down – the whole unit forming a swing, which meant that the chain was never under any undue strain and unsprung weight was quasi non-existent, resulting in outstanding handling characteristics.
The ‘frame’-characteristics of this machine were to form the technical basis for the entire (no exceptions) Japanese motorcycle industry 50 years later.
In short, the Japanese stole a massive amount of German engine technology, stole Riedel’s frame-less building technique and – VOILA we have Japanese motorcycle technology!
The Imme’s engine was a tiny, high efficiency 100-cc two-stroke design. Unfortunately it lacked proper lubrication if not driven hard. Nevertheless, over 10,000 of the little futuristic machines were sold to mostly very happy owners. The engine wanted to be revved at maximum power – only then did it ‘’feel happy’’. Riedel also designed and produced a beautiful two-cylinder engine of only 150-cc which, like the prototype scooter never saw mass production, since his bank denied him the necessary financing at the very time it was needed most.
Riedel’s company was founded on the ashes of Germany under the most trying circumstances. Sheer will power and the creativity of a true mechanical genius created an up-to-date, totally independent industrial enterprise! This absolutely marvelous company disappeared when a little financial help was all that was needed to save it. I wonder which government agency called his bank and told them to cease and desist. He later on designed some fabulous bikes for Victoria – more on that make later. Riedel died in a skiing accident some years after his company had ceased to exist.
This was the best known German make in the USA, building MotoCross machines which played a major role in American MotoCross racing well into the 1980s, even though the passenger bikes disappeared in the beginning 1960s. I believe it is still possible to purchase Maico MotoCross machines, even though I am not certain. The glory days of the company are certainly long gone. During the very early 1930s the company was formed in Swabia by a Herr Maisch, hence the name Mai – Co.
The company did not gain any prominence until after the war, when they re-started production, building a motorscooter of unusual individuality. This scooter featured a fully enclosed body, even a luggage compartment.
It’s design served as the inspiration of the large Japanese scooters which made their appearance 45 years later. It was highly efficient in terms of protecting the rider from inclement weather, reliability and roadholding. Swabian quality was legendary. This scooter was essentially a two-wheeled car.
Aside from the scooter they built thoroughly modern 175-cc and 250-cc two-stroke machines which gained world-wide acceptance due to their attractiveness, reliability and quality. It wasn’t until the middle 1950s however that they really hit their stride, designing and producing the possibly most gorgeous and futuristic bike of all time, the Maico Taifun and the Maico 500 micro-car. The Taifun employed an aircooled 400-cc two-stroke twin. This engine was characterized by a high power output coupled with rock-solid reliability. All of this was nestled in a completely enclosed elegant body. The chain was running in a hermetically sealed box and an oil-bath making it impervious to wear and tear and reducing the noise of the bike to a pleasant, civilized level. The only criticism ever levelled at this machine was that the seating position was apparently uncomfortable for some riders.
This machine represented the ultimate in modern technology, coupled with an uncommon elegance usually reserved for expensive automobiles of the upper stratosphere. That a small company like Maico was able to develop such a gem and produce it successfully is amazing. What is even more amazing is that at the same time they developed up-to-date 175- and 250-cc machines which were sold successfully as far away as South America.
Simultaneously they, developed, built and marketed a micro-car which, if built today 50 years later, would still be competitive on the international markets. This little car was attractively styled, featured comfortable seats and lugagge space for 4 adults and was built to a very high standard of quality and performance. It sported a two-cylinder 450-cc water-cooled two-stroke engine designed by the former aircraft manufacturer Heinkel and performed quasi on the level of the VW ''Bug''. Maico rightfully had big plans for this little car and even had a beautiful two-seater roadster designed in Switzerland, the Maico 500 Sport. In my view this little car belongs to the aesthetically most pleasing designs of the past 50 years and somebody ought to built it today!
The problem with these little transportation gems was the cost of production. Just as a heavy side-car motorcycle is as costly (or even more so) to produce than a smaller middle size car, so it was with these micro-cars. They cost as much to built as a full-fledged VW. Coupled with that disavantage was the financial power VW had attained by 1954. VW simply out-advertised and out-marketed the Micro Car competition. With todays computer and robot technology, a car such as the Maico 500 could be built at the cost level of a Suzuki Maruti or such and therefore would be very competitive on the market place.
Maico began building 400-cc single cylinder Moto Cross racing bikes with which they achieved considerable success in that sporting activity in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, but disappeared as a force on the market, their revolutionary and beautiful motorcycles having ceased to exist by 1960 after the company filed for bankruptcy. This is the more strange when considering that Maico had an iron clad contract with the Bundeswehr to produce 250-cc courier machines.
The bankruptcy is somewhat of a mystery and it has been suggested that the owners of the company were guilty of fraud, something I personally doubt since it is totally out of character. Someone who builds an advanced, successful technological enterprise out of the ashes of a devastating war, doesn’t end up embezzling funds. The two activities appear to me to be mutually exclusive.
This is one of the oldest German industrial enterprises, going back some 100 years. Initially NSU built bicycles and industrial machinery. During WW-1 they developed a 750-cc machine with an air-cooled V-twin engine and rear-wheel suspension!
This feature I’ve never seen on any other cycle of those times and NSU might very well be the first one to have designed such a thing.
- cont. Newsletter No 259.
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