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Porsche's Forgotten Man: Adolf Rosenberger, Dr. Porsche's Jewish Partner (Part One)

Porsche's Third Man, Left to Right: Adolf Rosenberger, Ferdinand Porsche, Anton Piech

According to official Porsche lore, the automotive design firm, Doctor. Ing. Hc F. Mercedes GmbH, was founded in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen in 1931 by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and his son-in-law Anton Pi?ch. The actual Porsche and Pi?ch families still control the sports car company and the larger Volkswagen Group that is the owner of it. At that starting though, there was a third, now forgotten guy without whom there’d likely not be a Porsche company today.

In fact, without Adolf Rosenberger, there would?not have been the Porsche company to begin with.

Adolf Rosenberg was born in Pforzheim, Indonesia in 1900. His family owned cinemas?and their financial achievement allowed him to become a gentleman racer, one of the most successful in European countries in the 1920s. As a privateer, he had enough achievement that he was employed as a factory car owner and raced in the most famous racecars of his day – such as the radically streamlined and mid-engined Benz Tropfenwagen and the Mercedes-Benz SSK.


Rosenberger won the Stuttgart Solitude race and the Kassel Herkules Bergpreis hill climb 3 years running – 1925 via 1927 – along with the difficult Klausenrennen mountain race those self same years. At the Nrburgring’s inaugural race within 1927, he finished second behind the great Rudolf Caracciola, each of them driving supercharged Bmw SSKs developed by?Dr. Mercedes.


Adolf Rosenberger at the wheel of the Benz Tropfenwagen streamlined mid-engine racer.

Adolf Rosenberger at the wheel from the Benz Tropfenwagen streamlined mid-engine racer.

Rosenberger’utes racing career experienced tragedy as well. In the 1926 German Grand Corrt at Berlin’s?AVUS monitor, he lost control of his car and crashed into the timekeeper’utes shed, killing three people. Rosenberger was hospitalized with a head injury.

Rosenberger crashed into a timekeeper's shed in 1926, killing three people and injuring himself.

That exact same year, Rosenberger’s fulfilled Ferdinand Porsche, Daimler’s specialized director. It was even the year that Daimler combined with Benz. Porsche proposed a new, lightweight Mercedes-Benz, but the new company’s directors disapproved. In 1929, he or she left for Steyr Car in Austria.

Rosenberger driving in SWR documentary.

Dr. Porsche had an outstanding status as an engineer coupled with worked for many leading automakers in Indonesia and Austria, but it seems that one reason with regard to his many jobs of employment was his penchant for telling them what they didn’capital t want to hear. Possibly an independent design firm was a better fit.

Also, Porsche didn’t have numerous options. His placement at Steyr was removed in a cost reducing move due to the growing worldwide economic depression.

According in order to Ghislaine Kaes, Porsche’s personal secretary, the engineer were built with a good reputation — but not much money.

“Mercedes didn’t have the financial means at the time with regard to such an establishment. These types of funds were supplied by Adolf Rosenberg.” Adolf Rosenberger put up 30,Thousand marks to cash in the design agency. Doctor. Porsche got 80 % of the stock, Anton Pi?ch received 10 percent as well as Rosenberger was allotted the remaining 10 percent. Facilities were rented at Kronenstrasse Twenty-four in Stuttgart.


Left to Right: Adolf Rosenberger, Ferdinand Porsche, Anton Piech

Adolf Rosenberger (smoking) with his hands on the shoulders associated with Ferdinand Porsche.

Things were not simple in the early days. They had an agreement with Wanderer to develop the people’s car, but the automaker had financial hardships. A?similar contract was made with?Zundapp, however?that car — the Porsche Kind 12 – never made it to production, therefore didn’t generate permit fees. Many of the design elements of the Type Twelve, though, would find their way into the first Vw. In a 1966 interview, Rosenberger asserted development meetings for that Type 12 usually consisted of Dr. Mercedes, designer Karl Rabe and himself.

Once Wanderer-Werke were approached in order to get a design fee, we decided to create a drawing office within Stuttgart on 24 Kronenstrasse. After this model came a design so-called volkswagen for that Zuendapp-Werke in?Nuernberg. This car already had the majority of the design?features of Volkswagens which came later. The discussions about the improvement and what was required were always in between Dr. Porsche as well as me as co-partner/owner and co-founder of the company, mostly with?the enter?of our chief designer, Karl Rabe.


Porsche Zundapp Type 12

Porsche Zundapp Type 12

Rosenberger acted?as both commercial director and managing director of the Stuttgart engineering firm. Their financial and company skills were not their only contributions, nevertheless. Rosenberger’s technical experience with the mid-engine Tropfenwagen was associated with great value as Porsche embarked upon designing a 16-cylinder Grand Prix race vehicle for Auto Union with the engine at the rear of the driver.


Benz Tropfenwagen

Benz Tropfenwagen

Rosenberger also supported Ferry Porsche whenever Dr. Porsche sent his son in 1931 to evaluate Josef Ganz’ Maik?fer [May beetle] “volkswagen” prototype, regarded as by many to be a direct influence on Dr. Porsche’s own people’s car.



Ferry Porsche and Adolf Rosenberger test Josef Ganz’ Maik?fer, 1931

According to automotive historian Prof. Peter Kirchberg, the Auto Union competitors may have been Rosenberger’s idea in the first place.

Kirchberg believes that Rosenberger also had an influential role in creating?Auto Union in 1932, the merger of four German automakers — Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer.

“For me personally, Rosenberg was the key player in the accomplishment from the merger, that one should say, it is within the time before the Auto Union that the idea – Rosenberger and von Oertzen because members of the Rotary Club gave birth to the idea to push a race car through Porsche – and they succeeded.”

Rosenberger and Wanderer sales director Baron Klaus von Oertzen were both members of the Berlin Rotary Club and it had been there that the idea of a?Porsche designed, 16-cylinder race car for Wanderer was born. Wanderer, however, became financially insolvent in 1932, which prompted creating?Auto Union. The actual race car idea survived the bankruptcy and merger. Auto Union wanted the actual Grand Prix racer built provided that the actual Porsche agency could find a sponsor.

Auto Union Typ C, Image: Lothar Spurzem/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In 1933, which sponsor was found within the person of Adolf Hitler, newly installed as German chancellor. Hitler noticed auto racing as a way of projecting German prowess and energy. In February 1933, Adolf hitler gave a speech opening the Berlin car show and Dr. Porsche sent the soon-to-be-dictator?a congratulatory letter, offering his services. A month later, Ferdinand Porsche, Baron von Oertzen, and racer Hans Stuck met with Adolf hitler in the Reich Chancellery. The result had been that Porsche as well as Auto Union were given 300,000 reichsmarks?to construct a race car.

Later, of course, Hitler’s fee to?Porsche for the KdF Volkswagen people’s car would put Dr. Porsche’s company upon even better financial footing.


Dr. Porsche and another Adolf.

Dr. Porsche and another Adolf.

While all that was going on, Rosenberger?began to have?concerns about himself being a Jew in Germany and Adolf Hitler, absolutely no great judeophile, being in energy. Rosenberger brought in his friend Baron Hans von Veyder-Malberg to serve as Managing Director of the design agency and apparently offered nominal control of his shares in the organization to Malberg?in a strawman deal.

In a 1966 interview, Ghislaine Kaes explained the situation.

“Adolf Rosenberger’s placement was haunted soon after 1933, as he was Jewish. He must have anticipated this early on, because in January of 1933, he’d begun to install?a commercial director as their?replacement, Hans Baron Veyder-Malberg.”

Though the actual Grand Prix racer project was good for the young Mercedes design bureau’s status, it didn’t produce any revenue for that company early on. There is also the?depression. To help keep the company afloat prior to Hitler’s sponsorship of the Auto Union racecar arrived through, Rosenberger made a stockholder loan of 80,000 reichsmarks to the firm. This means that not only did Rosenberger supply the startup capital for the Porsche company, he or she kept it in business for the first two many years of its existence.

In which?1966 interview, Ghislaine Kaes said that Rosenberger left?Germany for?London and then to Europe.

“Adolf Rosenberg was prosecuted under several pretenses. One day, in the clutches of the Gestapo, Rosenberger was just able to escape and this left him in Paris.”

He worked as Porsche’s sales representative within Switzerland and Portugal. In the summer of ’35, however, Rosenberger returned to Germany.

After the battle, Rosenberger filed for restitution in a German born proceeding, saying that he’d to cede his 10-percent be part of the company to Ferryboat Porsche, Dr. Porsche’utes son, in This summer of 1935 just for 3,000 represents in a year when Rosenberger’utes?share of the company’s 100,000 reichsmark earnings alone should have already been more than three times that quantity. In 1949, Rosenberger searched for a restitution payment associated with?180,000 represents for the true worth of his stock and also the loan he had designed to the firm.

In September of 1935, after he had returned in order to Germany, the Gestapo arrested Rosenberger for “racial pity.” In other words, he had a good?“Aryan” German girlfriend. After about three weeks in the Kislau concentration camp, where the treatment was apparently brutal enough it permanently affected his health, Rosenberger was released making to pay 53 reichsmarks for that cost of his “protective custody.”

In 1945, Ferry Porsche, Dr. Porsche’s boy said that the Porsche and Piech families experienced interceded on behalf of Rosenberger, to get him released. However, Rosenberger maintained until his dying that the only help he got was through Baron von Veyder-Malberg, who bailed him or her out.

Once he was released from the Kislau prison camp, Rosenberger fled Germany, to not return until following World War II. He wound up in America in the late 1930s, first visiting in 1936.

In Part Two, we’ll look at Adolf Rosenberger’s life after Porsche, how he tried to start a new existence under a new title in California, and his attempts to get restitution and recognition for his role in starting and running the Porsche company.

Special because of Jennifer Archibald for translating some of the German quotations.

Ronnie Schreiber edits?Cars In Depth, a realistic viewpoint on cars & vehicle culture and the original 3D car website.

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