Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
Our today’s visit to the German old-timer museum in the Bavarian Amarang – a little exciting stop-over on the way back to Berlin – reminded us of a comment somebody made over a century ago about one of the first big German car-makers. And the car maker being from Berlin, it is worth recalling on our page.
When the 63-year-old Emil Rathenau, the father of the world-famous AEG company and once biggest competitor for another Berlin heavyweight, Siemens, decided to start automobile production, the reactions ranged from disbelief, through mild confusion to direct expressions of “Schadenfreunde”. Automobiles were considered to be poor, future-less investment.
Undaunted, together with his son Walther – the then AEG director – in 1901 Emil Rathenau refurbished one of the AEG engineering workshops in Berlin-Oberschöneweide and registered a new, car-making company named Neue Automobil-Gesellschaft or NAG. In 1915 the patriotic streak in the Rathenaus and the world war Germany was heavily involved in caused the industrialist to re-name it Nationale Automobile-Gesellschaft instead.
The resentment his new business venture awoke was at its clearest in the comments like the following.
“Rathenau is not what he used to be. Lucidity seems to fail him. He’s gushing about the automobile and its future, sees all streets swarming with automobiles and horses unharnessed from their carts and ploughs.
In short, he is coming apart.”
Well, judging by the look of it, he was not so befuddled after all:)
Below, a gorgeous original NGA automobile from 1907 (carrying a historic Berlin car-plate) at the German Automobile Museum in Amarang, Bavaria (image by notmsparker).