Dear Motorcycle Lovers,
dear guests of our motorcycle town Zschopau,
I would be delighted to welcome you at the exhibition "Motorcycle Dreams" in the historical building of Wildeck Castle. Our town, once birthplace and stronghold of the manufacture of motorcycles in Germany, is proud to present you with such a beautiful and representative part of the history of the two-stroke engine production.
Nobody could imagine what the future would bring to this place and which masterpieces would be developed, when Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen founded his engineering factory in the Dischau valley in 1907:
1915 the construction of a steam-driven car under the label of DKW (German: Dampfkraftwagen, lit. steam-driven car), the two-stroke engine for toys "The Boy's Desire" in 1918 and its development into the motor-supported bicycle "The Small Wonder".
The factory had its finest hour in 1922, when the first two-stroke engine was produced. It was the beginning of a tradition of a car which is more than a vehicle to its owners, rather it is a philosophy and a passion connecting its followers.
The output of 60.000 bikes in 1929 or 92.000 in 1975 had the factory grow temporarily to the biggest motorcycle factory in the world. Furthermore, the motorcycles were also well-known for their success in several sport events which reached its height with the victories of the Six-Day-Races 1963-67/ 1969 and 1987.
A selection of different exhibits offers interested visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the motorcycle and all the people connected to it who are said to have "petrol" in their veins.
By now, many things have changed and the factory does not exist any longer. Nonetheless, even today many people closely connect the town and the development of motorcycles. Today, MZ (German: Motorradwerk Zschopau, lit. Motorcycle Factory Zschopau) made its own history. Thus, I think it is tremendously important that this tradition is kept alive in our region with all those people still being keen on motorsports.
At this point, I also want to take the chance and say thank you to all those people who contributed to the success of this "dream-like" exhibition with their engagement, ideas and their loan of objects.
Mayor of Zschopau
1906 until 1921 Setup of Rasmussen's factory - The Prestage of the Motorcycle Factory
|1906||Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen (1878 - 1964) purchases an abandoned clothing factory on behalf of the company Rasmussen & Ernst in the Dischau valley in Zschopau. Valves, household and workshop devices as well as vehicle accessories are produced. 20 employees.|
|1912||Re-naming into “Engine Factory J.S. Rasmussen Zschopau Corporation”. Foundation of the "Elitewerke Plc." in Brand-Erbisdorf (a small car manufacturing company) together with the owner of the “Presto” factories in Chemnitz.|
|1914-1918||Production of detonator capsules and grenade detonators. Modification of the factory, electronic operations start. Rise of the number of employees from 40 to 450, amongst them many women.|
|1916||Development of a steam-driven car with the support of Rasmussen's fellow countryman engineer Matthießen.|
|1919||Production of two-stroke toy engines constructed by the engineer Hugo Ruppe: “The Boy's Desire”. Foundation of a small engine distribution service in Berlin.|
|1920||Development of bike engines with 1 horsepower by Rupper: “The Small Wonder”, which went into serial production in 1921. Re-naming into “Engine Factory J.S. Rasmussen Zschopau”.|
|1921-1922||Building of the DKW "armchair motorcycles" (German: Sesselmotorräder) Golem and Lomos. Hermann Weber is hired as manager of the construction department, Blau becomes technical manager. Due to the employment of former soldiers, the number of employees rises to 600.|
|1921||The drivers of DKW vehicles gain the first three places on serial models on the 800 km long "Reichsfahrt" from Berlin to Heidelberg .|
1922 until 1931 Expansion to “DKW Group”.
The actual manufacturing of motorcycles in Zschopau starts with the "Reichfahrtsmodell". Dr. Carl Hahn becomes manager of marketing and sales.
|1923||Foundation of the “Motocycle Factory J.S. Rasmussen Plc.” in Zschopau. DKW's success from the "Reichsfahrten" in 1922 and 1923 are repeated. The designer of the successful motorcycles, Hermann Weber himself demonstrates the performance of the machines. With him, Hans Sprung, Hans Winkler, Kurt Friedrich and Richard Blau represent DKW successfully.|
With the model "SM" the technical basis for a one of a kind development of the then motorcycle construction is made. The technicians responsible for the customer support are given an instruction course for the first time. Ceremonial opening of the administration building.
|1926||Profound change of the production line: For the first time, a motorcycle is manufactured at a mechanically driven assembly line. It is the model E 206. The abandoned "Moll" factories in Scharfenstein are bought. Production of the first DKW two-cylinder motorcycle and a trial car.|
Purchase of the "Rickenbacker Engine Productions" in Detroit / U.S. leading to a failure.
Acquisition of the stock majority of the Schütthoff Plc. Chemnitz. Purchase of the iron foundry in Erla and the complete block of stock of the Audi Factories Plc. in Zwickau. The DKW group becomes the biggest motorcycle factory in the world.
Daily output: up to 300 motorcycles and 350 engines.
Establishment of the DKW settlement in Zschopau.
Extension of the factory with branches in Annaberg, Chemnitz, Erla, Frankenberg, Marienberg, Scharfenstein, Spandau, Wilischthal, Zöblitz and Zwickau.
Building of the automobile P15 on the basis on the water-cooled two cylinder motorcycle engine of the model DKW Z 500.
The world economic crisis leads to a decrease in the sales of DKW, too: 36.000 motorcycles. 1932 - 11.000 motorcycles. Partial compensation of the losses by offering various other products, such as automobiles, motorcycles, refrigerators, stationary engines and car accessories.
Mass dismissal of employees: only 850 are left.
|1931||Start of the serial production of the front wheel driven compact car DKW F1 (front) at the Audi Factory in Zwickau which was supposed to boost sales.
However, loss at the 31. October in 1931: 3.92 million Reichsmark.
1932 until 1945 Auto Union plc. – Factory DKW
From 01.01.1932 the factories of Audi, Horch and DKW merge into the Auto Union Corp. Additional purchase of the automobile department of the "Wanderer" factories Chemnitz. With factory sites in Berlin-Spandau (wooden bodywork manufacturing), Siegmar (automobile manufacturing), Zschopau (engine and motorcycle manufacturing) and Zwickau (automobile manufacturing) employing 4.500 workers in all factories, a huge German vehicle group has been developed. The different sites and customer support services are combined under that name Auto Union Branches Ltd.
The engineer Herbert Venediger is promoted manager of the development and testing department in Zschopau. With the acqusition of the exclusive license of Schnuerle Porting procedure, DKW has the foundation for a new generation of two-stroke engines.
|1933||The rise of sales leads to the recruitment of new employees.1.699 people work at the factories in Zschopau and Rota, 9.300 motorcycles are produced.|
Rasmussen is dismissed from the main board without previous notice or adherence to a time limit on 31.12.1932. The board was founded by Rasmussen himself, Dr. Richard Bruhn (Saxonian State Bank) and the Duke of Oerthen (Wanderer factories).
William Werber (Horch) inherits Rasmussen's position in the main board. The administration and different departments of Auto Union are transferred from Zschopau to Chemnitz.
Due to the effort to reach self-reliance by the nationalist socialist Four-Year-Plan and the therfore resulting lack of foreign exchange, major problems within the delivery lines occur - a lack of motorcycle tyres. This leads to temporary short-term work.
43.581 DKW bikes are registered in Germany (34,6%).
The export of DKW motorcycles rises from 11.367 to 15.170 in the year 1938.
The number of employees of the Auto Union rises to 22.673. The output in export amounts to 38 million Reichsmark.
Start of the construction of a new workers’ settlement for DKW on an area called "Zschopenberg" - "Neue Heimat" (lit. new home). Ewald Kluge wins the German and European Championship on a DKW rotary slide 250 cc machine.
4.316 (3.935 workers and members of staff + 381 trainees) are employed at DKW.
Due to the call-up, the number of employees decreases to 4.100. The by Herman Weber newly constructed RT 125 leads into a new era of motorcycle manufacturing. It replaces the RT 100.
The production of the RT 100, which used to be the most sold DKW motorcycle, stops in favour of the RT125 and the NZ 355.
The sales of the Auto Union Plc. are boosted from 260 million Reichsmark in 1939 to 392 million Reichsmark by war productions. The CEOs Dr. Bruhn and Werner are important leaders of war production and the arms industry.
|1942||Only 7.000 DKW motorcycles leave the factory. Instead, the production of parts for aircraft engines rises. Increasing numbers of war prisoners and workers from the countries occupied by the Germans are forced to work in the factory. Out of this reason, barracks are built and former inns are turned into temporary homes.|
|1943||The sales of Auto Union rises to 540 million Reichsmark. The profit is used to rise the equity capital to 30 million Reichsmark.|
|1944||The sales of the Auto Union reaches its peak with 740.25 million Reichsmark. The profit is used for the purchase of shares and shareholdings with multiple companies in Germany or in the occupied countries. The number of employees rises to 3.800. Amongst them, 893 so-called foreign workers and, from autumn on, 500 women and girls from Auschwitz - as part of a work force from the concentration camp in Flossenberg.|
Fortunately, the factory is not bombed by the allied air forces. However, the DKW residential area is hit badly including several deaths.
1945 until 1950 Dismantling and New Beginning in Zschopau
On demand of the Soviet occupation force, the dismantling of the DKW factory starts on the 3rd of July. The whole assembly of machines are packed up and transported to the Soviet Union. The controlled detonation of the factory building can be averted by some previous employees and the support of the mayor Heinz Seidel after negotiations with the Soviet administration. A group of engineers around Herman Weber, Heydenreich and Schmidt are brought to the factories in Ishewsk to build up the machines again. They return in 1948. Hermann Weber dies in Ishewsk.
24th September: a group of workers and members of staff founds the "Maschinenbaugenossenschaft (DKW) e.G.m.b.H Zschopau" (lit. Machine Building Cooperation (DKW) plc. Zschopau). With the help of 39 outdated machines, kitchen and bee-keeping devices, oven racks and tools, especially for the production of firewood, are manufactured. A manufacturing site near the railway station repairs damaged train waggons.
Number of employees at the end of October: 150
|1946||In spring, the factory is instructed by the Soviet Administration to produce all spare parts for the whole DKW programme. The manufacturing takes place in four factories. The engineers Bang, Bergauer, Prüssing and others, overall 70 people, are busy with new motorcycle constructions and model building. Until August, 632 engines E 203 are produced under the cover of repairs. During the autumn fair in Leipzig, stationary DKW engines are exhibited. After a public referendum in Saxony, Auto Union is dispossessed. With the 1st of July, the DKW factory becomes part of the “Industrial Administration for Vehicle Construction” with the company name "IFA-WErk DKW, Grießbach, Post Wilischthal" (lit.: IFA= Industrieverband Fahrzeugbau, Industrial Cooperation for Vehicle Construction).|
|1947||The factories 1 and 2 of the Metal Industries Ltd. ("Blauwerke"), which were also dispossessed after a public referendum, become part of the DKW factory by the order of the industrial administration no. 19. Due to the enlargement of the facilities, there are rising problems concerning the mechanical equipment, unprocessed materials and in finance. Development of the lightweight motorcycle L60, which is dismissed as faulty design. A 250 cc machine with a two cylinder flat engine and a drive shaft is constructed in the Soviet construction office.|
|1948||The resumption of the production of the RT 125 is prepared. Following the monetary reform, the situation concerning the mechanical equipment of the DKW factory improves slowly.|
05.09. The Soviet Administration office decides that the motorcycle factory in Zschopau is allowed to produce motorcycles again. Exhibition of three RT 125 motorcycles at the spring fair in Leipzig.
1950 until 1990 A Second Start after WWII until the German Reunification
27th March - Opening of the IFA education centre in the former main factory building in Zschopau. In the course of the year, the production departments from Wilischthal return to Zschopau and take up the production in halls 6, 7, 13, 14 and 15. All in all, 1.700 RT 125 are produced.
12th June - Foundation of the company's sports club "BSG Motor Zschopau" with Albin Henning as its leader. For the first time, 110 RT 125 are exported to the Netherlands, another 150 go to Norway. Trial models of the BK 350. A third place is gained with an RT 125 in the German Street Racing Championship.
Erhart Krumpholz succeeds as top rider within several races with his RT 125. From the 1st of October, the company name of DKW is prohibited.
Start of the production of the BK 350 (two cylinder, two-stroke flat engine with an universal joint, 15 horsepower) - initial series.
|1953||The education centre is connected with the main factory. Establishment of a racing department under the direction of Walter Kaaden and the riders Erhard Krumpholz, Horst Fügner, Siegfried Haase and later on Bernhard Petruschke. Four victories are gained in the 125 cc class by Fügner, Haase and Kaden.|
A fully automatic assembly line for the production of half casings starts to operate. Construction of an improved RT 125/1.
9.06. Rudolf Meixner (GDR Motorcycle Cross Country Champion) has a fatal accident in Isny/ Allgäu.
The model RT125/2 is introduced on the market at the beginning of the year. The company name "MZ" short for "Motorcycle Factory Zschopau” is also introduced. A huge serial production of the ES 250 starts in June, followed by the ES 175 and the sidecar vehicle E 300 in December. Installation of new assembly lines for engine and tyre production, as well a conveyer belt running through all departments. The installation of running-in testing benches replaces the running-in of engines on the streets.
The education centre moves to the site at Waldkirchner Straße. 304 trainees are educated in jobs working with metal and another 124 receive business management training. The number of employees has been raised to 3.000 workers and members of staff in the factory.
Improvement of the 125 cc MZ to the model RT 125/3 and RT 125/4. With the beginning of the year 1959, the foundry in Annaberg is taken over.
The production of the BK 350 ends. Overall, 41.000 BK 350 were manufactured of which 6.000 were exported. Of the 35.000 sold in the GDR, only 4.000 were constructed with the possibility to attach side car.
|1960||The MZ racing department is established in Hohndorf. Again, the riders of the MZ street racing machines gain 17 victories: seven by Degner, six by Hans Fischer and three by Werner Musiol who also wins the GDR championship in the 250 cc class. Klaus Halster wins the GDR championship in the 125 cc class. The MZ cross country successes include 4 class victories and 30 gold medals.|
01.10. Opening of the two-stroke engine motorcycle museum at Augustusburg castle which was highly supported by the customer support manager Rudolf Hiller.
The manufacture of the model RT 125 comes to an end at the beginning of the year. In twelve years 310.800 bikes were produced of which 64.000 were exported. It is replaced by the model ES 125/150. The ES 175/1 is constructed with a stronger engine.
|1963||The installation of mechanical polishing devices ends the manual production in the polishing department. The installation of an automatic phosphating system and an assembly line with an electrostatic finishing and infrared drying cabin follows.
The nine victories of the street racing team are gained by the members Enderlein, Fischer, Musiol, Szabo and Mike Hailwood. The winning of the trophy at the International Six-Days Race in Spindlerruv/CSSR by the GDR national team - all members of MZ - with Werner Salevsky, Peter Uhlig, Bernd Uhlmann, Horst Lohr, Hans Weber and Günter Baumann is the beginning of a one of a kind success series and followed by five more victories.
1964 Erfurt - with the same team as in 1963
The most important - among 18 other - victories is the one by Alan Shepherd at World Championship run in Daytona/USA. Two more talented riders join the MZ factory racing team: Heinz Rosner and Dieter Krumphol
After a new production site in Mühlbach (from 1963), a storage building in Niederau becomes part of MZ. The motorcycle factory Zschopau reaches its highest yearly output of motorcycles: 90.000 - ES 125 - 44.000, ES 175 - 15.000, ES 250 - 31.000.
W. Salevsky wins the Alpine Race for the third time after 1961 and 1962.
Peter Uhlig, Bernd Uhlmann and Karlheinz Wagner succeed all in the different European Cups.
|1968||Peter Uhlig on a MZ 175 and Werner Salevsky on a MZ 250 become European champions in cross country racing.|
|1969||Serial production of the improved models ES 125/1 and 150/1. With the same engines as the ES models, the ETS models are produced with an additional new kind of motorcycle forks. With the beginning of the production of the MZ ETS 250, the replacement of the MZ full lever types commences.|
21.06. The millionth MZ motorcycle since 1950, a EZS 250 Trophy Sport, is finished.
|1971||Fred Willamowski becomes European Champion in the 350 cc class. The MZ team gains the third place at the Six-Days Race. The export of motorcycles reaches 50 percent. Customers in 65 different countries buy the motorcycles made in Zschopau.|
The formerly private factories Fa. Grünert, Hetzdorf and Fa. Stoye, Leipzig become part of the motorcycle factory.
|1973||Beginning of the serial production of the model TS 150.|
The MZ team gains a brilliant second place at the international Six-Day race. Frank Schubert wins the European Cup in the 250 cc class as runners up for the third time after 1971 and 1972.
|1975||From 1971 until 1975, 410.000 MZ motorcycles are produced. In 1975, 92.000 bikes are manufactures of which 45.000 are exported.|
|1976||An improved TS 250/1 with a five-speed transmission is produced.|
|1977||The models ES 125/150 is not produced any longer after 15 years. With 340.500 bikes, the model ES 150 and ES 150/1 is the model with the highest production number of the motorcycle factory in Zschopau.|
|1978||The branches in Gornau and Brand-Erbisdorf become part of the motorcycle factory in Zschopau. Manfred Jäger becomes the European Champion on an MZ 500/G.|
|1981||The serial production of the ETZ 250 starts in April and replaces the TS series which has been built for eight years. The engine of the model has a strength 21 horsepower. This is the beginning of the complete renewal in MZ’s range of products. A first production building is put into service at the new location in Hohndorf. In the years 1981, 1983 and 1984 Jens Scheffler and in 1983, 1984 and 1985 Harald Sturm become European champions in their respective classes.|
|1982||83.000 motorcycles are produced, of which 58.000 are exported in non-socialist economic areas, 14.000 bikes are sent into countries belonging to the council for mutual economic support and only 11.000 are left for sale in the GDR.|
07.07. The two millionth MZ motorcycles leaves the factory.
|1985||From 1973 until 1985, 326.000 bikes of the model TS 150 are produced all in all.|
Despite of not working to the full capacity, 300 machines leave the factory in Zschopau on a daily basis. The shortage of materials and workers are the reasons why higher output numbers cannot be reached.
With the beginning of the production in the new factory building in Zschopau and the start of the operation of the heating house, the new location in Hohndorf is further expanded.
|1989||At the 35th "Around the MZ town Zschopau", Uwe Weber wins the overall ranking before Harald STurm. At the end of the year, the test runs of the four-stroke machines start.|
05.03. The meeting of trusted people (German: Vertrauensleutevollversammlung) comments on the situation of MZ. The management hopes to keep the jobs of their 3.200 employees and to be able to produce 70.000 motorcycles. However, due to the upcoming monetary reform and the inclusion into the capitalistic economic system, difficulties in sales and thus in the safeguarding of jobs are expected. (However, nobody knew what came instead.) The MZ education centre has its 50th anniversary. Thousands of workers had been trained there. Polytechnic lessons have been taught for 30 years.
09.07. After the monetary reform, the "Treuhand" (lit.: escrow) starts the privatization of the former public owned companies.
01.09. The transformation of the company into a private limited company which is controlled by a single associate of the escrow.
1991 until 1997 Liquidation of the Motorcycle Factory Zschopau - New Beginning as MuZ and MZ-B
Only 1950 employees are left at the motorcycle factory.
At times, 250 employees. The company's administration moves into the new production and administration building in Hohndorf.
|1994||In February, the last motorcycle, a "Saxon Sportstar" 125 cc leaves the factory in Zschopau. At this point, 72 years of motorcycle manufacturing in the Dischau valley ends. From now on the models "Skorpion", “Saxon Country", Saxon Sportstar", "Saxon Tour" and the scooter "Charly" are manufactured in Hohndorf.|
The factory is in danger, again. All two-stroke models (except the 125 cc "Sportstar") are sold to Turkey.
The company "MZ-B Vehicle Ltd." moves into the abandoned building in Zschopau. They start with the production of the "RT 125 Classic", the "Horex Chopper Imperator 125" and the "Horex Regent".
|1997||MuZ produces the models "Country" and "Tour" only on demand. However, a varied selection is offered by the production of the models "Traveller", "Replica", "Tour", and "Sport" from the series Skorpion 660. They all contain a four-stroke engine. Later, the new Enduro "Baghira" and the fun bike "Mastiff" are serially produced.|
|1998||On the 9th September, the "MZ-B vehicle Ltd" declares to be insolvent.|
|1999||The new RT 125 with a four stroke engine is presented in October. MuZ is renamed into MZ.|
|2000||Start of the serial production of the RT 125 in March. Thus, a in Zschopau developed four-stroke engine is applied for the first time. A study on the MZ 1000 S is presented on the "Intermot" in Munich in September. Above that, the new models MZ 125 SM and MZ 125 SX is presented to the public.|
|2001||The production of the models 125 SM and 125 SX starts.|
|2002||The ten thousandth electrical scooter "Charly" is produced.|