August Horch German engineer and automobile pioneer, the founder of the manufacturing firm that would become Audi, died aged 82 years

Saturday 3rd February 1951

August Horch German engineer and automobile pioneer, the founder of the manufacturing firm that would become Audi, died aged 82 years.

Horch was born in Winningen, Rhenish Prussia. His initial trade was as a blacksmith, and then was educated at Hochschule Mittweida (Mittweida Technical College). After receiving a degree in engineering, he worked in shipbuilding. Horch worked for Karl Benz from 1896, before founding A. Horch & Co. in November 1899, in Ehrenfeld, Cologne, Germany.

The first Horch automobile was built in 1901. The company moved to Reichenbach in 1902 and Zwickau in 1904. Horch left the company in 1909 after a dispute, and set up in competition in Zwickau. His new firm was initially called Horch Automobil-Werke GmbH, but following a legal dispute over the Horch name, he decided to make another automobile company. (The court decided that Horch was a registered trademark on behalf of August Horch’s former partners and August Horch was not entitled to use it any more). Consequently, Horch named his new company Audi Automobilwerke GmbH in 1910, Audi being the Latinization of Horch.

Horch left Audi in 1920 and went to Berlin and took various jobs. He published his autobiography, I Built Cars (Ich Baute Autos) in 1937. He also served on the board of Auto Union, the successor to Audi Automobilwerke GmbH. He was an honorary citizen of Zwickau and had a street named for his Audi cars in both Zwickau and his birthplace Winningen. He was made an honorary professor at Braunschweig University of Technology.

After the war, there were left-wing circles who vilified August Horch, claiming he was a Nazi, and argued that his honorary citizenship of the city of Zwickau should be withdrawn. Horch was not a member of the Nazi party, nor did he have influence on the production of armaments, so the City Council did not comply with the request. In early July 1945, Horch moved to Upper Franconia, where he and his housekeeper and foster daughter Else Kolmar first found an accommodation in Helmbrechts and three months later in Münchberg. The wife of Horch wife died on March 26, 1946, at a nursing home in Berlin, a few days later his son Eberhard. In the summer of 1948, Horch and Else Kolmar, who came from a Jewish family, married.

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