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BMW - Camillo Castiglioni (2)

Austrian National Library

Part 1

Very important was another connection to Germany, Castiglioni still started to the days of working together with Lohner, namely, the association with the Hansa- and Brandenburgischen Flugzeugwerken (aircraft factories) in 1915. Thus Castigioni convinced the aircraft designer Ernst Heinkel finally to enter his company. He would probably can be sure whose admiration forever.

The war was the first important base for Castiglioni's immense wealth, the was later to calculate not in millions but in billions of Kronen. He would not be the first or the last industrialist, who had particularly well deserved of orders of the military. The war, and especially its impending loss may bring us closer to the foundation of the Bayrische Motorenwerke (Bavarian Motor Works).

As its date of establishment is called the year 1916, but this actually applies to the founding of the Bayrische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Aircraft Factories), by the way again a connection to an automotive pioneer. This time it was none other than Nikolaus August Otto, whose son had founded this company. The BMW company should make some more use of of this connection ...

But actually, the date is also not quite true. Because this existed only partially as a casing, while the company Rapp resulted in the BMW GmbH in 1917 and in the BMW AG in 1918. By the way, these companies had not the least to do with the production of vehicles, whether two-or four-wheeled. Only by the licensed production of Austro-Daimler engines of the comparatively small firm Rapp, one could have seen such a connection.

No, it initially was only about aircrafts as already announced the BMW propeller. More specifically to their engines. A man should be mentioned here, the as adjutant of Castiglioni also had a decisive role in its formation. This is the Austrian navy officer Franz Josef Popp, who was actually sent to the company Rapp to monitor the license production.

Popp initially had plenty to do, to combat his disappointment with the small and poorly organized company, but then decided to bring the company forward probably with the help of Castigioni. He created with the help of Max Friz, the came from Daimler in Stuttgart, the production line for a completely new high-altitude engine and whose order also and especially by the German military.

But the company BMW that was actually still not, because despite all the successes the engine was too late. Thus, although the company had some budget, the following post-war period was uncertain. Since initially new scopes of duties lacked, it ends in the acquisition by the Knorr-Bremsen AG, which could generate enough orders of the Reichsbahn (railroad), with its newly developed air brake system.

But first of all you have now again to highlight Castiglioni situation in the aftermath of the war. The had become Italians in 1919, and thus so to speak overnight from loser to winner of the First World War. His enormous profits from the war, he had transferred in time and enlarged by several, probably even higher speculative profits during the after the war following bitter period of inflation.

As his additional field of activity he had chosen Germany. It was his friendship with the German magnates Hugo Stinnes and the involvement of both in Austrian heavy industry that made him slowly to an 'Austrian Stinnes'. This is an lasting relationship up to the death of Stinnes. Castiglioni, shareholder at BMW since 1918, but still owned capital which was seeking investment.

In this situation, he decided to make a bold move. From the sale of BMW AG Knorr he solved all the not the pneumatic brake concerning operating ranges and also saved the name of the company. Since the new company was called indeed Bayrische Motorenwerke, but was led as a successor of the Bayrische Flugzeugwerke, the date 1916 continued as the founding date of BMW.

What could produce the new company? Since the war ended the company was no longer allowed to build aircraft engines, at the best hidden abroad, as also happened. This foundation was already courageous, albeit clever, because all other shareholders quitted the company, including MAN and Zündapp because they see no future. It should not be the last time that BMW so to speak resurrected from the dead.

Now is the time to talk about Castiglioni's involvement in the automotive industry. In Austria were founded the Puch-Werke just before the turn of the century that had acquired a reputation via bicycles also with cars. Then there was the Fiat company whose assembly plant had increased into a veritable production independence over the years.

While Puch in times of crisis slid into financial difficulties in 1907, the Fiat company lost during the war the contact to its parent company the was attributed to the enemy. Thereby these companies earned a lot by business with armaments. They were merged under the control of Camillo Castiglioni as head of the Deposit Bank and his group with Austro-Daimler, where he also played an important role. 06/13

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Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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