Junkers, Hugo, born on 03-02-1859 in a small town named Rheydt near Mönchengladbach,
the same town where Josef Goebbels
was born. He was the third of seven sons of Louise
and Heinrich Junker. Father Heinrich was the owner of a small textile company in Rheydt, which ensured that the family had a good financial backing. In 1867, at the age of ten he attended the Junior High School. His mother died, two years later, when Hugo Junkers was ten years old, in 1869. Six years later his father re-married a Louise Pfaff, so bringing back a woman into an all male family. Hugo finished school in 1874, and then moved to a school at Barmen in 1875. Three years later at the age of nineteen he finished his education. Over the next five years he studied engineering at the University of Berlin , moving to several other major universities before qualifying as a mechanical engineer in 1883. After a short spell as technical manager at his father’s textile company at Rheydt, he returned to Aachen for additional studies in electrical engineering.
Parallel to these studies he took other jobs at several Aachen mechanical companies until 1885. In November 1887 his father Heinrich Junkers died in a gas accident, when ventilation ducts in the gas lines did not close completely and leaking gases poisoned him. The textile company of the Junkers family was then taken over by his eldest brother. Hugo returned to Berlin in 1887 to concentrate in the field of electro-mechanics plus some economical trade lectures at the Research Institute of Professor Adolf Slaby.
Slaby died age 63, on 06-04-1913. At this time he was also involved in technological questions regarding gas engines. A year later Wilhelm von Oechelhauser
of the German Continental Gasworks in Dessau was looking for a young engineer, who would be able to further the development of the gas engine. Oechelhaeuser asked Prof. Slaby if he knew of an appropriate candidate for that job and Prof. Slaby recommended Hugo Junkers, at the age of twenty-nine. Junkers tried to improve the performance of gas engines, based on an Oechelhauser idea, but after one year the results showed, that these techniques would not be suitable for large-scale gas engines, as Oechelhauser had hoped. Oechelhauser died age 80 on 25-09-1902 in his estate Villa „Belmonte“ near Niederwalluf. Therefore these approaches were abandoned and Junkers left the DCG in late 1889. Together with his three assistants Junkers continued the research for an improved gas engine. But it took until 1892, when the first useful Double-Piston Gas Engine Model VI with a power of 100PS was ready. Junkers and Oechelhaeuser protected their gas engine with a patent on the 08-07-1892. This was the first patent out of a larger number of patents, which were assigned to Junkers. At the age of 39 in 1898 Junkers married 22-year-old Therese Ida Sidone Bennhold
at Dessau. Their first child Hertha
was born in January 1899 followed by a further 11 children. Annelise Junkers;
Werner Junkers; Ruth Junkers;
and 6 more. Junkers became the head of the Machine Laboratories of the Technical High School, along with the family in Aachen until the early 1920’s.
Already in 1914 Hugo Junkers developed ideas about a commercial utilization of aircraft, when he designed an aircraft for four passengers. However, these early ideas were secondary as the construction of the first all metal aircraft was prior.
Junkers (centre) with W 33 pilots Johann Risztics (left) and Wilhelm Zimmermann (right), celebrating a world record of 65 h 25 m non-stop flight at Dessau, July 1928.
In 1928, Hugo Junkers also traveled to the United States. His purpose was two-fold: first, he wanted to greet the aviators who had just made the first successful east-west transatlantic flight in the “Bremen,” and, second, he wanted to visit Henry Ford‘s
Detroit factories. .
Research on a larger 200 PS gas engine Model VII was already under construction, when Junkers and Oechelhaeuser separated on 17-04-1893. The team was then split, with Wagener remaining with Oechelhaeuser at DCG. Lynen became private assistant to Prof. Slaby in Berlin, while Emil Wergien remained with Junkers. The Junkers F.13
from 1919 was the first of several successful civil aircraft designs of Junkers Flugzeugwerke
including the Junkers Ju 52/3m from 1932. Through a variety of business initiatives Junkers was also active in founding and developing airlines around the globe initially aiming to sell its aircraft. Airlines where Junkers played a pivotal role in early phases of their development include Deutsche Luft Hansa and Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano. However, several business ventures failed from wider economic or political problems that hamstrung sound engineering plans. But Junkers always had more ideas: the massive four engined G.38, nicknamed “Der Grosse Dessauer”,
delivered to Luft Hansa made no commercial trips for many months as he repeatedly recalled it to the factory for improvements. Junkers was a socialist and a pacifist. For these reasons, he had several occasions to cross swords with German leadership. In 1917 the government forced him into partnership with Anthony Fokker
to ensure wartime production targets would be met. During the 1920s in Germany and among Junkers’ employees a wide spectrum of political views was present. About every aspect of the business, and of its environment, there were differing opinions. For members of all the many groups represented in Junkers, aviation offered hope for national renewal. Their varied views led to lively internal corporate politics. In 1926, unable to make government loan repayments after a failed venture to build planes for the USSR, he lost control of most of his businesses. In 1933 the new Nazi government interfered and on taking power,
immediately demanded ownership of Junkers’ patents and control of his remaining companies.
Death and burial ground of Junkers, Hugo.
Under threat of imprisonment he eventually acquiesced, to little avail; a year later he was under house arrest; a year after that he was dead on his birthday 05-02-1935, age 76. Junkers is buried on the Waldfriedhof of Münich. Officially the Nazi Government tried to hide the struggle between Junkers and the officials. Officially it was announced, that Hugo Junkers retreated from the company as he personally preferred to provide more time for his personal researches. When Junkers died, Goering and Milch
advised a State Funeral. The Mourning Speeches were held by Pastor Werner, Otto Mader
and the president of the Reichsgericht Dr. Walter Simons Rudolf Hess
represented the Nazi Government at the funeral.
The possible story is that the German Jewish Field Marshal Erhard Milch sent police to arrest Junkers. He was accused of many offenses, including even treason. Armed with the terrible power of the totalitarian state, Milch broke Junkers. The end of the interrogations came only when Junkers assigned 51 per cent of his various companies to the state. This was not good enough for Milch. He then demanded and got, chairmanship of the companies for his own nominees. Still not satisfied, Milch put the ailing old man under house arrest, until he gave the state the remainder of his shares. Less than six months afterwords, Hugo Junkers died. Milch sent a delegation of mourners from the air ministry, with a suitably inscribed wreath.This so angered the Junkers family that the men from the ministry returned to Berlin without attending the ceremony, rather than face their wrath.”
On this cemetery are also buried the next personalities, Generalmajor der Infanterie, Kommandeur Wehrmacht Operaties Staff, Ernst Detleffsen, Oberst der Wehrmacht,Highest German Commander on D-Day, Normandy, Ernst Goth, Goering’s second wife, Emmy Goering-Sonneman, Generalmajor der Flieger, Commander of the Air Defend Division, Max Ibel, Generalmajor der Flieger, Kommandeur Luftregio Truppe 3, Ernst Weber, and the famous film maker Leni Riefenstahl. “Triumpf of the Will” , the film chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg.
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