Eisenach PDF Print E-mail
Written by BMWVMCA NEWS   
Saturday, 09 March 2013


     There is some speculation that the Soviets stripped the BMW factory at Eisenach shortly after occupying the Eastern Zone of Germany. There seems to be enough evidence (if reliable) to refute this notion.

     The following is reprinted from our previous issue of the News, V4N1 January 1st, 2007.

     Two sources on EMW were found on the internet. The sources agree on dates and information. They were written by Wolfgang Schuenke and E.Breindl-Grope.


     It seems that the Eisenach factory was about 60 - 70% destroyed by the allied bombing.


     Eisenach was captured by the American forces, and not turned over to the Soviets until July 1945.


     On July 3rd, the Soviet commander, Marshall Zhukov determined that his forces needed motor vehicles and ordered that the Eisenach plant resume production and demanded 3000 cars and motorcycles be produced per year.


     Production began in October or November (depending on which source you read) and by year's end, they had turned out ten R35s.


     The following year they produced approximately 1300 R35s.


     On September 15, 1946, the factory was reorganized and now known as the  Eisenacher Motoren Werke.


     Another source tells us that, “At this time, the Eisenacher BMW works was renamed Sowjetische AG Maschinenbau Awtowelo, Werk BMW Eisenach.


     In 1947 they produced approximately 2500 R35s.


     By 1949, the year the DDR (German Democratic Republic) was founded, the EMW factory was producing 4000 R35s per year.


     Also, in 1949, BMW headquartered in Munich filed their lawsuit.


     Finally in 1951, the EMW plant ceased using the BMW name and logo. All further bikes now came off the assembly line with the new red and white EMW roundel on both sides of the tank.  By this time, the factory was churning out 25,000 units per year.


      BMW in Munich had not yet won their suit against EMW.


      The R35 was in fact built by a company reorganized in September 1946 as EMW.


     The following is copied directly from the BMW Archives website and sent in by our member Bruce Frey:

     “After the war, the R35 saw something of a renaissance when production was restarted in Eisenach from remaining stock. Over 80,000 of the post-war BMW or EMW (Eisenach Motor Works) R35 and the follow-up R35/3 models (with rear suspension) were produced by 1955. Some two-thirds of these motorcycles remained in their country of origin and were used in particular for state authorities’ fleets.

      The largest proportion of exports was to the Soviet Union and to the neighboring Eastern Block countries. Some 5,000 bikes were delivered to Western Europe as a means of generating foreign exchange, but of these only seven remained in West Germany. If production in Munich and Eisenach is added together, some 100,000 motorcycles were produced between 1937 and 1955. This would make the R 35 the most successful model in BMW's motorcycle history.”

     Postwar production of the EMW R35 is reported to be as follows:

1945 = 200 001 till 200 221

1946 = 200 222 till 201 500

1947 = 201 501 till 204 000

1948 = 204 001 till 206 500

1949 = 206 501 till 210 500

1950 = 210 501 till 215 000

1951 = 215 001 till 226 000 

     EMW R35/2, second Series: Made only in beginning 1952, ±8,000 units 1952 = 226 001 till 234 000.


     EMW R35/3 made later in 1952 till 1956, ±56,000 units:

1952 = 234 001 till 240 800

1953 = 240 801 till 259 000

1954 = 259 001 till 272 200

1955 = 272 201 till 289 950

1956 = 289 951 till 292 000

      In total ±90,000 units were made after 1945 until 1956. 

      Another unnamed source tells us that, “In 1952, the Soviet owners handed the company over to the German Democratic Republic, and it became a state-owned company.”


      The figures showing numbers of R35s built at Eisenach up until 1956 (and don’t forget the AWO Simson built afterward) reveals that not all the machinery was removed by the Soviets and more than likely none was removed.

      Today the remaining building standing is in disrepair and void of machinery, evidence only that someone removed it.

      German Reunification in 1990 rung the death knell for the Eisenach works, primarily because they could not compete with the more technologically advance firms in western Germany. By April 1991, the factory closed their doors.

      Many workers found employment at a nearby Opel factory that opened in 1992.

      Consider that any firm that when shut down has remaining assets, which include in the case of the Eisenach BMW factory,used machinery with scrap value. Remember that the machinery left there at war’s end was at least five years old, and quite valuable at that time, but worn out by 1991, only worth a few Pfennigs on the pound.

      Today, there is a small museum in one part of the remaining building. They have a fine display of the products made at the factory, which include original DIXI automobiles, BMW motorcycles, and beautiful BMW automobiles. 

Dackel Photo. Museum building can be seen at right inside the grounds.


       Photo below shows some of the other products made at the Eisenach works which include kitchen utensils and as seen in the photo, a small wheeled cart of which they made 3939 pieces in the first quarter of 1946 valued at RM185,920.80 (Reichmarks). 

Chris Betjemann made this photo in the museum while on a recent tour.

      Other items made were cook tops, knives, forks, spoons and kitchen ladles. 

Outside display showing double knee deep stamping mill. Chris Betjemann Photo.

      Thanks to Chris Betjemann for contributing to this article.



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