Werner von Siemens
Werner von Siemens
During his lifetime, Werner von Siemens contributed as an entrepreneur, inventor, and technician to making the world change more profoundly than ever before. The founder of today's Siemens AG , born in 1816 , grew up when industry was on the rise. As steam engines and railroads became more widespread, an epoch of heretofore unparalleled technological innovations began. As a pioneer of electrical engineering, Werner von Siemens helped to found a sector without which our modern world would be inconceivable. Other inventors at that time also used new knowledge in the natural sciences about the principles of electricity, but only a few recognized the economic potential of this new technology so successfully, and only a few industrialists were also active on the international stage so early on.
Today, Werner von Siemens is more famous than almost any other German entrepreneur from the early industrial age. This is due not only to the fact that the company he founded counts among the great brands in the electrical engineering industry, but also to his achievements as an inventor, a founder of professional associations, and a promoter. Already shortly after his death, as the "father of electrical engineering" he had become an icon of a national culture of memory that valued scientific and technological achievements above entrepreneurial ones. This image began to fade in the last few decades, along with public interest in Werner von Siemens. Only heads of the Siemens Corporate Archives or the Siemens Forum have written noteworthy biographies of him in the last 70 years.[ 1 ]
Nonetheless, taking up the study of Werner von Siemens today is exceptionally rewarding if one examines his life story in all its complexities and without trying to glorify him. Along the lines of current approaches to historical research, the present biography offers a complete picture of his personality, including information about his family, business, and social spheres, for the first time.[ 2 ] Alongside the entrepreneur and inventor, Werner von Siemens the citizen, the husband, the brother, the family father and neighbor, but also the parliamentarian, the association chairman, and the member of the Akademie der Wissenschaften [Academy of Sciences] will also be described. In order to clarify the temporal contexts, this biography is divided into chapters for the individual phases of his life, and these, as much as possible, are comprised of sections on various spheres of activity.
One focus, which can be regarded as a key to Werner von Siemens' biography, is his exceptionally important relationship with his siblings. He always saw himself as part of a league of siblings. This is especially true of his close relationship with his brothers Wilhelm (William) and Carl, who can be regarded as his most important life companions. The two of them also shaped the development of the companies Siemens & Halske and Siemens Brothers in which they took part. Private and business matters went hand in hand in the relationship between the brothers Werner, William, and Carl. Their loyalty to one another was an important factor in their business success and decisively influenced Werner von Siemens' ideas of what a family company should be.
The close ties between the brothers have not previously been systematically explored in any Werner von Siemens biography. When the national economist Richard Ehrenberg wrote the first history of the Siemens firms in 1906 , he was still aware that it was about "undertakings of the Siemens brothers."[ 3 ] Later, this connection was pushed to the background. Only more recently was it rediscovered by Martin Lutz in his biography of Carl von Siemens. Lutz's biography, at the same time, presents a new image of the brothers by placing their work in the context of ni