Bernd Rosemeyer

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Bernd Rosemeyer after his victory at the Vanderbilt Cup in 1937

Bernd Rosemeyer (born October 14, 1909 in Lingen (Ems) ; † January 28, 1938 on the Reichsautobahn Frankfurt – Darmstadt near Mörfelden-Walldorf ) was a German motorcycle and automobile racing driver . He became European Grand Prix Champion in 1936 and was one of the most famous and successful German racing drivers during the Nazi era .


Origin and private life

Elly Beinhorn and Bernd Rosemeyer at their wedding (1936)

Bernd Rosemeyer grew up in Lingen in a small family of Catholic manufacturers that was very open-minded and open to the world . His uncle Josef Rosemeyer took part in the Olympic Games in Athens as a cyclist in 1896 , while Bishop Wilhelm Berning from Osnabrück was a cousin of his father. Rosemeyer received training in his father's workshop and quickly made a name for himself with his cabinet pieces on motorcycles .

Bernd Rosemeyer was married to Elly Beinhorn , a famous and successful aviator at the time, on July 13, 1936 , and had a son with her - Bernd Rosemeyer jr. who later became a sports doctor and advised the ADAC on traffic medicine. Bernd Rosemeyer was close friends with the Italian Grand Prix racing driver Tazio Nuvolari .


Bernd Rosemeyer in the Auto Union Type C at the Nürburgring in 1937

From 1930 Rosemeyer drove motorcycle races for NSU and DKW . In 1934 he took part in a major automobile sport event for the first time, the 2000 km through Germany with start and finish in Baden-Baden .

In 1935 he finally switched to automobiles and became a works driver at Auto Union AG, Chemnitz . Their racing car department was located at the Horch plant in Zwickau . Although the 16-cylinder - mid-engine - racing cars was considered difficult to control, so he celebrated on 29 September 1935 on the Masaryk Circuit in Brno his first victory. In 1936, after a series of victories, he became European champion: In addition to three Grands Prix in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, he won the Eifel race, the Coppa Acerbo in Pescara and two mountain races (Schauinsland, Feldberg).

Rosemeyer's career as a racing driver was strongly shaped by the National Socialists' efforts to make up the technical deficit after the First World War with an enormous investment of monetary resources . Hitler personally campaigned for the running of the ailing auto industry to be boosted with 500,000 and 300,000 Reichsmarks.

As a result, the drivers of the cars from Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz, which were technically superior due to the national funding program, dominated the racing program.

On October 25, 1937, Rosemeyer first reached a speed of 400 km / h on a public road . After a flying start , Rosemeyer drove an Auto-Union streamlined car of the type C through the one-kilometer-long and specially prepared measuring section on the newly built and purpose-built Reichsautobahn Frankfurt - Darmstadt at a speed of exactly 406.32 km / h.


Grave of Bernd Rosemeyer and Elly Beinhorn at the Dahlem forest cemetery

On January 28, 1938, Rudolf Caracciola reached the record mark of 432.692 km / h average speed on the Frankfurt – Darmstadt autobahn (a section of today's A5 ) and back (outward journey towards Darmstadt 428.571 km / h, return towards Frankfurt 436.893 km / h). This is the highest speed ever driven on a public road. Arrived at the end point, where Rosemeyer was ready to start, he warned him of the gusts of wind on the road. Shortly afterwards, Rosemeyer also got into his car, an Auto Union Type R (record car), in order to regain the record. Behind the Langen-Mörfelden motorway slip road in the direction of Darmstadt (Rosemeyer had just driven the kilometer measurement section at a speed of 429.491 km / h), the vehicle came to a forest clearing, probably due to a gust of wind, to the left on the central greening of the motorway. The car turned sideways and rolled over several times, with Rosemeyer being thrown out of the car into the forest. He was dead on the spot.

His grave of honor is located in the Dahlem forest cemetery in Dept. 11 Fam.St.-4a.

Relationship to National Socialism

In 1933 Rosemeyer was the only one of the top German racing drivers to join the SS without being forced to. During the time of National Socialism, the rulers stylized him as a folk hero, one of the first “pop stars of the Nazi era”. Adolf Hitler gave the speech at his funeral and said of his death: “It is painful for all of us to know that one of the very best and most courageous of these pioneers of the international reputation of German engine and automobile manufacture, Bernd Rosemeyer, had to give up his young life . "

Before he married Elly Beinhorn, Rosemeyer had to submit a marriage application, in whose questionnaire he stated that he would join the SS in 1932.

Victor Klemperer wrote in the introduction to LTI - Notebook of a Philologist (Lingua Tertii Imperii) about Rosemeyer in 1946 : “The most memorable and most common image of heroism was provided by the racing driver in the mid-thirties: after his death, Bernd Rosemeyer was almost on a par with him for a while Horst Wessel before the eyes of the people's fantasy. ”Although he appeared publicly in SA uniforms, Rosemeyer was not an SA member like Wessel, but an SS Hauptsturmführer . He achieved this rank, which corresponds to that of a captain in the Wehrmacht , through promotions after racing victories. There is no evidence that Rosemeyer did any active service within the SS. Nevertheless, his successes in national and international races were used by the National Socialists for propaganda purposes. After research by the local historian Horst Heinrich Bechtluft, he probably joined the SS in order to be able to realize his career aspiration as a full-time racing driver in this organization, which is considered to be elitist; membership in the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK) would have sufficed for this. Elly Beinhorn contradicted this representation in a 1993 ZDF interview: Rosemeyer suddenly became a member of the Motor SS after the local Lingen motorsport club was brought into line.

Rosemeyer appeared repeatedly in public, for example at award ceremonies and receptions, with swastika insignia. In a picture from August 1933 he is the only member of the driver corps to wear a swastika armband.

The circumstances of his death were exploited by Nazi propaganda through a pompous, heroic staging.



After his death Elly Rosemeyer-Beinhorn wrote the previously planned biography Mein Mann, der Rennfahrer. The life path of Bernd Rosemeyer , which was published in 1938 with 77 illustrations. “Everything essential in your life was heroic and large-scale,” she wrote in the foreword. Letters of condolence from Hitler and other Nazi figures are printed in the book, which has sold over 200,000 times.

Memorial on the A5

A memorial for Bernd Rosemeyer was erected next to the Darmstadt carriageway on the A5 , south of the Langen / Mörfelden junction at the level of the accident site at the time . From the Bornbruch-West rest area (Rosemeyer rest area until 2015 ), it is about 70 m south on a dirt path to the memorial. The exact coordinates of the memorial are: 49 ° 58 '25.0 "  N , 008 ° 36' 11.0"  O . The memorial consists of a wooden plaque and a memorial stone . ! 549.9736115508.6030565

Motorway parking spaces on the A 5

There are two motorway parking spaces near the memorial and on the opposite lane on the A5 , both of which were called Rosemeyer rest area . In 2014 and 2015, the motorway parking lots were renamed to Rastplatz Bornbruch-Ost and Rastplatz Bornbruch-West . Although the renaming by Hessen Mobil was justified by a guideline of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure for the uniform naming of "unmanaged rest areas with landscape-related names", there were public speculations that Rosemeyer's SS membership was the actual reason for the renaming.

Street names

The Bahnhofstrasse in Lingen , where the racing driver grew up, was renamed "Bernd-Rosemeyer-Strasse" by the NSDAP district leader and mayor Erich Plesse after his death in 1938 .

In Berlin-Nikolassee , the 218-meter-long Rosemeyerweg between the Grunewald , the Wannsee outdoor pools and the Nikolassee S-Bahn station and the 70-meter-long Rosemeyersteg , which runs over the A 115 / AVUS , have been named after him since 1965.

In Dortmund there is the Rosemeyerstraße near the A40 and in other places such as in the Ricklingen district of Hanover there is a street with the same name.

Design study from Audi

In 2000, Audi dedicated a design study to the racing driver that bears his name. The look of the Audi Rosemeyer - also known as the Audi Project Rosemeyer - is reminiscent of the success of Auto Union with works driver Bernd Rosemeyer.

Bernd Rosemeyer Museum in Lingen

The entrepreneur Heinrich Liesen has been striving to set up a museum in Rosemeyer's hometown since 2017 . In advance, there was a critical discussion of Rosemeyer's role in the Third Reich and how this topic could be treated appropriately in the museum. After massive criticism, the concept of a Bernd Rosemeyer and Elly Beinhorn Museum , which deviated from the original plan of a museum only for Bernd Rosemeyer, was finally presented to the public in November 2018 .

According to curator and historian Bernd Walter, the around 200 square meters of exhibition space in the museum are divided into three thematic areas: The first area is to deal with Rosemeyer's youth and training, his first successes as a motorcycle racer and his relationship to National Socialism with the associated historical context. The second area deals with Rosemeyer as a successful racing car and record driver of Auto Union, his associated rise to the sport idol and his marriage to Elly Beinhorn. The third area deals with his accidental death and the myth of Rosemeyer.

The opening of the museum has been postponed several times. It is expected to open at the end of 2020.

Events of the motorsport club Bernd Rosemeyer

In 1964 the Motorsport Club Bernd Rosemeyer eV was founded in Lingen . The association organizes various racing events such as the Bernd Rosemeyer Memorial Rides and the Big Bernd Rosemeyer Oldtimer Classic Tours .



Race wins
year class machine run route
1932 500 cc NSU Schleizer triangle race Schleizer triangle
1933 1000 cc NSU Schleizer triangle race Schleizer triangle
1934 500 cc DKW Marienberg triangle race Marienberg triangle
500 cc DKW Schleizer triangle race Schleizer triangle

Automobile sport

Pre-war grands prix results
season team dare 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th Points position
1935 Auto Union AG Auto Union Type B Flag of Monaco.svg Flag of France.svg Flag of Belgium (civil) .svg Flag of Germany (1933–1935) .svg Flag of Switzerland within 2to3.svg Flag of Italy (1861-1946) .svg Flag of the Second Spanish Republic.svg 39 7th
DNF 4th 3 DNF 5
1936 Auto Union AG Auto Union Type C Flag of Monaco.svg Flag of Germany (1935–1945) .svg Flag of Switzerland within 2to3.svg Flag of Italy (1861-1946) .svg 10 European champion
DNF 1 1 1
1937 Auto Union AG Auto Union Type C Flag of Belgium (civil) .svg Flag of Germany (1935–1945) .svg Flag of Monaco.svg Flag of Switzerland within 2to3.svg Flag of Italy (1861-1946) .svg 28 7th
colour meaning EM points
gold victory 1
silver 2nd place 2
bronze 3rd place 3
green Classified, covered more than 75% of the race distance 4th
blue not entitled to points, covered between 50% and 75% of the race distance 5
violet not eligible for points, covered between 25% and 50% of the race distance 6th
red not eligible for points, covered less than 25% of the race distance 7th
colour abbreviation meaning EM points
black DSQ disqualified 8th
White DNS did not start
DNA did not arrive
other P / bold Pole position
SR / italic Fastest race lap
DNF Race not finished (did not finish)
Race wins
year dare run route
1935 Auto Union Type B Czechoslovakian Grand Prix Masaryk ring
1936 Auto Union Type C Eifel race Nürburgring
Grand Prix of Germany Nürburgring Nordschleife
Swiss Grand Prix Bremgarten
Italian Grand Prix Autodromo di Milano
Coppa Acerbo Circuito di Pescara
Great Mountain Prize of Germany Schauinsland route near Freiburg im Breisgau
1937 Auto Union Type C Eifel race Nürburgring
Coppa Acerbo Circuito di Pescara
Vanderbilt Cup Roosevelt Raceway
Donington Grand Prix Donington Park


  • German victories in three continents. Director: Ulrich Bigalke , 95 min., Germany 1937.
  • Death in January - Bernd Rosemeyer and fame. Director: Reinhard Koch, 45 min. Germany 1980s ( online on YouTube ).
  • In the footsteps of a racing driver idol. Director: Wolfgang Jansen, 25:37 min., Germany 1990 ( online on YouTube).
  • Hitler's racing battles - How the Silver Arrows learned to win. Director: Eberhard Reuß, 45 min., Germany 2009 ( online on YouTube).


  • Cesare De Agostini: Rosemeyer. L'asso invincibile. G. Nada Editore, Vimodrone 2009, ISBN 978-88-7911-475-2 (Italian).
  • Horst Heinrich Bechtluft: Bernd Rosemeyer and the SS. Attempt to approach a historical taboo in Lingen. In: Study Society for Emsland Regional History (Ed.): Emsland History. Volume 15. Haselünne 2008, ISSN  0947-8582 , pp. 11-54.
  • Elly Beinhorn : Bernd Rosemeyer: My husband, the racing driver. Herbig, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-7766-2598-1 .
  • Elly Beinhorn, Chris Nixon: Rosemeyer! A new biography. Transport Bookman, Isleworth 1986, ISBN 0-85184-046-9 (English).
  • Uwe Day: Gender difference using the example of the racing driver Bernd Rosemeyer and the aviator Elly Beinhorn. In: Uwe Day: Myth ex machina. Media construct "Silver Arrow" as a mass-cultural icon of Nazi modernization. (= Dissertation at the University of Bremen). Braunschweig 2004, pp. 232-249 ( PDF ).
  • Uwe Day: The “dream couple” Bernd Rosemeyer and Elly Beinhorn. In: Uwe Day: Silver Arrow and Swastika - Motor Racing in National Socialism. Bebra-Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 978-3-937233-27-7 , pp. 172-173.
  • Christoph Frilling : The pilot and the racing driver - Elly Beinhorn and Bernd Rosemeyer on a tightrope walk under National Socialism. Verlag W. Dietrich, Reinhardtsgrimma 2009, ISBN 978-3-933500-10-6 .
  • Christoph Frilling: Elly Beinhorn and Bernd Rosemeyer - small border traffic between resistance and companionship in National Socialism. Studies on the habitus and language of prominent followers. Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-631-58836-9 .
  • Christoph Frilling: Himmler's racing driver - Bernd Rosemeyer, the SS-Hauptsturmführer from Lingen. Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2017, ISBN 978-3-631-73371-4 .
  • Frank O. Hrachowy: Steely romanticism - racing car drivers and National Socialist modernism. 2nd Edition. Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2008, ISBN 978-3-8370-1249-1 .
  • Peter Kirchberg (Ed.): Bernd Rosemeyer - Die Schicksalsfahrt. Delius Klasing Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-7688-2505-4 .
  • Peter Kirchberg: Auto Union Grand Prix Report 1934–1939. Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-87943-876-5 .
  • Hans Langenfeld: Bernd Rosemeyer from Lingen, a star of the "brown thirties". In: Yearbook / Lower Saxony Institute for Sports History Hoya. Volume 10. Hanover 2008, pp. 242-262.
  • Steffen Ottinger: DKW Motorradsport 1920–1939 - From the first victories of the Zschopau two-stroke model in track races to the European championship successes. HB-Werbung-und-Verlag, Chemnitz 2009, ISBN 978-3-00-028611-7 , pp. 55-96, 110, 118-120.
  • Christine Peyton: Careers on the racing slopes - Rudolf Caracciola and Bernd Rosemeyer. Between adventure and the auto industry. In: Social and Contemporary History of Sport. Volume 2, Issue 3. Meyer & Meyer, Aachen 1988, ISSN  0931-7031 , pp. 106–123.
  • Eberhard Reuss: Hitler's racing battles - the silver arrows under the swastika. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-351-02625-0 .
  • Ludwig Sebastian: Behind roaring engines - Bernd Rosemeyer's fitter tells us. Publishing house Carl Ueberreuter, Vienna / Heidelberg 1952.
  • Bernd Willhardt:  Rosemeyer, Bernd. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , p. 48 f. ( Digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Bernd Rosemeyer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Volker Kluge : Olympic Summer Games. Chronicle I. Athens 1896 - Berlin 1936. Sportverlag Berlin, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-328-00715-6 , pp. 29 and 39.
  2. ↑ The curriculum vitae of Bernd Rosemeyer Jr. In: Retrieved November 7, 2019 .
  3. Anno Hecker: "Hitler's racing battles" - lawn under the swastika. In: March 26, 2009, accessed November 7, 2019 .
  4. Halwart Schrader: Silver Arrows . Heel Verlag, Königswinter 1995, ISBN 3-89365-428-3 , p. 117.
  5. The trigger for the accident was very likely a cross wind gust, but it is also possible that the vehicle construction failed and a part of the body broke.
  6. ^ Hans W. Mayer: Rosemeyer versus Caracciola - At 432.7 km / h on the Reichsautobahn. In: March 12, 2018, accessed August 12, 2019 .
  7. ^ The grave of Bernd Rosemeyer. In: Retrieved August 13, 2019 .
  8. Bernd Rosemeyer in the Find a Grave database . Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  9. a b c d Hitler's racing battles ( memento from February 11, 2013 in the web archive ) - A film by Eberhard Reuß, Phoenix ( online at YouTube)
  10. a b c Thomas Imhof: How the car hero really died. In: Welt am Sonntag ( October 26, 2008, accessed November 7, 2019 .
  11. Ralf Klee, Broder-Jürgen Trede: Record hunt in death. In: Spiegel Online (one day). Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  12. Photo gallery: Hitler's racing battles - SWR / PETER KIRCHBERG, FAZ
  13. Christian Adam: Reading under Hitler. Authors, bestsellers, readers in the Third Reich. Fischer-TB, Frankfurt am Main 2013, ISBN 978-3-596-19297-7 .
  14. 75th anniversary of Bernd Rosemeyer death - memorial event on the A 5. In: Retrieved August 13, 2019 .
  15. a b Reiner Ruppmann: Memorial stone for the racing driver Bernd Rosemeyer on the A5 in the south direction. In: Retrieved August 13, 2019 .
  16. ^ Stefan Schlagenhaufer: Hessen renames the Rosemeyer parking lot. In: February 24, 2014, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  17. Thomas Pertz: Critique by author Christoph Frilling - Bernd-Rosemeyer-Straße in Lingen "extremely embarrassing". In: April 20, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2019 .
  18. ↑ Street information on Rosemeyerweg in 14129 Berlin. In: Retrieved August 14, 2019 .
  19. ↑ Street information on the Rosemeyersteg in 14129 Berlin. In: Retrieved August 14, 2019 .
  20. Back to the future. In: September 7, 2000, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  21. ^ Wilfried Roggendorf: Museum for Rosemeyer and Beinhorn planned in Lingen. In: February 17, 2017, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  22. ^ Carsten van Bevern: A "museum" for Bernd Rosemeyer in Lingen? In: November 24, 2018, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  23. a b Carsten van Bevern: Concept presented at LHW - Bernd Rosemeyer Museum in Lingen remains controversial. In: November 28, 2018, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  24. ↑ The Rosemeyer Museum should open in Lingen at the end of 2020. In: November 4, 2019, accessed November 7, 2019 .
  25. ^ Official website of the Motorsport Club Bernd Rosemeyer eV
  26. MSC Bernd Rosemeyer 1964–2014 . In: (PDF).
  27. Wilfried Roggendorf: It started with a rally victory - MSC Bernd Rosemeyer Lingen has existed for 50 years. In: November 4, 2014, accessed November 8, 2019 .
  28. Johannes Franke: Spruced up oldtimers lure you to the Lingen market square. In: June 13, 2019, accessed November 8, 2019 .
  29. ^ German victories in three continents. In: Retrieved August 13, 2019 .
  30. Death in January - Bernd Rosemeyer and fame. In: January 28, 2013, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  31. Hitler's racing battles - How the Silver Arrows learned to win. In: October 6, 2012, accessed August 13, 2019 .