Bertha Benz

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Bertha Ringer (around 1871)

Cäcilie Bertha Benz (born Ringer ; born May 3, 1849 in Pforzheim ; † May 5, 1944 in Ladenburg ) was a German pioneer of the automobile . Through her entrepreneurial, technical and financial commitment, she created the prerequisites for the invention of the Benz patent motor vehicle by her husband Carl Benz . With the first long-distance journey in an automobile, she proved the suitability of the new means of transport.


The Benz Patent Motor Car No. 3 from 1888

Bertha was the daughter of the master carpenter Karl Friedrich Ringer. She attended the secondary school for girls in Pforzheim .

In 1871 she had her dowry paid out early in order to enable her fiancé Carl Benz to continue his business with this capital . The two married in Pforzheim on July 20, 1872.

When the three-wheeled Benz Patent Motor Car number 3 did not find the expected reception from the paying audience, in August 1888 she undertook a 106-kilometer journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim and returned three days later via a different route. This first successful long-distance journey in an automobile was accompanied by her 15 and 13 year old sons Eugen and Richard, but without her husband's knowledge. The trip made a significant contribution to allaying customers' reservations about the vehicle , and subsequently enabled the company's economic success.

Bertha Benz is therefore considered to be the first woman driver and the first person ever to venture beyond shorter test drives . Based on the memoirs of Carl Benz, it was later rumored that it was not she but her sons who were behind the wheel.

During the journey she had to overcome various difficulties, which were incorporated into later cars as suggestions for improvement; such a short gear for driving up steep inclines and leather fittings on the brake shoes to increase the service life and effectiveness. Bertha Benz is therefore also considered the inventor of brake pads.

The city ​​pharmacy in Wiesloch near Heidelberg achieved unexpected fame thanks to the overland trip: It is considered the first petrol station in the world, as Bertha Benz bought the necessary fuel ligroin there . For a long time afterwards, gasoline and other fuels could only be bought in pharmacies .

84-year-old Bertha Benz is said to have welcomed Adolf Hitler in 1933 as the “savior of the Germans”. She and her family were quickly absorbed by Nazi propaganda , and at Easter 1933 there was a Nazi instrumentalized inauguration of the monument for Carl Benz in Mannheim, in which Bertha took part. According to journalist Angela Elis , she later distanced herself from Hitler when she understood that his policies were leading to a new war.

On May 3, 1944, on her 95th birthday, she was made an honorary citizen of the Technical University of Karlsruhe , where her husband had studied.

Bertha Benz died two days after her 95th birthday in Ladenburg , the headquarters of the C. Benz Söhne company .


Official tourist sign for the Bertha Benz Memorial Route
  • The Bertha Benz Memorial Route was officially approved on February 25, 2008 and is now signposted. This holiday route largely follows the historic route of Bertha Benz's first drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back. Since January 2009 the Bertha Benz Memorial Route has been a member of the ERIH - European Route of Industrial Heritage e. V.
  • The Bertha Benz ride for historic vehicles has taken place every two years since 1988. On this touristic old-timer tour, organized by the Dr. Carl Benz and the Allgemeine Schnauferl Club, 130 "pre-war vehicles" meet and drive the route of the world's first long-distance journey.
  • One of the new streets at Berlin Central Station on the ULAP site has been bearing her name since 2005 . The initially incorrect spelling Berta-Benz-Straße was corrected in 2013.
  • The Wiesloch secondary school has been bearing the name of the automobile pioneer since April 25, 2008. When the name was given, the historical tank scene was recreated in front of the city pharmacy, which still exists today, with a replica of the Type 1 motor vehicle and with Jutta Benz, Bertha Benz's great-granddaughter. After the historical scene, Jutta Benz drove this motor vehicle through town to school.
  • The vocational school in Sigmaringen has been called the Bertha Benz School since the 2013/2014 school year.
  • In memory of Bertha Benz's pioneering achievements, the Daimler and Benz Foundation has been holding an annual “Bertha Benz Lecture” in Ladenburg since 1987, in which women speak who have distinguished themselves in science, business, politics and society. On this occasion, in July 2009, the foundation awarded the “ Bertha Benz Prize ”, endowed with 10,000 euros, for the first time, which honors the outstanding dissertation of an engineer.
  • As part of the 2011 Automobile Summer , the official event to commemorate the invention of the automobile by Carl Benz 125 years ago, the Bertha Benz Challenge took place on September 10 and 11, 2011 on the Bertha Benz Memorial Route . This commemorative drive was intended to promote vehicles with alternative drives, such as hybrid and electric drives, hydrogen drives and fuel cells, as well as other low-consumption and environmentally friendly vehicles. Since Bertha Benz did not drive a vintage car in 1888, but the most innovative vehicle at the time, only the most innovative vehicles of today should take part.
  • In the Dr. Carl Benz in Ladenburg, private exhibits from the Benz family are on display, including Bertha Benz's wedding dress
  • The street at Gate 1 to the Daimler Test and Technology Center in the municipality of Immendingen bears her name.


  • The invention and implementation of the automobile by Carl and Bertha Benz was presented in the first broadcast of the ZDF series “Die Sternstunden der Deutschen” on November 10, 2009. From 100 great moments of the Germans, the audience had chosen the pioneering drive of Bertha Benz and the invention of the automobile by Carl Benz from Baden as the 20 most important historical great moments of the Germans.
  • On January 25, 2011, Deutsche Welle broadcast a worldwide television report about Bertha Benz and the Bertha Benz Challenge as part of the program “Made in Germany”.
  • On May 23, 2011, Das Erste broadcast the television film Carl & Bertha .


  • Angela Elis : My dream is longer than the night. How Bertha Benz drove her husband to world fame. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-455-50146-9 .
  • Barbara Leisner: Bertha Benz - A strong woman at the wheel of the first automobile. Casimir Katz Verlag, Gernsbach 2011, ISBN 978-3-938047-54-5 .
  • Winfried A. Seidel: Carl Benz. A story from Baden. The vision of the "horseless carriage" changes the world. Edition Diesbach, Weinheim 2005, ISBN 3-936468-29-X .

Web links

Commons : Bertha Benz  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Famous Alumni. Bertha Benz. In: Hilda-Gymnasium (Pforzheim), October 17, 2011.
  2. Carl Friedrich Benz. Tabular curriculum vitae in the LeMO ( DHM and HdG )
  3. ^ Werner Oswald: Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars 1886–1945. Volume 1. 1st edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02167-6 , p. 10.
  4. Founder and pioneer. Bertha Benz (née Cäcilie Bertha Ringer). In: , accessed on January 6, 2018.
  5. Carl Benz speaks of the summer of 1888 in his memoirs. Carl Benz: Life journey of a German inventor. The invention of the automobile, memories of an eighty-year-old. Leipzig 1925, pp. 88-92.
  6. ^ Carl Benz: Life journey of a German inventor . Leipzig 1925, pp. 88-91
  7. Angela Elis: The mother of the automobile. Retrieved April 1, 2019 .
  8. ^ Hans-Wolf Thümmel, edited by Oliver Ulrich: Carl Benz and the Technical University of Karlsruhe. In: Fridericiana. Journal of the University of Karlsruhe. Issue 38, June 1986. Retrieved January 23, 2020 .
  9. First drive in the world. In: DPMA . August 2, 2018, accessed August 6, 2018 .
  10. GPS download outward journey
  11. GPS download return trip
  12. ^ Bertha-Benz-Strasse. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert ) "In the Official Gazette of Berlin, issue 42 of September 20, 2013, the spelling from Berta-Benz-Strasse was corrected to Bertha-Benz-Strasse."
  13. ^ Bertha Benz School in Sigmaringen -
  14. ^ Bertha Benz lecture. In: Daimler and Benz Foundation .
  15. Bertha Benz Prize. In: Daimler and Benz Foundation .
  16. ^ Bertha Benz Challenge 2011. In: Bertha Benz Challenge , scroll down .
  17. Video: The Bertha Benz Challenge 2011. In: / YouTube , September 15, 2011, 11:55 min.
  18. Video ZDF: The great hours of the Germans, from minute 9.38 to minute 17.24  in the ZDFmediathek , accessed on January 25, 2014. (offline)
  19. Video: History of the automobile including the Bertha Benz Challenge. In: Deutsche Welle , (YouTube version), January 29, 2011, 3:56 min.
  20. Carl & Bertha. In: ARD , May 23, 2011.
  21. Video: Making of Carl & Bertha. In: Mercedes-Benz / YouTube , May 9, 2011, 4:31 min.