Knorr brake

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Knorr-Bremse Aktiengesellschaft

legal form Corporation
founding 1905 in Berlin
Seat Munich , GermanyGermanyGermany 
management Bernd Eulitz (Chairman of the Management Board), Ralph Heuwing, Peter Laier and Jürgen Wilder
Klaus Mangold , Chairman of the Supervisory Board
Number of employees 28,905 (2019)
sales 6.93 billion euros (2019)
Branch Transportation and rail traffic
As of December 31, 2019

Headquarters of the Knorr-Bremse Group in Munich

The Knorr-Bremse Aktiengesellschaft , headquartered in Munich, is the parent company of the Knorr-Bremse Group. The company is the world's leading manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles. Knorr-Bremse is represented at over 100 locations in 30 countries. Knorr-Bremse went public in mid-October 2018. In the Rail Vehicle Systems division, Knorr-Bremse equips local transport vehicles such as subways and trams, but also freight trains, locomotives, and passenger and high-speed trains. In addition to braking systems, the company also produces intelligent entry systems, air conditioning systems, energy supply systems, control components and windshield wipers, platform screen doors, friction material as well as driver assistance systems and control technology. Knorr-Bremse also offers driving simulators and e-learning systems for training train crews.

The Commercial Vehicle Systems division offers braking systems for trucks, buses, trailers and agricultural machinery. In the chassis systems sector , Knorr-Bremse is active in electronic control and driver assistance systems as well as in air treatment. Further product fields are systems on the drive train and torsional vibration dampers for diesel engines.


Foundation and advancement in Berlin (1905–1920)

In 1905, the engineer Georg Knorr founded Knorr-Bremse GmbH in Boxhagen-Rummelsburg (today part of Berlin-Friedrichshain ) , into which he brought a company for railway air brakes , which had been founded in 1883 . The business basis was the introduction of the K1 compressed air brake developed by him on the passenger trains of the Prussian-Hessian State Railway Administration . The Knorr-Bremse GmbH in 1911 taking up the Continentale brake GmbH in the Knorr-Bremse AG converted.

Factory building

Headquarters of Knorr-Bremse GmbH in Berlin-Lichtenberg, 1908

Headquarters and extensions

The first production took place in already existing buildings in the Neue Bahnhofstrasse, later referred to as the old factory . In the years 1913 to 1916, an extensive expansion of the factory buildings and the construction of a representative administrative building adjoining it to the south was carried out by the architect Alfred Grenander ; the external facades of the previous factory buildings were redesigned with windows, clinker facings , arcades, sandstone reliefs in the parapets , wall pillars and Uniformly designed dormers. This section was called the new factory . Extension buildings (transverse wing and parallel wing) and a separate heating plant were built on the courtyard area. The entire complex at Neue Bahnhofstrasse 9–17 is a listed building . The main plant built between 1922 and 1927 on the Hirschberger Strasse / Schreiberhauer Strasse property (east of the railway line) was connected via a tunnel-like connecting road, which Grenander accentuated at three corners with tower-like components. The western tower, which is located directly on the Ringbahn , is significantly higher than the others and has large windows. The entire Knorr-Bremse plant now extended over an area of ​​24,380 m². The component with the tower at Hirschberger Strasse 4 is also a listed building. It has been in use since the 2000s by the German Federal Pension Insurance , which embedded it in a new building complex.

Diversified group (1920–1985)

Zeppelin LZ 126 over the Oberwiesenfeld in front of the Knorr-Bremse building, 1924
Memorial plaque , Neue Bahnhofstrasse 9, in Berlin-Friedrichshain

Between 1918 and 1945

After the First World War , with the introduction of the Kunze-Knorr-Bremse , freight train traffic was also switched from manual to continuous air brake operation. In 1923, Knorr-Bremse first introduced air brakes for commercial vehicles . After the global economic crisis , Knorr-Bremse used the Hik brake in European rail transport and pushed ahead with the conversion of the German commercial vehicle industry to compressed air brakes. At the end of the 1930s, 90 percent of all German trucks from 7 to 16 tons were equipped with Knorr braking devices.

Between the two world wars, Knorr-Bremse AG developed under the direction of Johannes Philipp Vielmetter into the largest brake manufacturing company in Europe. The addition of other companies resulted in a diversified group with around 20,000 employees.

Today's headquarters of Knorr-Bremse AG in Munich, Moosacher Strasse 80 (formerly Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG)

From 1920, the (old) Bayerische Motorenwerke AG (BMW) in Munich , which was established in 1917/1918, was a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse AG and manufactured brake systems for the Bavarian Railway Administration under the new name of Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG . (The headquarters of Knorr-Bremse AG are now located on their premises.) The engine department, which is of little interest to Knorr-Bremse AG, was sold in 1922, including the old company name, to major investor Camillo Castiglioni , who both became part of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW) , the new BMW . From 1921, Knorr-Bremse AG took a stake in the Berlin machine tool factory Carl Hasse & Wrede GmbH . The successor company, Hasse & Wrede GmbH, is part of the Knorr-Bremse Group and a leading manufacturer of torsional vibration dampers for diesel engines. The location in Berlin-Marzahn was retained. In February 2017, the Knorr Group announced that it wanted to close the last German location of the subsidiary Hasse & Wrede because "the market has changed and production in Marzahn does not make economic sense". After protests by the 109 workers affected by unemployment and after negotiations between the group management and the works council, it was announced in December 2017 that the location on Georg-Knorr-Straße should be retained. In 2020, David Chipperfield's office won the competition to develop the site.

In 1926 the majority of shares was Motoren-Werke Mannheim AG (MWM) acquired from the inpatient department engine company Benz & Cie. of the automobile pioneer Carl Benz . With the sale to Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG (KHD) , today Deutz AG , in 1985, Knorr-Bremse AG separated again from the engine division. The iron and steel works Walter Peyinghaus in Egge near Wetter-Volmarstein an der Ruhr, incorporated in 1938 after long-term cooperation, ceased operations in 1997.

During the Second World War , the company used forced laborers from several camps in Berlin-Lichtenberg from 1943 . a. Located in Möllendorffstrasse 70, Roederplatz, Roederstrasse 11-13 and 85-91, Bornitzstrasse 1 and Hohenschönhauser Strasse 11. The company's main camp consisted of 22 barracks for a total of 1080 people. It had a hall with sickrooms, washing and shower facilities and two sheds. In an air raid on November 22, 1943, six Dutchmen were killed while working at Knorr-Bremse. More than 1200 forced laborers were deployed in the service of Knorr-Bremse AG.

After the Second World War - Knorr-Bremse becomes a SAG

After the end of the Second World War, the company fell into the Soviet sector and the Knorr heirs were expropriated. The Neue Bahnhofstrasse (part of Rummelsburg ) was given the status of a Soviet stock corporation (SAG). The brakes that were produced again were initially only used for reparation purposes .

New users for the Berlin buildings until 1989

The location on Hirschberger Strasse (belonging to Berlin-Lichtenberg) was converted into VEB Berliner Bremsenwerk in 1954 , which soon became a popular manufacturer of railway brake systems in the GDR . After production at SAG was stopped, a newly founded company ( VEB Messelektronik Berlin ) moved into the complex of the new factory in the Neue Bahnhofstrasse. He stayed there until it was liquidated after the political change .

Use of the old and new factory since 1990

From 1990 the building was cleared and new tenants moved in. In 1993 the newly founded Berufsakademie Berlin had its headquarters here. In 2003 it was integrated into what was then the University of Applied Sciences for Economics (FHW), which merged into the University of Economics and Law (HWR) in 2009. In 2012, the tenants, in addition to the HWR, were three training providers from the Berlin employment agencies , two vocational schools and the East German Railway Company (ODEG). Nevertheless, 60 percent of the 25,000 square meter floor space was empty. On August 17, 2012, Berggruen Holdings acquired the property in a foreclosure auction for 15 million euros, the owners of which had already gone bankrupt in the 1990s. The purchase price was two thirds of the market value . 12 million euros should be invested in the modernization of the building. Shortly after the acquisition, the previous tenants were given notice on March 31, 2013 and it became known that a tenant had been found for the entire area in the online retailer Zalando . Several hundred employees from Zalando's fashion department have been working in the building since April 2013.

Knorr-Bremse moves to West Germany

The Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG in Munich continued production in West Germany. Knorr-Bremse GmbH, founded in 1946 and later relocated to Munich, took over the development and sales of brake systems . The Knorr-Bremse AG was converted into a limited partnership (KG) 1960th

The reconstruction in the west culminated in 1955 with the internationally successful introduction of Knorr-Bremse with unitary effect (KE) for rail vehicles. The commercial vehicle brakes division, on the other hand, lost ground after the Second World War. The industrial pneumatics business area established in the 1960s also stagnated, and diesel engine construction began to make heavy losses in the late 1970s.

Concentration and expansion since 1985

In 1985, a change of ownership led the troubled group to concentrate on the product areas of brake systems for rail and commercial vehicles. Knorr-Bremse GmbH and Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG were merged in 1985 to form the newly founded Knorr-Bremse AG. Knorr-Bremse KG was liquidated. Diesel engines and machine tool construction (both 1985), industrial pneumatics (1993) and cast steel (1997) were sold or discontinued .

In 1990, the Berliner Bremsenwerk - Knorr-Bremsen AG joint venture was founded in Berlin from the Berliner Bremsenwerk and the Munich Knorr-Bremse AG . In 1993, the Berlin production sites in Neue Bahnhofstrasse and Hirschberger Strasse were given up and the company moved into the building of the former Berliner Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik ( BWF Marzahn ) in today's Georg-Knorr-Strasse 4 in Berlin-Marzahn , where production became Berlin however gradually shut down.

Took place in Munich in 1993, the divisional structure of the Group. The business fields of systems for rail and commercial vehicles have since been handled by separate companies. The concentration on the core areas was followed by a strong expansion in both segments. By taking over major manufacturers, primarily in the USA, and establishing a global production network, Knorr-Bremse has grown to become the world's leading supplier of braking systems for both rail vehicles and commercial vehicles. Group sales rose continuously between 1987 and 2005 from EUR 311 million to EUR 2.7 billion.

Important steps in the expansion (S = rail vehicles , N = commercial vehicles ):

  • 1990/92 S Takeover of the railway brake division from Oerlikon-Bührle , Zurich (Switzerland)
  • 1990/91 N / S Takeover of VEB Berliner Bremsenwerk , Berlin (successor to Knorr-Bremse in the GDR)
  • 1991 S Takeover of New York Air Brake , Watertown (New York, USA)
  • 1993 N Participation in AlliedSignal Truck Brake Systems Company (brand Bendix ), Elyria (Ohio) , USA
  • 1993 N / S Foundation of Knorr-Bremse Systems for Commercial Vehicles GmbH and Knorr-Bremse Systems for Rail Vehicles GmbH, both in Munich
  • 1999 N Takeover of the commercial vehicle brakes division of Robert Bosch GmbH
  • 2000 S Acquisition of Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company , Chippenham (Great Britain) and Sydney (Australia)
  • 2001 S Takeover of 90% of the shares in the Austrian company IFE
  • 2002 N Complete takeover of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, Elyria (Ohio, USA)
  • 2007 N Signing of the joint venture with KAMAZ in Naberezhnye Chelny (Russia)
  • 2008 S Takeover of Anchor Brake Shoe Company LLC (USA)
  • 2009 S Takeover of the companies Officine de Zan Srl (Italy), EMC Traction Srl (Italy) and Sydac Pty. Ltd. (Australia)
  • 2010 S takeover of the Sigma Coachair Group (Australia)
  • 2012 S Takeover of HEINE Resistors GmbH (Dresden)
  • 2014 S Takeover of Selectron Systems AG (Switzerland), Transtechnik GmbH & Co. KG (Bavaria) and PCS Power Converter Solutions GmbH (Berlin)
  • 2016 N Takeover of tedrive Steering Systems GmbH based in Wülfrath
  • 2016 S Takeover of Vossloh Kiepe (Düsseldorf)

Group structure and owners


The Knorr-Bremse Group is managed via the three regions of Europe, America and Asia / Australia. The operative business is divided into divisions. Knorr-Bremse AG holds 100 percent of the capital of Knorr-Bremse Systems for Rail Vehicles GmbH and 80 percent of the capital of Knorr-Bremse Systems for Commercial Vehicles GmbH. Robert Bosch GmbH has a 20 percent stake in the latter .

Knorr-Bremse has been an owner-managed company since it was founded in 1905. Knorr-Bremse AG, newly founded in 1985, went public on October 12, 2018 with a volume of 3.9 billion euros. Until then, the share capital was owned by the family of the chairman of the supervisory board, Heinz Hermann Thiele , who took over the group in 1985 and managed it as chairman of the board until 2007. Up to 30 percent of the shares were offered to investors for subscription from October 1, 2018. Since the shares offered come exclusively from the possession of the Thiele family, the proceeds from the IPO will not go to the company, but to the family in full.

Locations in Germany

Berlin-Marzahn , Schwieberdingen (Baden-Württemberg), Aldersbach , Munich (all Bavaria), Düsseldorf and Wülfrath (both North Rhine-Westphalia), Dresden (Saxony).

The current administration building of Knorr Bremse AG on Moosacher Strasse in Munich is a listed building. It was built in 1917/18 in the neo-classical style by the architects Eduard Herbert and Otho Orlando Kurz .

Locations in Austria

In the 1980s, the electrical industry company J. Zelisko in Mödling , Lower Austria , founded in 1918, was taken over and continued under this name. At the same time, the subsidiary Knorr-Bremse GmbH was also located at the same location . founded, which represents the company headquarters for the plants in Kematen in Lower Austria, as well as in the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic. In 2011 this group employed around 1,200 people. The main competence lies in the development of magnetic rail brakes , eddy current brakes , as well as other systems for track vehicles. Sales for Central and Eastern Europe are also carried out from Mödling.

Product history and business areas

Introduction of important products for rail vehicles and commercial vehicles

Rail vehicles

  • 1903: K1 air brake for passenger trains
  • 1918: Kunze-Knorr-Bremse (Kk-Bremse) for passenger (Kkp) and freight trains (Kkg)
  • 1931: Hildebrand-Knorr-Bremse (Hik) for passenger and freight trains
  • 1955: Knorr-Bremse with a standard design control valve, later referred to as the Knorr standard brake, (KE) for passenger and freight trains
  • 1985: Air brake valve for heavy American freight trains
  • 2002: Modular braking system for locomotives
  • 2004: Oil-free compressor for rail vehicles

commercial vehicles

  • 1923: Air brakes for commercial vehicles
  • 1972: ABS for commercial vehicles
  • 1992: Pneumatically operated disc brake for commercial vehicles
  • 2002: Bendix Driver Control Module for commercial vehicles
  • after 2004: system compressor with clutch

Important business areas and brand names

  • Brake systems for commercial vehicles (Knorr-Bremse, Bendix)
  • Brake systems for rail vehicles (Knorr-Bremse, New York Air Brake, Westinghouse Brakes)
  • Door systems for rail vehicles (IFE Innovation for Entrance Systems)
  • Air conditioning systems for rail vehicles (Merak, Kiepe Electric)
  • Control components for rail vehicles (Microelettrica)
  • Platform screen door systems ( English Westinghouse platform screen doors )
  • Torsional vibration damper for diesel engines ( Hasse & Wrede )


In 2014/2015, Knorr-Bremse Aktiengesellschaft was awarded the Privatbahn Magazin innovation prize for developing the LEADER driver assistance system .

Social responsibility

The company supports social and charitable institutions in the vicinity of locations worldwide. The company also supports the Knorr-Bremse Global Care e. V. (founded in 2005) with an annual budget of 1.5 million euros. With the founding of the association, the company's worldwide social activities were institutionalized.

Workers rights

The part of the group in Germany left the employers' association in 2006 and has no longer been subject to collective bargaining agreements. The 42-hour week was introduced at the Holzkirchen and Berlin locations - without wage compensation. The IG Metall union criticized this behavior. According to a company spokesman, the 42-hour week is common in the group. The two subsidiaries in Berlin and Holzkirchen would now be integrated accordingly. In order to help the deficit KB Powertech location in Berlin-Tegel on its feet, the employees would have waived money or invested time, provided they had agreed on a temporary renovation collective agreement. But the group management turned down every offer to talk, said a works council to Deutschlandfunk Kultur. He described the behavior as "stone age capitalism".


Knorrstrasse in Munich is named after Knorr-Bremse. She owned there u. a. also the old Bavarian engine works . The LMG (light machine gun) Knorr-Bremse 1935/36 was developed in the 1920s and ordered in small numbers from Finland.


  • Rudolf Hundhausen: Knorr-Bremse AG Berlin-Lichtenberg. In: The German Industry (1888–1913). Berlin 1913 pp. X82-X83.
  • Franz Ludwig Neher: Fifty years of Knorr-Bremse . Knorr-Bremse AG, Berlin / Munich 1955.
  • Manfred Barthel: Strength and Safety - 75 Years of Knorr-Bremse . Econ, Düsseldorf / Vienna 1980, ISBN 3-430-11167-6 .
  • Helmut Engel (Ed.): Berlin-Ostkreuz location. Historical Knorr-Bremse. Industrial complex in transition . Jovis, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-931321-22-3 .
  • Helmut Engel (Ed.): Berlin-Marzahn location. Historical Knorr-Bremse. Industrial complex in transition . Jovis, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-931321-44-4 .
  • Manfred Pohl: Safety on rails and roads. The history of Knorr-Bremse AG . Piper, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-492-04747-5 .

Web links

Commons : Knorr-Bremse AG  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Annual Report 2019. (PDF) In: Retrieved May 14, 2020 .
  2. Knorr-Bremse AG - Making mobility safe - Knorr-Bremse's daily mission. In: Retrieved April 6, 2016 .
  3. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  4. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  5. Jochen Knoblach: Knorr-Bremse stops relocation. In: Berliner Zeitung . December 15, 2017, p. 12.
  6. David Chipperfield plans social housing in Marzahn. In: Berliner Zeitung . March 10, 2020.
  7. Forced labor camp in the Lichtenberg district from 1939 to 1945. (PDF; 45 kB).
  8. Torsten Harmsen: The Berlin University of Cooperative Education defends itself against its thoughtless destruction. In: Berliner Zeitung . April 10, 2002.
  9. Isabell Jürgens: Berggruen gives notice to all tenants at Knorr-Bremse . In: Berliner Morgenpost . September 18, 2012.
  10. Press release: Berggruen buys 'Speicher' and former Knorr-Bremse operating site in Berlin-Friedrichshain . (PDF). by Nicolas Berggruen Holdings GmbH. 17th August 2012.
  11. Isabell Jürgens: Berggruen gives notice to all tenants at Knorr-Bremse . In: Berliner Morgenpost . September 18, 2012.
  12. Uwe Aulich: New location - Zalando moves to Alex . In: Berliner Zeitung . 17th May 2013.
  13. ^ The company IFE , accessed on December 27, 2010.
  14. Biggest IPO of the year: Knorr-Bremse valued at up to 14 billion euros . In: FAZ.NET . ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed September 29, 2018]).
  15. n-tv NEWS: The Knorr-Bremse share price stands. Retrieved August 18, 2019 .
  16. Entry in the Bavarian Monument List ( Memento from September 3, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  17. Knorr-Bremse Global Care. Knorr-Bremse-AG, accessed on February 21, 2017 .
  18. Knorr-Bremse: Managers demand additional work free of charge. In: February 28, 2017. Retrieved September 22, 2017 .
  19. a b IG Metall accuses suppliers of “stone age capitalism”. In: Handelsblatt . February 10, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2017 .
  20. New struggle for working hours - Who owns dad on Saturdays? In: Deutschlandfunk Kultur . ( [accessed on October 12, 2018]).

Coordinates: 48 ° 11 ′ 15 ″  N , 11 ° 32 ′ 56 ″  E