THE HISTORY OF DKW / AUTO UNION
The company began during an amazing period of German automotive engineering before World War II. DKW — Dampf-kraft-wagen, or ‘steam-powered car’; Das-kleine-wunder, or ‘ the little wonder’; Des-knaben-wunsch, or ‘the boy’s wish’, was created by a Danish engineer, Jorgen Rasmussen, in 1916, after his factory in Germany was formed to produce steam fittings and a steam car. In 1919, Rasmussen developed his first two-stroke engine and put it in a motorcycle frame. By the 1920s, DKW was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles and supplier of motorcycle engines in the world. It continued as a manufacturer of both motorcycles and cars until the 1930s. At that time, with the impact of the recession, DKW, Audi, Horch, and Wanderer merged to form Auto Union AG.