André Citroën on an ocean voyage
5 February 1878
|Died||3 July 1935
|Known for||Founder of Citroën|
|Parents||Levie Citroen and Mazra Kleinmann|
André-Gustave Citroën (pronounced: [ɑ̃dʁe ɡystav sitʁɔɛn]; 5 February 1878 – 3 July 1935) was a French industrialist. He is remembered chiefly for the make of car named after him, but also for his application of double helical gears.
Life and career
Born in Paris in 1878, André-Gustave was the 5th and last child of Jewish parents, diamond merchant Levie Citroen from the Netherlands and Macha Kleinan (of Warsaw, Poland). He was a cousin of the British philosopher Sir A. J. Ayer (the only son of his aunt Reine).
The Citroen family moved to Paris from Amsterdam in 1873. Upon arrival, the diaeresis was added to the name (reputedly by one of André's teachers), changing Citroen to Citroën (a grandfather had been a greengrocer and seller of tropical fruit, and had taken the surname of Limoenman, literally "lime man", his son however preferred Citroen, Dutch for "lemon"). His father committed suicide when André was six years old (presumably after failure in a business adventure in a diamond mine in South Africa).
André was a graduate of the École Polytechnique in 1900. In that year he visited Poland, the birthland of his mother, who had recently died. During that holiday he saw a carpenter working on a set of gears with a fish-bone structure. These gears were less noisy and more efficient. Citroën bought the patent for very little money. Leading to the invention that is credited to Citroën: double helical gears. Also reputed to be the inspiration of the double chevron logo of the Citroën brand.
In 1906 he was installed as a director for the automotive Mors (automobile) company where he was very succesfull.
Beside being an able engineer, Citroën was also a gambler, leading to the bankruptcy of his company. The company was taken over by the main creditor Michelin, who had provided tires for the cars.
He died in Paris, France, of stomach cancer in 1935 and was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, the funeral being led by the Chief Rabbi of Paris. In 1992, the Parc André Citroën public garden in Paris was named after him.