Emil Rathenau

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Emil Rathenau
Emil Rathenau.jpg
Dr. Emil M. Rathenau, 1883
Born December 11, 1838
Berlin, Germany
Died June 20, 1915
Occupation Entrepreneur
Spouse(s) Mathilde Nachmann
Children Walther Rathenau
Erich Rathenau
Parents Moritz Rathenau

Emil Moritz Rathenau (December 11, 1838 – June 20, 1915) was a German entrepreneur and industrialist, a leading figure in the early European electrical industry.


Rathenau was born in Berlin, into a wealthy Jewish merchant family based in that city. He was the son of Moritz Rathenau.

In 1865, Rathenau was a partner in a factory, during which time (while traveling abroad) he recognized the possibilities of the then newly emerging electrical technology. In 1881, with the help of a bank group, he acquired the rights to manufacture products based on the patents of Thomas Alva Edison. In 1883 he formed the "German Edison Society for Applied Electricity" (Deutsche Edison-Gesellschaft für angewandte Elektricität), which in 1887 formed into Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (or AEG).

In 1903, Rathenau was appointed general manager of AEG. Together with his competitor and business partner Werner von Siemens, they formed the Telefunken Gesellschaft für drahtlose Telegraphie mbH. Rathenau held numerous positions on the supervisory board of Berliner Handels-Gesellschaft und der Elektrizitäts AG vorm. W. Lahmeyer & Co.

Rathenau was married in 1866 to Mathilde Nachmann, daughter of a Frankfurt banker. One of his sons was the famous Walther Rathenau, a Weimar-era industrialist, politician, and progressive economist. Walther was assassinated in June 1922 by gangsters of the extreme right-wing. He had another son named Erich Rathenau and a daughter Edith.


  • Pohl, Manfred (1988). Emil Rathenau and the AEG. Mainz: Hase & Koehler. ISBN 3-7758-1190-7. 
  • Dahlem, Markus. Case studies to the relationship of banks and large-scale enterprise in the German empire, 1871–1914. 
See also: Rathenau