Siegfried Marcus

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Siegfried Marcus
Siegfried Marcus 1831-1898
Born18 September 1831
Died1 July 1898 (1898-08) (aged 66)
Engineering career
Projectsthe first petrol powered vehicle
Significant advanceAutomobile

Siegfried Samuel Marcus (German: [ˈziːkfʁiːt ˈmaʁkʊs]; 18 September 1831 – 1 July 1898) was a German inventor. Marcus was born of Jewish descent in Malchin, in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He made the first petrol-powered vehicle in 1864, while living in Vienna, Austria.[1]


Blasting machine, "Wiener Zünder" (Viennese Igniter), 1864

Marcus was born in Malchin, in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin into a Jewish family. Today Malchin is part of Germany. He began work at age 12 as an apprentice mechanic. At 17 he joined Siemens and Halske, an engineering company that built telegraph lines. He moved to Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire, in 1852, working first as a technician in the Physical Institute of the Medical School. He then worked as an assistant to Professor Carl Ludwig, a physiologist. In 1860 Marcus opened his own workshop which made mechanical and electrical equipment.[1] The first was located at Mariahilferstrasse 107 and the second at Mondscheingasse 4.

His chief improvements include telegraph relay system and ignition devices such as the "Wiener Zünder", a blasting machine. Marcus was buried at the Protestant Cemetery at Hütteldorf, Vienna. Later, his remains were transferred to an "Honorary Tomb" of Vienna's Central Cemetery. During his lifetime he was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit by the then Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph for his scientific achievements.[2]

Nazi rewrite[edit]

Monument at Vienna Technical Museum
Golden Cross of Merit

Because of Marcus' Jewish ancestry, his name and all memorabilia, particularly in Austria, vanished under the Nazis. In 1937 the Austrian Harand Movement Against Racial Hatred had issued a series of stamps featuring prominent Jews, including Marcus, who had contributed to mankind in response to the Ewiger Jude (eternal Jew) exhibition by Julius Streicher in Munich. Marcus was credited as having invented the petrol driven motor car.[3] With the German occupation of Austria in March 1938, the memorial in front of the Vienna Technical University was removed. After World War II, the monument was rebuilt and his car, which had been hidden, was returned to display.

Marcus was removed from German encyclopedias as the inventor of the modern car, under a directive from the German Ministry for Propaganda during World War II. His name was replaced with the names of Daimler and Benz. The directive (in German) read as follows:

Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda

Geschäftszeichen. S 8100/ 1

Berlin W8, den 4. Juli 1940
Wilhelmplatz 8-9

An die Direktion der Daimler-Benz-A.G. Stuttgart-Untertürkheim

Betrifft: Eigentlichen Erfinder des Automobils
Auf Ihr Schreiben vom 30. Mai 1940 Dr.Wo/Fa.

Das Bibliographische Institut und der Verlag F.A. Brockhaus sind darauf hingewiesen worden, dass in Meyers Konversations Lexikon und im Großen Brockhaus künftig nicht Siegfried Marcus, sondern die beiden deutschen Ingenieure Gottlieb Daimler und Carl Benz als Schöpfer des modernen Kraftwagens zu bezeichnen sind.

In English this would be

Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda

Reference number S 8100 / / 7 1

Berlin W8, 4 July 1940
Wilhelmsplatz 8-9

To the Directorate of Daimler-Benz A.G. Stuttgart-Untertürkheim

Subject: True inventor of the automobile
Referring to your letter of 30 May 1940 Dr.Wo / Fa.

The Bibliographical Institute and the publisher F. A. Brockhaus have been notified that in the future, [the encyclopedias] Meyers Konversations Lexikon and the Große Brockhaus are to refer to the two German engineers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz as the creators of the modern automobile, not to Siegfried Marcus.

Current Austrian thinking is that Marcus' first car ran in the late 1880s.[4] However, early publications suggest that he may have had a petrol powered vehicle running earlier than 1870.[5] The deliberate destruction of evidence of Marcus' inventions by the Nazi regime has left these dates open to debate and speculation.[6] Britannica cites 1864 for Marcus' first car with a 10-year gap to the second, which is consistent with other sources.[7] However, some sources call it the "Marcus myth", stating that early chroniclers confused an automobile he had built in 1888 (also called the "Second Marcus Car") with a construction he had built in 1870. [8]

In an article titled, "The End of the Marcus Legend", evidence is presented that the "1875” automobile was actually built much later, in 1888. The originator of the 1875 date, Lugwig Czischek-Christen, was asked by patent lawyers to produce any evidence to support the 1875 date, and during the course of his investigation, he uncovered "decisive" evidence that the automobile was actually built in 1888, and not in 1875 as he had originally published for the 1898 Austrian exhibits at the Paris exposition. [9]

Marcus' cars[edit]

Marcus cart of 1870
Scaled model of the second Marcus car of 1875

Based on the information from existing sources, Marcus' first machine was built on a simple handcart in 1870.[10] but had to be started by lifting the drive wheels off the ground and spinning them. The internal combustion engine was designed for liquid combustibles and made him the first to propel a vehicle by means of petrol. Marcus was not satisfied with this cart and dismantled it.[7] However, his first automobile model was displayed at the Vienna Exhibition in 1864 (more likely the 1873 Vienna Internation Exhibition according to earliest sources) and his second model was made and driven in 1875.[11][12]

In 1883 a patent for a low-voltage ignition magneto was given to Marcus in Germany and a new petrol engine built.[13]

This design was used for all further engines, including that of the only existing Marcus car from 1888 to 1889. It was this ignition, in conjunction with the "rotating brush carburettor", that made the engine's design very innovative. By 1886 the German navy was using the engine in its torpedo boats.[14]

In 1887, Marcus started a co-operation with the Moravian company Märky, Bromovsky & Schulz. They offered two stroke and — after the fall of the Otto-Patent in 1886 — four stroke engines of the Marcus type.

In 1875 Märky, Bromovsky & Schulz built the car which can still be seen in Vienna's Technical Museum. This car made Marcus well-known all over the world.[15] The car was named a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.[1]

In a 1904 book, "The Motor," it states: Who was the Inventor? Siegfried Marcus is widely credited with having invented the benzine motor.[16]

John Nixon of the London Times in 1938 considered Marcus' development of the motor car to have been experimental, as opposed to Benz who took the concept from experimental to production. Nixon described Marcus' cars as impractical.[17] 12 years later, in 1950, the Times described the car at the Vienna Technical Museum as being built in 1875 and the first petrol-powered road vehicle. A description of its first journey of 7.5 miles from Vienna to Klosterneuberg was included in the article.[18] Since the car was moved to the Museum in 1918, it had only been driven twice. once when sent for display in Sweden.[19]


Marcus was the holder of 131 patents in 16 countries. He never applied for a patent for the motorcar and, of course, he never held one. Nevertheless, he was the first to use petrol to propel a vehicle, in the simple handcart of 1864, but it is uncertain whether the extant Marcus car ran before 1890.[citation needed]

Some examples of his patents:

  • 33258, 10 September 1861, Improvements to relay magnets[20]
  • 2058, 6 July 1872, Device for mixing of fuel with air[21]
  • 286030, 2 October 1883, Improved gas engine[22]
  • 306339, 7 October 1884, Electrical igniting device for gas engines[23]

In conjunction with Captain E von Wohlgemuth of the Imperial German Navy, Marcus invented an electrical ignition of ships cannons. The advantages of the system were that it allowed for the simultaneous firing of the cannons, or selection of a particular firing pattern, and the ability to fire them from the ship's bridge.[24]


  • Bürbaumer, Ursula (1998). Das erste Auto der Welt? [The first car in the world?] (in German). Vienna: Erasmus.
  • Hardenberg, Horst (2000). Siegfried Marcus, Mythos und Wirklichkeit [Siegfried Marcus, Myth and Reality]. aus der Wissenschaftlichen * Schriftenreihe des DaimlerChrysler Konzernarchivs (in German). Bielefeld: Delius & Klasing. Awarded as the June 2001 book of the month by the Austrian Academy of Science.
  • Böttcher, Norbert (2005). Siegfried Marcus (in German). Teetz: Hentrich & Hentrich.
  • Bürbaumer, Ursula; Steinböck, Johannes; Hardenberg, Horst; Schaukal, Gerhard; Mergl, Ladislav (2000). Grössing, Helmuth (ed.). Autos-Fahrer – Konstrukteure (in German). Vienna: Erasmus.
  • Bürbaumer, Ursula (2003), "Siegfried Marcus in Wien", Dissertation Database (in German), Austrian Research Centers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Siegfried Marcus Car (ca. 1875)". Landmarks. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  2. ^ Siegfied Marcus, Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)04 Jan 1928, Wed, Page 8, accessed through Newspapers.Com 3 November 2021
  3. ^ "Philosemitic Aryans". The Daily Telegraph. No. 25742. London. 30 November 1937. p. 14.
  4. ^ Ebert, Anne-Katrin. "Marcus-Wagen, 1888/1889". Vienna Technical Museum. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Motor Notes. By "Accumulator."". Progress. II (5): 20. 1 March 1907. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  6. ^ Kurinsky, Samuel. "Siegfried Marcus An Uncredited Inventive Genius - Fact Paper 32-I". Hebrew History Foundation. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Siegfried Marcus | German inventor". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  8. ^ Wellnitz, Jörg; Subic, Aleksandar; Trufin, Ramona (24 September 2013). Sustainable Automotive Technologies. Springer. ISBN 9783319018843.
  9. ^ "Project Muse -The End of the Marcus Legend".
  10. ^ handritten notes of Marcus himself on the photo
  11. ^ The Jewish inventor of the automobile, The Modern View (St. Louis, Missouri)24 Sep 1931, Thu, Page 23, retrieved from on 3 November 2021
  12. ^ Austo-Hungary, The Jewish Voice (St. Louis, Missouri)11 Nov 1904, Fri, Page 8, retrieved from Newspapers.Com on 3 November 2021
  13. ^ "Ignition". The Record-Union. Sacramento, California. 13 December 1884. p. 7.
  14. ^ "Austro-Hungary". The Times. London. 16 November 1886. p. 5.
  15. ^ Bruckmüller, Ernst (2004). Österreich Lexikon : in drei Bänden [Austria Lexicon : in Three Volumes] (in German). Vol. 2. Wien: Verlagsgemeinschaft Österreich-Lexikon. ISBN 978-3-85498-385-9. OCLC 56972352.
  16. ^ "The Motor," Volume 6, (IPC Specialist & Professional Press Limited, 1904) p.375
  17. ^ Nixon, John C. (29 March 1938). "The First Motor Car". The Times. No. 47955. London. p. 52.
  18. ^ "1875 Motor-Car Driven Again". The Times. No. 51667. London. 17 April 1950. p. 3.
  19. ^ Chore to drive this, News-Pilot (San Pedro, California)12 Apr 1955, Tue, Page 7, retrieved through 3 November 2021
  20. ^ Report of the Commissioner of Patents, Volume 1, Published 1863, page 494
  21. ^ The London Gazette, Part 3 Publisher T. Neuman, 19 July 1872, page 3270
  22. ^ Specifications and Drawings of Patents Relating to Electricity Issued by the U. S., Volume 33, Published 1885
  23. ^ Specifications and Drawings of Patents Relating to Electricity Issued by the U. S., Volume 37, Published 1886
  24. ^ "Electrical discharge of artillery on board men-of-war". Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review. 16: 442–443. 16 May 1885.

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