Dr. Emil Kolben

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Dr. Emil Kolben

Birthplace: Strančice, Strančice, Central Bohemia, Czech Republic
Death: July 03, 1943 (80)
Terezín, Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic (Holocaust)
Immediate Family:

Son of Joachim Kolben and Franziska Kolben
Husband of Malvína Kolbenová
Father of Ing. Hanuš Kolben; Margarethe Schück and Lillie Lieder-Kolben
Brother of Heinrich/Jindřich Kolben; Ludwig Kolben; Marie Kolbenová; Albína Kolbenová; Alfred Kolben and 1 other

Managed by: Michael Freund
Last Updated:

About Dr. Emil Kolben

According to his death certificate issued in Terezin, his daughter Lisa was also interned there.

ENGINEER EMIL KOLBEN Emil Kolben (1 November 1862, Stranc(ice – 3 July 1943, Terezín) graduated with honours from the German Technical University in Prague in 1887. After a year’s work experience, he received a two-year Gerstner Travelling Scholarship from the Czech National Committee. The future inventor visited the German industrial centres, as well as Zurich, Paris and London. In April 1888 he arrived in New York, from where he set off on study trips across the States. It was not long before he gained employment in the construction office of the Edison Machine Works. He later worked directly with Thomas Edison in his laboratory in Orange, New Jersey, and ended up as his chief engineer and the head of the technical offices and the laboratory of the Edison General Electric Company in Schenectady, N. Y. While in America, he witnessed the rapid development of heavy-current technology and electric streetcar tracks, to which he significantly contributed. In 1889, he was called on by the inventor Nikola Tesla to test electric motors for three-phase alternating current in his laboratory for the Tesla Electric Company in New York. This experience led Emil Kolben to focus on the construction of alternating current motors and provided the basis for his lifelong success. Kolben and his wife Malvína (1863–1940) returned to Europe at the beginning of 1892. He became the chief engineer at the Oerlikon Engineering Plant in Zurich, where he worked on the foundations for the development of synchronous and asynchronous three-phase motors and the long distance transmission of electric energy. After returning to Prague, Emil Kolben founded the company KOLBEN and Co., Electro-technical Factory in Prague-Vysoc(any on 29 October 1896. The ultramodern factory layout and machinery facilitated efficient production and was recognized as an outstanding attempt to combine European and American workshop practices. In 1898, with financial backing from the Trade Bank, the company was renamed Electro-technical Joint Stock Company, formerly Kolben and Co. The factory was expanded to include a power station, foundry, forge, modelling department, engine room and a goods office, and began taking the world by storm. In 1907 his company concluded an agreement with the Ringhofer Engineering Plant for the construction of the Praga Automobile Factory, and the first cars soon came off the assembly line. By 1910, the Vysoc(any factory had produced 10,000 electrical machines, as well as 70 large power stations, including distribution points. In 1921, Kolben’s company merged with the Czech-Moravian Engineering Works to form Czech-Moravian-Kolben, Joint Stock Company in Prague, where Emil Kolben was head of electrotechnology. An agreement for technical collaboration with the American firm Westinghouse in Pittsburg, which was concluded in 1922, was of great importance for further progress in electrotechnological production. In 1927 the company merged with Breitfeld-Dane(k in Karlín-Prague to form Czech-Moravian-Kolben-Dane(k, Joint Stock Company (C(KD). C(KD set about constructing aircraft in Karlín during the world economic crisis of 1930, was involved in supplying electricity to Slovakia from 1932 onwards, began manufacturing large Kaplan turbines and the successful automobile Aero 50 in 1935, and made the first trolleybuses for Prague in 1937. Emil Kolben’s unique career culminated in his 70th and 75th birthday celebrations in 1932 and 1937. After the Nazi occupation of the Czech lands in March 1939, Emil Kolben had to give up all his posts at C(KD and to sell the family-owned cable factory in Hostivar( and electroisolation company in Hloube(tín. At the end of 1941, his freedom of the village of Stranc(ice was revoked; his sister Kamila and brother Alfred ended their lives in joint suicide there in 1942. His son-in-law Vilém Lieder-Kolben and grandchildren Harry and Hanuš Werner were arrested and deported in 1942. On 9 June 1943, at the age of 81, Emil Kolben was deported to the Terezín ghetto with his daughter Lilly, son Hanuš and grandson Jindr(ich. Emil Kolben died there three weeks later. In total, 26 members of the Kolben family perished as a result of racial persecution during the Holocaust. [KOLBEN and Co., Electro-technical Factory in Prague–Vysoc(any, c. 1898] Although the C(KD Factory was one of the key pillars of Czech industry in the post-war years, it was forbidden under Communism to talk about its capitalist founder. It was only after 1989 that Emil Kolben was given recognition: a metro station and a street in Prague 9 have since been named for him, Stranc(ice has reinstated his freedom of the town in memoriam and, on 26 September 2006, his memorial plaque at Vysoc(any Town Hall was unveiled for the 110th anniversary of the founding of C(KD.

Emil Kolben - inventor and proprietor of the legendary factory

[ 13-12-2000 ] By Pavla Jedlickova Locomotives, motors for airplanes, apparatuses for estomatología and much more took place, in the inter-war period, the factory of the legendary industralist and Czech inventor of Jewish origin, Emil Kolben. But they were his machines for the hydroelectric plants and of steam those that were able to exceed with their fame the Czechoslovakian borders.

The enterprise and scientific success of Emil Kolben was spectacular. Thanks to its electrotechnic empire and of machinery, famous Vysocany, a small agrarian town in the neighborhoods of the Prague became, where the Czech industralist installed at the beginning of this century his factory, turning the place a modern industrial center.

The life of Emil Kolben remembers a fairy tale in which a poor but honest man manages to take control of a fortune thanks to his laboriosidad and perseverancia. It was born in 1862 in the numerous family of a weaving poor man. From his fifteen years it had to stay single, since their parents did not gain the sufficient thing to be able to take care of their ten children.

In spite of the shortage of resources, Kolben graduated in the Superior School as Machinery and Technology as the Prague. It could study thanks to a scholarship that granted the best university students, than in addition made possible to him to undertake several trips by Europe. The engineer young person visited Paris, Zurich and London in search of technical new features.

In 1888 Europe left to prove luck in the United States. There it knew Nikola Tesla, considered, to his 32 years, like brilliant inventor. Their discoveries were taken advantage of by the Westinghouse company. It was Nikola Tesla, that introduced to the engineer young person Emil Kolben in the technical circles of the New World.

And it was the laboratory of Tesla where Kolben had the possibility of proving for the first time its great invention that later seated the foundations of its wealth: the motor of two times for alternating current.

In 1888 Emil Kolben it found a job in companía of Thomas Alva Edison. The illustrious physicist and North American inventor soon account of the great talent of the young Czech engineer occurred, ordering the direction to him of the investigations of its company General Edison Electric.

In spite of the promising race that hoped to him in the United States after being named main engineer of companía of Edison, Kolben began to miss its native earth where was her family. In 1892 it returned to the Old Continent and four years later it founded on Vysocany the company "Kolben and companía" that made electrical machines for alternating current.

The principles of the later electrical empire and machinery of Kolben were very modest, their facilities were in a wood hut with a pequena office of administration. Little by little it was growing the number of workers, the assortment of the production and the number from countries to which it exported his products.

Emil Kolben was one of the first Czech industrialists in introducing new labor methods that contributed to decisively increase the productivity of work and which they managed to release to his employees of the debilitating physical work.

The greater height and period of expansion lived the factory on Kolben after World War I. In 1921 Checo-morava megred with the important Factory of Machines and a year later Westinghouse Electric signed an agreement of cooperation with the North American company. This agreement made possible to increase the exports significantly to him.

Like patriotic fervent, Kolben made an effort to contribute its granite of sand to the construction of just arisen Been independent from Slovakian Czechs and. With his machines it contributed decisively in the electrification of Czechoslovakia de Entreguerras. As example serves the diesel provision of wagons for the Czech Railroads or full field equipment stops most of constructed hydroelectric power stations in the national territory.

When megring with the Breitffeld-Danek company, in 1927, it appeared in the Czechoslovakian enterprise sphere a electrotechnic giant and of machinery, tie to several great Czechoslovakian banks; the same one did not have parallel by that one then, using to more than 14 thousand people, Emil Kolben fungió like chief of a main directorate.

In 1937 Kolben it turned 75 years. He was a man with much prestige by his enterprise successes and the introduction of technical new features that did not vacillate applying in its factory. It was also appreciated by his integrity, gentility and great sense of justice.

Two years later, in 1939, the Hitler troops crossed the Czechoslovakian ground, untying the antiJewish hysteria. Kolben was stopped by the Gestapo and with the star of David in the lapel it was deported to the concentration camp of Terezín. There he passed away in 1943 July, to the 81 years of age.

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Dr. Emil Kolben's Timeline

November 1, 1862
Strančice, Strančice, Central Bohemia, Czech Republic
December 20, 1895
Zurich, Switzerland
February 11, 1898
Prague, Czech Republic
June 22, 1902
Hlavní město Praha, Česká republika (Czech Republic)
July 3, 1943
Age 80
Terezín, Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic