The name Junkers is mainly known in connection with aircraft, which were produced under this name for the Luftwaffe during World War II. By then, however, the Nazi government was running his businesses, and Hugo Junkers himself was gone.
Working as an engineer, Junkers devised, patented, and exploited gas engines, heaters, a calorie meter and other inventions. His aeronautical work began in earnest only at the age of fifty. He had far-seeing ideas of metal aeroplanes and flying wings, but always realities of war dragged him back. World War I meant the government forced him to focus on production. Several business ventures failed from wider economic or political problems that scuppered sound engineering plans. He always had more ideas; the G38 delivered to Lufthansa made no commercial trips for many months as he repeatedly recalled it to the factory for improvements.
During the 1920's Junkers' employees represented a wide spectrum of views. There were left wing cultural revolutionaries and National Socialists. There were pacifists and World War I veterans who were convinced Germany would remilitarise following the ideas of such as Ernst Jünger. Some preferred pure scientific research, others focused on mass production. About every aspect of the business, and of its environment, there were differing opinions.
For members of all the many groups represented in Junkers, aviation offered hope for national renewal. Their varied views led to lively internal corporate politics until the Nazi government interfered. Junkers claimed affinity with Hitler's nationalist commitment, but ultimately had little sympathy with the requirements of mobilization for total war.
Junkers was a socialist and a pacifist; perhaps for these reasons, he had several occasions to cross swords with German leaderships. In 1917 the government forced him into partnership with Anthony Fokker to ensure wartime production targets would be met. In 1926, unable to make government loan repayments after a failed venture to build planes for the USSR, he lost control of most of his businesses. In 1933, the Nazi government, on taking power, immediately demanded ownership of Junkers' patents and control of his remaining companies. Under threat of imprisonment he eventually acquiesced, to little avail; a year later he was under house arrest; a year after that he was dead.
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2 External Link
Detlef Siegfried. Der Fliegerblick: Intellektuelle Radikalismus und Flugzeugproduktion bei Junkers 1914 bis 1934. (Historisches Forschungszentrum der Feridrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Reihe Politik- und Gesell- schaftsgeschichte, nr. 58) Bonn: J.H.W. Dietz 2001 ISBN 3801241181 335pp.