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English   A historical review: The International Automobile Show (IAA) and Mercedes-Benz
18.09.2010 von admin

Fairs as a political tool

The exhibition in Berlin is German industry’s answer to a question posed by German drivers and the entire world: have the wartime raw materials blockade, the labor blockade by the revolution, the mental blockage of demented war production and the worldwide flood of American motor vehicles impeded the healthy development of German automobile engineering?“ The answer according to "Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung" was “Yes – in the past, but a thousand times No in the present!“ The overriding topic for all German motor shows during the 1920s remained the question how Germany could resume its pre-war success and regain its competitiveness in the face of strong international competition.

In 1921 a total of 67 (other sources say 46) automobile manufacturers presented 90 car and 49 truck models in Berlin. Approx. 300 000 visitors attended the fair, and this huge influx meant that the entrances had to be closed for a time. “The cars by Benz owe their worldwide reputation to the fact that they exhibit painstaking quality of workmanship down to the last detail“, a newspaper article reported at the time. Meanwhile Daimler aroused the curiosity of the automotive world with an announcement that the company had developed a new engine. While the “Mercedes secret“ did not take part in the race accompanying the fair on the nearby race track, specialists were fully convinced after a test drive with the new supercharged engine.

In 1923 the Automobile Fair was held without the participation of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) for the first time. The company had initially booked 100 square meters of stand space in order to exhibit six cars, and the body plant in Sindelfingen reserved a further 60 square meters for its own purposes. The demand from exhibitors, however, was so great that the fair organizers reduced the stand area to 80 square meters. DMG protested furiously at this halving of the desired stand area.
Poster of the IAA 1921

The problem for DMG was compounded by rampant inflation, which was at its height in 1923. It led the fair organizers to impose a surcharge of 1 1/2 Gold Dollars per square meter, a sum the Stuttgart company could not afford, for “owing to the high tax burden coinciding with endless wage increases, our financial means are at present so limited that we are obliged to cancel all non-productive expenditure immediately in order to maintain our operations”, as the company explained in its letter of cancellation at the end of August. The stand space was eventually reallocated elsewhere.

In 1924 the 25th anniversary of the German Automobile Fair was celebrated, which meant that 1899 was taken to be the starting year for the IAA, not 1897 as is accepted today. The exhibition site in Berlin was expanded by a second hall, making a total of 20,000 square meters available. The fair organizers also took measures to prevent the illicit display of used vehicles on Königin-Elisabeth-Strasse, outside the gates of the fair, which had obstructed access and endangered pedestrians during the two preceding fairs.

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