|Birth Day:||November 3, 1900|
|Death Date:||Sep 6, 1978 (age 77)|
|Birth Place:||Herzogenaurach, Germany|
As per our current Database, Adolf Dassler died on Sep 6, 1978 (age 77).
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He was born in the town of Herzogenaurach and trained as a cobbler after World War I. He originally founded Adidas as the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory along with his brother in 1924.
Adolf “Adi” Dassler was born in the Franconian town of Herzogenaurach, a small town about 20 km outside Nuremberg, on 3 November 1900, the third son and youngest of four children of Christoph and Pauline Dassler. His siblings were Fritz, born 1892, Marie, born 1894 and Rudolf born 1898.
In 1913 Adi completed his formal education and was apprenticed to a baker. Entirely uninterested in becoming a baker, Adi spent much of his free time in athletic endeavors. Along with his childhood friend, Fritz Zehlein, son of a local blacksmith, he engaged in a variety of sporting events in track and field as well as football, boxing, ice hockey, skiing and ski jumping. Adi frequently fashioned his own equipment such as javelins from sticks and discus from stones. Soon after August 1914, Adi's brothers were conscripted by the German Army. Adi completed his apprenticeship but decided against becoming a baker. Instead he began to learn stitching from his father. He also began thinking about how changes in shoe design could improve athletic performance. He was beginning to conclude that specialized shoes for each sport might produce significant results. It was an idea that would guide his later career and profoundly affect sport and the business surrounding it.
Before his 18th birthday Adi was conscripted in June 1918 in the last days of the war. He remained in the army for over a year until October 1919. When Adi returned, he found that the economic devastation of the war caused their mother to give up the laundry business. Adi decided to pursue his concepts of innovative athletic footwear design and use the laundry shed to begin a small shoe production business.
After the war Rudolf had determined on becoming a policeman. But after he completed his training, he joined Adi's firm on 1 July 1923. With the support of the Zehlein smithy producing spikes, Adi was able to register Gebrüder Dassler, Sportschuhfabrik, Herzogenaurach ("Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Factory", Herzogenaurach) on 1 July 1924. By 1925 the Dasslers were making leather Fußballschuhe (football boots) with nailed studs and track shoes with hand-forged spikes.
Two factors paved the way for the transformation of the business from a small regional factory to the international shoe distributor it would become. First was the interest showed by former Olympian and then coach of the German Olympic track-and-field team, Josef Waitzer. On learning of the plant and Adi's experiments, Waitzer travelled from Munich to Herzogenaurach to see for himself. A long friendship developed between the two, based on interest in improving athletic performance with improved footwear, and Waitzer became something of a consultant to the company. The relationship would prove extremely valuable in giving Adi access to the athletes (German and foreign) at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. As early as the 1928 Amsterdam games, however, the Dasslers' footwear was being used in international competitions. Lina Radke, for example, the German middle distance runner who won gold in 1928, wore Dassler track shoes. Likewise, a German gold medal runner wore Dassler shoes at the 1932 Los Angeles games. The second key factor for the shoe firm in the early 1930s was the role sport played in the racial-nationalist philosophy of Hitler. With the rise of the Nazi Party, athletic teamwork was prioritized. The Dassler brothers did not fail to see how their economic interest would benefit from politics; all three Dassler brothers joined the Nazi Party on 1 May 1933—three months after Hitler was appointed Chancellor. Rudolf was said to be most ardent believer of the three. But it was Adi who decided that becoming a coach of and supplier to clubs in the Hitler Youth movement was essential to expanded production, and he joined in 1935. (In his denazification proceedings after the war, Adi pointed out that he confined himself to coaching and avoided political rallies. He also testified that he was involved in clubs of other political affiliations, such as a liberal gymnastic club, Herzogenaurach's conservative KHC soccer club and a workers' sports club named "Union.") Both Adi and Rudolf were members of the National Socialist Motor Corps, and in their correspondence both used the complimentary closing, "Heil Hitler."
Like the Dasslers, Sepp Herberger joined the Nazi Party in 1933. In 1936 after Germany's humiliating quarter final defeat by Norway at the Berlin Games, the Nazi sports authorities appointed him to coach the national football team. Herberger began an association with the Dassler firm having been cultivated by Rudolf Dassler. After the breakup Herberger sided with the Puma firm, until Rudolf once again felt his authority challenged and insulted him. Herberger switched his allegiance to Adidas. The nature of the dispute is unknown; some thought it involved the payments owed if the German team wore Puma shoes.
In the early 1930s Adi Dassler enrolled in theSchuhfachschule (the Footwear Technical College) in Pirmasens. One of the instructors was Franz Martz, a master producer of lasts. Dassler became a frequent house guest of Martz, who permitted Dassler's attentions to his fifteen-year-old daughter, Käthe Martz. On 17 March 1934, the two wed. Unlike Rudolf's wife Friedl (née Strasser), Käthe was somewhat self-assertive and suspicious of brusque ways of Franconians. She would have frequent run-ins with Adi's parents and Rudolf and his wife, all of whom lived in the same house. Years later, in a letter to Puma's American distributor, Rudolf explained the rift with his brother as solely to be blamed on Käthe, who he claimed "tried to interfere in business matters …"; he claimed that the brothers' relations were "ideal" until 1933. Käthe would give birth to their son Horst in March 1936, their first daughter Inge in June 1938 and their second daughter Karin in 1941. After the war, Brigit was born in May 1946 and Sigrid in 1953.
In many respects the fit was better with Adi, who was quiet, willing to learn the needs of football players and more innovative than his brother. Herberger's drive to make Germany a dominant force in international football predated the war. He learned of 18 year old Fritz Walter in 1938 and began grooming him for the team. When war came Herberger was able to keep Walter out of the army. After the war, Herberger was deemed a Mitlaufer and the post-war German authorities continued him as the coach of the national team. Adi soon became a regular part of the entourage of the national team, who sat beside Herberger and adjusted players' shoes mid-game.
Once war began the Dasslers' ability to profit from Nazi enthusiasm for sport ended as the Reich became a total war machine. The Dassler firm was permitted to operate, but its production was severely curtailed. Then on 7 August 1940 Adi received notice of his conscription into the Wehrmacht. Although he reported in December to begin training as a radio technician, he was relieved of duty on 28 February 1941 on the ground that his services were essential in Gebrüder Dassler. Rudolf, who had already served four years during the Great War, was drafted in January 1943.
Rudolf's rage boiled over when he was called up again in January 1943 as part of a total mobilization program. He later expressed (to the Puma American distributors) the belief that he was unfairly repaid for getting his brother "released for the factory" in 1942 and claimed that for his own immediate conscription he "had to thank my brother and his [Nazi] party friends …" Stationed in Tuschin in April 1943, Rudolf wrote to his brother: "I will not hesitate to seek the closure of the factory so that you be forced to take up an occupation that will allow you to play the leader and, as a first-class sportsman, to carry a gun." Six months later the factory was indeed shut down, but as part of the Reich's Totaler Krieg—Kürzester Krieg (Total War—Shortest War) campaign, part of which involved converting all industry to military production. On leave at the time of the shut down, Rudolf intended to take some of the leather inventory for his own later use. Stunned to find that Adi had already done so, he denounced his brother to the Kreisleitung (the county level Party leaders), according to Käthe, who treated her husband "in the most demeaning manner."
In December 1943 the shoe-making machinery of the Dassler firm were replaced by spot-welding machines. The Army determined that the Dassler plant would thereafter make Panzerschreck, a shoulder-fired tube copied after captured American bazookas. Like the American proto-type, the weapon was designed to be relatively light weight and able to penetrate tank armor. Stationary testing suggested it could penetrate 230 mm, 15–75 mm deeper than the American bazooka. The Army's contractor was Schriker & Co., located in nearby Vach, which shifted assembly to Herzogenaurach to avoid Allied air raids. Parts were transported by rail to the Dassler plant where they were welded. The simple design of the weapon allowed the contractor to quickly train former seamstresses to spot weld sights and blast shields onto the pipes provided. the more complicated production of rockets continued in Vach. The weapons were to be distributed to tank-destroying detachments, and by March 1945 92,000 Panzerschrecks were in active use at the fronts of the rapidly constricting periphery of German territory. Although the weapon was remarkably effective and easily produced, its availability came too late in the war to save the Reich.
Back in Tuschin, Rudolf continued to make good on his resolve to wrest the plant from his brother. Using contacts at the Luftwaffe he attempted to have the production of Panzerschrecks replaced by government-ordered production of army boots under a patent he personally held. The patent proved defective, and his plan came to nothing. Unable to obtain permission to leave the Polish outpost, Rudolf turned to his own devising. Several weeks before January 19, 1945, when the Soviets overran Tuschin (which then reverted to its original name, Tuszyn) and decimated his unit, Rudolf had fled to Herzogenaurach (where a doctor provided him a certificate of military incapacity owing to a frozen foot). The now-defunct unit had been folded into the Schutzstaffel (SS). The sources for what Rudolf did between his desertion from Tuschin and the funeral of Rudolf's and Adi's father on 4 April 1945 is among the disputed records in the American denazification panels. On the day after the funeral he was arrested and taken to the Bärenschanze prison run by the Gestapo in Nürnberg. He remained there until the Allied liberation in early May.
On 25 July 1945, about two months after the arrival of U.S. troops, Rudolf was arrested by the American occupation authorities, on suspicion that he worked for the Sicherheitsdienst (the secret service of the Reichsführer-SS commonly known as the SD) engaged in counterespionage and censorship, and was sent to an internment camp in Hammelburg. Rudolf began to prepare a defense that he did not voluntarily help the Reich and did not in any event engage in SS or SD activities. The American investigators soon discovered his early Nazi party membership and proof that he volunteered for the Wehrmacht in 1941. They even knew that in Tuschin his job was to keep track of "personal and smuggling cases." His key problem, however, was in explaining his activities after he had been summoned to Nuremberg in March by the Gestapo. Rudolf maintained that he had been summoned on March 13 for an investigation of his earlier unauthorized departure from Tuschin and did nothing but report daily to the Gestapo while they investigated him for over two weeks. He claimed that he escaped on March 20. Rudolf used written statements of his former superior in Tuschin (who was in the same camp and alleged to be the intelligence chief of the region) and a driver he encountered after he was arrested by the Gestapo in April (who was also incarcerated with Rudolf). Rudolf made much use of the latter's testimony and averred that he had been sentenced by the Gestapo to the Dachau concentration camp. Rudolf claimed that en route the driver was ordered to shoot all the prisoners, disregarded the order, continued toward Dachau but was stopped by advancing Allied troops to whom he released the prisoners, including Rudolf. The American investigator in charge of the case did not credit any of this testimony, which he regarded as mere cover for the unlawful activity of all three. He noted that both Rudolf's wife and his brother Adi testified that Rudolf worked for the Gestapo. The investigation ground on for nearly a year. During the time it became apparent that it was not possible to hold all the prisoners for a detailed examination of the case, and the authorities decided to release all persons not deemed to be a security threat. Accordingly, Rudolf was released on 31 July 1946.
After the war, the Dassler firm found itself with some of the same problems that it faced at the beginning. A world war had decimated the German economy and supplies for the shoe factory were hard to come by. In addition, the firm had to convert back from weapons to shoe production. This time, however, the American occupying authorities were interested in reviving economic activity, so they gave the firm active encouragement. American officers had commandeered the Dassler house for their residence on 16 April 1945, and thus Adi had close contact with officials who gave him access to unneeded war material for production. Until a source of leather became available Adi made use of the rubber from fuel tanks and rafts and canvas from tents to make shoes. Adi was thus able to produce shoes, and save for the months in 1946 while under the classification of Belasteter he was able to manage the business (from July 1946 to February 1947 under the supervision of a trustee) until the separation from his brother in 1948.
In the course of the appeal proceedings Rudolf Dassler inserted statements that claimed that Adi Dassler had organized the production of weapons himself and for his own profit and that Rudolf would have resisted the change in production if he were present. He also claimed that his brother had falsely denounced him and that Adi had made political speeches to employees at the plant. Among other proofs submitted by Adi's counsel was a strong denial of all Rudolf's claims by Käthe. On 11 November 1946 the Spruchkammer Höchstadt sitting in Herzogenaurach changed Adi's status to Mitläufer (follower), relieving him of most of his civil disabilities, but still required some supervision. On 3 February 1947, ownership was returned and he was formally granted permission to resume management of the firm.
Meanwhile, Adi was concerned in designing a distinctive look for his shoes, at least partially so that it would be possible to show which athletes used his footwear. He fell upon the idea of coloring the straps used for reinforcement on the sides of the shoes a different color than the shoes themselves. He experimented with different numbers of straps and ultimately decided on three. The "three stripes" became a distinctive mark of Adidas shoes. In March 1949 Dassler registered the three stripe logo as the company's trademark. As for the company's name, the plan was to use a contraction of Adi's nickname and last name (much as Rudolf originally contemplated by naming his firm "Ruda" before deciding on "Puma"), but "Addas" was rejected on the ground that it was used by a children's shoe manufacturer. Accordingly, in his August 18, 1949 company registration, Adi added a handwritten "i" between Ad- and -das to maintain the contraction (Adi Dassler). As a result, the company became known as Adolf Dassler adidas Schuhfabrik.
Dassler was married to Käthe until his death from heart failure in 1978. They had 4 children. In 1973, their son Horst Dassler founded Arena, a producer of swimming equipment. Käthe Dassler died on December 31, 1984.
After Adolf Dassler's death his son Horst and his wife Käthe took over the management. Horst died on April 11, 1987.
Adidas was transformed into a private limited company in 1989, but remained family property until its IPO in 1995. The last of the family members who worked for Adidas was Frank Dassler (the grandson of Rudolf), head of the legal department since 2004, who resigned in January 2018.
In 2006, a sculpture of Dassler was unveiled in the Adi Dassler Stadium in Herzogenaurach. It was created by the artist Josef Tabachnyk.
Currently, Adolf Dassler is 121 years, 6 months and 19 days old. Adolf Dassler will celebrate 122nd birthday on a Thursday 3rd of November 2022.
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