The Dutch origin of an inventive man: André Citroën

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Engineer André Gustave Citroen, born in Paris in 1878 from a Dutch father and Polish mother, travels to Poland at a young age and makes the discovery that would change his life. He thinks that the gears with herringbone teeth can in this way transfer larger forces and cause less wear. He buys the invention, applies for a patent in Paris and combines it with other applications of iron and steel. It is the start of a turbulent history of a special car manufacturer.

These gears with herringbone teeth will later become the origin of the Citroënlogo: the double chevron. The origin of the name Citroen is incidentally in Amsterdam, where one of André's ancestors traded in fruit and was nicknamed Limoenman. When capturing the surnames in the time of Napoleon, the name became Citroen chosen.

To Mors

When the ailing Mors car factory is looking for a new manager, André becomes Citroën (now with trema} nominated. With his special vision on marketing and publicity he will be able to turn the tide for Mors. The brand will even be taken over as a whole later and will exist until around 1925.

Grenade factory

After his position at Mors, André becomes Citroën called for military service. And here he soon notices that there is a chronic shortage of grenades on the French side. Citroën writes a plea to work constructively on the deficit and starts looking for money within his own circles. With all this he knows how to convince the army top and in 1915 on the outskirts of Paris in the Javel district a plow of vegetable gardens is plowed, where not much later the grenade factory of Citroën will rise. Women are used for production - the men are at the front. To make working conditions more pleasant for women, special items such as crèches and shops are integrated in the factory.

From grenades to cars

Andre Citroën thinks (and hopes) that the war with all its misery will not last long - and he wants to use his experiences with mass production of the shells for something else. And that experience makes him choose the auto industry. Not for the chic, expensive models, but for a volkswagen. With the collaboration of car designer Jules Salomon, the first Citroën designed: the 10HP Type A. A week after the sign of peace, the prototype of the car, which then still as the André brand Citroën "approved". However, it will take another six months before the first copy can be handed over to the impatient buyers.

The successful and inventive start of a commercial era

A great demand arises, fueled by the special advertisements that the brand has appeared in daily and weekly newspapers from the beginning of 1919. Citroën creates and thinks about special campaigns. He thinks it up car credit, and through beautiful visualization he lets the car live among the public. André also appears Citroën not to be shy of large-scale publicity, because the Eiffel Tower proudly bears the name of 1925 Citroën. Road shows take place on an intercontinental level.

Who has the youth ...

André has noticed early on that a preference can be developed in youth. He therefore also designs it Citroën children's toys and the Citroënneat, a children's car. They are factors that contribute to the successful start time of an 100-year period, in which Citroën develops a special name and knows how to win its own collection of enthusiasts. An initial period that results in an era (before the war) in which Citroën is the largest European car manufacturer. And a start that will forever be connected to a skilled Parisian with Dutch and Polish blood in his veins.


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  1. Keep an eye on the site of the Alliance Francaise in Zutphen. That's where Anne Lobbes, the PR director, comes from Citroen Sometime this spring give a speech where non-members of the AF are also welcome.

  2. “He comes up with gears with herringbone teeth that can transmit greater forces and cause less wear in this way. He buys the invention, applies for a patent in Paris and combines it with other applications of iron and steel. ”

    Like André Citroën who has devised herringbone teeth, why does he have to buy that idea?

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