Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen was born on July 30, 1878 in Nakskov, Denmark. After engineering studies in Mittweida and Zwickau, he set up a small factory in 1907 in Zschopau (Erzgebirge) to make steam fittings.
During the first world war he experimented with steam-driven vehicles, the German initials (DKW) for such vehicles later being adopted for all his products. After 1918, Rasmussen produced two-stroke engines in Zschopau and started to manufacture motorcycles. This was the beginning of an almost unbelievable period of growth, which was to make his Zschopauer Motorenwerke the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world by 1928.
Start of car production
Car production also started in that year. Rasmussen, a gifted businessman, built up a small industrial empire in Southern Saxony within only a few years. However, the worldwide economic crisis of 1929 took its toll of the Zschopauer Motorenwerke, with their many outside suppliers. Negotiations were started with the State Bank of Saxony that were to result in the formation of the Auto Union as a fusion between Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer.
A key figure in founding Auto Union AG
Rasmussen was undoubtedly one of the key figures in the establishment of the new Auto Union AG. He was a member of the Board of Management from 1932 to 1934, but resigned in 1935 after insoluble differences of opinion on management questions. He moved to Sacrow, near Berlin, in 1937, and after the second world war returned to Denmark, where he died in Copenhagen on August 12, 1964.