History. More than 110 years of experience in braking technologies.

1905 to 1944: Founding and rise


  • Georg Knorr founds Knorr-Bremse GmbH in Berlin

1918 to 1926

  • Air brakes for freight trains developed
  • The company rises to become the largest brake manufacturer for rail vehicles in Europe


  • The first air brakes for commercial vehicles are patented

1931 to 1939

  • The Hildebrand-Knorr braking system becomes the standard in 17 countries
  • In 1939 90% of all German 7-16 t trucks are equipped with Knorr-Bremse systems

1945 to 1984: Post-war period and reconstruction


  • Base plant in Berlin confiscated and dismantled after WWII

1945 to 1953

  • Development and production of braking devices resumes in West Germany
  • New company headquarters established in Munich

1960 to 1980

  • KE control valve becomes UIC standard
  • Knorr-Bremse enters the US market with the AAR DB-60 valve for rail vehicles

1985 until today: Expansion through concentration

1985 to 1990

  • 1985: Takeover by Heinz Hermann Thiele
  • Restructuring and concentration on braking technology for rail and commercial vehicles
  • Breakup of the legal corporate structure and creation of two divisions

1990 to 2000

  • Creation of an international production group through subsidiaries and acquisitions
  • Joint venture with VEB Berliner Bremswerk and Robert Bosch GmbH
  • Takeover of NYAB and IFE
  • Large-scale production of pneumatically-operated disc brakes for commercial vehicles begins

2000 until today

  • Global presence expanded
  • Knorr-Bremse develops into one of the world’s leading braking technology companies
  • Takeover of Westinghouse, Bendix, Zelisko, Microelettrica, Merak
  • 2015: 110-year anniversary of the company
  • Joint ventures in the booming Chinese and Russian markets
  • 2016: Entering the steering system business with Knorr-Bremse SteeringSystems
  • 2017: Acquisition of Kiepe Electric: a step toward electrification

2021 Death of Heinz Hermann Thiele

Heinz Hermann Thiele, majority shareholder and long-time Chairman of the Executive Board and Supervisory Board of Knorr-Bremse AG, passed away on February 23, 2021, at the age of 79, in Munich.

Through his entrepreneurial vision, in more than 35 years he built up the Knorr-Bremse Group from a medium-sized company in a difficult economic situation into a profitable, globally successful corporation with almost 30,000 employees and annual sales of around EUR 7 billion.

In 1969 he began his career at Knorr-Bremse as a legal clerk in the patent department. From 1975, Thiele was entrusted with the development and expansion of the Commercial Vehicle Systems division, and in 1979 was appointed to the company's Executive Board, where he served for 28 years. In 1987, he became Chairman of the Executive Board of the Group, whose shares he successively acquired from 1985 onward. From 2007 to 2016 Thiele was Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Knorr-Bremse AG, and from July 2020 Deputy Chairman. In 2016, Heinz Hermann Thiele was appointed Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board.