Part II: 1901 – 1959
At the end of the 1950s, atomic power was considered the technology of the future worldwide. Across political party boundaries, there was an agreement that West Germany should play a leading role when it came to using the almost unlimited nuclear energy resources.
In the autumn of 1957, TÜV Bayern organised a nuclear energy and radiation protection task force and prepared a safety report for the research reactor in Munich that went into operation on October 31 of that year.
The Munich TÜV experts were also sought out as advisors in the building of the first experimental nuclear power plant, in Kahl, near Aschaffenburg (1958–60) and in the construction of the first German power station, in Grundremmingen (1963–66).
For many West Germans, owning a car was at the top of their wish list. However, growing individual transport became a safety problem. In 1951, legislators responded by stipulating that all registered motorised vehicles should be subjected to regular general inspections.
Almost everywhere, the TÜV organisations were tasked with executing this program. In addition, the associations were assigned a key role in improving road safety.
The pioneer here was TÜV Stuttgart, which founded a “Medizinisch- Psychologisches Institut für Verkehrssicherheit” (MPI: medical-psychological institute for transportation safety) in 1952. Under the aegis of the MPI, drivers with frequent accidents or those with special medical conditions were to be examined for their suitability to operate motorised vehicles.
In November 1954, the first psychological medical examination office was opened in Bavaria.
While technical safety in the Soviet-occupied zone became a governmental responsibility, the inspection associations in the West could re-establish themselves.
At first, they operated in an essentially ambiguous legal situation without official recognition, but tolerated by the Allied authorities. Still, prior to the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), most of the regional organisations were re-entered in association registers in 1948 and 1949.
Based on new charters, the West German TÜV organisations went back to being autonomous. The principle of joining voluntarily once again replaced mandatory membership that was introduced in 1938.
In March 1938, a fundamental re-organisation of technical inspections occurred in Germany. The 37 facilities that existed to date in the Reich were transformed into 14 regional monitoring associations that were collectively named TÜV (Technische Überwachungsvereine: technical inspection associations).
A unifying charter replaced the individual statutes. For companies with facilities requiring inspection, membership in the respective TÜV organisation was made mandatory.
This modernised and standardised the technical inspection system nationwide. However, the price for doing so was high. The associations lost their independence and thus one of their key values.
By the end of the 1920s, Munich’s Oktoberfest had established itself as a major attraction. Carnival rides had existed there for more than a century, but these were yet to be systematically inspected.
Since the designs were increasingly daring and dangerous, the Bavarian Ministries of External Affairs, Internal Affairs and Agriculture and Labour issued a decree in the summer of 1929: The Bayerische Revisionsverein shall regularly inspect the “flying structures” in southern Bavaria.
In 1930, three of the association’s engineers were deployed at the Oktoberfest to inspect three roller coasters, three toboggan slides and one “motorway” track for weak points. Through the recurring work at the world’s biggest fair, the Munich-based engineers developed a unique, leading expertise in the area of mobile structures, which is still in demand worldwide to this day.
Emissions reduction is not an invention of the 1980s. The Bayerische Revisionsverein devoted itself to this purpose shortly after its founding. Back in 1879, the association had advised the magistrate of the City of Munich on the topic of flue gas prevention when firing boilers.
In the annual report of 1912, the Bavarian experts responded to the trend of increasingly lower chimneys. According to its progressive position, these are “not permissible due to the toxic flue gas components [...] in regard to the people, animals, and plants living in the vicinity [...].”
In 1921, the Bayerische Revisionsverein prepared a report about dust pollution caused by furnaces. Here, too, it called for builders to comply with minimum chimney heights.
Electric elevators have been tested by inspection associations since 1907 (Baden) and 1908 (Bavaria). However, it was initially left up to the operators to determine how often, if at all, inspections were performed.
This changed in Baden with an ordinance issued by the state government in the summer of 1912, which requireed inspections every two years for passenger elevators, and every four years for freight elevators.
All engineers of the Badische Revisionsverein were appointed as materials-handling experts by ministerial decree. Elevator inspections were conducted for the first time throughout the region in 1913 – and a new business area was created.
In September 1906, the Baden government adopted a regulation which stipulated the testing of automobiles and their drivers: “If a motorised vehicle is operated, the owner shall provide the district office of his city of residence with a written notice. [...] The notice shall bear the certificate of an officially recognised expert.” The “Badische Dampfkessel-Revisions-Verein” (Baden boiler inspection association) is tasked with performing these inspections.
To properly accomplish this task, the association worked with the company whose name is inextricably linked to the success story of the automobile – Benz & Co. – where 12 boiler engineers are trained to serve as automobile experts.
The name “Benz” was already a familiar one to car enthusiasts at the time: In 1886, Carl Benz had developed the first motorised automobile in history with his Patent-Motorwagen. In August 1888, Bertha Benz drove the 106 kilometres between Mannheim and Pforzheim using a vehicle developed by her husband, completing the first long-distance, overland journey in an automobile. Now, in 1906, technical inspections of motorised vehicles are conducted in Mannheim, the birthplace of automobile transportation.
The steam engine represented the start of the Industrial Revolution, but by now more and more machines were being powered by electricity.
In fact, Bavaria has had the “Revisions-Verein für elektrische Anlagen” (inspection association for electrical facilities) since 1900. Many of the members also belonged to the “Dampfkessel-Revisions-Verein” (boiler inspection association) as they used both technologies in their companies.
It was logical then that the two associations merged to form the “Bayerischer Revisionsverein” (Bavarian inspection association) in 1903. That same year, the Bavarian Dampfkessel-Revisions-Verein established an electronics division.