Murder, suicide or an accident: the famous inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel, died under unexplained circumstances in the English Channel in 1913. He was previously on a ship to England. No one knows what happened on board. Some conspiracy theorists have a suspicion: it was a plot, and behind it was the German Kaiser.
More about Mystery
Rudolf Diesel's last evening seems to have been carefree. The inventor of the engine of the same name was on 29. September 1913 with the postal ship "Dresden on the way to England.
On board was also his friend George Carels. They ate together, strolled the deck and finally retired to their respective cabins around 10 p.M., Carels later recounted.
But the next morning Diesel did not show up for breakfast. His bed remained untouched, the sleeping robe lay folded on it, the pocket watch hung on the post. The 55-year-old had disappeared without a trace.
The body in the English Channel
Two weeks later, the crew of a pilot boat discovered a body in the English Channel. It is very likely that the person in question was Rudolf Diesel. It was not identified: the sailors left the body in the water.
Later, two possible reasons for this were discussed: First, the weather had been too bad to recover the body. Secondly, the dead man had already been too decomposed.
Nevertheless, the crew recovered the man's belongings. His son recognized an eyeglass case, purse and pocket knife that had belonged to his father.
Rudolf Diesel was obviously drowned. But why? Was it an accident? Had he killed himself? Or had he even been murdered? To this day, the mysterious circumstances of his death have not been solved. But they still provide material for conspiracy theories and speculation.
Diesel's revolutionary invention
Diesel's compression-ignition engine had revolutionized industry and transportation because it worked more effectively than the steam engine. In 1892, he had applied for a patent for his heat engine. But it brought his developer little happiness.
From the beginning of the 20. At the beginning of the twentieth century, smaller ships sailed with the new propulsion, followed by cargo ships in 1912. Diesel did not live to see use in trucks and cars from the 1920s onwards. The inventor became a millionaire through licensing income for the diesel technology from abroad.
But the wealth did not last long: His fortune dwindled due to misinvested money, speculation on the stock market and patent disputes. This is what the "Bayerischer Rundfunk" writes .
Financial problems and a cross in the diary
Allegedly, the inventor was in financial trouble when he died. Was this the motive for suicide, as some suggest? It fits that Diesel is said to have given his wife a suitcase before the shipping – after his death, she discovered in it 200.000 marks.
According to rumors, there were other possible motives for a suicide: Diesel is said to have reported an oppressive feeling and depression in a letter to his wife a few days before his death, wrote a French newspaper in 1934.
Police also assumed that the 55-year-old had taken his own life. One of the reasons: A black cross was scribbled in his diary on the day he disappeared.
Investigators had immediately ruled out an accident, the press said at the time: The sea had been calm and the railing too high for anyone to have tripped over it.
Doubts about the suicide thesis
But the suicide theory quickly attracted skeptics. Why would Diesel have a nightgown and watch ready if he was going to drown himself?? Why did he not leave a suicide note?
According to his companion, the inventor had been in a good mood the night before he disappeared. And the cross in the diary did not have to be his – maybe his murderers had painted it?
Until today there are speculations that Diesel has been killed. But by whom and why? Many believe that the German emperor gave the order to do so. According to a diesel biography by Viktor Glass, he feared that the inventor might allow the British to use the diesel engine for military purposes.
At the same time, he is said to have prohibited the German armed forces from using the technology exclusively. The conspiracy theorists think they know why Diesel's body was not recovered: Because the "Dresden" was a German ship, the German police investigated – they may have wanted to cover up the murder.
Other suspects: England or the oil industry
But some experts think a murder because of diesel licenses is nonsense. Companies all over the world had long since had access to the technology. Other conspiracy theorists suspect other contract killers: Perhaps the British secret service had Diesel killed to sabotage German rearmament plans shortly before the First World War?
Or did the oil industry have a hand in it?? Diesel allegedly wanted to use vegetable instead of mineral oils in its engines. However, this theory is also not plausible, because vegetable oil would have been much too expensive in the long run. At least this is the opinion of "Die Zeit.
Today, most experts assume that Diesel actually took his own life. His friend George Carels, who was one of the last to see him alive, had his own theory, according to the Tagesspiegel: He suspected that Diesel had an unspecified "seizure" had – and had therefore unfortunately fallen into the water.