Helmut Knaus senior: Master of the swallows

When the architect, Helmut Knaus senior, founded his caravan company, Knaus KG“, in Marktbreit near Würzburg in 1960, the company’s fate was in one man’s hands – his hands: the appearance of the factory, the design of the still well-known trademark with the two swallows and the development of a first caravan called the “Schwalbennest” (swallow’s nest), which up to that time had not been seen.

It was a design sensation in terms of light-weight construction and aerodynamics and in the spring of 1961 caused a furore and drew criticism at the same time at the international camping exhibition in Essen. What’s it supposed to be? An “egg” to tow along behind you? A discussion about design and good taste entirely as intended by the inventor, because, God knows, he was not a man of mediocrity. Helmut Knaus senior, who had also studied engineering and architecture, shaped, designed and formed entirely according to his taste and knowledge – he always carried the intuition of the creator with him. The rest is history. The strange caravan egg became the success driver par excellence for the company, followed by the still “stirring” SÜDWIND and many other Knaus creations. And the price? In 1963 a “Schwalbennest” cost between 2,750 and 3,500 DM – award-winning design at no extra cost. At the “beauty contest” of the XXI International Automobile Show in Bad Neuenahr in 1961, the “Schwalbennest” models, “Luxus”, “Komfort” and “Sport” were all awarded gold.  If Helmut Knaus senior did something, he did it right. Even creating jobs.  In 1970 the native of Heilbronn moved to the Bavarian Forest, together with all his innovative energy, where he invested 5 million Euros and provided 300 people with employment. Almost 35 years later, this had grown to 900 jobs at the Jandelsbrunn site alone, plus hundreds of others in Mottgers, Hesse and at the site in Hungary. And from the 100 “Schwalbennests” in 1961 more than 20,000 caravans and mobile homes rolled of the production line one generation later. The rest is history.

The history of a man, who in 1973 was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic, first class and the Bavarian Order of Merit. The moving life’s work of a pioneer, which also started with a small sketch book, which Brigitte, the wife of Helmut Knaus senior, had rescued from the war. This contained his first ideas for a caravan, which was to write history.