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Otto Metzger

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Otto Metzger was a German-British engineer, and inventor of an impact-extrusion process for forming seamless zinc and brass cans


  • 1 Family
  • 2 First World War
  • 3 Engineering career in Germany
  • 4 Nazi persecution and emigration
  • 5 Later life in Britain
  • 6 References


Otto Metzger was the son of Jewish parents: Ludwig Metzger 1852–1931 and Gretchen Guldmann 1864–1943[1][2] He grew up in Nuremberg, Germany, where he met his wife, Sophie Josephthal 1894–1998[3]

First World War

Otto Metzger had previously served as a reserve officer in the Bavarian Engineers and so, at the outbreak of the First World War, he was immediately conscripted He served in the Imperial German Army on the Western Front, and rose to the rank of lieutenant, and was awarded Iron Cross medals 1st and 2nd class[4]

Engineering career in Germany

After his early schooling at the Neues Gymnasium in Nuremberg, he continued his studies at the Technical University of Munich, and obtained a Diplom-Ingenieur degree in mechanical engineering at the Berlin-Charlottenburg Technical Academy

Otto Metzger then spent several years travelling and gaining engineering experience both in Germany, and also in Austria, France, Britain, USA and in Mexico

On his return to Nuremberg in 1912, he took a post with a local metals company, Schmidtmer & Co, first as an engineer, and then becoming a partner After the First World War, he returned to his previous work; the company then called Süddeutsche Metallindustrie was taken over by Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke AG in 1926, and in 1930 became a subsidiary of the conglomerate Metallindustrie AG[4] He was to stay with that company in various engineering and management positions until 1938, during which time he developed and patented inventions related to impact-extrusion of zinc, brass and other non-ferrous metals[5][6][7] Typical products for these patents were seamless cans for zinc-carbon batteries, brass shell casings, and containers for foodstuff and for drinks

Nazi persecution and emigration

Starting in about 1933, the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany intensified

This reached a climax on 9 November 1938, when Jews were attacked in their homes and businesses during the night of Kristallnacht Otto Metzger was returning from Britain, where he had just concluded a licensing agreement with a British company, Enfield Rolling Mills Ltd, to use his patented impact-extrusion technology He was arrested by the Gestapo at the German border, on his way home to Nuremberg, and imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp Meanwhile his wife, having had their home and belongings invaded and smashed by Nazi stormtroopers and having spent the night wandering the streets of Nuremberg, waited in vain for Otto’s return[4]

Otto Metzger was released from Dachau on 15 December 1938, and returned home to Nuremberg By late-February 1939, he had managed to obtain the necessary travel documents to leave Germany, and he and his wife left for Britain Otto had been unable to obtain documents for his mother Gretchen who by that time was aged 74; she remained in Nuremberg, and was transported by the Nazis to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she died in 1943[2]

Later life in Britain

On arrival in Britain in early 1939, Otto Metzger was immediately employed by Enfield Rolling Mills Ltd He stayed with the company until his retirement in 1958, rising to the position of Managing Director[4]

During the Second World War, Otto Metzger was not interned as an enemy alien, as were most German immigrants; the British Government valued his expertise for the war effort

Otto Metzger died of a heart attack in 1961 He and his wife Sophie are commemorated by adjacent rose bushes, planted in the Liberal Jewish Cemetery in London


  1. ^ "Ludwig Metzger" Genicom Retrieved 2017-02-18mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflink
  2. ^ a b "Gretchen Guldmann" Genicom Retrieved 2017-02-18
  3. ^ "Sophie Josephthal" Genicom Retrieved 2017-02-18
  4. ^ a b c d Berlin, Ludwig 2001 "Biography of Otto Metzger" PDF Nuremberg: Rijo Research Retrieved 2017-02-18
  5. ^ US patent 1918858, Otto Metzger, "Matrix for extruding metals", issued 1933-07-18 
  6. ^ US patent 2099449, Otto Metzger, "Method of making dry cells", issued 1937-11-16 
  7. ^ US patent 2117738, Otto Metzger, "Packing for perishable victuals", issued 1938-05-17 

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