International Harvester Invests in Germany

International Harvester endures two World Wars while expanding its reach into Germany.


| February 2014



McCormick D

McCormick Model D-430

Photo courtesy Matthias Buschmann collection

Red Tractors 1958-2013 (Octane Press, 2013) is an authoritative and unparalleled look at the tractors built by International Harvester Company and Case IH. Author Lee Klancher leads a research team that has collected more than 380 pages and 700 images, documenting these beloved machines built in America and abroad. In this multi-part series, Farm Collector shares the first chapter of Red Tractor, "1958-1959 The Hinsdale Connection". Matthias Buschmann and Johann Dittmer wrote this first chapter excerpt, which is about IHC Tractors from Germany.

You can purchase this book from the Farm Collector store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.

German IH Tractors: 1908–1959

Both Deering & McCormick opened sales branches in Germany in the 1880s, which IHC operated after forming in 1902. Growing demand for agricultural machinery in Germany, combined with the introduction of burdensome new taxes on foreign imports, led to International Harvester headquarters in Chicago establishing a new production facility in Germany. Precedent for this expansion had been set by similar efforts underway in Sweden and France.

In 1908, IHC established International Harvester Company GmbH in Germany, based at Neuss am Rhein. The company purchased 100,000 square meters of land in the Neuss Harbor district in 1909 and construction began the following year. The production sites were designed and built to standard IHC specifications while the location was chosen for its access to the Rhein River, allowing for direct supply of raw materials and shipping of finished products.

Beginning in 1911, the Neuss plant began manufacturing hay tenders, hay rakes, mowers, reapers, and fertilizer spreaders branded and sold under the Deering & McCormick name. The Neuss plant would produce various machines and tractors under these two brands until 1948. In 1914, facilities were expanded with the addition of a spinning mill established to supply twine fabric material. During World War I (1914–1918), IHC Neuss suffered from severe personnel and raw materials shortages. The plant was also forced to halt production for three months during the spring of 1924 due to the occupation of the Ruhr Valley by French forces. The worldwide economic depression that followed was overcome with the assistance of American loans. Having survived great turmoil, IHC Neuss celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1934 with total production of more than 45,000 agricultural machines.

Beginning in January 1933, the nationalization movement in Germany had a grave impact on businesses and hit foreign companies hardest of all. Starting in 1935, exorbitant taxes placed on foreign-built tractors made their importation financially unviable. The goal of the Nazi regime was to establish complete independence from foreign imports. Given these burdensome new taxes, IHC shifted Neuss production from agricultural machinery to tractors. Construction of new tractor production lines began in 1936, with the delivery of production equipment and technical know-how once again made possible by loans from American creditors. In May 1937, the first Model F-12-G and I-12-G tractors began rolling off the production line. (The G in the model name was short for Germany.) The adaptation of the F-12-G for the German market called for an increase in power delivery through the power-takeoff shaft and pulleys. The first FG and FS models were delivered in 1940. The FG came with rubber tires and the FS was equipped with steel wheels.