The Dassler Brothers: The Founders of Adidas and Puma

The Dassler Brothers are known as the founders of Adidas and also the founders of Puma. These two companies, namely Adidas and Puma, are known as leading shoe and sports equipment companies in the world.

However, not many people know that these two companies are each owned by two brothers named Rudolf Dassler and Adolf Dassler who come from Germany. Adolf Dassler as the founder of Adidas and Rudolf Dassler as the founder of Puma as his rivals.

We could say that the competition between Adidas and Puma is a rivalry between brothers in the sports equipment business. The following is a profile and biography of the Dassler Brothers and the history of the rivalry between the founders of Adidas and Puma.

Biography of the Dassler Brothers

Rudolf is the older brother of Adolf Dassler, Rudolf was born on March 26 1896 and his younger brother Adolf was born on November 3 1900. Their father was named Christoph Von Wilhelm and their mother was Paulina Dassler.

Their fathers both worked in a shoe factory in Germany when the First World War was raging. Germany’s defeat in the first world war devastated life in Germany.

Working in a Shoe Factory

Their life then became increasingly difficult, in the end Rudolf and Adolf then helped their father who worked in a shoe factory. Working in a shoe factory gave Rudolf and Adolf skills in making shoes.

In the end, Rudolf decided to leave and stop working at the factory. Not long after, his younger brother Adolf Dassler followed in his brother’s footsteps by leaving the factory.

Established the GDS Shoe Factory

The two of them then founded a shoe manufacturing company called Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik (GDS) or Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory where Rudolf worked as head of marketing and Adolf Dassler worked as head of shoe production.

They started the business using a washing place owned by Paulina Dassler’s mother in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

After running their own shoe business for some time, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler faced the fact that sales of everything they made were very few.

Finally, the two of them changed their promotional strategy by Deltsapure sponsoring several sports athletes who competed in the 1928 Summer Olympics in the Netherlands.

Then in 1936, the Dassler brothers sponsored an African-American athlete named Jesse Owens who competed in the Olympics in Berlin.

The athlete then won four gold medals at the Olympics. The athlete’s success helped popularize the shoe products made by the Dassler brothers.

The name GDS (Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik) then skyrocketed and managed to get lots of orders for their shoes even when it reached up to 200 thousand orders every year.

Compulsory Military Service

In 1930, when Germany was controlled by Adolf Hitler through his Nazi party, the Dassler brothers were obliged to undergo military service. They both then joined the Wehrmacht, namely the Nazi-German forces.

Meanwhile Adolf was prepared to fight the western front, while his brother, Rudolf Dassler was assigned to fight against the Russian red army.

Rudolf was arrested by the Gestapo (German Secret Police) because he refused to follow the orders given.

Finally he was taken to the Dachau concentration camp but was freed by American soldiers but then taken to the Prisoner of War prison in the Hammelburg area.

The sibling feud that gave birth to ADIDAS and PUMA

Rudolf’s brother, Adolf, remained in their factory and worked making shoes for the Nazi-German army. But then Adolf broke with the Nazi party.

Not long afterward, Rudolf Dassler was arrested by American soldiers on suspicion of being a member of the Nazi SS troops. He was then thrown into prison.

Rudolf’s arrest by American troops made the relationship between Adolf and Rudolf increasingly strained, especially since the GDS (Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik) factory was almost bombed by allied forces in 1943 and Adolf did not help his brother at that time to get out of prison.

In fact, the cause of the dispute between the two brothers is not really known. However, the reason that people talk about most often is when Adolf Dassler and his wife ran to a refugee camp when the allies launched an air attack.

Adolf heard his brother Rudolf say ‘The Schweunhunde (very rude swear word) is back again.’ Adolf thought that the curse was directed at him and Rudolf explained that the curse was intended for an ally. But Adolf didn’t believe it. However, there are also those who believe that the dispute between the two brothers was due to political differences.

Rudolf Dassler as Founder of PUMA

After the second world war ended. The dispute between the two brothers escalated. Rudolf then decided to leave GDS.

He chose to establish a shoe factory called RUDA, an abbreviation of Rudolf Dassler. The factory is located across the Aurach River but not far from his brother’s factory, namely Adolf Dassler. However, not long afterward, Rudolf changed the name of his factory to PUMA. Rudolf Dassler later became known as the Founder of PUMA.

Adolf Dassler as Founder of ADIDAS

After Rudolf left, his brother, Adolf Dassler, changed the name of his shoe factory from GDS to ADIDAS, which is an abbreviation of Adi Dassler.

So Adolf Dassler is known as the Founder of ADIDAS. Many see the competition between PUMA and ADIDAS like a competition between brothers and sisters who don’t get along.

Rudolf’s PUMA chose to sponsor the German football team in 1950.

However, not long after that the contract was not continued and finally ADIDAS took over as sponsor of the West German national team at that time.

The rivalry between Adidas and Puma

Until finally the West German national team won the 1954 world cup in Switzerland, which made the name ADIDAS soar and become known as the leading manufacturer of shoes and sports equipment in the world.

The founder of ADIDAs, Adolf Dassler, died on 6 September 1978 in Herzogenaurach, after his death his son Horst Dassler then led ADIDAS.

Horst founded Arena, a swimming equipment manufacturing company. ADIDAS also acquired Reebook to increase competition with the company Nike.

Meanwhile, Rudolf Dassler, founder of PUMA, died on October 27 1974 in Herzogenaurach. The company was then continued by his son Armin Dassler who then brought PUMA to world fame.

Until now, both PUMA and ADIDAS continue to compete fiercely, ADIDAS currently remains the sponsor of the German national team and also sponsors the national teams of other countries.

ADIDAS also sponsors various sports clubs in the world and many athletes in the world. Likewise, PUMA sponsors various national teams in countries around the world and is also a sponsor for many famous sports athletes in the world.

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