History is punctuated by the efforts of women who have made significant contributions to the lives of their famous husbands. One such figure is undoubtedly Bertha Benz, the resolute companion of Karl Benz. She was born Bertha Ringer on 3 May 1849 in Pforzheim and married Karl Benz on 20 July 1872 at the age of 23. Without her strong will and unshakeable belief in the success of her husband, the Benz & Cie. company may never have existed.
Bertha Benz was always supportive of her husband, encouraging him to keep going when the brilliant inventor and design engineer suffered serious technical setbacks and increasing self-doubt about the direction his work was taking. Her unflinching optimism and ability to find the best solution to difficult situations constantly saw her re-emerge from life’s troughs.
Even during her engagement to Karl Benz, Bertha made a spontaneous and selfless decision that would prove essential to her husband-to-be. When it emerged that Karl Benz had been manoeuvred into a virtually irrevocable financial situation by a business partner, August Ritter, Bertha Benz offered her dowry to him in advance. Although not a huge amount of money, it was enough to buy out the partner and secure all future decision-making powers for Karl Benz.