One company – Two histories

The history of KNDS Deutschland reaches far back into the 19th century and begins in two places: Munich and Kassel.


1838 – 1931

In 1838, Joseph Anton Ritter von Maffei acquired the Munich hammersmiths known as the Lindauer’scher Hammer and developed it into the locomotive and machinery factory, J. A. Maffei. While it started off as a small enterprise, it quickly grew to become a locomotive factory with an international reputation.

In 1866, Georg von Krauss, who had been working as a locksmith at J. A. Maffei , also founded a locomotive factory in Munich: Die Krauss + Comp. KG. Both companies developed into joint-stock companies independently of one another. As a result of the Great Depression, J. A. Maffei went bankrupt in 1930. In 1931, Krauss AG – which had in the meantime become a majority holding of Deutsche Bank – acquired Maffei AG.

In 1882, Peter Wegmann and Richard Harkort founded the company Casseler Waggonfabriken von Wegmann, Harkort & Co in Kassel. It was renamed Wegmann & Co. in 1886. August Bode and Conrad Köhler acquired the company in 1912.

1933 – 1945

The years from 1933 to 1945 doubtlessly mark the darkest time in German history, and thus in the company histories of Krauss-Maffei and Wegmann & Co. as well. The companies, which up to that time primarily built locomotives, railway cars and cargo vehicles, were increasingly being used to develop military products.

In 1938, Krauss-Maffei’s production facilities in Munich-Hirschau were relinquished and the Munich-Allach location was expanded further. During the Second World War, Krauss-Maffei and Wegmann & Co. used thousands of concentration camp inmates and prisoners of war for forced labour. Both companies grew to become leading arms producers of the German Empire during this time.



Die Buderus’sche Eisenwerk AG acquired Deutsche Bank’s equity stake in the mid-1950s, thereby becoming the new owner of Krauss-Maffei in Munich.

1999 – 2010

In 1999, the company Wegmann & Co., which was a majority holding of the Bode family, acquired 51 percent of the arms division of Krauss-Maffei, which was then a subsidiary of Mannesmann AG. Thus emerged KNDS Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG (KMW). The remaining 49 percent remained in the ownership of Krauss-Maffei AG.

After Vodafone acquired Mannesmann AG , the industrial division of Mannesmann was sold to Siemens and Bosch . This gave Siemens a 49-percent share in KMW. In December 2010, Siemens sold its share in Wegmann & Co. Unternehmens-Holding KG.

2015: The starting shot for KNDS

In July 2015, KMW and the French arms company Nexter Systems signed a contract on the merger of both companies. Nexter S. A. was in the sole ownership of the French state holding GIAT Industries S. A. The respective sole shareholders incorporated their shares into a new joint holding based in the Netherlands. They each receive 50 percent of the shares in this holding, which is the sole proprietor of KMW and Nexter. Founded in December 2015, the holding bears the name KNDS – KMW + Nexter Defense Systems.

Today, KNDS Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG is part of the French-German defence technology group KNDS, and a market leader in Europe for heavily armoured wheeled and tracked vehicles.



KNDS, the merger of the German and French land defense systems providers Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Nexter, is harmonizing its brand image. In future, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Nexter and their subsidiaries will appear exclusively under the single brand KNDS. KNDS is thus underlining its claim of being a driving force in the necessary consolidation of the European industry for military land systems. So far, the industry has been characterized by numerous national manufacturers with a wide range of products and systems. Their consolidation and joint strategic governance will make a significant contribution to the standardization of land forces in Europe and the other customers of Europe’s defense industry.


Comprehensive product portfolio

At sites in Germany, Brazil, Greece, Mexico, Singapore, the UK and the US, more than 4,000 employees manufacture and oversee a comprehensive product portfolio. This ranges from air-transportable and heavily armoured wheeled vehicles, reconnaissance, air defence and artillery systems, through to battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and bridge laying systems.

It also includes command and information systems as well as remote-controlled gun mounts with reconnaissance and observation equipment. KNDS Deutschland also has extensive system expertise in civilian and military simulation. The armed forces of more than 50 countries around the world rely on the deployment systems of KNDS Deutschland.