R.S Stokvis & Zonen was founded in 1849 as a continuation of the company of their father Raphael Samuel(R.S.) Stokvis (wholesale trade in English hardware and tools and Brabant cast ornaments). It became a large conglomerate of trading and construction companies and had, among other things, a large bicycle and motorcycle department in Rotterdam. They were at some time during the 20th century the Dutch importers for Peugeot, Minerva, Pope, Bradbury, Calthorpe, Harley Davidson, Gnome Rhone, Indian, Frances Barnett, OK Supreme, DKW, Ariel, BMW, Velocette and Matchless. The relation with the Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd. came from a different angle. In 1938, after the German Nazi-German government stopped the export of motorcycles to the Dutch firm because of their Jewish mangement, R.S. Stokvis was looking for a replacement for their best selling little DKW RT100 motorcycle and found Enfield prepared to manufacture it. The story of the Royal Baby and the relation with Royal Enfield started.
A Danish engineer, J.S. Rasmussen (1878-1964), founded a company in 1906, initially manufacturing parts for textile machinery. In 1917 his company - "the Zschopauer Maschinenfabric", because of petrol shortages, produced a "DampfKraftWagen", a steam-engined car, or shortly - DKW.
In 1919 the first two stroke engine was designed, the little wonder or in German "Das Klein Wunder (DKW)".
In 1921 the company was renamed to "Motorcycle Works Rasmussen" (“Motorenwerke Rasmussen”), which built built its first motorcycle in 1922 and soon expanded. In 1926 the successfull E 206 DKW came on the market.
The E 206 had a single cylinder engine with a cylinder diameter equal to the stroke of the piston (64 X 64 mm) and a power of 3 kW at 3500 rpm. It was equipped with a flywheel magneto and a blower. A Framo carburetor was used to prepare the fuel-air mixture, the two-speed gearbox had a wet multi-disc clutch and a V-belt on the rear wheel. The front wheel was suspended in a swinging fork. The motorcycle had a curb weight 75 kg and developed a speed of 65 km/h. Soon the engine's displacement was increased to 247 cm3 and a new motorcycle, marked with E 250, received this power unit, already had a rear-wheel drive by means of a chain.
In 1929 the production of press-steel-frames was reorganised, which gave the company the opportunity for a production in much greater numbers. They were now the largest manufacturer of motorcycles on the world, producing some 100,000 units per year.
During the Great Depression of the 30’s DKW suffered a massive cease in trade and in 1932 on account of economical reasons they merged with the motorcars producers Audi, Wanderer and Horch to form Auto Union AG.
During the World War II the factory dispatched motorcycles for the German Army: the DKW NZ 350 and the lightweight DKW RT 125.
After the war the factory found itself in the USSR district of Germany and the factory was dismantled and moved to Izhevsk. There the production of the DKW NZ 350 continued as the IZh 350.
After the division of Germany, Zchopau was in East Germany and the factory was restarted as IFA with the production of the RT 125, and later MZ with their own two stroke history.
In the west Auto Union also started the production of the RT 125 as the RT 125 W (West). The motorcycle was that good, that a lot of the allies took the design as war repairations. Harley Davidson 125, BSA Bantam, Moto Morini Turismo 125, Polish Sokol 125 and SHL M04 made their own versions.
By 1958 the motorcycle production of Auto Union was not very profitable and there was another merger with motorcycle companies Victoria and Express into Zweirad Union. Only in 1966 with another merger with Fichtel & Sachs (Hercules) into the Union, the production of Zweirad Union showed sporadically the DKW logo on some of their products. The use of the DKW name ended in 1970.