Freemasonry is

Freemasonry is a large fraternal organisation that promotes moral and personal development amongst its members.

Its core values include caring for others, helping those in need and acting with honesty and integrity.

Considered to be the Henry Ford of France, André-Gustav Citroën revolutionised the French motor vehicle industry in the early years of the 20th century.

He created affordable mass-produced vehicles for the general public that were noted for their design innovations, concentrating on the comfort and practical needs of the drivers and less in the general vehicle industry priorities on style.

Citroën is remembered for daring engineering and business ideas which helped to bring Europe into the consumer and technology age. His ideas and influences survived through successive take-overs and mergers of his Citroën automobile company in such a way that current Citroën cars owe far more to his expertise than most other companies inherited from their creators.

He was born in Paris on 5 February 1878, the fifth child of Jewish parents, Levie Citroen and Mazra Kleinmann from Amsterdam. The family wealth came from the diamond trade, but was lost in an investment scam. Despite his parents' demise when he was six, he was an excellent student, and graduated from the Lycée Louis le Grand in 1894. Academia did not interest him, so he became an engineering officer in the French army.

Citroën married Giorgina Bingen and they had four children; Jacqueline 1915, Bernard 1917, Maxime 1919, and Solange 1925. He was a member of Lodge la Philosophie in Paris.

During an army leave period, he visited some relatives in Ludz, and there developed a steel gear drive to replace the existing wooden ones used in the cotton mills. On his return to Paris he developed the gear further and patented it, being so successful that he set up his own company to develop and manufacture gears and gear drives. One set of gears he produced was the steering gear for the ill-fated ocean liner, Titanic.

On the outbreak of the First World War he was drafted to the French artillery, where he proposed a new factory to mass produce ammunition which was in limited supply. The French government provided the resources to establish the factory in Paris and it was so successful the whole French ammunition manufacture followed his lead. He also secured a regular supply of coal for industry and developed ration cards to provide fair food distribution to the civilian population.

When the war ended, Citroën planned an affordable and practical car similar to those produced by Henry Ford. He commenced manufacture of his Type A car in 1919, featuring an electric starter, lights and an efficient four cylinder engine which produced a top speed of 65 kilometres per hour. Citroën cars were the first in Europe to be assembled completely in the factory and in 1920 Citroën became the leading car manufacturer in Europe.

Citroën extended the range of vehicles, and was the first to offer test drives. He created his own insurance company, offering low rates to Citroën owners to relieve their financial concerns. He was also a daring promoter who staged exciting tests and stunts to prove the quality of his cars.

During these years Citroën continued to develop his production methods and cars. Passionate about innovation, he invested large amounts of money buying patents and developing new ideas but his heavy gambling ran down company funds.

He introduced a revolutionary passenger car, the Traction Avant or TA 7. This was the first passenger car with front wheel drive, hydraulic brakes and an overhead valve system. The demonstration of this vehicle was a disaster, as its transmission collapsed, and dashed all hope of Citroën's ability to keep the company viable.

In the 1930s his creditors requested the French government to declare Citroën bankrupt and accept control of the company. One of these, the Michelin Tyre Company took over the automobile company in 1935 and forced Citroën to retire. He became despondent at losing his company and died of stomach cancer in Paris on 3 July 1935. He was not aware of the amazing success of his TA 7 car, which was so popular that it continued production for over 20 years.

Subsequently the Citroën car company underwent a number of changes, including a merger with Peugeot in 1974. The spirit of Citroën, however, has continued throughout, maintaining the aspiration to produce innovative designs for the discriminating purchaser.

Article extracted from Freemason magazine, Winter 2012, page 26-27.

Equality

Freemasonry offers a unique and rewarding experience to men from all walks of life, regardless of race, religion or social status.

Tolerance

Freemasonry believes that respecting and understanding our differences is a crucial step towards building a society and a community with true harmony and peace.

Honesty

Freemasonry practices strong moral principles and develops the core values of honesty and integrity in the individual.

Charity

Freemasonry puts its principles into practice through its charitable activities. We believe in interacting and working closely within our local communities to help all people in need and their communities as a whole.

 

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