After an interruption due to the great economic crisis, the electrification of the German State Railroad's network was continued starting in 1930. New, powerful locomotives were needed for the new routes. In the meantime, the German railroad industry had developed new concepts and prototypes for modern general-purpose locomotives. This design from Siemens showed clear progress compared to the previous provincial railroad designs that had merely been developed further. This unit was designed as a lightweight general-purpose locomotive and was built on a welded frame, mounted on trucks with integrated buffer beams and powered with axle-suspended motors. This gave this compact locomotive a total weight of 78 metric tons without the need for pilot trucks and still below the critical 20 metric ton limit for axle loads.
The modern motors put out 2,200 kilowatts / 2,950 horsepower, which was available directly at the axles without the need for an expensive gear drive. The maximum speed reached on level track was 90 km/h or 56 mph. The first unit was successfully tested and placed into service by the German State Railroad as early as 1930 as the E 44 001. Additional regular production locomotives with a maximum speed of 80 km/h or 50 mph were ordered immediately, initially for the route from Stuttgart to Augsburg (with the Geislingen Grade). The German State Railroad purchased 174 regular production locomotives, of which 45 remained in East Germany with most of the rest in West Germany. Seven more locomotives were built new for the German Federal Railroad and several were equipped with push/pull controls or resistance brakes. The indestructible E 44 was in regular use well into the Eighties - at the end as the 144 (DB) and 244 (DR).