View Full Version : Did Hitler really invent the Volkswagen?

Mac Seafraidh
Friday, March 18th, 2005, 04:10 AM
Did Hitler really invent the Volkswagen?David
San Francisco, CaliforniaDear David:Well, not exactly invent, but Adolf Hitler was indeed the driving force behind the car. In the 1930s, cars cost more than most people earned in a year. When Hitler became the chancellor of Germany in 1933, he promoted the idea of a car affordable enough for the average working person. The Volkswagen, which means "people's car" in German, was essentially a political promise to win the public's goodwill.

Hitler met with automotive designer Ferdinand Porsche in 1933 and charged Porsche with creating the new car. The chancellor required that the Volkswagen carry two adults and three children, go up to 60 miles per hour, get at least 33 miles per gallon, and cost only 1,000 reichsmarks. Hitler may also have named the car the Beetle.

In 1938, Hitler had the KdF Wagen factory built to produce the cars designed by Porsche. But by the time the factory was complete, Hitler had invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland. The factory was dedicated to building military vehicles, and the people's car fell by the wayside during World War II.

After the war, the factory ended up in the British section of occupied Germany. The British military re-opened the factory, named it Volkswagen, and finally gave control of the company to the German government. After 1948, Volkswagen introduced new models across Europe. By 1955, over 1 million cars had been built. The VW beetle started selling in the U.S., and in 1972 the people's car overtook the Ford Model T to become the most popular car ever made.

Hitler was somewhat of inventor as well come to think of it. Amazing :thumbup Again, the article makes him look like a tyrant at the same time which is not good :thumbdown

Dr. Solar Wolff
Friday, March 18th, 2005, 05:55 AM
This article is essentially correct but really does not answer the question. After Hitler gave the parameters, several companies bid on the contract. Opel did a "Volksauto" or something like that. Ferdinand Porsche, Karl Rabe and several other people of inspired genius, actually built the first Volkswagen prototypes in a garage, all together. Porsche assembled one expert in each field, transmissions, engines, body, etc. and after a relatively short time, the basic VW concept was born. The basic concept involves the "transaxle" or the engine/transmission as being a combination rather than as connected via a drive shaft. This concept was revived by VW again in the 1970s with front-wheel drive as we know it today, again involving a transaxle. The original VW beetle remains the record holder with most examples produced. The Porsche firm is really primarily and engineering firm and Ferdinand's experience with VW shows why. Recently, Porsche helped Harley-Davidson (the American motorcycle firm) fully modernize their twin V engine and motorcycle frame. Porsche has also aided Audi and VW in modern times.

Friday, March 18th, 2005, 06:37 AM
I remember having read that Hitler personally influenced the final design of the Volkswagen, and also that of some Mercedes. No wonder the Käfer was so popular for decades later and is until today. ;) In Berlin and Munich also the representative NS buildings (Airport Tempelhof, Olympic Stadion, Haus der [Deutschen] Kunst) are much more popular than postwar bullshit.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Tuesday, February 27th, 2007, 06:14 AM
Volkswagen is one of my favorite subjects so please excuse me from getting carried away. Actually, the first VWs did exceed Hitler's original specifications. Calculations were actually made concering driving from Berlin to Moscow using an Autobahn. Only limited production of the Kaefer happened during or before the war but the VW plant became involved with the spin-offs, the Kubelwagen and Schwimmwagen. The Kubelwagen was like a jeep, some having 4 wheel drive. The Schwimmer could ford rivers and had a propellor in the back. Now examples of both these cars are now very rare.

A little known fact is that Volkswagen participated in some very exotic weapons work during the war. Volkswagen was put in charge of building a vessel to be towed by a U-boat. This vessel was a casing which housed a V-2 rocket so it was longer and wider than a V-2. Contained within this vessel was also the liquid fuel for the rocket. The plan was to tow the missile near the East Coast of the USA, flood the balast (the bottom of the vessel) so that the V-2 became upright, pump in the fuel and fire the rocket from this now vertical tube in the ocean. Some of these vessels were built by VW but never used.

In California we love air-cooled VWs. I think we love them even more than the Germans ever did. Germans seem to have no tollerance for low-tech but we think of a VW as being the closest thing mechanical to something that is alive. If you listen to an air-cooled VW, it will tell you if it is feeling good, needs a tune-up, or if something is seriously wrong. Each one is an individual and you have to learn its individuality as you would your dog's or your spouse's. I think another reason we love them is that almost anyone can maintain and repair them. They are still one of the cheapest cars to operate considering gas mileage, repairs and other costs.

In Brazil, they were rumored to have made them run on alcohol. It is said that they did this simply by raising the compression in the cylinder heads. I mention this because the death of the air-cooled VW was that it ran relatively cool and so emitted large amounts of pollutants. If alcohol ever becomes a reality as a fuel in the USA, there is no reason that a modern air-cooled VW cannot be reborn.