Volkswagen is now one of the biggest automobile companies in the world, even though it had been hit by a few scandals. Though it is a corporate entity today, the birth of Volkswagen is from a very famous, or rather a very infamous man.
Volkswagen actually has its roots in the early 1930s. Adolf Hitler, who was quite fascinated by cars, saw that most of the cars that were made in those days were not suitable for the common man. There were a few like the Ford Model A, but as you know, these cars were American.
There is also a fact that Hitler wrote to Mercedes Benz asking for a loan in order to buy a car. This could have made him realize that it was not that easy for a common man to afford a car in those days. It is believed that the Fuhrer drew the first design of the Volkswagen Beetle and gave it to Ferdinand Porsche.
However, the production of the Beetle was not possible because of many reasons. The main reason was the world war, and Hitler’s hunting spree. In 1938, this car was known was Kraft durch Freude, which meant ‘strength through joy’ in German. Shortly, it was called the KdF Wagen.
After the war, Volkswagen sprang into action and manufactured the Beetle. Since Hitler had the vision of a ‘people’s car’, it was named Volkswagen, meaning ‘People’s Car’. Very soon, it was popular among the Germans and the whole of Europe.
Hitler wanted to take the Beetle to America. They advertised it with the ‘Think Small’ advertising campaign and in the 1960s, the Beetle even overtook Ford’s cars to be the best selling automobile in America.
There is another story that Hitler gave the design of the Beetle to Jakob Werlin, who was the head of Daimler-Benz, back in the ages. It is also said that Hitler told Werlin to meet him again with the ‘technical details’. But after Volkswagen became famous and its cars started selling like crazy, it began to encounter many rivals.
One of them was Tatra, a Czech company which claimed that Porsche stole their design patents and copied them to create the Beetle. This was true to an extent and most of those patents belonged to Hans Ledwinka, an Austrian Engineer who worked for Tatra. Tatra also had its factory in Austria. Hitler went forward, invaded Austria, surrounded the factory and stopped it from displaying its prototypes outside.
However, Volkswagen paid some amount to the company around 1960 and the issue was settled out of court. Maybe Hitler was not that bad after all. Volkswagen then grew up to become one of the biggest automobile companies in the world, and it is the biggest in Germany. It is so big enough that they use special plants to manufacture only specific models.
Till date, most people who even own a Volkswagen have no idea that it was the brainchild of Adolf Hitler. But if you look deep into history, he was the real founder.