Hindustan Times, January 16, 2012
Adolf Hitler stole the idea for the iconic Volkswagen Beetle car from a Jewish engineer and had his name written out of history, a historian has said in a new book.
The Nazi leader has always been given credit for sketching out the early concept for the Beetle during a meeting with car designer Ferdinand Porsche in 1935. His idea for the Volkswagen – or “people’s car” – is seen as one of the only “worthwhile” achievements of the dictator, the Daily Mail reported.
Now, historian Paul Schilperoord has written a book titled The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz on the Jewish engineer to be behind the Volkswagen.
Hitler said in his design that his vehicle would have four seats, an air-cooled engine and cost no more than 1,000 Reichsmarks, the currency of Germany till 1948. Three years before Hitler described his idea to Porsche, Ganz was actually driving a car he had designed called the “Maikaefer” — or “May Bug”. Hitler’s price also matched the price Ganz said his car would cost. Ganz’s lightweight, low-riding vehicle looked similar to the Beetle that was later developed by Porsche.
Ganz had reportedly been exploring the idea for an affordable car since 1928 and made many drawings of a Beetle-like vehicle. Hitler saw the May Bug at a car show in 1933 and made similar sketches. Within days of the meeting between Hitler and Porsche in 1935, Ganz was in trouble with the Gestapo or Nazi secret service.
The journalist-inventor left for Switzerland and later died in Australia in 1967. His name is not mentioned in the Volkswagen’s corporate history nor in the Story of Volkswagen exhibition in Wolfsburg.
“So many things were the same in Hitler’s sketches. Hitler definitely saw his prototype and I’m quite sure he must have read Ganz’s magazine,” Schilperoord said.
“It’s quite clear Ganz had a big influence on how the idea was developed by the Nazis. Ferdinand Porsche drove Ganz’s prototype in 1931. I found a lot of evidence that all similar rear engines in the 1930s can be traced to Ganz,” he said. “Even the price was the same. Porsche said that doing this for 1,000 Reichsmarks was not possible but was forced to make it happen by the Nazis,” he said.