April 12, 2013
Residents of the Czech town where Ferdinand Porsche was born have started a campaign to close an exhibition dedicated to the engineer, calling its presence “scandalous” owing to his Nazi links.
The creator of the Porsche sports car and the Volkswagen Beetle was born in Vratislavice in 1875 when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
How to handle the memory of the town’s most famous son has become a source of contention.
Porsche was a member of the Nazi party and enjoyed a good relationship with Adolf Hitler, designing tanks and vehicles for the war machine. During the Second World War his factories also used forced labour from concentration camps.
“The presence [of the exhibition] in Vratislavice is scandalous,” said Petr Jirasko, an opponent of the display. “In Germany, the name Porsche is associated with cars. Shall we be the same in Vratislavice, and ignore his Nazi past?”
Mr Jirasko also pointed out that Porsche received an SS award from Heinrich Himmler and was honoured by the Nazi state.
In the past, the anti-Porsche faction has campaigned for the renaming of a street named after the engineer, who died in 1951, and claimed that by using his name the town was promoting Nazism.
"It saddens me that today, 60 years after the death of Ferdinand Porsche, there are still people who spit on his memory. They are just a bunch of communists."
Lukas Pohanka, Vratislavice’s mayor, said the exhibition was designed to “highlight the genius of our native engineer”, although he added that following the protests the more unsavoury elements of Porsche’s life would be covered.
Milan Bumba, the chairman of the Classic Porsche Owners Club in the Czech Republic, told the newspaper MF Dnes: “It saddens me that today, 60 years after the death of Ferdinand Porsche, there are still people who spit on his memory. They are just a bunch of communists.”