How Brit soldiers helped save iconic Volkswagen car
Washington: British army officers rescued Hitler’s original ‘People’s Car’ and transformed it into the legendary Volkswagen Beetle, reveals historical evidence that will go under the hammer next week.
After defusing an Allied bomb that had been dropped on the car plant in Wolfsburg, Colonel Charles Radclyffe and Major Ivan Hirst found blueprints for Hitler’s pre-war ‘Peoples Car,’ a leading daily has reported.
The blueprint Beetle plans and associated papers, which will go to auction at the Bonhams motor cars and automobilia sale at Brooklands, Surrey on Monday, reveal how the British team who re-started production at the factory in 1945 led directory to the re-birth of what is now Europe’s biggest car company and to the revival of the booming German car industry.
The documents were discovered originally by the British army officers in 1945 in the ruins of the Volkswagen factory in North Germany that had switched from pre-war car production to wartime military vehicles and even parts for the infamous V1 rockets or ‘Doodlebugs’ which rained down on Southern England.
The British officers and their team brought back to life what Hitler called his ‘Kraft durch Freude’ (KdF’) – or ‘Strength Through Joy’ – car in a town which carried the same name.
But they gave it back its original name – Volkswagen or ‘People’s Car ‘– and renamed the town Wolfsburg after the local castle.
From the blueprints they had discovered, they restarted car production of the car designed for Hitler by Dr Ferdinand Porsche – who founded the Porsche car dynasty - with an order for 20,000 Type 1 Beetles for the British army and in doing so helped get Germany working again after the war.
Since then 21 million Volkswagen Beetles have produced and its success was one of the major building blocks of today’s mighty German motor industry.
The blueprints are believed to be copies as the originals were destroyed by Allied bombing during the war. They are now being offered for sale with a guide price of 3,000 pounds to 4,000 pounds by a private collector from the UK.
“British influence on the industry in Germany immediately after the way cannot be underestimate,” the paper quoted Toby Wilson, head of the automobilia department at auctioneers Bonhams as saying.
“The Beetle is iconic. Like the Mini Cooper it came through the age of austerity and came out the other side still going strong. These blueprints are a reminder of the huge British influence in making the German motor industry the might that it is today,” he added.