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Volkswagen - History (3)






The factory remains a torso. It was laid out for an annual production of 500.000 Beetles, indeed, up to the end of the war, only 630 were built. Shortly after the first ground-breaking there were already problems, because the German workers in question, were conscripted to build the Siegfried-Line. Italian workers moved into the barracks of the town, which was still under construction, on the other side of the factory. Germany started the Second World War (1939-1945) and goods which were essential for the war effort were produced. Only after the army also became aware of the usefulness of the Beetle, would a total of 58.000 Kübelwagen (Jeeps) and 8,000 Schwimmwagen (amphibious vehicles) be built.

One could skip over the wartime history of the Beetle, if it wasn't for the scars inflicted on the factory, the town and above all, the people. Although the highest number of war victims was not mourned here, but either on some front or other or through deportation. In any event, almost all the children gathered in homes and also the concentration camp prisoners, who were being used more and more, particularly after their return, were killed. Two thirds of the company survived the war.

Also shortly after the war the misery was not over, even the physical danger threat was still present. After all, there were enough foreign workers in the barracks, whose minds were set on revenge. It's almost impossible to describe how 'the town' and the factory slowly freed themselves from their difficulties. Former employees worked for a long time without being paid any wages, but protected by the factory, which after the Americans, was now taken over by the English army. This is also where the first vehicles, built from existing parts, were sent.

Unbelievable but true, the factory and it's inventory were listed as being spoils of war. Through wise precaution, most of the machines and tools were saved, among them, valuable components, which at the time had been imported from the USA. This equipment also managed to survive the looting which took place. And now, give it all up?, we need work, what will we live from? The danger persevered until mid-1946. Perhaps it was indeed a stroke of luck, to have landed under the British occupation forces. It is certain however, that the commandeered management made it's full contribution, e.g., in the person of Major Ivan Hirst.

Unusual enough for the army, at least the sales, the customer service and the exports were making made headway. At this point, it's impossible to describe the dodges of the German subordinates and the careful disregarding of strict orders given by the English. An addition help, was the early beginning of production, all this was made favourable by the remaining, intact production machines, for, of all things, the civilian Beetle. 03/10

Part 4





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Translator: Don Leslie - Email: lesdon@t-online.de

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