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2002 Robert Bentley, Inc. We encourage visitors to link to this page if you’d like to share this information with others. Please do not copy this excerpt to other web sites. It is protected by copyright and represents significant resource investment by Bentley Publishers.

(2 page excerpt)


AUTHOR’S NOTE

This book was partly inspired by many long and interesting talks which I had during 1949 and 1950 with Dr. Porsche who was responsible for the technical development of the Volkswagen. Some of the material on which this book is based was written immediately afterwards and remained unchanged after the death of Dr. Porsche in his 76th year on January 30, 1951, at a time when he was regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on automobile design.

The actual idea of the Volkswagen, conceived by Adolf Hitler as his major political bait, was to ensure the whole-hearted support of the German nation prior to embarking on some of his mad ambitions which eventually resulted in World War II. When the war started, the Volkswagen plant was under construction and only partly completed. During the war years, less than 100,000 military vehicles were produced there and large parts of the plant were destroyed during air-raids by combined allied forces. With the allied occupation of Germany, the plant came under the control of the British Army authorities. With the need for vehicles and solving the unemployment problem around the plant, the British Army authorities operated it on a skeleton basis until 1947, when it was handed over to the West German Government. The plant has been operating since then under a trusteeship of the German Government.

The major part of this book is based on the studies of British, French and German official records and on interviews with persons who were associated with or have witnessed the development of the entire Volkswagen project in various stages.

My experience of examining a captured German military Volkswagen, whilst serving as a technical officer in the British Army, fostered my interest in the engineering features of this vehicle. I wish to put on record that some of the engineering details of the Volkswagen project would have remained unknown to me had it not been that, when engaged after the war, as development engineer by Girling Ltd., I assisted their technical director, the late Capt. J. S. Irving, in examining and translating material for a report by a commission headed by him and organized by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders. I thus investigated the war-time activities of the German Automobile Industry.

From 1946 onwards, in my capacity as technical correspondent to leading British and foreign automobile journals, I visited the Volkswagen plants at intervals of never more than four months ; this enabled me to observe the reconstruction of the plant and the development of the town of Wolfsburg.

But for my frequent visits to the works and the innumerable talks I had with those very few people who joined the plant in 1938 and are now employees of the Volkswagenwerk G.m.b.H., this book could not have been written.

While every care has been taken in presenting the individual sections of this book in strict chronological order, a certain amount of overlap, owing to the complex political background of the rise and fall of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, was unavoidable in the interests of clarity.

K. B. H.

Hampton-in-Arden,
Warwickshire,
England.
March,
1954.

Author’s note to the third edition.

To this edition the chapter " Beyond Expectation " has been added, giving details of the developments which led to the production of the 1,000,000th Volkswagen on August 5, 1955, and the amazing commercial success of this car in the most competitive automobile markets of the world.

K. B. H.

March, 1956.


End of excerpt

2002 Robert Bentley, Inc. We encourage visitors to link to this page if you’d like to share this information with others. Please do not copy this excerpt to other web sites. It is protected by copyright and represents significant resource investment by Bentley Publishers.