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Ivan Hirst

British Officer and Manager of Volkswagen's Postwar Recovery

by Ralf Richter

Softcover, 8 5/8 in. x 8 5/8 in.
132 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-8376-1314-7
Price: $19.95

Volkwagen History

Ivan Hirst - British Officer and Manager of Volkswagen's Postwar Recovery

This book is Volume 4 of Historical Notes, a series of publications from the Volkswagen AG, Corporate History Department, Wolfsburg, Germany
Volume 1: Learning from History
Volume 2: The British and their Works
Volume 7: Volkswagen Chronicle

Not only the actual survival of the Volkswagen Works in Wolfsburg after the Second World War, but also their present form can be largely accredited to the efforts of one Englishman: Ivan Hirst. The international press became interested in his life in February 2000 when he died at the age of 84. While The Guardian commented, "Ivan Hirst. Englishman who made Volkswagen part of the German economic miracle", the International Herald Tribune celebrated Hirst as the "rescuer of Volkswagen ". The Times described him as the "British soldier who got the Volkswagen Beetle on the road". And in the Automotive News he was the "British officer who revived VW". None of these articles failed to underline the ironic twist of history: the decisive role in the reconstruction of the successful German automobile maker was played by a British officer.
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Volkswagen works, August 1945
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New production program, September 1945
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They also focused on a previously little explored aspect of the postwar period: The Allied victory placed hundreds of German factories into Allied trusteeship under the Allied Control Council Law No. 52. In many cases, such as under the 'North German Iron and Steel Control' and the 'North German Coal Control', this entailed only general control and planning. In other companies, however, the realization of interests demanded direct intervention. Given that leading German businessmen had either fled or had been imprisoned, military staff had to take over company management. Numerous plants and factories remained under Allied control for months, indeed sometimes for years. And yet to date little research has been done on either the form of corporate management under the Allies or the biographies of these enterprising military men. Which professional qualities did these officers have to offer? What tasks did they master and what were their aims? What can be said about their motivations, background and indeed how their lives continued?

Ivan Hirst represents one of the most interesting examples of management under the Allies. As Senior Resident Officer he was in charge of the Volkswagen Works between 1945 and 1949. While the plant's chances of survival were regarded as very low in 1945, it had become the biggest automobile maker in Germany on his departure in 1949. Hirst's biography reveals the influence of structures, policies and personalities on the course of postwar developments in Germany which also had a decisive impact on the history of Volkswagen.

Ivan Hirst Historical Notes Vol 4
Ivan Hirst Historical Notes Vol 4
Wholesale Case Quantity: 1
BSIN: H822
ISBN: 0-8376-1314-0 (ISBN-10)
ISBN: 978-0-8376-1314-7 (ISBN-13)
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