Nazi Germany Could Not Have Fought World War II Without Companies Like Volkswagen

Nazi Germany Could Not Have Fought World War II Without Companies Like Volkswagen

Warfare History Network

Technology, Europe

German industry was critical to the war effort.

The Volkswagen, or “People’s Car,” that so many millions have known for more than half a century had its genesis in Nazi Germany. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, who designed the Volkswagen, had to share the concept with none other than Adolf Hitler. And though the Volkswagen may have first been intended for use as a civilian recreational vehicle, it was quickly transformed into three basic military iterations: the Kommandeurswagen (commander’s car), Kubelwagen (bucket car), and Schwimmwagen (amphibious car). The VW’s transformation into a military vehicle was a rapid metamorphosis over which Porsche had no control.

Evolution of the Kleinauto

The original concept for a German Kleinauto (small car) was in part a response to the phenomenal success of the Ford Model T. The German motorcycle company NSU decided to venture into the small-car business and hired Porsche to design such a car. The prototype was known as the Type 32 of 1932, and was only one of numerous prototypes before the actual Volkswagen went into series production. Porsche had considerable experience in automotive design. Born and educated in the Czech Republic, his mentor was Hans Ledwinka, designer of the early rear-engine air-cooled Tatra. Porsche believed in Ledwinka’s design. In 1900, at the age of 25, he showed his Lohner-Porsche-Electrochaise, powered by electric motors, causing a sensation at the Paris World’s Fair

In 1905, Porsche joined the Austro-Daimler Company and designed his first race car, the Prince-Heinrich-Wagen. Through racing-car design, Porsche realized early on the importance of aerodynamics, and this influenced most of his later automotive designs. Wind-resistance tests helped him create highly successful racing cars for Auto-Union. Before starting his own design firm in 1929, Porsche worked for Daimler-Benz, helping develop the famous SS, SSK, and other Mercedes models.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony organizes three militia regiments to defend the colony against the Pequot Indians. This was the founding of the US National Guard.

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