The Volkswagen ‘bug’ was the most produced single design of a car ever made. More than 21 million of the original Beetles were built before production ended in Mexico in 2003.
Lillian Swanson, managing editor of the Forward newspaper, in a review of Paul Schilperoord’s new book, “The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz, The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen” (RVP Publishers, 2011) tells an amazing story.
Schilperoord, a Dutch journalist and technology writer, researched private archives and public records for five years. He makes a convincing argument that Ganz, a German Jew, and not Ferdinand Porsche, should be considered “the spiritual father” of the VW, because Ganz first developed and promoted the key design concepts that led to the “People’s Car.”
Schilperoord says there were three very accomplished, independent engineers available at the time: Ferdinand Porsche, Edmund Rumpler and Josef Ganz. The last two were Jews, so in a speech in 1935, Hitler named Porsche as the designer of a small car that would become the Volkswagen ‘bug’, which used many of Ganz’s pioneering designs.
Ganz would not give up on his idea, even after an arrest by the Gestapo in 1933, a narrow escape from an assassination attempt and having his bank account confiscated. Ganz fought in the courts against those who stole his patents and designs, and then fled to Switzerland. In 1951 Ganz moved to Melbourne, Australia, where he worked in engineering for Holden, the Australian branch of General Motors Corp. When he died there, in 1967, his extensive archive, filled with evidence of his work, was lost.
For many years after the German genocide against European Jews, most American and Canadian Jews did not buy German cars. Then German support for Israel in the 1960’s and 70’s plus German support for the ‘free Soviet Jews campaign’ in the 1970’s and 80’s changed the Jewish aversion for German cars.
For more about this excellent book go to: http://www.forward.com/articles/150963/#ixzz1lzBsuiEM
Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com
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