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Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche teamed up for a big project: the Volkswagen Beetle. Porsche was the mastermind engineer, while Hitler played the role of a clever politician.

The Beetle, designed by Ferdinand Porsche, boasted a unique, curved shape and was known for being affordable, practical, and dependable. It became an iconic symbol of the 1960s, embodying the “small is beautiful” idea.

Production of the Beetle in Germany halted in the late 1970s. However, in 1998, Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle, aiming to capture the essence of the original design but with modern touches, though it was more like a VW Golf in reality. Another version came out in 2012, but sales have been declining steadily.

The idea

The concept was for a small car that could speed along Germany’s new autobahns, carrying a family of five at 100 kilometers per hour. It was supposed to cost 990 Reich Marks, which was about 31 weeks’ pay for the average German worker in 1936. This made it cheaper than the £100 Fords made in England at the time. To purchase one, people had to join a savings program run by the organization KdF (Kraft durch Freude, or Strength through Joy). Starting in 1938, the car was officially called the KdF Wagen.

However, there were disputes with other car companies. Czech carmaker Tatra claimed that Porsche had copied their designs, especially those of Hans Ledwinka, an engineer Hitler admired. Tatra took legal action, but Hitler took over Austria, seized Tatra’s factory, and banned Ledwinka’s VW-like cars from being shown. In 1961, VW paid Tatra a significant sum in an out-of-court settlement. By then, Volkswagen had become a global success.

Also, the name “Beetle” wasn’t used until after World War II ended. It was chosen to change the car’s image from being associated with Nazi propaganda to being seen as a cheerful and ordinary everyday car.

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