Re: [sixties-l] VW BUG

From: Craig M. Kind (
Date: Tue Jun 20 2000 - 00:51:25 CUT

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    I hate to say it Country Joe,

    But Herbie the Love Bug was indeed a Nazi. The VW Beetle was designed by
    THE Ferdinand Porsche not long after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933.
    Hitler in one of his many attempts to construct a German national identity,
    commissioned Porsche to create the "People's Car" which was initially
    called the "Strength Through Joy Wagon" (I'm assuming that sounded better
    in German). The VW was intended to be an affordable car for the masses;
    they could even save toward the purchase of one. Customers had little
    books they would place stamps in to indicate payments they had made.

    There are a few books on the subject of VW and the Bug in particular. The
    German historian Hans Mommsen published a book that chronicled the history
    of VW, including the factories use of concentration camp and slave labor.
    It's called _Volkswagen and Its Workers During the Third Reich_. There is
    also a new book out by a fellow named Karl Ludvigsen called _Battle for the
    Beetle_ ; it came out just this year.

    I find it very interesting that the Nazi history of the Beetle is so little
    known. A few years back, VW paid for a documentary history of the company
    which never mentioned Hitler's involvement. That type of white-washing is
    to be expected. But I also suspect that the Beetle's--and the VW
    van's--place in the history of the 1960s has a great deal to do with the
    ease with which we forget ignominious beginnings of the Bug.

    Now that's cultural appropriation.


    Craig M. Kind
    Dept. of History Grad Program
    University of California, Irvine

    At 03:22 PM 6/19/00 -0700, you wrote:
    >does anyone know the story about the famous VW BUG car that became so
    >famous in the sixties? How did it come to be made in Germany and for
    >what? cheers, country joe mcdonald
    >-- "Ira Furor Brevis Est " - Anger is a brief madness
    >country joe Home Pg <>
    >country joe's tribute to Florence Nightingale
    >Berkeley Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    >Rag Baby Online Magazine <>

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