75 years ago: US troops liberate Volkswagen plant and city on Mittellandkanal
On April 10, the last 50 Kübelwagen (Type 82) intended for the German army were completed at the Volkswagen plant. The plant, which had been largely destroyed by air raids in 1944, ended wartime production with a total of 66,285 vehicles. The plant
Liberation and occupation in two stages
On April 11, US troops liberated the plant and the city on the Mittellandkanal. The troops advanced from Fallersleben along the Mittellandkanal to the former bridge at Hesslingen and through the city without encountering any military resistance.
After the SS and the company security force had been withdrawn or had fled before the American advance and the Volkssturm had been dissolved, forced laborers and prisoners of war saw that the end of their suffering had been reached. To maintain order, the forced laborers formed a provisional security team consisting of French prisoners of war and Dutch students who had been forced to work at the plant.
All in all, about 20,000 people were forced to work for the former Volkswagenwerk GmbH, including about 5,000 people from concentration camps. In 1944, two-thirds of the people working at the factory were there against their will, facing racial discrimination.
On the day of liberation, there were about 9,100 people working at the plant, of whom more than 7,700 were forced laborers from other countries. The city The US military gave the “Stadt des KdF-Wagens”, as Wolfsburg was then known, its first democratic structures with a Magistrat (municipal administration) and a Stadtverordnetenversammlung (city council). At their first meeting on May 25, the members of the city council decided to rename the city “Wolfsburg”. The young city took its new, historic name from Wolfsburg Castle, which was mentioned for the first time in documents in 1302.
At the Volkswagen plant, the American liberators set up a repair shop for their own military vehicles. In May 1945, the 9th Army headquarters already reported that the assembly of “Volkswagen Jeeps” had started at the Volkswagen plant with a workforce of 200 people. as manager of the plant. These vehicles marked the resumption of production and started the conversion of the armaments plant into a civilian vehicle factory.
The liberation – eyewitnesses remember
Sara Frenkel-Bass (born in 1922, living in Antwerp), disguised as a Catholic nurse, the Jewish woman from Poland worked in the hospital of the workers’ camp from March 1943 to April 1945.
You look for what you have lost but it will never come back. It has all gone.
Apr 03, 2020 at 19:07