A British jump start – Volkswagen remembers the beginning of British trusteeship 75 years ago
Documentary film My brief was very simple“ Volkswagen Heritage has taken the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the assumption of British trusteeship to publish the 30-minute documentary film “My brief was very simple
“Initially,” Ivan Hirst begins his Volkswagen story, “my brief was very simple. Go to Wolfsburg, find the factory and sit on it. They didn’t even say it was a Volkswagen factory.” Major Hirst arrived in Wolfsburg in August 1945 and was satisfied when he took his leave four years later in August 1949: “There was a modern factory, ready to go, with a labor force, a German management and a product that was proven,” Hirst remembers.
The era of the British: Volkswagen in 1945 to 1949
Occupation and assumption of trusteeshipAt the end of the Second World War, Volkswagenwerk GmbH had lost its proprietor, as the National Socialist organization Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front) had ceased to exist. The plant, which had been planned by the National Socialists as an exemplary factory for the production of the KdF-Wagen, produced military goods during the Second World War with about 20,000 forced laborers. When the British entered their zone of occupation in June 1945, they took over the trusteeship of Volkswagenwerk GmbH and assigned 28-year-old Major Ivan Hirst to Wolfsburg. The damage to the factory halls was considerable, but repairable, and civilian production of the Volkswagen saloon appeared to be possible. Hirst recognized that economical vehicle production would help in remedying the transport bottlenecks of the British Army.
In order to convince the British Military Government, he presented a vehicle at headquarters that Hirst had found at the factory site, and had painted in a khaki color. On August 22, 1945, the British Military Government issued an order to supply 20,000 vehicles for the British military administration. The first civilian vehicle already left the factory on December 27, 1945.
Jun 04, 2020 at 17:37