Volkswagen: The Origin

Volkswagen: The Origin
1938 volkswagen beetle

Volkswagen was founded on May 27,1938 in Berlin, Germany. It was founded by the German Labor Front which was led by Robert Ley and was an organization created by the Nazi Party. Some people falsely believe that the concept of Volkswagen was entirely thought of by Hitler. In truth, the concept of Volkswagen existed in Germany before Hitler’s rise to power. Hitler did agree to a contract with Ferdinand Porsche to design the first Volkswagen in 1934.

The Concept of Volkswagen

The idea behind Volkswagen was to create a car available to consumers that the average person could afford. In the 1930s only 1 in 50 Germans owned a car because the average citizen could not afford to own a car because car manufacturer were not yet efficient enough to produce cars at a cost that everyone could afford. The goal of Volkswagen (which was met) was to produce a car that sold at the retail price of 990 reichsmarks which is roughly equivalent to $4,000 USD today. Not only did this low price help hundreds of thousands of German citizens obtain an automobile but there was also a payment plan that was put into place which allowed German citizens which allowed them to pay only 5 reichsmarks per week.

How was Volkswagen Named

“Volkswagen” is a German word which translates to the “people’s car” in English. The company title of the Volkswagen company in 1937 was “Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH”. The name was shortened for obvious reasons in 1938. The original name was too long for customers to find appealing and translates to “preparation for the people’s car” in English. Once the preparation was over, the new name “Volkswagen” translates to the people’s car.

Who Owns Volkswagen

Volkswagen was created by the German Labour Front. This organization was founded by the Adolf Hitler and completely funded by the Nazi regime. In 1949, after World War Two ended, the ownership of Volkswagen was passed to the government of West Germany and the state of Lower Saxony. They each were given 50% of the ownership. In they year 1960, 60% of Volkswagen ownership was sold to the public. In today’s world the largest shareholder of Volkswagen is Porsche SE which is a Porsche holding company owned by the Porsche family. Volkswagen owns Porsche Automotive Group so in effect, the Porsche family owns the Porsche Automotive Group by owning Volkswagen.

The Original Volkswagen

Although Ferdinand Porsche was contracted to design the first Volkswagen in 1934, the first Volkswagen sold to the public was in 1938. This first model was called “Volkswagen 1” by the company but addressed as by the “Volkswagen” by the public. This model is known as the Beetle today. Only a few automobiles were able to be produced before World War One started in 1939. In fact many of the German citizens who had paid to purchase a Volkswagen through the government sanctioned payment plan never received their automobile. Once war started in 1939 Volkswagen was required to cease production of the Beetle and start producing military-type vehicles. Production of the Beetle was halted until after World War Two was resolved.


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