The Dark History of Porsche—Porsche and the Nazi Regime

When you think of sports cars, one of the names you think of is Porsche. When you see a Porsche driving by, there is no second-guessing as to what car it is.

The Dutch police used Porsches between 1962 and 1996. In the early 1960s the absence of speed limit indications on Dutch motorways saw serious accidents on the rise, so the Rijkspolitie (State police) was tasked with finding a suitable vehicle for high-speed patrol. The list of requirements was exacting: it had to be mechanically reliable, it had to handle, it had to stop on a dime and, of course, it had to have an open top. Apparently, this last one was so that, unlike any other police force in the world, its officers could stand up in their cars to direct traffic. The choice they made was Porsche.

But Porsche didn’t start as a manufacturer of sports and race cars.

Part of Hitler’s vision for his new Germany was to build an affordable motor vehicle for the population, and he tasked the entire German automotive industry with creating it. Porsche submitted his design in 1934 and, in 1935, was awarded the contract by an impressed Hitler. In fact, the Führer was so pleased that he wanted to name the Wolfsburg factory where the car was to be built the ‘Porsche Plant’, but Ferdinand rejected the offer and the name was changed to the Volkswagen Plant (“Volkswagen“ meaning “people’s car“).

In June 1934, Porsche received a contract from Hitler to design the people’s car (or “Volkswagen”), following on from his previous designs such as the 1931 Type 12 car designed for Zündapp. The first two prototypes were completed in 1935.

A small car that would be cheap enough for all Germans. Hitler liked the idea and ordered the manufacture of Stadt des KDF.-Wagens under the organization of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront.

German Press Ball, January 1939. Dr Ferdinand Porsche, fourth from the left, presents the Volkswagen tombola prize to Mrs Elsa Ellinghausen, the lucky winner.

With Hitler’s approval, Porsche and his business partner Albert Speer set up a factory in Fallersleben, a town 30 miles (48 kilometres) Northeast of the city of Braunschweig, and because of the war, all production from this camp was to be used for military purposes only. In 1942, Porsche and Speer started a project to see how they could use concentration camp inmates for cheaper, and large-scale production of their cars, in order to benefit their industry. The prisoners of Arbeitsdorf were skilled workforce used for construction tasks, building a casting plant and other facilities and receiving better captivity conditions in return.

So on 8 April 1942 a new concentration camp, Arbeitsdorf, was opened with 800 inmates from the Neuengamme concentration camp. The camp commands of Neuengamme and Arbeitsdorf were united in the person of Martin Weiss, the camp commander of Neuengamme at this time. On 26 April 1942 inmates from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and on 23 June inmates from Buchenwald arrived.

In mid-July 1942, the camp was taken over by Wilhelm Schitli, the officer formerly in charge of the prisoners’ barracks (Schutzhaftlagerführer) at Neuengamme concentration camp. The Arbeitsdorf camp was disbanded in the first half of October 1942 because the Ministry of Armaments and Munitions had not approved Volkswagen’s plans for operating an aluminium foundry at the site. The building that had been constructed to contain the foundry was used later for other purposes. Nonetheless, as regards the SS plan to use concentration camp prisoners for armaments production, the Arbeitsdorf concentration camp proved to be an important experiment in the systematic exploitation of concentration camp prisoners for industrial purposes.

This clearly indicates that Albert Speer was actively involved in setting up concentration camps, and was responsible for at least the deaths at Arbeitsdorf. Speer always denied any involvement in the Holocaust.

Porsche produced a heavy tank design in 1942, the VK4501 also known as “Tiger (P).”

Due to the complex nature of the drive system, a competing design from Henschel was chosen for production instead.

Ferry Porsche’s life was intimately connected with that of his father, Ferdinand Porsche, Sr., who began sharing his knowledge of mechanical engineering already in his childhood. With his father, he opened a bureau of automobile design, in Stuttgart in 1931.

Ferry volunteered to join the SS on December 17, 1938, later claiming, falsely, that he had been conscripted by Himmler to design the Schwimmwagen. He would continue to deny having volunteered until his death.

In November 1945, the Porsche family was asked to continue the design of the Volkswagen in France and to move the factory equipment there as part of war reparations. Whilst in France, Porsche was also asked to consult on the design/manufacture of the upcoming Renault 4CV, which led to serious conflict with the recently appointed head of Renault, the former resistance hero, Pierre Lefaucheux.

Differences within the French government and objections from the French automotive industry put a halt to the Volkswagen project before it had even begun. On 15 December 1945, French authorities arrested Porsche, Anton Piëch, Ferdinand’s son-in-law, and Ferry Porsche as war criminals, under rightful suspicion of collaboration as personal friends of the former fuhrer. While Ferry was freed after 6 months, Ferdinand and Anton were imprisoned first in Baden-Baden and then in Paris and Dijon.

Together, with his sister Louise, Ferry took over the management of the company. Early on, the workshop was primarily used for automotive repair. Additionally, they commercialized water pumps and lathes.

Ferry Porsche with the 1000th Porsche car in 1951

In time, they obtained two contracts for automobile design. One was for the construction of racecars for the Cisitalia racing team. The other was for the design of their car, which later became known as the Porsche 356.

One fact that is often overlooked is that aside from Ferdinand Porsche and his son-in-law Anton Piëch, there was a third person at the foundation of the Porsche company, Adolf Rosenberger.

In 1931, he founded Porsche GmbH together with Ferdinand Porsche and Dr Anton Piëch. With Rosenberger’s financial backing, Ferdinand Porsche and Anton Piëch started the company with some former co-workers, including chief designer Karl Rabe. Rosenberger was also instrumental in the creation of the Auto Union concern, being credited with influencing Porsche’s choice of a mid-engined design for the Auto Union racing cars.

Rosenberger’s racing career ended abruptly in 1926 after a serious accident at the Grand Prix in Berlin left three people dead; he was severely injured. He instead began investing in real estate in his hometown of Pforzheim, then partnered with Porsche to help finance their race-car designs and turn them into drivable prototypes.

Despite Rosenberger’s contribution to the development of German automobiles and German auto racing, when Hitler came to power in Germany, Rosenberger, a Jew, was arrested for “Rassenschande” (racial crimes) and imprisoned at KZ Schloss Kislau near Karlsruhe. He was released, by the goodwill of a colleague, Baron von Veyder-Malberg, Rosenberger’s successor at Porsche, who had intervened with the Gestapo in Karlsruhe, successfully lobbying for his release. But Rosenberger still had to pay the Gestapo 53.40 reichsmarks [$455] for his time in “protective custody,” as the euphemism went. Despite later claims to the contrary, Ferdinand Porsche and Anton Piëch did nothing to secure their cofounder’s freedom.

Rosenberger was forced to leave Germany immediately. He emigrated to France, and later to Great Britain, representing Porsche GmbH in both of those countries. He immigrated to the United States in 1939 and 1944 he became a US citizen under the name of Alan Arthur Robert. He moved to California, where he was active in motorsports and the automobile business. He died in Los Angeles, California, in 1967.

During the Nazi era, the role in the auto history of many Jews, like Adolf Rosenberger, along with Josef Ganz, Siegfried Marcus, and Edmund Rumpler was written out of history.

sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesdigitalcovers/2022/04/14/nazi-billionaires-book-excerpt-how-adolf-rosenberger-porsches-jewish-cofounder-was-driven-out-of-the-company-by-the-nazis/?sh=1032f08a458e

https://www.kz-gedenkstaette-neuengamme.de/en/history/satellite-camps/satellite-camps/fallersleben-arbeitsdorf/

https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt16gzb17.11#metadata_info_tab_contents

https://newsroom.porsche.com/en/history/porsche-rijkspolitie-netherlands-holland-police-911-356-14036.html

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Hitler’s Nero Decree

Nero

Killing millions in concentration camps wasn’t enough for Hitler. On March 19 he issued the “Befehl betreffend Zerstörungsmaßnahmen im Reichsgebiet” (Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree)but subsequently became known as the Nero Decree, named after the Roman emperor Nero who ordered Rome to be burned to the ground.

This is basically what Hitler wanted for all of German and the occupied territories , still at the last phase of the war he was so delusional he thought he could win by denying the allies anything of value.

Below is the translated text of the decree.

RE: Destruction Measures within Reich Territory
Our nation’s struggle for existence forces us to utilize all means, even within Reich territory, to weaken the fighting power of our enemy and to prevent further advances. Any opportunity to inflict lasting damage on the striking power of the enemy must be taken advantage of. It is a mistake to believe that undestroyed or only temporarily paralyzed traffic, communications, industrial, and supply installations will be useful to us again after the recapture of lost territories. During his retreat, the enemy will leave behind only scorched earth and will abandon all concern for the population.

I therefore command –

1. All military traffic, communications, industrial and supply installations as well as objects within Reich territory that might be used by the enemy in the continuation of his fight, either now or later, are to be destroyed.

2. It is the responsibility of the military command posts to execute this order to destroy all military objects, including traffic and communications installations.

The Gauleiters and Commissioners for Reich Defense are responsible for destroying the industrial and supply installations, as well as of other objects of valuable; the troops must give the Gauleiters and Commissioners for Reich Defense the assistance they need to carry out this task.

3. This command is to be transmitted to all troop commanders as promptly as possible; orders to the contrary are null and void.

Adolf Hitler.

The order was disobeyed, in a similar way when Hitler ordered Dietrich von Choltitz  to blow up the Eiffel tower shortly before Paris was liberated. Dietrich von Choltitz  surrendered to the allies instead.

eiffel

Albert Speer responded on March 29

“When I gave you my memorandum on 18 March, I was convinced that the conclusions which I was drawing from the present situation for the maintenance of our national energy would definitely meet with your approval. For you yourself had already on one occasion determined that, in the event of a lost war, it was the task of the leadership to preserve the nation from a heroic end.

However, that evening you made statements to me from which – unless I have misunderstood you – it is clear and evident that if the war is lost the nation will also be lost. This fate is unavoidable. It is not necessary to show any consideration for the bases, which the people will need for their very primitive further existence; on the contrary, it is better to destroy even these things. For the nation has showed itself to be the weaker one and the future belongs exclusively to the stronger eastern nation. Those remaining after the struggle are in any case the less valuable ones because the good ones have been killed.

On hearing these words I was deeply shocked. And when, a day later, I read your destruction order and shortly afterwards the tough evacuation order, I interpreted these as the first steps in the implementation of these intentions.

Until then, I had believed with all my heart in a successful conclusion to this war. [ . . . ]

However, I can no longer believe in the success of our good cause if, during these decisive months, we simultaneously and systematically destroy the foundations of our national life. That is such a great injustice towards our people that fate could no longer favour us.

I therefore beg you not to carry out a step so destructive of the nation.

If you could decide to do this in some form then I would regain the faith and courage with which to continue working with the greatest energy.

You will be able to understand my inner conflict. I cannot work to my full capacity and generate the necessary confidence if, at the same time as I am demanding from the workers their fullest commitment, I am preparing to destroy the foundation of their lives.”

speer

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Sources

http://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/docpage.cfm?docpage_id=2382

Bundes Archiv

 

Disobeying the Führer

htler_last_picture

Even one of his last acts Hitler showed he was nothing else but a fraud on the 19th of March 1945  he issued the “Nero Decree”

The decree ordered the destruction of German infrastructure to prevent their use by Allied forces as they penetrated deep within Germany. It was officially titled Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree (Befehl betreffend Zerstörungsmaßnahmen im Reichsgebiet) and has subsequently become known as the Nero Decree, after the Roman Emperor Nero, who supposedly engineered the Great Fire of Rome.

while rome burns

Hitler had copied so much of the Roman empire so it is not surprising that the decree had similarities with Nero’s orders.

It was up to Albert Speer to implement and carry out the decree, but on this occasion Speer refused and disobeyed the order. I don’t think it was because of his endless love for the German people, I think it was more out of self preservation that Speer disobeyed, he knew the war was coming to an end and he still had a chance to escape punishment by the allies. however if he would have carried out the orders he would surely have been sentenced to death by either the Germans or the allies after the war.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1984-1206-511,_Albert_Speer

Albert Speer was not the only one who directly disobeyed Hitler in relation to destroying cities.

Shortly before the Liberation of Paris, Hitler ordered explosives to be placed around important landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, and key transportation hubs. If the Allies came near the city, the military governor, Dietrich von Choltitz was to detonate these bombs, leaving Paris “lying in complete debris.”Von Choltitz, however, did not carry out the order and surrendered to the Allies.

Nazi Surrender

How great would it have been if this picture would have been sent to the Führer as a birthday card.

American_soldiers_watch_as_the_Tricolor_flies_from_the_Eiffel_Tower_again

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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Sources

Independent.ie