Porsche, WWII

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Ron LaDow
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Porsche, WWII

#1 Post by Ron LaDow » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:39 am

Not to go too off topic but what do you know about Porsche & WWII? I'm struggling to see much beyond wiki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Porsche

"In June 1934, Porsche received a contract from Hitler to design a "people's car" (or Volkswagen), following on from his previous designs such as the 1931 Type 12 car designed for Zündapp. The first two prototype cars were completed in 1935. These were followed by several further pre-production batches during 1936 to 1939. The car was similar to the contemporary designs of Hans Ledwinka of Tatra (in particular Tatra V570 and Tatra 97), which resulted in a lawsuit against Porsche based on infringement of Tatra's patents regarding air-cooling of the rear engine. The suit was first stopped by German invasion of Czechoslovakia and later by Volkswagen paying a settlement several years after World War II.

Since being engaged by the Nazi authorities in building the Volksauto, Porsche was praised as the Great German Engineer.[5] Hitler considered Czechs subhuman[11] and Porsche was in 1934 urged to apply for German citizenship.[5] A few days later, Porsche indeed filed a declaration giving up the Czechoslovak citizenship at a Czechoslovak consulate in Stuttgart.[18] In 1937, Porsche joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party[19] (becoming member no. 5,643,287[20]) as well as Schutzstaffel (SS).[21] By 1938, Porsche was using the SS as security members and drivers at his factory, and later set up a special unit called SS Sturmwerk Volkswagen.[20] In 1942, Porsche reached the rank of SS-Oberführer.[22] During the war, Porsche was further decorated with the SS-Ehrenring and awarded the War Merit Cross.[23]

A new city, "Stadt des KdF-Wagens" was founded near Fallersleben for the Volkswagen factory, but wartime production concentrated almost exclusively on the military Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen variants. Mass production of the car, which later became known as the Beetle, began after the end of the war. The city is named Wolfsburg today and is still the headquarters of the Volkswagen Group."

Neil,
I really don't know much about Porsche and WWII; my comment was specific to Benz, and their honesty in admitting the use of slave-labor during the war.
But what you found here makes it clear that saint-hood isn't indicated. Joining the Nazis in '37 means he had to be well aware of the Nuremburg Laws stripping Jews of any "rights". And SS membership wasn't handed out to those who thought Hitler wasn't too bad; you had to show real enthusiasm.
I don't think any of it qualified him as a war criminal, but he certainly had a seat in the cheer-leading section.
BTW, when I was last in Stuttgart, the Porsche Museum hadn't opened. Does it mention WWII at all? At the very least, he was a weapons designer.
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Sebastian Gaeta
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#2 Post by Sebastian Gaeta » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:08 am

Ron,

Ludvigsen's Excellence Was Expected and Battle for the Beetle will tell you plenty.
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#3 Post by Adam Wright » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:07 pm

Other than the obvious?
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#4 Post by Ron LaDow » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:10 pm

Sebastian Gaeta wrote:Ron,
Ludvigsen's Excellence Was Expected and Battle for the Beetle will tell you plenty.
Don't have the Beetle book, but I'll check out Excellence again to see what's dribbled out my ears...
Thanks.
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#5 Post by Sebastian Gaeta » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:13 pm

Adam Wright wrote:Other than the obvious?

What is obvious is that in all of those pictures of him and Ferry with Hitler, they are the ONLY one's not wearing uniforms.
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#6 Post by Dennis ODonnell » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:51 pm

Late '30s work sponsored by Hitler:
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#7 Post by Ron LaDow » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:27 pm

Sebastian,
Read the Excellence chapter over lunch, and it is (strangely?) silent about any Nazi or SS membership, but Ludvigsen was focused on the engineering issues and I'm pretty sure he had the family as a primary source; they were not going to brag about any SS affiliation.
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#8 Post by Sebastian Gaeta » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:49 pm

Then there is probably more in the Beetle book.

I know it is a very touchy subject, and one that has been pretty well sidestepped. I do not remember anyone involved with the company ever having any public political commentary of any type.

Doesn't prove anything, I know, but coupled with the fact that you see no Porsche personnel ever wearing a uniform does say something. Hitler needed everyone around him to wear one. It seems the Porsche firm got a pass.
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#9 Post by neilbardsley » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:41 am

Thank Ron

"I really don't know much about Porsche and WWII; my comment was specific to Benz, and their honesty in admitting the use of slave-labor during the war."

I seem to remember that maybe Porsche was involved in this too?

No mention of the WWII in the Porsche Museum, that I saw, but I'm not sure I would expect it. It really focused on the cars.

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Re: Porsche, WWII

#10 Post by Sebastian Gaeta » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:52 am

neilbardsley wrote:"...my comment was specific to Benz, and their honesty in admitting the use of slave-labor during the war."

I seem to remember that maybe Porsche was involved in this too?
Neil,

During the war, the Porsche company was a small contract engineering firm so no need for any labor force, just engineers. Perhaps do you mean the Wolfsburg plant for the KDF turned Kubelwagen/Schwimmwagen and Kommander?
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#11 Post by Dan Epperly » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:11 pm

It must be remembered that Porsche sought out and got state support for his Kdf project and so it makes sense that he would play the good Nazi in orders to insure the contacts needed to fulfill his ambitions. He would not be the first businessman to sell his soul to the devil. KDF was a Germn state enterprise during the war and used slave labor. After the war the VW works eventually became privatized and as we all know faced lawsuits from former slave laborer as well as from Germans who paid for a car which was never received due to the conversion to wartime production. So both VW and Porsche have a very unsavory origin.

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Re: Porsche, WWII

#12 Post by Doug Nobbs » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:22 pm

There was a very good program by PBS on Nazi super weapons. It included information about his "super" tank and other weapons of his designs. These evidently is one tank left and they showed pictures.

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Re: Porsche, WWII

#13 Post by TomDoherty » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:30 pm

neilbardsley wrote:
No mention of the WWII in the Porsche Museum, that I saw, but I'm not sure I would expect it. It really focused on the cars.
This is not unique to Porsche, I've been through BMW in South Carolina and Mercedes in Alabama.
Though not the main museums, they both have very nice exhibits with timelines. There is a distinct time gap from the late '30s to mid '40s at both facilities.

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Re: Porsche, WWII

#14 Post by Pat Daily » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:54 pm

I have read that Porsche designed the Tiger Tank (seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Porsche) and the Maus--an incredibly heavy self propelled armored artillery gun. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_VIII_Maus
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Re: Porsche, WWII

#15 Post by Bob Forman » Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:08 pm

The MB Museum in Stuttgart does give a sober and straight-forward history of their involvement in WWII. Warts and all.
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