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Friday, May 13, 2016

From the Louwman Museum in the Hague:

More information about Josef Ganz is here.

The New York Times had the story in 2012 based on a book that was published on Ganz's life:
The story of Josef Ganz is the result of more than five years of research by Paul Schilperoord, a Dutch technology journalist who is studying industrial design in Italy. The trove of documents and photographs he assembled form the basis of “The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz: The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen” (RVP Publishers, 2011).

The book provides a picture of the automotive culture in Germany between the wars, with many small, struggling companies. Published in English for the first time in November, the work had previously been available in Dutch, Portuguese and German.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Schilperoord addressed the book’s challenge to the standard history — that Hitler hired Ferdinand Porsche, who was known as one of Germany’s most successful automobile engineers from his work on military vehicles during World War I, to design and build his Strength Through Joy car. The Strength Through Joy movement was a Nazi enterprise that organized worker recreation programs, sponsoring sports and vacations.

Mr. Schilperoord said that before World War II the word Volkswagen was so common as to be a cliché. “People’s car” in Germany in the 1930s was like “personal computer” in the United States in the 1980s. Inspired by Henry Ford, many young engineers sought to build transportation for the many.

Ganz was one. Ganz wrote for the magazine Motor-Kritik, which faulted German cars as antiquated and often unsafe, while he also consulted on engineering matters for automakers. He held a number of patents for suspension, steering and other systems.

Ganz advocated a people’s car with an air-cooled engine placed at the rear, based on a backbone-type frame and using independent suspension at both ends. He was a friend of Paul Jaray, an aeronautical pioneer, and pushed for Jaray’s streamlined body designs whose shape resembled what is now known as the Beetle.

Ganz promoted these ideas as a journalist. As part of the press gaggle covering the new chancellor’s visit, Mr. Schilperoord said, “He probably stood a few meters from Hitler at the 1933 Berlin auto show.”

But little more than a year later, according to Mr. Schilperoord, Ganz was arrested by the Gestapo, removed from his magazine job because he was Jewish and driven from the country. Ganz felt his life was in danger in Germany and Switzerland, where he settled.
(h/t and photos by El Sid)

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