Flip me the peace sign.Ferdinand Porsche was the lead designer of the most mass-produced car of all time: the Volkswagen Beetle.Its a complex story of social engineering meeting valid practicality. There are few pop culture consumer products that can equal the sentimental nostalgia for the Beetle. On the reverse side of its counterculture, hippy-dippy peace image was a propaganda tool for the Third Reich and fascism. At the same time, the car’s predominantly female customer base does recall poet’s Sylvia Plath quote, “Not God but a swastika So black no sky could squeak through. Every woman adores a Fascist, The boot in the face, the brute Brute heart of a brute like you.”; a car with such white male patriarchal roots becoming a fetish object for the female gender, yet produced with the vision of male patriarchy.Even the new Beetle for 2012, revealingly, is being marketed in white…
Initially, the Beetle was accepted among America’s middle classes as a safe, reliable and economic choice,yet it evolved to, in the best American tradition, to re-invent itself, this homogenous vehicle modeled after Henry Ford’s philosophy became adopted by the counter-culture as a symbol of non-conformism. So, despite its origins in the Third Reich, the Volkswagen became an international symbol of freedom and irreverence raises the question how and why the Beetle, only the Beetle, allowed for this multitudinous range of cultural aspirations.Blame it on marketing and the further refinement of the Edward Bernays school of post Freudians. As from the 1960’s, the image acquired more power in the advertisement and it began to be tied strongly to creativity. In this way, its messages, became stronger, more original, and the approach, which in the traditional advertisement of the prior years was persuasive and aggressive, changed completely.
Bill Bernbach, founder of the American agency Doyle, Dane & Bernbach, also known as DDB Worldwide, introduced a new concept of advertisement: he faced the emotional with the rational. The humor becomes a technique that helps the product to come closer to the consumer. The Volkswagen Beetle advertisement campaign is a clear point of reference of this technique. It deleted all the negative connotations that the American consumers could give to the product, making it almost matrimonial with its link to union, the altar and consumption.
Andreas Cremer:Volkswagen AG unveiled a sportier design for the iconic Beetle Monday to woo American men and broaden the appeal of the “Love Bug” as VW aims to triple U.S. sales….The Beetle’s buyers last year were more than 60% female, the highest rate for any vehicle sold in the United States, according to automotive website truecar.com. VW brought back the car in 1998 to capitalize on Americans’ nostalgia for the model, which was featured in films including the Walt Disney The Love Bug comedy series as the main character, Herbie….VW last November showed a silhouette of the revamped Beetle on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show and gave 275 of the cars away to her studio audience to stoke interest in the model….Read More:http://www.financialpost.com/news/looks+more+love+Love/4636548/story.html
In the 1930s, Hitler had forced all Germans to enroll in the German Labor Front, and made them pay membership dues. 10% of those dues went to a branch of the front called “Strength Through Joy,” or “Kraft dutch Freude.” The branch was in charge of recreation and sports. In Hitler’s view, that covered motoring, so funds from Strength Through Joy (KdF) were funneled to build an automobile plant….
…To raise more funds, Hitler came up with a prepayment plan. Employed Germans signed up for a car, and paid five reichmarks a week into an account. By the time the factory was operating, their car would be paid for–and they got two years’ free insurance, gas, and maintenance as well! That was the idea, anyway….
Of course, none of those savers ever saw a car. 350,000 Germans paid $67 million for nonexistant cars by 1945. Believe it or not, the money was held in a special fund that still existed at the end or the war, but according to stories, the invading Russian army looted the account.Read More:http://hubpages.com/hub/Hitler_and_the_Volkswagon aaaaaaaa
In the 1980s, Volkswagen, in the spirit of candor about its Nazi past, commissioned a 10-year $2 million investigation led by historian Hans Mommsen into the extent of its role in the use of wartime slave labor. Titled “Volkswagen and Its Workers During the Third Reich,” the mea culpa reveals Ferdinand Porsche was a willing, “morally indifferent” participant in Hitler’s regime. Volkswagen hired some 20,000 forced laborers, prisoners of war, and concentration camp inmates from Auschwitz, Dachau, and Bergen-Belsen…..While Volkswagen was at the bow of the forced labor effort, so was it a vanguard in restitution for those misdeeds. In 1998, under no legal obligation, Volkswagen became the first German company to voluntarily compensate workers it enslaved during the war and established a $12 million humanitarian fund in their honor. By the end of 2001, more than 2,000 recipients in 26 countries benefited from the fund…..Read More:http://www.antifascistencyclopedia.com/allposts/volkswagen-and-the-nazis aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa