Nazi past keeps VW from celebrating landmark event

Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Volkswagen's Nazi past kept it from celebrating the 75th anniversary of a big event in the automaker's history.

During a gala celebration on May 26, 1938, Adolf Hitler laid the foundation stone for what would become VW's Wolfsburg plant.

Series production of what we know today as the Beetle was interrupted by World War II. Instead of making the People's Car, the factory churned out products for the military. In 1944, two-thirds of the factory's workers were forced laborers, according to German media.

After the war the British military became trustee of the plant, which was led by Senior Resident Officer Ivan Hirst.

Under Hirst, the plant resumed car production in December 1945. When Hirst left the plant in 1949, VW had become the biggest automobile maker in Germany, VW's historical records show.

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