Ferdinand Porsche may be celebrated as the designer of the Volkswagen and for the car line that still bears his name, but there are some who would prefer to forget that the engineer joined Hitler’s SS in 1937 and served as the head of the Fuhrer’s tank commissioner. He knew Hitler personally and used slave labor to build the Volkswagens requested by the dictator.
Veterans and Jewish groups say that an “exhibition” (formerly designated as a memorial) built in Porsche’s birth place (Vratislavice nad Nisouto, Czech Republic) to honor his legacy has brushed over his SS past and relationship with Hitler.
But not everyone in this modest locality of nearly 8,000 residents northeast of the capital Prague felt comfortable trumpeting their native son.
Last year, a new team voted into city hall could no longer ignore growing protests that Vratislavice — in an area annexed by Nazi Germany in the late 1930s — was “memorialising” a man who had worked for Adolf Hitler.