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A Brief German History Lesson


At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four regions with each region under the control of either the United States, England, France, and Russia. The American, British, and French regions were combined to form West Germany, and the Russian section became East Germany.

At this time, the British-owned area was home to Volkswagen, whose civilian manufacturing had been shut down in 1941 due to frequent air raids and its machinery moved to other locations to produce vehicles based on the Beetle for the German army. The most famous of these models was the Type 82 Kubelwagen. It featured front-wheel-drive, oversized 18” wheels and tires, and raised suspension to help navigate difficult terrain. The front-wheel powertrain was famous for outperforming US Jeeps in difficult conditions due its sled-like underbody, and was hence nicknamed “the Safari.” The Kubelwagen also had a 4-wheel-drive amphibious counterpart known as the Schwimmerwagen - quite literally, “swimming car.”

Under British leadership, Stadt des KdF-Wagens would be renamed as Wolfsburg in 1945, and under this new ownership, the city would rebuild around a new Volkswagen facility that would produce the company’s next-most-famous vehicle after the Beetle, the Type-2 bus, beginning in 1950. This would also come to ensure that Volkswagen would be one of the biggest players in helping the German and greater European economies recover after the war.

-Trey Fennell

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