Jewish Engineer Designed Beetle: Historian

Hitler ordered Porsche to replicated Josef Ganz's prototype
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2009 5:48 PM CDT
Volkswagen Beetles cruise through the city in Wolfsburg, Germany, Sunday, June 22, 2008 . About 400 old Volkswagens attended the annual beetle meeting in Wolfsburg.   (AP Photo/Kai-Uwe Knoth)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Adolf Hitler took the original design for the Volkswagen Beetle from the brainchild of a Jewish engineer, the Jerusalem Post reports. Historian Paul Schilperoord claims in his forthcoming book The True History of the Beetle that a prototype Josef Ganz designed in the late '20s had many of the Beetle’s distinctive features, such as a rear-mounted engine. He even called the completed prototype, constructed in 1931, the Maikäfer, or "May-Beetle."

Hitler saw a later version of the Maikäfer prototype at a Berlin motor show in 1931 and ordered Ferdinand Porsche to create a similar car, according to Schilperoord. "He obscured the fact that a Jew was behind the car's design," Schilperoord said. He later had Ganz arrested on trumped-up charges. Ganz escaped safely to Switzerland but never gained recognition for his design. He died in 1967.