Volkswagen Beetle Essay

Volkswagen Beetle Essay-68
His research interests include the cultural history of technology, the history of memory, postwar Germany, and transnational history.He is currently working on a book tentatively entitled ‘The People's Car: a Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle’ that places the car in German, British, US-American and Mexican contexts.This ad from the early ’60s coined a phrase that has entered colloquial German.

His research interests include the cultural history of technology, the history of memory, postwar Germany, and transnational history.He is currently working on a book tentatively entitled ‘The People's Car: a Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle’ that places the car in German, British, US-American and Mexican contexts.This ad from the early ’60s coined a phrase that has entered colloquial German.

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Despite wide knowledge about its Third-Reich origins, the Volkswagen soon emerged as an icon of the new domestic order because, by advancing mass motorization, it satisfied previously unattainable consumer dreams.

Moreover, its attractiveness hinged on its technical dependability, which contemporaries read as an indicator of the solidity of a postwar order built on affluence.

That slightly incredulous reference to Wehler's staying power was not the only the allusion to Volkswagen's fabled product.

As Wehler denounced the GDR's repressive politics, praised the stability and wealth of the Federal Republic and warned against rising social disparities in unified Germany, a central inset photograph from 1957 provided a light-hearted counterpoint to his observations.

From this perspective, the Beetle signalled both the achievements of postwar reconstruction and the country's integration into a new international order.

Still, how a product that began life as a National Socialist prestige project came to be adopted by Germans as a symbol of the postwar order remains an open question.

In 1945 the Volkswagen was burdened by its origins in the Third Reich, an ambivalent legacy that might well have obstructed its adoption as the new republic's talisman.

Both in Germany and abroad, it was common knowledge that the car's main design features – its round shape, its torsion-bar wheel suspension, its air-cooled rear engine – stemmed from the 1930s.

After 1945, the Beetle more than any other automobile pushed ahead mass motorization in the Federal Republic, turning the dream of individual car ownership into a reality for millions during the 1950s and 1960s.

Moreover, with more than twenty-one million sales worldwide, VW's export success helped restore West Germany on the global economic stage.

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