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THE ENGLISH BOOK is available now! Please find more information on our projects page.
JOSEF GANZ and his "Swiss Volkswagen" in the amazing "museum on demand" presentation in the Verkehrshaus Luzern: We were there on February 18 with a film team who made an interview with editor Paul Schilperoord ("Het ware verhaal van de Kever").
THE GERMAN BOOK will be published at Huber Verlag Frauenfeld, the Swiss publishing company belonging to the Orell Füssli group! We are sure that this very important translation will have a big impact on the German "home market" of the Beetle as well as in Switzerland where the Swiss Volkswagen called Rapid has been produced! The book "Die wahre Geschichte des VW Käfers - Wie die Nazis Josef Ganz die VW-Patente stahlen" will be released in spring 2011!
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JOSEF GANZ WAS BORN in a Jewish family with a Hungarian mother and a German father in Budapest on July 1, 1898. At an early age he was fascinated by technology and, after relocating to Germany and serving in the German army during the First World War, started a mechanical engineering study. During this time, he became inspired with the idea of building a small car for the price of a motorcycle.
JOSEF GANZ MADE his first Volkswagen sketches in 1923, designing an innovative small lightweight car with a mid-mounted engine, independent wheel suspension and an aerodynamic body, but lacked the money to build a prototype. Therefore, he passionately started publishing articles on progressive car design in various magazines and, shortly after his graduation in 1927, he was assigned as the new editor-in-chief of Klein-Motor-Sport. Josef Ganz used this magazine as a platform to criticize heavy, unsafe and old-fashioned cars and promote innovative design and his concept of a German Volkswagen.
WITH THE ARDENT CONVICTION of a missionary, so post-war Volkswagen director Heinrich Nordhoff would later say, Josef Ganz in Motor-Kritik attacked the old and well-established auto companies with biting irony. At first, these companies fought against Motor-Kritik with law-suits, slander campaigns and an advertising boycott. However, every new attempt for destruction only increased the publicity for the magazine and Josef Ganz firmly established himself as the leading independent automotive innovator in Germany.
IN 1929, Josef Ganz started contacting German motorcycle manufacturers for collaboration to build a Volkswagen prototype. This resulted in a first prototype built at Ardie in 1930 and a second one completed at Adler in May 1931, which was nicknamed the Maikäfer (May-Beetle). News about these amazing constructions quickly spread through the industry. Besides at Adler, Josef Ganz was assigned as a consultant engineer at Daimler-Benz and BMW where he was involved in the development of the first models with independent wheel suspension: the highly successful Mercedes-Benz 170 and BMW AM1 (Automobilkonstruktion München 1).
THE FIRST COMPANY to build a Volkswagen according to the many patents of Josef Ganz was the Standard Fahrzeugfabrik, which introduced its Standard Superior model at the IAMA (Internationale Auto- und Motorradausstellung) in Berlin in February 1933. Here the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler expressed great interest in its revolutionary design and low selling price of 1,590 Reichsmark. Under the new anti-Semitic government, however, Josef Ganz was an easy target for his old enemies.
IRONICALLY, while German car manufacturers one by one took over the progressive ideas that had been published in Motor-Kritik since the 1920s, Josef Ganz himself was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1933 based on falsified charges of blackmail of the automotive industry. He was eventually released, but his career was systematically destroyed and his life endangered. This lead to his escape from Germany in June 1934 the very month Adolf Hitler assigned Ferdinand Porsche to realize the prophecy of Josef Ganz: designing a mass-producible Volkswagen for a consumer price of 1,000 Reichsmark.
JOSEF GANZ SETTLED in Switzerland where with government support he started a Swiss Volkswagen project. The first prototypes were constructed in 1937 and 1938 and plans were formed for mass-production inside a new factory. After the start of World War Two, however, Josef Ganz was again under serious threat from the Gestapo and corrupt Swiss government officials who tried to claim the Swiss Volkswagen project as their own. After the war, Josef Ganz in a desperate attempt for justice took his Swiss enemies to court.
NUMB FROM FIVE YEARS of highly complex court battles, Josef Ganz left Switzerland in 1949 and settled in France. Here he worked on a new small car, but could no longer compete with the German Volkswagen his own vision which was now conquering the world in its hundreds of thousands. In 1951 Josef Ganz decided to leave the old world behind and boarded an ocean liner to Australia. For some years he worked there for General Motors Holden, but became almost bedridden after a series of heart attacks in the early 1960s. Despite some attempts to restore his name, it was too little too late. Josef Ganz died in obscurity in Australia in 1967, his legacy known and admired by all but his name forgotten.