For Volkswagen, the appointment of the Advisory Board was an important step towards democratization and a basic element on its way to becoming a successful international company. Since the start of civilian production of the Volkswagen “Beetle” in December 1945, all the essential foundations had been laid and a competitive company had been created in the space of a few years.
In October 1949, the British Military Government, which had laid the foundation for the continuation of the factory, returned trusteeship to the German government. The company was then administered by the State of Lower Saxony. After competences and basic legal provisions had been defined and the growing economic importance of the Volkswagenwerk GmbH had made this step appropriate, an Advisory Board was established by the Federal Government and the State of Lower Saxony.
Interaction between the parties involved was defined in the decree of May 21, 1951: “The Federal Minister of Finance shall appoint the Chairman of the Advisory Board and the Vice-Chairman by agreement with the Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and in liaison with the Government of the State of Lower Saxony.” The first Chairman of the Advisory Board of Volkswagenwerk GmbH was Heinz M. Oeftering, a senior civil servant who represented the Federal Ministry of Finance. In addition to representatives of the authorities and industry, the Advisory Board also included members of trade unions and the VW field sales and service organization.
The inaugural meeting of the Advisory Board was held in Wolfsburg on May 22, 1951. The first topics on the agenda mainly included everyday business and the opening balance sheet in Deutschmarks required following the currency reform in 1948.
Heinrich Nordhoff, Director General of the Volkswagenwerk GmbH, had great expectations of cooperation with the Advisory Board and concluded his speech as follows: “We are very happy that part of the responsibility has been removed from the shoulders of the Management Board through the formation of this Advisory Board. We are extremely grateful to you for your willingness to provide the company with your valuable advice and support.”