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75 years ago, from June 5, 1945, the British military entered its zone of occupation, replacing the US troops. In Wolfsburg, the British Military Government assumed trusteeship over Volkswagenwerk GmbH, beginning a unique post-war story. The key figure in this story is 28-year-old Major Ivan Hirst. With a talent for improvisation, organizational capabilities and tremendous farsightedness, he reshaped the armaments plant, which had been largely destroyed and was intended for demolition, into a civilian car factory. This way, the British prepared the ground for the later global success of the Beetle and laid the foundation for today’s Volkswagen Group. Volkswagen honors the British era with the documentary film “My brief was very simple“, in which Ivan Hirst tells his Volkswagen story.

70 years ago, the United Kingdom handed over trusteeship of Volkswagen to the Federal Republic of Germany
First production milestone: Major Hirst drives the 1000th Volkswagen produced in March 1946 off the assembly line.
75 years ago, on April 11, 1945, US troops liberated the Volkswagen plant and the city then known as “Stadt des KdF-Wagens” which was later named Wolfsburg to the south of Mittellandkanal. At the Volkswagen plant, about 7,700 forced laborers were freed. Over the eight weeks that followed, the Americans made groundbreaking decisions for the future of the people, the city and the plant. The brief but marked intermezzo of US military rule laid the foundations for democracy, freedom and reconstruction in the region. In May, the plant was already producing vehicles – Kübelwagen for the U.S. Army, which were then called “Volkswagen Jeeps”. The American occupation ended at the end of June 1945 when the region became part of the British occupation zone.
70 years ago, on October 8, 1949, the British Military Government handed over trusteeship of Volkswagenwerk GmbH to the Federal Republic of Germany. The young West German state, which had only been founded shortly before with the promulgation of the Basic Law on May 23, 1949, assigned responsibility for the administration of the company to the state of Lower Saxony.

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Hans-Rüdiger Dehning
Spokesperson Volkswagen Heritage
Tel. +49 (0) 5361 / 9-77173