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Submitted by Gary Holbrook, February 8, 2012

The original VW Beetle concept was conceived by…………(drum roll please)………Hans Ledwinka in Czechoslovakia?

History itself is supposed to be etched in stone and without dispute. “This is what happened; this is what didn’t, and these facts are not open to dispute.”  Historical records themselves should be based on the cut-and-dried facts of the day, so that when we reflect on these records and archives to learn more about a particular incident, we can feel confident that the information will paint a clear picture of what actually happened.

Granted, the accuracy of today’s interpretation of the event itself entirely rests on the access, accuracy and completeness of the overall historical record. Take the concept of the VW Beetle itself; common knowledge says that it was Hitler’s idea, “the people’s car”, and that he drew the design on a napkin as he sat with Ferdinand Porsche.  He passed his vision on as he expressed; “it should look like a beetle, you only have to look to nature to find out what true streamlining is.” Wow, what a visionary he was!

Well, not so fast, my friend.  If one digs deeper, he or she may find that the actual concept of the rounded, air cooled, engine-in-the-back concept was actually dreamed up by Hans Ledwinka, an Austrian car designer who worked at the Czechoslovakian company Tatra.  Take a look at Tatra V570 prototype, which Ledwinka developed in 1931, several years before Hitler gave the order for the design and production of a Volkswagen.  I could give you the details of what happened next, but it may be best for you to do your own research (it’s more fun that way, agreed?).  Use Google, Bing, or whatever search engine you feel comfortable with.  Applicable Keywords can be history, beetle, Volkswagen, Porsche, Ledwinka, invade, patent.
Tatra V570 Prototype
 
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