The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz – The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen (click here to order on Amazon)
The astonishing biography of Josef Ganz, a Jewish designer from Frankfurt, who in May 1931 created a revolutionary small car: the Maikäfer (German for May bug). Seven years later Hitler introduced the Volkswagen. He not only ‘took’ the concept of Ganz’s family car, he even used the same nickname.
To this day the VW Beetle or Bug is considered one of the most important of all automobile designs. It incorporated many of the features of Ganz’s original Maikäfer, yet until recently Ganz received no recognition for his pioneering work. The Nazis did all they could to keep the Jewish godfather of the German compact car out of the history books.
Now Paul Schilperoord sets the record straight. In a biography that reads like a spy thriller, he tells how Ganz was imprisoned by the Gestapo, until an influential friend with connections to Göring helped secure his release. Soon afterwards he was forced to flee Germany while Porsche created the Volkswagen for Hitler using many of his groundbreaking ideas. Ganz was hunted by the Nazis even beyond Germany’s borders and narrowly escaped assassination. After the war he moved to Australia, where he died in 1967. This biography is a great read for anyone interested in World War II, Jewish history, the evolution of car design or simply the life stories of extraordinary individuals.
Author: Paul Schilperoord
Translation: Liz Waters
Publisher: René van Praag Publishers (RVPP)
6 x 10 inch | 352 pages | hardcover + paperback | 150+ color and B&W photos & illustrations
1st print: December 2011 | 2nd print: February 2012
This highly readable book convincingly argues Ganz’s influence on the Beetle.
Mick Walsh, editor-in-chief Classic & Sports Car magazine