This is the first post of Lorenz Schmid’s blog on josefganz.org. Together with author Paul Schilperoord, Schmid is one of the owners of this website and a relative of Josef Ganz. Find out more about Lorenz on the bottom of this page.
Recently the movie trailer of the documentary about Josef Ganz was published and soon I travel with my father to The Hague for the official movie premiere and presentation of the restored Standard Superior Type 1. Many of my friends who have seen the trailer asked me about my relation to the story. It motivated me to write about it in order to explain how it all started!
Back in 2005 I was going to a family meeting which is being organized by the Ganz-family about every 5 years. While it was nice to meet this big family again, I actually didn’t know my relatives very well. When Jürg, a cousin of my father, hold a little speech, he showed at the very end an article of Swiss newspaper “Tagesanzeiger” about one of our relatives who died in 1967 in Australia: car engineer and journalist Josef Ganz. I remembered that once my grand mother had mentioned very quickly that one of her cousins worked with Ferdinand Porsche. Unfortunately at that age I was too young to understand what this really meant. After Jürg’s speech I went to check the newspaper article in detail. As a car enthusiast and editor in chief of a model car magazine I was very interested in the story, although I imagined it to be a very old article. How wrong I was: it was published just a few months ago, in March 2005 if I remember well! I saw that it was based on the research of Dutch journalist Paul Schilperoord.
When I was at home again, I immediately started researching Paul Schilperoord. I imagined it to be a very old journalist who just published one of his last articles. I found out that Schilperoord also published for a technology magazine and I contacted the editor in chief to ask for Paul’s contact. Quickly I got a reply together with Paul’s email address. After writing to him it was sure for me that I needed to go to visit him in The Hague and I motivated my father to join me. In the same year we realized this trip! How wrong I was about Paul Schilperoord: he was in my age! And what we have seen in his apartment was just overwhelming: he presented us more family pictures than we had ever seen before. My father recognized pictures of his grand parents, his uncles and cousins. It was amazing! Also the amount of micro films and documents was just mind blowing and I took home some of the documents that seemed most impressive to me (see photographs).
Since then a great friendship started between Paul and I. While I tried to help him with his research wherever I could, I also started to learn much more about my family. I wrote to many family members and also met most of my father’s cousins to find out what they still remembered about Josef “Seppl” Ganz. It was a very nice way to learn more about my past, too! I met with the editor in chief of Automobile Revue, a renowned Swiss car magazine. Paul and I met all over the world again, visiting archives together or companies like Rapid (manufacturer of the “Swiss Volkswagen”). It was a true and unique adventure! But it started to really get crazy when I found a family member who thought she was all alone in Switzerland… read more about this in my next post!
So after almost 15 years, and after the publication of Paul’s book, which has been translated in 3 languages, and after restoring 2 of Josef Ganz’s cars, after exhibitions in Wolfsburg and Switzerland, I will be able to go back to The Hague with my father, where this adventure started, enjoying the premiere of the so long awaited documentary about Seppl’s life: “Ganz: How I lost my Beetle” – I couldn’t be more excited!
I am very happy to know what you think about this first “blog” post – so I turned on the comment function! Feel free to send me your feedback or thoughts about Josef Ganz and the documentary.
Great post, great story! I can’t wait to read more, go on! Proud to be the sister of such a talented and passionate person!
We just saw the documentary as part of the celebration of Freedom weeks in The Hague. We were immensely impressed by the quality of the film. It is expertly made, funny, tragic, and a joy to watch. Congratulations for an immaculately researched and fascinating story.
I loved your article post.Thanks Again.
Hi Lorenz. What an informative website and amazing story of Josef Ganz and his Volkswagen. I own a 1957 DKW 3=6 with a two-stroke 3 cylinder engine. The original prototype of my car was the DKW F9 developed in the late 1930’s as Auto Union’s answer to the KDF-wagen or Volkswagen.
I have been researching the Auto Union history the last two years since buying my DKW in 2017. And therefore I have come across the names of automotive designers/engineers William Werner, Paul Jaray, Josef Ganz, Tatra and Porsche. As Porsche had a consulting company working on projects for other automotive companies, he met up with all the mentioned persons and they must have “shared” and discussed many ideas. There were many court cases the one had against the other regarding patent rights and to complicate matters the Nazi’s were starting to control all of Germany’s manufacturers and industries in all fields.
Many companies used the patents of the well-known designers and engineers. With small cars Auto Union, NSU, Zundapp, Mercedes-Benz and others had their go at it, many of them following the same basic ideas. But then Hitler came into the picture with “his?” Volkswagen concept and all the rest were told I only want Mr Porsche to work on the German People’s car/ Volkswagen. Josef Ganz had already fled Germany and Tatra was soon in German hands with the annexation of Czechoslovakia.Ferdinand Porsche could develop his car further and other manufacturers were banned from Motor shows in Germany to hide the real story from the German public.
Stromlinie/ streamlined cars came to the fore from people like Tatra, Josef Ganz and the Zeppelin-designer Paul Jaray, the latter two sitting together in a car on one of your pictures. Auto Union Company’s Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer cars in 1939 all had designs influenced by our friend Paul Jaray, including the 1939 prototype of my DKW.
So I am fascinated by your site and cannot wait to learn more. Hopefully I can visit to meet you and see the original archives of Josef Ganz. I am a history guru and a retired archivist. I worked for the Western Cape Archives in Cape Town for 37 years and 6 months. I will subscribe to your newsletter. Kind regards, Jaco van der Merwe (my “stamvader” came to South Africa as a VOC official from South-Holland in May 1661 and I am the 11th generation in this country).