HoMe PaGe

Volkswagen

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The company owes its post-war existence largely to one man, wartime British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst, REME. In April 1945, KdF-Stadt and its heavily bombed factory were captured by the Americans, and subsequently handed over to the British, within whose occupation zone the town and factory fell. The factories were placed under the control of Saddleworth-born Hirst, by then a civilian Military Governor with the occupying forces. At first, one plan was to use it for military vehicle maintenance, and possibly dismantle and ship it to Britain. Since it had been used for military production, (though not of KdF-Wagens) and had been in Hirst's words, a "political animal" rather than a commercial enterprise – technically making it liable for destruction under the terms of the Potsdam Agreement – the equipment could have been salvaged as war reparations. Allied dismantling policy changed in late 1946 to mid-1947, though heavy industry continued to be dismantled until 1951.

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