This is an inspiring story that I heard from my coworkers when I worked for TBS Houston Inc which works on Volkswagen Group of companies automobiles. After World War II the allied powers decided to deindustrialize Germany so that it does not build its military further. At that point most of the automobile makers in Germany were making automobiles for military use.

Volkswagen means car for people, name is derived from Volks meaning people and Wagen meaning car in German.

A British general by the name Ivan Hirst was sent to Germany to deindustrialize a factory. The factory was bombed and pretty much destroyed during WWII. He saw the people working in that rundown factory working to launch a new variety of car for civil use. He wanted to help these people build such vehicle and he offered lot of support and helped the company stand on its feet and manufacture over 10,000 cars in 3 years from 1945.

The most moving part of this story is that the British general was sent to deindustrialize the town and he was in his enemy’s territory granted all the power he wanted to ruin the lives of his enemies. He did not do so. He was very humane and he helped even his enemies succeed and get better life. The story has a second part that is even more motivating.

Few years after the factory was established the British government ordered the general to sell the factory. He was looking for an able manager to take over the company. After Germany lost WWII the American companies were hesitant to hire Germans for managerial posts. He lost his job and was looking for one. Heinz Nordhoff who previously worked for Adam Opel a German subsidary of General Mortors. He was hired by the British to manage this factory. His dedication and leadership from 1948-1968 made Volkswagen a global brand. The market share of Volkwagen grew not just domestically but also in overseas market.

Today Volkwagen group owns various brands and stake in very popular brands like Audi, Porsche, Bentley etc. Volkwagen group was consistently ranked in the top 5 for the last 2 decades.

Credits and References

Conversation with automobile workers in USA and India