After being taken over by British forces following the end of World War II in Europe, Volkswagen was handed back to the Federal Republic of Germany on this day in 1949. Volkswagen was a project started by Adolf Hitler to put Germany on wheels. His plan was to manufacture an affordable and economical “People’s Car” that could be attained by all. In 1934 Ferdinand Porsche, who recently started an automotive consulting firm, was hired by the Nazis to design the vehicle. The result became one of the best selling cars of all time.
Following WWII the allies were determined to put German people back to work. The idea was to make it possible for them to rebuild their own country that had been destroyed by war. A big part of this was getting manufacturing facilities, such as VW at Wolfsburg, back up and running. The plant, which had been nearly destroyed during the war, was cranking out new cars less than a year after the Germans surrendered. A total of 1,785 Type 1 Volkswagens were built by the end of 1945. Most of them were mandated for transport duty for the occupying forces.