Volkswagen Celebrates 75th Anniversary of British Trusteeship

It was on June 5, 1945, that the British Military Government took over Volkswagenwerk GmbH from the defeated Nazis. Major Ivan Hirst was put in charge of getting the plant in Wolfsburg back up and working again, despite it having been bombed during WWII. It’s a helpful reminder that Volkswagen has never not been political.

“Initially, my brief was very simple,” said Hirst. “Go to Wolfsburg, find the factory and sit on it. They didn’t even say it was a Volkswagen factory.”

But Hirst wasn’t satisfied letting the factory sit idle.

“There was a modern factory, ready to go, with a labor force, a German management and a product that was proven,” Hirst remembers. “And when the currency changed in 1948, it took off: Volkswagen went round the world.”

To celebrate the transformation of VW from propaganda tool to center of production, Volkswagen produced a 30 minute documentary about the start of the trusteeship.

Looking back on a shameful past and the tools that helped a nation build it back up from has particular relevance today. Please consider donating to some of the bail funds and community organizations supporting the work being done around America today to address the deep injustices facing the nation.

First, of course, there is the Black Lives Matter organization; there’s the Bail Project, which seeks to combat economic and racial disparities in the bail system; the Black Visions Collective, which fights for healing justice and transformative justice, Reclaim the Block; and many more.