The city of Atlanta has turned down a request to rename a street Ferdinand Porsche Avenue, because of the Porsche founder’s early association with the Nazis – for whom he designed the ‘volks wagen’ (people’s car) that later became the VW Beetle.
The street name request was made as Porsche prepares to build a huge new US headquarters – including a test track -- in Atlanta on the site of a former Ford factory, and wanted the street it’s on renamed from the current Henry Ford II Avenue to Ferdinand Porsche Avenue.
To their credit, Porsche has not tried to conceal their founder’s Nazi association in Germany's darkest days, which included him heading up Hitler’s tank commission and designing military vehicles, according to a report on the Atlanta CL website.
"It is highly regrettable but true that Professor Porsche had some direct contacts with the immoral dictators who ran Germany during those terrible times, as did every other prominent German business leader," a Porsche spokesman is cited as saying in a statement to CL.
However the statement also points out the measures the carmaker and its parent company Volkswagen have taken to make amends after the war, including leading the formation of and funding for organisations that made reparations to those who worked as forced labourers, and their surviving families.
“Today's Porsche AG, like most major German companies, contributed significantly to those funds. The Volkswagen group of companies has been widely acknowledged by numerous organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, as the world's leader in atoning for those darkest of times," the statement says.
Acknowledging the reparation, a compromise will be reached on renaming the street, but it will not bear the name of Ferdinand Porsche. Instead, Atlanta is likely to waive current legislation that bans the use of corporate names (rather than the names of people who founded them), and Henry Ford II Avenue will be renamed to just ‘Porsche Avenue’.