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Who really created the VW Beetle

Popular belief is: Adolf Hitler wanted an affordable car for the masses and engineer Ferdinand Porsche created it for him.

Ask anyone who was responsible for creating the Volkswagen Beetle - the ‘People’s Car’ - and two names will usually be mentioned: Adolf Hitler, who wanted it as an affordable car for the masses, and engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who created it for him. 

Not so, a new book claims. Its true designer was a talented, maverick German engineer whose ideas were poached and his achievements airbrushed from history by the Nazis during the Third Reich because he was Jewish.

The tale is told in The Extraordinary Life Of Josef Ganz - the Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen (, £25). 

The fascinating story is the result of more than five years’ detective work by Dutch writer Paul Schilperoord, who told me: ‘It is no exaggeration to say the Beetle would never have existed without Ganz.’

And as Ganz himself concluded a few years before his death a week after his 69th birthday: ‘I promise you an insight into a crime story even Hitchcock could not invent.’