On Ascension Thursday, May 26, 1938, the foundation stone of the Volkswagen factory was laid near Fallersleben in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) by Adolf Hitler. His entourage was joined by 600 guests of honor and 150 journalists. The public arrived by car, bus and 28 special trains, while two chartered buses from Stuttgart took Porsche Office officials to the venue. In total, 70,000 people gathered at the construction site, which was proud of colorful banners, flower garlands and banners displayed on the main stand for three Volkswagen prototypes. Sedan, full-length sunroof sedan and cabriolet.

The stage glittered with the uniforms and traditional dress of the 3,000 builders who took the day off to attend the ceremony, bricklayers in white and black top hats, carpenters in black velvet and corduroy, and a military honor guard.

Landscape decorated for the foundation stone laying ceremony (Photo: LIFE magazine collection)

Among the special guests were Count and Countess Werner von der Schulenburg, or Schloss (castle) Wolfsburg, who had been invited along with 27 other dispossessed landowners and who later left the event angry that Hitler did not mention the landowners’ patriotic sacrifices. whose farms were taken and whose factory and town were to be built.

Top ruling party officials opened the celebrations with speeches, including one of Volkswagen’s top project managers, Bodo Lafferentz, who reported that the KdF (Kraft durch Freude, or Strength Through Joy organization) was allocating 50 million Reichsmarks for the construction of the factory. that. he was fulfilling every requirement set by Dr. Porsche.

The car, he added, will be a miracle in terms of price, costing 990 Reichsmarks. Pointing to the surrounding countryside on the other side of the Mittellandkanal, he said: “We will build our beautiful city there which, when completed, will be home to 90,000 inhabitants. That city will be among the most beautiful states in the world”.

Hitler speaking during the foundation stone laying ceremony (Photo: author’s collection)

Hitler then gave his speech from the stage: “When I came to power in 1933, I saw a problem that had to be solved immediately – that of German motoring.” In this area, Germany was behind all other countries. The production of private cars in Germany had reached a ridiculous 46,000 per year. And the first step to stop this was to stop the idea that a car is a luxury item.}
The reasons why people look for cheap products are simple and modest. Those who are likely to buy expensive items will do so anyway! Large groups, however, cannot do that. It is for these many people that this car was built. It is to meet the transportation needs of these citizens and give them happiness!
This vehicle will bear the name of an organization that is working hard to bring happiness and therefore strength to the vast masses of our people. It will be called the KdF-Wagen! I offer to lay the first stone on behalf of the German people!

Therefore, the car was called Kraft durch Freude Wagen (a car of strength through joy), which came as a complete surprise to Ferry Porsche and his father Ferdinand. “We were scared,” he says. “My father commented that we would never be able to sell a car abroad under that name”. Despite the official order, the general public continued to call it Volkswagen. Furthermore, the factory was officially called Volkswagenwerk and remained so for several decades, although advertising literature and other printed materials, such as the savings book, referred to the KdF-Wagen.

After the ceremony, Hitler enters in a model cabriolet to Fallersleben railway station (Photo: author’s collection)

When the festivities ended, Hitler sat in the KdF-Wagen cab that Ferry Porsche and two other people had brought from Stuttgart at the crucial moment. He then asked Ferry to drive him back to Fallersleben railway station, avoiding his luxury Mercedes-Benz for the first time. He later promised that the new plant would be bigger than Ford’s in Michigan and that it would also be more efficient.


Remember: The images and information contained in this article are for historical and educational purposes and are not intended to support, endorse, glorify or support the actions of the National Socialist dictatorship in Germany from 1933 to 1945.