MembersJosef Ganz

The Jewish father of the Volkswagen

Photo: Public domain

German automaker Volkswagen is a household name. And nearly everyone is familiar with the car that gave the company its name, popularly referred to as the VW Beetle. What most people don’t know is that behind its development was a Jewish engineer and journalist.

Born in 1898 in Budapest, Josef Ganz was gifted in technical matters. At just 12 years of age, he invented a safety device for electric trams, for which he even received a patent. Before the Second World War, he worked for a number of car manufacturers, and became editor-in-chief for a trade journal called Motor-Kritik (Motor Review). Ganz often wrote about his idea for a small car that would be affordable for every citizen, but should nevertheless be safe and secure. He called this car a “Volkswagen” (People’s Car). In 1932, he developed a prototype that he...

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