May 26, 1938
As the National Socialist Movement came to power in 1933, it seemed to me that this area was particularly well suited to open the campaign against unemployment: the problem of motorization! Here the German Volk was the most in arrears. Not only by comparison to production figures in America, but also in comparison to those of other European countries, the production of automobiles in Germany had remained at a ludicrously low level: barely fortysix thousand cars a year! This did not correspond in the least to the motorization needs of the German Volk. It is only logical therefore that, in a time when seven million unemployed weighed down our life, there would have to be radical and immediate change in this area.
The first step toward motorization was a divorce from those precepts which claimed that a car was a luxury. Of course, this is true in a country where there are no more than two, three or four hundred thousand cars. However, the German Volk does not need two or three hundred thousand cars, it needs six or seven million! The crucial point is to adjust the costs for buying and maintaining this means of transportation-the most modern there is-to the income level of the Volk.
At the time, I was told, “This is impossible!” My only reply to this is, “What is possible in other countries, is also possible in Germany.” I hate that word “impossible” since it has always been the mark of people not daring enough to make and to implement great decisions.
The automobile must become the means of transportation for the Volk! Since this ambition could not be realized given the price range of automobiles to date, I had already resolved, even prior to our takeover of the government, to use the precise moment in which we rose to power to push for production of a car at a price which would make it accessible to the broad masses. Only then would the automobile cease to be a distinction of class.
There was yet another reason why I looked to motorization in particular.
Given the limits imposed upon the production of foodstuffs in a country with 140 persons per square kilometer, a catastrophe would ensue if the German Volk invested its earnings in foodstuffs only. Therefore it is necessary to divert the buying power of the German Volk in other directions.
In former times, our political economists never bothered themselves with such questions. We, however, have to face the facts and solve the problems which result from them. The Volkswagen forms part of a series of measures aimed at channeling the buying power of the German Volk toward other products of equal value. Every year hundreds of thousands of marks will be invested in pursuit of this goal. These needs can he satisfied based on our work alone, on our own raw materials, our ores and our coal, and so on. Few today realize the true significance of this project and its consequences. The Volkswagen will not enter into competition with the cars produced by the automobile industry to date. After all, a man who buys this car and not a Mercedes does not do so simply because he might be an opponent of the Daimler factory, but because he cannot afford to buy a Mercedes.
What forces the buyer to turn to cheaper goods are simple and level-headed considerations. Whoever can afford the more expensive good will buy it anyway! For the broad masses, however, this is not possible! It is for these broad masses that this car has been designed. It is to correspond to their need for transportation, and it is in this context that it is to bring enjoyment to the people.
Hence I believe there is only one name that can be given to this car, a name I shall give to it on this very evening. It shall bear the name of that organization which strives to instill both joy and strength in the masses. The name shall be: KdF-Wagen! As we build this greatest of Germany’s automobile factories, we shall also build an exemplary German worker settlement. It shall also serve as a prototype for the future of social housing projects and city design. We wish to demonstrate how National Socialism sees, approaches, and resolves such problems.
It is at this point that I wish to thank those men who deserve recognition for their efforts in planning and hence in implementing this project; in particular to a man from the automobile industry who has labored to represent and implement my views and who has loyally stood by me in these past years: our old Party Comrade Jakob Werlin. And further let me thank those men who shall join forces with him in the practical implementation of this project: our great idealist Party Comrade Robert Ley, the brilliant engineer Porsche and finally Dr. Lafferentz. Those are the men to whom we will owe, in a large part, the realization of this enormous project! Hence I proceed to lay the cornerstone for this factory which, I am certain, shall become a symbol of the National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft!