The War Survivor
At the end of World War II, Adolf Hitler lay dead in his Berlin bunker and the Allies began to pick up the pieces. Wolfsburg was occupied by the British military, who badly needed transportation; they assigned Major Ivan Hirst to restart production.
In 1945, with an order of 20,000 vehicles from the British Army, the Wolfsburg factory began producing Volkswagen (then known as the “Type 1”) in a factory still so damaged from the war that production stopped whenever it rained.
British car manufacturers who inspected the plant and its product were left unimpressed. One report predicted that the Type 1 “will remain popular only for two or three years.... It is quite unattractive to the average buyer.”