Raupenschlepper Ost was a tracked, lightweight vehicle used by the Wehrmacht in World War II. It was conceived in response to the poor performance of wheeled and half-tracked vehicles in the mud and snow during the Wehrmacht's first autumn and winter on the Soviet Front; the RSO was a contemporary with somewhat similar Allied full-tracked small artillery tractors in use in other armies originated from the pre-war light to medium series of Vickers artillery tractors. Two variants of this vehicle were built: the basic cargo carrier, a self-propelled antitank vehicle armed with a PaK 40 gun. Both shared the same chassis. After the Wehrmacht's first fall and winter on the Eastern Front, they found that the primitive roadways in the USSR and seasonal mud required a tracked supply vehicle to maintain mobility. Steyr responded by proposing a small tracked vehicle based upon its 1.5-tonne truck in use in the army. The vehicle was introduced in 1942 as the Raupenschlepper Ost. Designed as a prime mover and artillery supply vehicle, it served in a wide variety of roles.
After the vehicle reached the Eastern front, the combat units started using it for general transport duties. It gave outstanding service due to its reliability, its ease of maintenance, its capability to take over a variety of roles - in every kind of terrain - that other vehicles lacked; the four road wheels per side, all in a single line as part of a "slack-track" system with no return rollers, comprised a much simpler suspension system, much more able to handle the rasputitsa mud season and Russian winter conditions, without mud or snow freezing between the wheels of the complex overlapping/interleaved Schachtellaufwerk suspension systems that German half-track vehicles like the Sd. Kfz. 7 possessed. Soon the orders for the RSO surpassed Steyr's production ability, more manufacturers joined the vehicle's production in order to meet the increased demands; the original version had a pressed-steel cab with a truck-like configuration similar to the wheeled trucks. The next two versions – RSO/02 and 03 – had a simpler, soft-top, slab-sided metal cab.
All models had drop-side cargo beds typical of light trucks of the era. It had a ground clearance of 55 centimetres and was powered by a gasoline Steyr V8 cylinder engine of 3.5 l giving 85 metric horsepower, which in the RSO/03 Magirus-produced vehicles was replaced by a better-performing 66 PS Deutz diesel air-cooled engine. The model used a Cletrac-type final drive along with many other improvements; the engine was mounted on the floor of the driving cab with the drive taken through a single plate clutch to the transmission. The transmission had one reverse; the suspension consisted of four large pressed-steel disk wheels on each side, mounted in pairs with elliptic springs. Steering involved upright steering levers to four hydraulic brakes on the idlers. A spring-loaded pintle was fitted at the rear, towing hooks were fitted in the front, it had a speed of about 30 kilometres per hour. The Kingdom of Romania purchased 100 RSO/01 tractors in 1943; these were used for towing anti-tank guns. By 1943 infantry anti-tank units at the front complained that it was impossible to move their guns using trucks at daylight under enemy fire, leading to enormous losses of equipment during emergency relocations, their opinions reached the top ranks.
OKW explored a considered proposal to fit the 7.5 cm PaK 40/1 anti-tank gun – by the standard PaK used by the Wehrmacht - on top of an RSO chassis. After seeing the blueprints, Hitler ordered a limited production run for combat testing, before the prototypes were completed; the project was carried out by Steyr. The suspension of the RSO remained unchanged, but the front driver's compartment was replaced with a low armoured superstructure; the result was a lightweight, cheap to produce, mobile infantry anti-tank weapon. It was more exposed compared to the conventional, open-topped Panzerjäger style of tank destroyer, which had a construction cost many times that of a RSO/PaK 40. Although the vehicle was intended for use by the infantry anti-tank units, all pre-production vehicles were issued to armoured units, due to the urgent need for replacements, their low speed and light armour resulted in problems for these units trying to cooperate with those in other fighting vehicles. The German Army Group South, where the units issued for combat testing, declared the vehicle useful, large-scale production was authorised.
Despite the decision to have Steyr shift its entire production line into RSO/PaK 40, no specific order reached industry, only the 60 pre-production vehicles were manufactured. While the first vehicles were rolled out from the production line, Steyr started testing an improved version that incorporated a wider chassis and tracks. None of the improved version reached the front. In October 1943, Steyr was ordered by the Ministry of Munitions to cease production of any type of tracked vehicles. By a new up-gunned version of the widened chassis had been designed and was planned to enter production in 1944.
The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe; the designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the used term Reichswehr, was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force, fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors; this required the reinstatement of conscription, massive investment and defense spending on the arms industry. The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg, its campaigns in France, the Soviet Union, North Africa are regarded as acts of boldness.
At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy and logistics apparent. Cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite denials and promotion of the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht; the majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy, as part of the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare. During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces had lost 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions.
The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes. The German term "Wehrmacht" stems from the compound word of German: wehren, "to defend" and Macht, "power, force", it has been used to describes any nation's armed forces. The Frankfurt Constitution of 1849 designated all German military forces as the "German Wehrmacht", consisting of the Seemacht and the Landmacht. In 1919, the term Wehrmacht appears in Article 47 of the Weimar Constitution, establishing that: "The Reich's President holds supreme command of all armed forces of the Reich". From 1919, Germany's national defense force was known as the Reichswehr, a name, dropped in favor of Wehrmacht on 21 May 1935. In January 1919, after World War I ended with the signing of the armistice of 11 November 1918, the armed forces were dubbed Friedensheer. In March 1919, the national assembly passed a law founding a 420,000-strong preliminary army, the Vorläufige Reichswehr; the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were announced in May, in June, Germany signed the treaty that, among other terms, imposed severe constraints on the size of Germany's armed forces.
The army was limited to one hundred thousand men with an additional fifteen thousand in the navy. The fleet was to consist of at most six battleships, six cruisers, twelve destroyers. Submarines and heavy artillery were forbidden and the air-force was dissolved. A new post-war military, the Reichswehr, was established on 23 March 1921. General conscription was abolished under another mandate of the Versailles treaty; the Reichswehr was limited to 115,000 men, thus the armed forces, under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt, retained only the most capable officers. The American historians Alan Millet and Williamson Murray wrote "In reducing the officers corps, Seeckt chose the new leadership from the best men of the general staff with ruthless disregard for other constituencies, such as war heroes and the nobility". Seeckt's determination that the Reichswehr be an elite cadre force that would serve as the nucleus of an expanded military when the chance for restoring conscription came led to the creation of a new army, based upon, but different from, the army that existed in World War I.
In the 1920s, Seeckt and his officers developed new doctrines that emphasized speed, combined arms and initiative on the part of lower officers to take advantage of momentary opportunities. Though Seeckt retired in 1926, the army that went to war in 1939 was his creation. Germany was forbidden to have an air force by the Versailles treaty; these officers saw the role of an air force as winning air superiority and strategic bombing and providing ground support. That the Luftwaffe did not develop a strategic bombing force in the 1930s was not due to a lack of interest, but because of economic limitations; the leadership of the Navy led by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, a close protégé of Alfred von Tirpitz, was dedicated to the idea of reviving Tirpitz's High Seas Fleet. Officers who believed in submarine warfare led by Admiral Karl Dönitz were in a minority before 1939. By 1922
Fiat Automobiles S.p. A. is an Italian automobile manufacturer, a subsidiary of FCA Italy S.p. A., part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Fiat Automobiles was formed in January 2007 when Fiat reorganized its automobile business, traces its history back to 1899 when the first Fiat automobile, the Fiat 4 HP, was produced. Fiat Automobiles is the largest automobile manufacturer in Italy. During its more than century-long history, it remained the largest automobile manufacturer in Europe and the third in the world after General Motors and Ford for over twenty years, until the car industry crisis in the late 1980s. In 2013, Fiat S.p. A. was the second largest European automaker by volumes produced and the seventh in the world, while FCA is the world's eighth largest auto maker. In 1970, Fiat Automobiles employed more than 100,000 in Italy when its production reached the highest number, 1.4 million cars, in that country. As of 2002, it built more than 1 million vehicles at six plants in Italy and the country accounted for more than a third of the company's revenue.
Fiat has manufactured railway engines, military vehicles, farm tractors and weapons such as the Fiat–Revelli Modello 1914. Fiat-brand cars are built in several locations around the world. Outside Italy, the largest country of production is Brazil, where the Fiat brand is the market leader; the group has factories in Argentina and Mexico and a long history of licensing manufacture of its products in other countries. Fiat Automobiles has received many international awards for its vehicles, including nine European Car of the Year awards, the most of any other manufacturer, it ranked many times as the lowest level of CO2 emissions by vehicles sold in Europe. On 11 July 1899, Giovanni Agnelli was part of the group of founding members of FIAT, Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino; the first Fiat plant opened in 1900 with 35 staff making 24 cars. Known from the beginning for the talent and creativity of its engineering staff, by 1903 Fiat made a small profit and produced 135 cars; the company went public selling shares via the Milan stock exchange.
Agnelli led the company until his death in 1945, while Vittorio Valletta administered the firm's daily activities. Its first car, the 3 ½ CV resembled contemporary Benz, had a 697 cc boxer twin engine. In 1903, Fiat produced its first truck. In 1908, the first Fiat was exported to the US; that same year, the first Fiat aircraft engine was produced. Around the same time, Fiat taxis became popular in Europe. By 1910, Fiat was the largest automotive company in Italy; that same year, a new plant was built in Poughkeepsie, NY, by the newly founded American F. I. A. T. Automobile Company. Owning a Fiat at that time was a sign of distinction; the cost of a Fiat in the US was $4,000 and rose up to $6,400 in 1918, compared to $825 for a Ford Model T in 1908, $525 in 1918, respectively. During World War I, Fiat had to devote all of its factories to supplying the Allies with aircraft, machine guns and ambulances. Upon the entry of the US into the war in 1917, the factory was shut down as US regulations became too burdensome.
After the war, Fiat introduced its first tractor, the 702. By the early 1920s, Fiat had a market share in Italy of 80%. In 1921, workers hoisted the red flag of communism over them. Agnelli responded by quitting the company. However, the Italian Socialist Party and its ally organization, the Italian General Confederation of Labour, in an effort to effect a compromise with the centrist parties ordered the occupation ended. In 1922, Fiat began to build the famous Lingotto car factory—then the largest in Europe—which opened in 1923, it was the first Fiat factory to use assembly lines. In 1928, with the 509, Fiat included insurance in the purchase price. Fiat made military machinery and vehicles during World War II for the Army and Regia Aeronautica and for the Germans. Fiat made obsolete fighter aircraft like the biplane CR.42, one of the most common Italian aircraft, along with Savoia-Marchettis, as well as light tanks and armoured vehicles. The best Fiat aircraft was the G. 55 fighter. In 1945, the year Benito Mussolini was overthrown, the National Liberation Committee removed the Agnelli family from leadership roles in Fiat because of its ties to Mussolini's government.
They were not returned until 1963, when Giovanni's grandson, took over as general manager until 1966, as chairman until 1996. In 1970, Fiat employed more than 100,000 in Italy when its production reached the highest number, 1.4 million cars, in that country. As of 2002, Fiat built more than 1 million vehicles at six plants in Italy and the country accounted for more than a third of the company's revenue. Towards the end of 1976 it was announced that the Libyan government was to take a shareholding in the company in return for a capital injection Other aspects of the Libyan agreement included the construction of a truck and bus plant at Tripoli. Chairman Agnelli candidly described the deal as "a classic petro-money recycling operation which will strengthen the Italian reserves, provide Fiat with fresh capital and give the group greater tranquility in which to carry out its investment programmes". On 29 January 20
Tatra is a Czech vehicle manufacturer in Kopřivnice. It is owned by the Tatra Trucks company, based in Ostrava, is the second oldest company in the world producing cars with an unbroken history, surpassed only by French automaker Peugeot; the company was founded in 1850 as Ignatz Schustala & Comp. in 1890 renamed Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau-Fabriksgesellschaft when it became a wagon and carriage manufacturer. In 1897, Tatra produced the first motor car in the Präsident automobile. In 1918, it changed its name to Kopřivnická vozovka a.s. and in 1919 changed from the Nesselsdorfer marque to the Tatra badge, named after the nearby Tatra Mountains on the Czechoslovak-Polish border. During World War II Tatra was instrumental in the production of trucks and tank engines for the German war effort. Production of passenger cars ceased in 1999, but the company still produces a range of all-wheel-drive trucks, from 4×4 to 18x18; the brand is known as a result of Czech truck racer Karel Loprais: in 1988–2001 he won the off-road race Dakar Rally six times with a Tatra 815.
Ignác Šustala, founder of the company "Ignatz Schustala & Comp" in Kopřivnice, started the production of horse-drawn vehicles in 1850. In 1891 it branched out into railroad car manufacture, naming the company "Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau-Fabriksgesellschaft", employed Hugo Fischer von Roeslerstamm as technical director in 1890. After the death of Šustala, von Roeslerstamm took over running the company and in 1897 he bought a Benz automobile. Using this for inspiration, the company made its first car, the Präsident, under the direction of engineers Hans Ledwinka and Edmund Rumpler, exhibited in 1897 in Vienna. Orders were obtained for more cars, until 1900, nine improved cars based on Präsident were made; the first car to be designed by Ledwinka came in 1900 with the Type A with rear-mounted 2714 cc engine and top speed of 40 kilometres per hour, 22 units were built. This was followed by the Type B with central engine in 1902 but Ledwinka left the company to concentrate on steam engine development.
He returned in 1905 and designed a new car, the Type S with 3308 cc 4-cylinder engine. Production was badly hit in 1912 with a 23-week strike and Hugo Fischer von Roeslerstam left the company. In 1921 the company was renamed to "Kopřivnická vozovka", in 1919 the name Tatra was given to the car range. Leopold Pasching took over control and in 1921 Hans Ledwinka returned again to develop the revolutionary Tatra 11; the new car, launched in 1923 featured a rigid backbone tube with swinging semi-axles at the rear giving independent suspension. The engine, front-mounted, was an air-cooled two-cylinder unit of 1056 cc. In 1924 the company was renamed to "Závody Tatra"; the Tatra 11 was replaced in 1926 by the similar Tatra 12. A further development was the 1926 Tatra 17 with a 1,930 cc water-cooled six-cylinder engine and independent suspension. In 1927 the company was renamed "Ringhoffer-Tatra". Tatra's specialty was luxury cars of a technically advanced nature, going from air-cooled flat-twins to fours and sixes, culminating with the OHC 6-litre V12 in 1931.
In the 1930s, under the supervision of Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka, his son Erich and German engineer Erich Übelacker, protected by high tariffs and absence of foreign assemblers, Tatra began building advanced, streamlined cars after obtaining licences from Paul Jaray, which started in 1934 with the large Tatra 77, the world's first production aerodynamic car. The average drag coefficient of a 1:5 model of the fastback Tatra 77 was recorded as 0.2455. It featured a rear-mounted, air-cooled V8 engine, in technical terms sophisticated for the time. Both Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche were influenced by the Tatras. Hitler was a keen automotive enthusiast, had ridden in Tatras during political tours of Czechoslovakia, he had dined numerous times with Ledwinka. After one of these dinners Hitler remarked to Porsche, "This is the car for my roads". From 1933 onwards and Porsche met to discuss their designs, Porsche admitted "Well, sometimes I looked over his shoulder and sometimes he looked over mine" while designing the Volkswagen.
There is no doubt that the Beetle bore a striking resemblance to the Tatras the Tatra V570. The Tatra 97 of 1936 had a rear-located, rear-wheel drive, air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine accommodating four passengers and providing luggage storage under the front bonnet and behind the rear seat. Another similarity between this Tatra and the Beetle is the central structural tunnel. Tatra launched a lawsuit against VW. At the same time, Tatra was forced to stop producing the T97; the matter was re-opened after World War II and in 1965 Volkswagen paid Tatra 1,000,000 DM in an out of court settlement. After the 1938 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, Tatras were kept in production because Germans liked the cars. Many German officers died in car accidents caused by driving the heavy, rear-engined Tatras faster around corners than they could handle. At the time, as an anecdote, Tatra became known as the'Czech Secret Weapon' for the scores of officers who died behind the wheel; the factory was nationalised in 1945 three years before the Communist Party came to power and in January 1946 was renamed to "Tatra Národní Podnik".
Although production of prewar models continued, a new model, the Tatra 600 Tatraplan was designed—the name celebrating the new Communist planned economy and the aeroplane inspiration (Colloq
Steyr is a statutory city, located in the Austrian federal state of Upper Austria. It is the administrative capital, though not part of Steyr-Land District. Steyr is the 3rd largest town in Upper Austria; the city has a long history as a manufacturing center and has given its name to several manufacturers headquartered there, such as the former Steyr-Daimler-Puch conglomerate and its successor Steyr Motors. The city is situated in the Traunviertel region, with the two rivers Steyr and Enns flowing through it and meeting near the town centre beneath Lamberg Castle and St Michael's Church; this prominent location has made it prone to severe flooding through the centuries until the present, one of the worst cases being in August 2002. To the south of the town rises a series of hills that climb in altitude and stretch out to the Upper Austrian Prealps. To the north, the hills roll downward towards the confluence of the Enns with the Danube River, where the town of Enns is situated. In the east, the municipal area borders with Lower Austria.
Steyr is an ancient town with modern amenities, marketing its rich cultural and architectural heritage in tourism like Vienna and many other well preserved Austrian historic towns. It marked its 1,000th anniversary in 1980, after undergoing extensive restoration of its historic architecture which has made it one of the best preserved old towns in the country; the famous historic town centre built around the Stadtplatz was restored following World War II. Its best-known piece of architecture is called the Bummerlhaus, considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture for its size in Central Europe; the city comprises the cadastral communities of Christkindl, Föhrenschacherl, Hinterberg, Jägerberg, Sarning and Steyr. Celts settled the area from about 600 BC, the name of the Stiria River is of Celtic origin, their kingdom of Noricum became part of the Roman Empire in 15 BC. A settlement named Gesodunum noted by the ancient geographer Claudius Ptolemy was located in the Steyr region. Here the Roman "Iron Road" led from the Erzberg mine along the Enns River to the castra of Lauriacum on the Danube.
In the 6th century, Bavarian settlers moved into the area, which Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria granted to nearby Kremsmünster Abbey in 777. During the Hungarian invasions of Europe, a fortress was erected above the Steyr River by the local Traungau counts, first mentioned as Styraburg in a 980 deed. From 1055 Steyr Castle in the Bavarian Traungau as well as the adjacent "March of Styria" were ruled by the mighty Otakar dynasty; the Otokars controlled the iron mining at Erzberg and made their residence at Steyr a centre of medieval courtly culture and Middle High German poetry. In 1180 Emperor Frederick Barbarossa elevated Margrave Ottokar IV to a Duke of Styria. Steyr named a town by lost its importance as a ducal residence but retained its status as a centre of ironworking; the Babenberg rulers promoted its economic development as a site of blacksmithing knife making and armament industry. After the extinction of the Babenbergs in 1246, Steyr together with the Duchy of Austria was occupied by the Přemyslid king Ottokar II of Bohemia and taken over by the Habsburg king Rudolf I of Germany upon his victory at the 1278 Battle on the Marchfeld.
The town privileges and market rights were confirmed by Rudolf's son King Albert I in 1287 and the citizens further on benefitted of Steyr's preferred position within the iron trade all over the Holy Roman Empire and with the Republic of Venice. In the 13th and 14th century, Steyr was a centre of the Christian Waldensian movement and a location of the inquisitoral persecutuions led by the Catholic cleric Petrus Zwicker; the Protestant Reformation spread among the citizens about 1525, fiercely opposed by the Habsburg rulers in the course of the Counter-Reformation. The economic situation changed for the worse, as the iron trade decayed during the Thirty Years' War, when Upper Austria was pawned to Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria, the Peasants' War in Upper Austria of 1626. In 1727 the medieval Styraburg was replaced by the Baroque Lamberg Castle; the resurgence of Steyr began under the conditions of late 18th century Josephinism and continued in the course of the succeeding industrialisation. During the Napoleonic Wars Steyr was occupied by French troops several times.
In 1830 the blacksmith Leopold Werndl founded an armory at Steyr, which his sons Josef and Franz Werndl re-established as a stock company in 1864, named the Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft from 1869. Including the Steyr automobile branch from 1915 it was renamed Steyr-Werke AG in 1926 and formed a large industrial conglomerate by the merger with Austro-Daimler and Puch in 1934. However, the Steyr industry was hit hard by the 1929 Great Depression. In 1934, the town became one of several battlegrounds between Social Democratic Schutzbund paramilitary foreces and Christian Social Heimwehr militias in the Austrian Civil War, which brought about the fascist corporate Federal State of Austria that ruled the country until the 1938 Anschluss to Nazi Germany; the Nazi authorities incorporated the armament industry into the vast Reichswerke Hermann Göring conglomerate, including the construction of the Steyr-Münichholz subcamp of forced labourers, part of the Mauthausen network. A major producer of arms and military vehicles during World War II, Steyr became a target of Allied bombing raids to knock out its f
Volkswagen. It is the flagship marque of the Volkswagen Group, the largest automaker by worldwide sales in 2016 and 2017; the group's main market is in China, which delivers 40 % of its profits. Volkswagen translates to "people's car" in German; the company's current international advertising slogan is just "Volkswagen", referencing the name's meaning. Volkswagen was established in 1937 by the German Labour Front in Berlin. In the early 1930s cars were a luxury: most Germans could afford nothing more elaborate than a motorcycle. Only one German out of 50 owned a car. Seeking a potential new market, some car makers began independent "people's car" projects – the Mercedes 170H, Adler AutoBahn, Steyr 55, Hanomag 1.3L, among others. The trend was not new, as Béla Barényi is credited with having conceived the basic design in the mid-1920s. Josef Ganz developed the Standard Superior. In Germany, the company Hanomag mass-produced the 2/10 PS "Kommissbrot", a small, cheap rear-engined car, from 1925 to 1928.
In Czechoslovakia, the Hans Ledwinka's penned Tatra T77, a popular car amongst the German elite, was becoming smaller and more affordable at each revision. Ferdinand Porsche, a well-known designer for high-end vehicles and race cars, had been trying for years to get a manufacturer interested in a small car suitable for a family, he built a car named the "Volksauto" from the ground up in 1933, using many popular ideas and several of his own, putting together a car with an air-cooled rear engine, torsion bar suspension, a "beetle" shape, the front hood rounded for better aerodynamics. In 1934, with many of the above projects still in development or early stages of production, Adolf Hitler became involved, ordering the production of a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h, he wanted all German citizens to have access to cars. The "People's Car" would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings plan at 990 Reichsmarks —about the price of a small motorcycle.
Despite heavy lobbying in favour of one of the existing projects, it soon became apparent that private industry could not turn out a car for only 990 RM. Thus, Hitler chose to sponsor an state-owned factory using Ferdinand Porsche's design; the intention was that ordinary Germans would buy the car by means of a savings scheme, which around 336,000 people paid into. However, the entire project was financially unsound, only the Nazi party made it possible to provide funding. Prototypes of the car called the "KdF-Wagen", appeared from 1938 onwards; the car had its distinctive round shape and air-cooled, flat-four, rear-mounted engine. The VW car was just one of many KdF programs, which included things such as outings; the prefix Volks— was not just applied to cars, but to other products in Germany. On 28 May 1937, Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH, or Gezuvor for short, was established by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront in Berlin. More than a year on 16 September 1938, it was renamed to Volkswagenwerk GmbH.
Erwin Komenda, the longstanding Auto Union chief designer, part of Ferdinand Porsche's hand-picked team, developed the car body of the prototype, recognizably the Beetle known today. It was one of the first cars designed with the aid of a wind tunnel—a method used for German aircraft design since the early 1920s; the car designs were put through rigorous tests, achieved a record-breaking million miles of testing before being deemed finished. The construction of the new factory started in May 1938 in the new town of "Stadt des KdF-Wagens", purpose-built for the factory workers; this factory had only produced a handful of cars by the time war started in 1939. None were delivered to any holder of the completed saving stamp books, though one Type 1 Cabriolet was presented to Hitler on 20 April 1944. War changed production to military vehicles—the Type 82 Kübelwagen utility vehicle, the amphibious Schwimmwagen—manufactured for German forces; as was common with much of the production in Nazi Germany during the war, slave labor was utilized in the Volkswagen plant, e.g. from Arbeitsdorf concentration camp.
The company would admit in 1998. German historians estimated. Many of the slaves were reported to have been supplied from the concentration camps upon request from plant managers. A lawsuit was filed in 1998 by survivors for restitution for the forced labor. Volkswagen would set up a voluntary restitution fund; the company owes its post-war existence to one man, wartime British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst, REME. In April 1945, KdF-Stadt and its bombed factory were captured by the Americans, subsequently handed over to the British, within whose occupation zone the town and fa