By on January 4, 2012

Have you heard the old joke about the three Jewish engineers and Henry Ford? This is the version at Snopes.com:

It was a sweltering August day in 1937 when the 3 Cohen brothers entered the posh Dearborn, Michigan, offices of Henry Ford, the car maker.

“Mr. Ford”, announced Norman Cohen, the eldest of the three. “We have a remarkable invention that will revolutionize the automobile industry.”

Ford looked skeptical, but their threat to offer it to the competition kept his interest piqued. “We would like to demonstrate it to you in person”, said Norman.

After a little cajoling, they brought Mr. Ford outside and asked him to enter a black automobile parked in front of the building. Hyman Cohen, the middle brother, opened the door of the car. “Please step inside, Mr. Ford.”

“What!” shouted the tycoon, “Are you crazy? It’s over a hundred degrees in that car!”

“It is”, smiled the youngest brother, Max.; but sit down Mr. Ford, and push the white button.

Intrigued, Ford pushed the button. All of a sudden a whoosh of freezing air started blowing from vents all around the car, and within seconds the automobile was not only comfortable, it was quite cool.

“This is amazing!” exclaimed Ford. “How much do you want for the patent?’

One of the brothers spoke up: “The price is One Million Dollars.” Then he paused.

“And there is something else. The name ‘Cohen Brothers Air Conditioning’ must be stamped right next to the Ford logo on the dash board!”

“Money is no problem,” retorted Ford,” but there is no way I will have a Jewish name next to my logo on my cars!”

They haggled back and forth for a while and finally they settled. Five Million Dollars, and the Cohens’ name would be left off. However, the first names of the Cohen brothers would be forever emblazoned upon the console of every Ford air conditioning system.

And that is why even today, whenever you enter a Ford vehicle, you see those three names clearly printed on the air conditioning control panel……….NORM, HI and MAX

The story isn’t even apocryphal. Except for the part about Ford’s Jew-hatred it’s complete fiction. Willis Carrier invented refrigerant air conditioning and Packard, not Ford, was the first automaker to offer it in a car.

Now, though, did you hear the one about the Jewish engineer that invented the Volkswagen? Actually, that story isn’t a joke, and it’s not fiction, or at least a persuasive case can be made that it’s true.

That case has been made by Dutch engineer, VW Beetle enthusiast and writer Paul Schilperoord in his book, The True Story of The Beetle (Het Ware Verhaal Van De Kever). The book was first published in Dutch in 2009, selling out its first printing and was subsequently translated into Portuguese. Now, RVP Publishers has just released an English edition, The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz: The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen.

Ganz, consigned to historical obscurity in part due to Nazi persecution of Jews, turns out to have been an important and influential figure in German and European automotive development. Schilperoord, more than any other person, has been responsible for restoring Ganz to his deserved role in automotive history, first publishing a series of magazine articles and finally this book. Beyond the book’s central thesis, that Ganz’s concepts and designs for a car he called a “volkswagen” were appropriated by Ferdinand Porsche and Adoph Hitler as the foundation for the design of what became the VW Beetle, Ganz was a respected engineer who was considered an equal by the creme de la creme of European automobile designers. He consulted for Mercedes Benz and BMW on the development of historically significant concept and production cars like M-B’s 170 and BMW’s first in house car design, the AM1. Ganz was regarded as perhaps the expert on swing axle suspensions at the time, and he traveled in circles that included Dr. Porsche and his son Ferry, Tatra chief engineer Hans Ledwinka, and pioneering aerodynamicists Paul Jaray and Edmund Rumpler. There are photographs of Ferry Porsche and Adolph Rosenberger, Dr. Porsche’s business partner and financial backer, test driving a Ganz prototype. Ganz had a long, mutually respectful working relationship with Hans Nibel, the head of Mercedes engineering, and Ganz maintained a lifetime correspondence with Heinrich Nordhoff, who ran Volkswagen from the end of WWII into the 1960s and apparently arranged for Ganz to receive at least some token compensation for his contributions to the Beetle.

On the left is Dr. Porsche's Zundapp 12 prototype. On the right is a CGI image of Ganz's Standard Superior. Ganz consulted with Zundapp before they hired Porsche.

Ganz’s consulting work grew out of his role as editor of Motor Kritik, a German auto enthusiast magazine, what we’d call a “buff book”. A trained engineer, Ganz felt that the German auto industry was making a mistake by only producing large, heavy, expensive cars for wealthy people. In the pages of Motor Kritik, Ganz became a passionate advocate for the development of an inexpensive car that was lightweight, streamlined for aerodynamics, independently suspended at all four wheels, using swing axles in the back, with a rear mounted horizontal engine, all mounted on a platform chassis with a tube backbone. That sounds remarkably like the design brief for the Volkwagen Type I, also known as the Beetle. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that Ganz actually called his design a “volkswagen” and he referred to a prototype that he built as the Mai Kaefer, or May beetle.

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A number of companies expressed interest in building Ganz’s volkswagen. He built prototypes for motorcycle companies looking to expand into automobiles like Adler, and Ardie. Actually Ganz had extensive discussions with motorcycle manufacturer Zundapp about them building a car on his designs but the talks broke down and Zundapp instead hired Porsche. The prototype Zundapp 12 is widely considered to be a precursor to Porsche’s Beetle design, but Zundapp had had full access to Ganz’s designs during their discussions so it’s impossible to say how much of that prototype was original to Dr. Porsche. Ganz was also a consultant on two air-cooled rear engined Mercedes-Benz concepts, the 120h and 130h, that are also considered to have influenced the Beetle.

Finally, in 1933, the Standard Fabrik company started producing and selling the Standard Superior Volkswagen. They displayed the car and its chassis at the 1933 Berlin auto show, and news of that car was significant enough to merit coverage in the Detroit News. Ganz was at the peak of his career, though he didn’t know it as he stood on Standard’s show booth. Another visitor to the auto show that year would soon change Ganz’s life. Newly installed as Germany’s chancellor, Adolph Hitler attended the show with considerable pomp, as the dictator would make building the autobahns and developing a “people’s car” an important part of Nazi policy.

1934 Standard Superior. A few hundred were made. One survives in a private German collection.

Within a year, Ganz would find himself hounded by the Gestapo, removed from his job as Motor Kritik editor due to Nazi pressure on the publishers (who kept him on as a ghost writer) and thrown into prison on blackmail charges trumped up out of his legitimate attempt to get compensated for patents of his that were infringed upon by Tatra, the Czech company then under control of Volksdeutsch (ethnic Germans) said to have ties to the German secret police. Statements on his behalf by Han Nibel helped get him released and Ganz, now certain that there was no future for him in Germany, fled to Switzerland.

While in Switzerland, Ganz again tried to get his volkswagen made and the Rapid company indeed made a short production run of an open two seater based on his designs. Ganz later had trouble with Swiss authorities appropriating his intellectual property (a not uncommon event around the time of World War II – American Bantam got screwed out of the Jeep and the Canadian government stole Bombardier’s tracked vehicle technology) and after the war he emigrated to Australia where he worked for General Motors’ Holden subsidiary.

Only a handful of his coworkers knew of his role in the history of the Volkswagen and Ganz died in obscurity in 1967. He most likely would have stayed obscure had Paul Schilperoord, in 2004, not read a 1980 issue of Automobile Quarterly, which had a short article about Ganz. Intrigued by the story, he began a quest to document Ganz’s life story. That quest involved visiting archives and museums in Germany, tracking down a complete set of the issues of Motor Kritik, establishing contact with Ganz’s surviving relatives and associates, and finally getting access to Ganz’s personal archive in the possession of Ganz’s former attorney. The result is an important contribution to automotive history. The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz is meticulously researched, with hundreds of footnotes citing original documents. Because he was a working journalist in addition to his engineering consulting work, the Ganz archive included hundreds of photographs of Ganz, his cars, and other contemporary German cars and automotive events. The original Dutch edition integrated those photos with the text of the book. RVP Publishers, for the English edition, has instead decided to highlight those photographs, facsimiles of Motor Kritik, and Ganz’s patents, printing them separately on 128 insert pages of special paper, with extensive new captions contributed by the author. Schilperoord writes in an engaging and mostly entertaining style. He’s a fine storyteller and it’s a heck of a story to tell.

Schilperoord’s claims are, ain’t no bout a doubt it, controversial. Dr. Porsche has a large body of acolytes that protect his history. Hans Ledwinka has his defenders as well. It’s a controversial story and when you add in the issue of Nazis and Jews, it only gets more controversial. I’ve known about Paul’s work for a few years now and I sometimes exchange bits of historical information with him so this review is not the first time that I’ve published about the Ganz story. Whenever I bring up the topic of Ganz online there will usually be someone who will pooh pooh Schilperoord’s case for Ganz and argue in favor of Porsche. Others will take up the cause of Hans Ledwinka’s role in VW history. Nothing wrong with debating history. I prefer to assume that those who disagree with Paul do so out of a regard for historical accuracy and not because of less savory motives. Some, though, seem to have an “anyone but the Jew” approach. Almost invariably, when I write about Ganz there will also be those who say that this is a non-story and that there must be some bias on my part because of my own Jewish faith. I suppose that’s possible, though nobody has ever complained when I’ve written about Ab Jenkins and his Mormon Meteors.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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29 Comments on “Book Review: The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz: The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen...”


  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    I wonder how many anti-Jews, both then and now, know that the Mercedes of Mercedes-Benz was as Jewish as it gets. I also wonder if this has anything to do with the cars being called Mercedes’ in the USA and Benz’s in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Mercedes was a name cooked-up by the Benz’s general importer to France. Following the crushing defeat of the french army, in 1870-1 in Sedan, german products were not to beloved in France. The importer named the car after his daughter (so, in this case, the car was named after a child, rather than as it seems is the other way around today, i.e. some names I’ve seen going thru drive-thru windows were Porsche and Korvette…)

      If you like that story, then also know, that the brand name Audi was cooked-up by the daughter of Mr. Horch, or one of his colleagues, to be the name for his new company after the bank foreclosed on, took-over, and got a legal judgement forbidding Dr. Horch from using his own name for a new company … the daughter, a pre-teen studying Latin, heard all the talk, and asked: “If Horch means listen (Horch is the German equivalent of the English word “Hark”), then why not use the Latin translation “Audi”?” With that, the adults argument was ended, and a new marque was born.

      • 0 avatar

        That guy was Emil Jellinek. Quite an interesting career…
        For those interested have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Jellinek.
        Interesting careers, it seems, are not for the fainthearted.

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      After WW2 the Flick family were large shareholders and they weren’t very nice – they had been in the steel business and were involved in large use of slave labor and financial support for the NAZI party. Really about the same as Krupp.

      It was Flick that bought up Auto Union (Audi) and merged it into Daimler Benz, but after about a decade of this DB tired of the company and sold to Volkswagen.

    • 0 avatar
      nichjs

      If you said you drive a Benz in the UK, most wouldn’t know what you’re on about. Mercedes or Merc’ only. Can’t speak for mainland Europe, but it doesn’t really work in French…

      • 0 avatar
        khamsin

        In France and French-speaking parts of Switzerland the cars are universally called Mercedes (pronounced mare-seh-DESS) and in Germany and German-speaking Switzerland, it’s far more common to say Mercedes (pronounced mare-TSEH-dess) than Benz.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        In the US, it’s more commonly referred to as “Mercedes” (with the ‘merkin accent of course – “mur say dees”). Though in the urban underclasses, it’s not uncommon to hear them referred to as “Benzes”.

        In Asia, it’s more common to hear “Benz”, as it’s shorter and easier to pronounce.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Interesting story, good write-up. Thanks Ronnie.

    BTW, as far as I understood it, what really made A/C practical was the development of R-12, aka Freon, and this was a joint project between GM (specifically Boss Ket) and DuPont.

    • 0 avatar

      DuPont and GM also worked together (along with the Ethyl Corp.) on the development of tetraethyl lead as an octane booster.

      I worked for DuPont for a long time. It’s not well known today but GM was pretty much controlled by the DuPont family from WWI through the 1950s. Pierre DuPont backed Billy Durant’s effort to retake control of GM – and eventually got rid of him and replaced him with Alfred Sloan, who reorganized GM’s corporate structure and governance in line with practices at DuPont.

      The Truman administration took anti-trust action but DuPont didn’t divest its GM stock until 1961.

      Investing in GM was a good deal for the DuPonts. They made money from GM’s profits and stock prices and they also made money selling paint and those newfangled plastics to GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Want to read a fascinating treatise on the topic of TEL?

        Go to: http://www.radford.edu/wkovarik/papers/kettering.html

      • 0 avatar

        Robert,

        Thanks for the link. One thing that pops out is that GM was worried in 1921 about petroleum supplies running out by the 1940s. I guess “peak oil” is an old idea.

        Frankly, with all the new natural gas deposits being found (apparently Michigan has shale that’s almost as rich as the Marcellus basin) we’ll be using fossil fuels for a while. I just don’t think that environmentalists will be able to work up enough opposition to fracking to offset the attraction of jobs and economic benefits.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Re. fracking, I’m afraid you are right. Pity. Same short-sighted arguments will be used to justify that harmful technology as were used to justify TEL in the 1920′s.

        Most fascinating part of the entire article (which I just completed), may be the last paragraph, a quote of C.S.Mott (he was one of early component manufacturers who, like Kettering, became a big shareholder in G.M. when his axle company was acquired from him with G.M. shares – he was also the benefactor behind C.S.Mott Children’s Hospital at the UofMich), where he, nearly a century ago, was thinking about solar-based renewable sources of energy.

        One thing probably remains true from 100 years ago, and will 100 years hence, whatever technology, or product, with a certain potential for profit for a big or well-funded organization, will be over-sold as to its benefits, and minimized as to its dangers or costs to society; this, and bad policy, unfortunately just forestall the day of reckoning, which comes at a cost…

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Re: Fracking: If we keep on getting earthquakes, there may be resistance to fracking.

        See: http://www.vindy.com/news/fracking/

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “Almost invariably, when I write about Ganz there will also be those who say that this is a non-story and that there must be some bias on my part because of my own Jewish faith.”

    Well, certainly the subject piques your interest for personal reasons, but also due to its role in car history. However, I think it’s fascinating due to the juxtapositioning of a Jewish engineer and his erstwhile service to the Nazi regime, or should I say, during it. Mr. Ganz’s Jewish background would be irrelevant to the story without that context.

    Thanks for the review.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re welcome. I’d like to learn more about Hans Ledwinka. There’s one biography about him that I can find, by a Czech British architect, but it’s out of print and my interest in Ledwinka isn’t deep enough worth the $100 or so copies cost.

      BTW, Adolph Rosenberger, Dr. Porsche’s business partner and financial backer, also was Jewish. He had his own problems with the Gestapo and was jailed for “race crimes” i.e. he was screwing a German woman. Porsche may have intervened on his behalf. Rosenberger eventually ended up in California, changing his name to Roberts. I get the impression that he may never have been fully compensated for his share in the Porsche company though they apparently sent him a car at one time.

      To a tiny extent, the truth that’s beneath the lies, the Nazis were right, a number of Jews indeed had influential roles in German society, business and industry. One of the things that must have been so weird about living under the Third Reich is that as anti-Jewish actions and laws increased, particularly following the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, and Jews literally started disappearing from German society (either imprisoned, killed or emigrated), they must have been noticed by their absence, like Nikolai Yezhov disappearing from one of Stalin’s photographs. To a new observer the airbrushing looked natural but the Germans themselves knew that something, or rather someone, was missing.

      Yes, Dr. Porsche and Prof. Heisenberg were geniuses, and Dr. Von Braun knew a thing or two about rockets. One can be a racist and still be able to find talent. Still, it’s hard to comprehend the amount of scientific, academic, business and artistic talent that fled Germany in the 1930s.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        “Still, it’s hard to comprehend the amount of scientific, academic, business and artistic talent that fled Germany in the 1930s.”

        Your point is true, and is poingntly brought-home by the room, in the Farmington Hills Holocaust Museum, having a wall of (IIRC) books representing all the lost lives, talent, promise and contributions to humanity which accrued due to the crimes perpetrated by the evil (I can’t call it insane) within and of the NS-regime.

      • 0 avatar
        Diesel Fuel Only

        A large number of the scientists who contributed to the British, then later the American, atom physics program were German & Hungarian Jewish refugees from Hitler.

        Leo Szillard, Eugene Wigner (both born in Budapest), Edward Teller, a large number of them went to England and the US. Enrico Fermi’s wife was Jewish, so he left too.

  • avatar
    skor

    Ford was a peculiar kind of Jew hater. Crazy Henry had his theory about “good Jews” and “bad Jews”. According to him, good Jews were Jews who wanted to be Americans first. Bad Jews were “internationalists” who conned America into the First World War. Ford employed over 3,000 Jews in his company at the same time he was publishing anti-semitic screeds in the Dearborn Independent.

    The VW was born after Hitler got the idea when he was doing time in prison for his participation in the The Beer Hall Putsch. While in the gray-bar hotel, Herr Hitler read a biography on Crazy Henry and was astonished to find out that Henry was a fellow Jew hater. After Hitler got of of jail, he summoned Dr. Porsche and told him he wanted a “people’s car”. Later on, Hitler sent Ford a spiffy medal with swastikas and everything, which Ford gladly accepted.

    Emil Jellinek, son of a rabbi, was the big macher behind Mercedes in the early days. He named the car after his daughter who he called Mercedes…not her given name. Interestedly, Mercedes is a Spanish Catholic Marion name meaning “Mary of Mercies”. To sum up, the son of a rabbi was responsible for the Mercedes Benz which he named after his daughter…………a Spanish name for the Virgin Mary.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Even as I was growing up, in the 1970′s & 1980′s, in an area populated by many Ford middle managers, “Ford’s” still had a lingering rep for anti-semitism. Of course, a big part of this was “lingering perception”, since the FoMoCo of that HF2-era actively hired and promoted under industry-leading equal-opportunity policies.

      Next time you grab your mouse, think about how a jewish former Ford scientist, was responsible for setting up the PARC facility in Palo Alto where Steve Jobs got the idea to copy (steal?) the tethered mouse for the Macintosh…

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/business/jacob-e-goldman-founder-of-xerox-lab-dies-at-90.html?_r=1&ref=obituaries

      • 0 avatar
        Driver7

        Thanks, Ronnie, for your review.
        And, thanks, Robert, for the link to the New York Times obituary of Jacob E. Goldman – founder of Xerox’s legendary Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
        PARC’s history makes for fascinating reading – “Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age,” by Michael A. Hiltzik (1999) is the best book about PARC. “Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented Then Ignored the First Personal Computer,” by Douglas K. Smith and Robert C. Alexander (1988) is worth a look, too. Malcolm Gladwell puts the PARC-Apple connection in perspective in his article, “Creation Myth; Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation,” from the May 16, 2011, New Yorker: http://www.gladwell.com/2011/2011_05_16_a_creationmyth.html

      • 0 avatar

        That lingering perception meant that I didn’t see many Ford products owned by friends and family until the 1970s. My best friend Stevie Margolin’s family did okay and though his folks could afford Cadillacs, they drove Buicks, his dad an Electra 225 and his mom a big wagon. Then around the time we were in high school, they switched to Lincolns and Mercurys. My own father’s first FoMoCo product, new or used, was a ’72 Merc that he liked so much he sold it to my brother and he replaced it with a big black ’74 Grand Marquis.

        Walter, actually it went beyond equal opportunity. Henry Ford II’s best friend was Max Fisher. The Deuce actively worked to establish good relations with the Jewish community. My mom was very active with ORT, an organization that funds vocational and engineering training (it was started over a century ago to help give impoverished Jews in the Russian “pale” a means to earn a livelihood). In the ’70s, when the Deuce was large and in charge of Ford, they’d buy the most expensive ads in the banquet ad journals my mom would help put together. Also in the ’70s Ford had a plant in Israel assembling “CKD” British Escorts for the local market.

        I know at least a couple of orthodox Jews that had careers at Ford, one an accountant, the other an engineer (he left to teach at Lawrence Tech). Currently, Ford’s president for North America is Mark Fields. Mark Schloss, who’s orthodox, is the corporate treasurer.

        Henry was a crackpot, no question. Any question, though, that there’s any lingering anti-semitism at Ford Motor Co. today is absurd.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        “…he left to teach at Lawrence Tech…”

        Harold Josephs by any chance?

    • 0 avatar

      Skor, Henry Ford was in the habit of sending a new Model T every year to the most prominent clergymen in Detroit. When the Dearborn Independent started publishing the International Jew, Rabbi Leo Franklin sent back his car. Ford was genuinely perplexed as he considered Franklin to be one of the “good” Jews. Albert Kahn responded by never again meeting with Ford personally, and instead dealing with Edsel.

      I once got into a friendly argument with Michael Lamm. He thinks Henry was a genius. I think he was a bit of an idiot savant. Very clear thinker and brilliant but in a very limited area. Even in the automotive area Henry was a bit of a crank and crackpot. Go read Aaron Severson’s Ate Up With Motor history of the Ford V8. Henry physically attacked a restyled and revised Model T Edsel had worked on. Ford was a rich man before the Model T. FoMoCo was a pretty big success. Then the Model T made him rich as Croesus. He could indulge his megalomania.

      Ford and Hitler may have had a bit of a mutual admiration society but Ford by all accounts wasn’t an exterminationist anti-Semite like Hitler. Ford had his eccentricities but I think his primary focus was on efficiency and productivity (eg. “Fordism”, an outgrowth of “Taylorism”). Charles Lindberg, no great philo-Semite himself, when he visited Germany in the late 1930s, wrote a letter in which he rather chillingly says he has no real problem with the Germans persecuting Jews but saw some of the Nazi actions to be wasteful of human capital. I think that had Henry Ford known about the Final Solution, he would have had a similar reaction.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        Right, I never implied that Ford, or Lindberg for that matter, were in favor of extermination.

        I agree with you about Ford being a crackpot, especially when it concerned his political and social beliefs. Henry was absolutely against unionizing his factories, I believe Ford was the last to unionize, but he built a truck plant in the Soviet Union. Ford was no believer in racial equality, but he was one of the first big industrialists to hire large numbers of blacks, and he paid them the same wages as his white workers, although the black workers were steered into “dirty jobs” like foundry and paint.

        Yes, I know that Henry II made peace with the Jewish community over his grand father’s indiscretions. I once heard a story that Henry II sent a Lincoln to Ben Gurion as a gift and Ben Gurion accepted.

        As for Josef Ganz, stories like his…being screwed out of money and recognition by larger powers…..are common. Tesla, an ethnic Serb born in Croatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was screwed out of millions of dollars by Edison and Westinghouse. Tesla died bitter, alone and penniless, and was on the verge of being kicked out of his hotel room for non-payment when he died. When he bought the farm, the FBI showed up and collected all his papers and had them locked away. Edison and Westinghouse both died as immensely wealthy men and left behind large estates. How many grade school, or high school texts even mention Tesla today? On the other hand, Thomas “Electrocuter of Elephants” Edison is presented as an American hero.

        Jews have no monopoly as victims of injustice.

      • 0 avatar

        I wonder if there are any unvarnished biographies of Edison.

      • 0 avatar

        tesla probably died penniless because his mental illness made him incapable of handling his own affairs properly. westinghouse did not screw him out of the money. tesla voluntarily cancelled his royalties with westinghouse when the westinghouse company was in serious financial trouble. i believe his original arrangement was a commission on every electrical generator ever sold based on horsepower. if they had stuck to that deal, tesla would have been richer than rockefeller. tesla recognized that without westinghouse, he would never have been able to convince the world to adopt ac power and we would have been standardized the vastly inferior edison dc system. still it would have been nice of general westinghouse to have taken care of his old friend when he fell upon hard times.

        the only money that i am aware of edison owing tesla was from a free lance repair that tesla did for him fixing the wiring on an ship shortly after tesla arrived in new york. tesla considered edison to be a self-promoting fool beneath contempt.

        tesla did indeed die broke and alone at the new yorker hotel. conspiracy theorists often claim that the fbi confiscated papers are the basis of our most secret military technology. it’s also true that his note taking was so unorthodox and erratic that many people believe the notes are undecipherable. among tesla’s more interesting claims was that einstein got it all wrong with relativity. as you have guessed, i am fascinated by the man.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Ronnie, Thanks for sharing a very compelling story. I would never have guessed that Jews held high profile positions at that level of the German auto business, but with product development cycles, it’s clear there were Jews who worked in the sector much earlier than Hitler’s rise.

    A number of years ago, I was given a book titled, “The Pity of It All”. While the title is odd, the book goes on to describe what life was like for German Jews not just prior to Hitler, but explaining how Jews in Germany evolved from peasants to the working class from the 1700′s to WWII. The book also makes an interesting comparison between Germany and France, essentially saying that it’s historically surprising the Holocaust originated in Germany when you consider the level of equality German Jews had attained and contrast that with France’s openly accepted antisemitism.

  • avatar
    bretdedube

    TATRA V570

    The Book, Extraordinary Life Of Josef Granz, By Paul Schilperoord

    The book provides interesting reading, however there are many ommissions and distortions mainly HANS LEDWINKA the auto TATRA chief automotive engineer was not identified as the engineer who invented the wokswagon design concept, the model TATRA V570.

    I sugest that you read “ TATRA THE LEGACY OF HANS LEDWINKA “
    By Ivan Margolius & John G. Henry

    Porsche was influenced by the TATRA’S desins, he was a talented automotive engineer and a keen auto enthusiast. On many ocasions he has driven Tatras when visiting Czechoslovakia. On numerous ocasions Porsche had dined with Hans Ledwinka and admitted that “Well, sometimes I looked over his shoulder and sometimes he looked over mine” while designing the Volkswagen. There is no doubt that the Beetle has a striking resemblance to earlier TATRA V570. Tatra launched a lawsuit, but this was stopped when Germany ocupied Czechoslovakia. The matter was re-opened after World War II and in 1961 Volswagoen paid TATRA 3,000,000 Deutsche Marks in an out of court settlement for infringing on TATRA’S Volswagen designs.


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