Berlin

February 15, 1936


Caution: Adolf Hitler was completely wrong about absolutely everything...usually. When Hitler said something that was actually correct, it was merely to set up the next lie. As with all good propagandists—and he certainly was that—he would begin with a few obvious, documented facts, and then proceed to distort them horribly. At any rate, the infamous German Führer’s worm-tongue rhetoric is NOT to be taken seriously, except as a classic example of the sort of masterful demagoguery from which appropriate lessons may hopefully be learned.

As always, read with an abundant degree of cautious skepticism.

It is important to recognize this because the intensive development of our most modern sector of the transport industry depends on the complete freedom of a People to make use of it, and I mean by this the absence of legal and psychological restrictions. It is no more asocial to buy a car than it once was to use a sheet of glass in a window instead of the traditional piece of oilskin. In the beginning only a few people use an invention of this kind; then it attracts more and more people until it gradually includes everyone. ....

It was bad enough that the leaders of the People and the State, obsessed by ideas of this kind, had no understanding of the development of motorization. It was just as bad, however, that German industry, even if perhaps not consciously, thought along the same lines. Hence it had no clear awareness that unless the automobile becomes something everyone uses, its dormant potentialities will not be realized. Either the automobile is an expensive luxury item for a few people, and hence in the long run not very important for the economy as a whole, or it is destined to have the enormous impact on the economy which by its very nature it can have. Then, however, it must be transformed from a luxury item for the few to something that everyone uses. And I fear that even today the German automobile industry has not realized that the overall development of German automobile production cannot really succeed, unless prices match the income level of the purchasers it targets.

The question as to the number of cars which Germany can absorb is very easily answered.

a) The desire to own a car is at least as strong in our People as in any other. Indeed I am inclined to say that the desire for a car is particularly strong because it is something our People are denied. You see the most obvious proof of this, Gentlemen, in the enormous and unprecedented number of people who are attending this exhibition. They prove most conclusively how wrong those people were, who only a few years ago thought that these exhibitions were unimportant and uninteresting and hence quite unnecessary. The German People have precisely the same desire to use a car as, for example, the American People. It is superficial to think that a figure of 23 or 24 million cars is natural and understandable for America, and 500,000 or 600,000 for Germany, when in terms of numbers the German People are equal to more than half of the population of the United States of America. No, the prerequisite in terms of population exists in Germany, too.

b) The prerequisite for the fulfillment of this desire cannot, however, be any different to that in the rest of the world. The price of the individual car must match the income of the potential purchaser. This means that there will be people who are in the position to part with 20,000 German Marks or more for a car, because their income is large enough, but their number will not be very large. Reducing the price to 10,000 German Marks already creates a much larger number of potential purchasers. And the reduction of the price to 5000 German Marks will again mobilize a larger group of suitable wage earners. In other words:

If I hope to increase the number of cars in Germany to three or four million, the price and the maintenance costs of these cars must be compatible with the income of the three or four million potential buyers. I suggest that with this in mind the German transport industry undertake a survey of the income of the four or five million better-off Germans. You will then understand why I was utterly determined to initiate the preparatory work on the production of the German Volkswagen, and why I want to see this work completed, and, Gentlemen, successfully completed!

I have no doubt that the genius of the man who has been entrusted with the design and construction of this vehicle, together with those who will later produce it, coupled with the sound economic good sense of all who will be involved, will succeed in keeping the purchase price, as well as the operating and maintenance costs of this vehicle in line with the income of the broad mass of our People, as in America, where we have seen a brilliant example of how this problem can be solved.

It is an unfortunate error to think that a development of this kind will persuade the purchasers of the better and more expensive cars to lower their expectations and to purchase a Volkswagen. No, Gentlemen, this car will result in the mobilization of millions of new purchasers, from whom will come those who, consistent with the progressive improvement in our standard of living, will all the more easily be able to purchase a better and nicer-looking car. The Ford did not replace the better and more expensive American cars; on the contrary, it was the car which first attracted and mobilized the enormous masses of American buyers who later also purchased the more expensive makes.

If we find two or three million purchasers for the new German Volkswagen, there will naturally be some who in the course of their lives will purchase a more expensive and thus better car. A large proportion will, however, never be in the position to buy a more expensive car. Not, however, because they are unwilling to do the manufacturer of this or that car a favor, but because they are prevented from doing so by their limited income. To deprive these millions of potential purchasers of the pleasure of owning a modern vehicle of this kind, simply in order to avoid the risk that a few of the 200,000 or 300,000 who are better-off might buy the less expensive car, would not only be improper in human terms but make no economic sense. For this would mean artificially halting the most powerful economic development of our People and our country for reasons which are as selfish as they are short-sighted.

I know that I am confronting German industry with a major challenge, but I am also aware that a German is no less capable than anyone else in the world. And problems which have been solved in one part of the world, must also be capable of a solution in Germany.

Fuehrer Adolf Hitler <—Yeesh! What a wearying, insufferable bore.

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Hitler and Göring were arguing about the Jews, with Göring stating that they were quite clever people and Hitler vehemently denying they were any such thing. Finally Göring told Hitler that they should go shopping in Berlin and Göring would show Hitler it was true. Hitler agreed, so they disguised themselves and went out on the street.

Göring took Hitler into a shop, went up to the counter, and asked the clerk: "Do you have any left-handed teacups?" The clerk stared at Göring for a moment and then said no, mein herr, I do not.

The two left with Hitler complaining that he did not understand what the point of this was and Göring telling him to be patient. They went to another shop and Göring gave the same act: "Do you have any left-handed teacups?" The clerk stared and shrugged his shoulders.

They left with Hitler becoming incensed over this nonsense and Göring begging for patience. Finally they went into a Jewish shop; Göring again asked the clerk: "Do you have any left-handed teacups?"

The clerk smiled graciously, went into the back room and made a show of rummaging around, brought out a saucer and teacup, set down the saucer, and carefully placed the cup with the handle pointed so Göring could pick it with his left hand. "There you are, mein herr!" the clerk said.

Göring bought the teacup, thanked the clerk, and the two men left. Göring turned to Hitler and said: "See, I told you the Jews were very clever people."

"I don't see what was so clever about that," Hitler snapped. "He just happened to have one in stock!"


 
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