- by Karl Braeker

Two seemingly unconnected news items have drawn my interest. 

They touched me deeply in different forms. 

One caused my PTSD to go into overdrive, while the other one did the opposite. 

It gave me great satisfaction.

#1 – I Watched CTV Question Period on Sunday morning. The lady interviewed a Canadian soldier who is part of a contingent of Canadians training Ukrainian soldiers on the German Leopard II battle tank in Poland. 

The Leopard tank being the successor of the Tiger tanks of WWII. 

This triggered my PTSD with a vengeance, re-living the destruction of two American tanks in the Harz Mountains, while I was hiding in the forest just a few hundred yards above the road where they were ambushed by a motorized German 88mm calibre anti-aircraft gun.

#2 – was the announcement that Volkswagen is making the largest ever automotive investment in St. Thomas, Ontario. They will be building a massive plant to produce electric vehicles in Canada.  

What are the connectors of these two news items?

First is my advanced age, that stirred up my early memories. 

The second is Ferdinand Porsche, the Austrian engineer who created with the support of Adolf Hitler the Volkswagen. The Peoples Car.

What is little known, is that Mr. Porsche in addition to developing VW, also played an important part in the development of the Tiger battle tanks of WWII. 

All part of history. 

After the end of WWII, a British commission toured the destroyed Germany looking for industrial items that could be exported as reparations. The came to my hometown of Dortmund, where we had the most modern steel rolling mill in Dortmund-Hoerde. This mill produced the shells of the Tiger tanks. It was an island surrounded by ruins. It was never bombed. 

The Brits insisted that this plant be dismantled and shipped to Britain. A massive undertaking, that required strengthening of bridges, and broke water and gas lines under the roads the massive parts were transported on. They refused a German offer to build a state of the art rolling mill in Britain, if they left the old mill in place.  

The result was, that the old mill was moved to Britain, but never assembled and became scrap metal.

The Germans replaced that 1939 mill with a brand new one in 1947. 

This British Commission also visited the destroyed VW plant in Wolfsburg, where the German workers had started production of this funny little car again. 

The Brits saw no future for that little car with an air cooled engine in the BACK, of all places. They were not interested. 

Again, the rest is history. 

When Hitler was building the Autobahns in the 1930s, he also started to produce the Volkswagens, and had set up a system where Germans could set up a savings account with VW, pre-paying for one of the cars. When WWII started , this went up in flames.  My dad also had one of those accounts. No idea what happened to the money. 

Just a short look back into history that was lived by the author, but is not taught anywhere.  





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