The KdF Wagen savings scheme

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Matt Gibbs
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The KdF Wagen savings scheme

Post by Matt Gibbs » 12 Dec 2006 23:17

For those of you interested I shall present my ongoing research into this special KdF scheme administered through the DAF organisation.

Sadly, as already noted by many, the scheme was put on hold when the outbreak of war came in September 1939. The main result of this was of course non-delivery of orders for the duration. Popular myth here also suggests that every subscriber to the original KdF scheme lost all his or her money. Again, this is not true. Individual members may have lost out altogether but this is clearly not because nothing was ever done to help them.

A case was brought before the courts by a large number of Sparkarte holders in 1950, led by a scheme member named Karl Stolz. He argued that it was not the fault of the original scheme members that they had not received a car and had lost their invested funds at the end of the war. He believed that it was now the problem of the Volkswagen Company and that they had a moral obligation to return the money that the scheme members had already paid or offer a discount on the price of a new car. Volkswagen stated that it was impossible. Their company had no connection whatsoever to the old KdF organization and would not be held morally or legally responsible for the conduct of the KdF and they way the scheme members had been treated.

In the first case the judge rejected the claim of the scheme members, stating that the whole thing was an exercise in Nazi propaganda. The claim was then referred to a higher court. This court did not completely reverse the decision of the lower court but felt that Volkswagen might be considered a partner to the original scheme. Because of this vague interpretation Volkswagen then requested a clarification as to what it was felt its position be. After a case review it was decided that Volkswagen were guilty under the terms of the original case and ordered to pay costs. After 4 more years of procedure and appeal the case went before the German Supreme Court in 1954 and more evidence was presented.

Judgement was made that although Volkswagen the post war company was not a partner of the original KdF organization it was a “responsible party” and therefore they could be sued by the original scheme members. However, on further appeal the courts overturned this ruling in 1955. Volkswagen, obviously sick of the publicity of the case offered savers a payment of 250-DM cash or a discount of 500 DM as credit on a new Beetle. However, they rejected this offer and took their case back to the Supreme Court.

The case finally ended in 1961. The Supreme Court judged that Volkswagen was a responsible party in law and should make reparations to the original scheme members who had been paying towards a car they never received. Cash payments should be made depending on the number of stamps the members had paid for on their Sparkarte and in line with the revalued Deutsche Mark as opposed to the old Reichsmarks. Savers would get between 25 and 50 DM in cash or a credit of between 150 and 600 DM on the price of a new car. As the payments filtered out it took between 1961 and 1970 before the last payments were made to claimants. In the end Volkswagen honored over 120,000 KdF savings contracts for surviving scheme members. Over half of these opted to purchase a new car. The total eventual cost of the scheme to Volkswagen was in excess of 34 Million DM, in either cash or credits. This equates to an average of 284 DM per claimant.

I hope this is of interest to some of you.

Regards
Matt Gibbs

Sources:
Books - Beyond Expectation By K Hopfinger; Original VW Beetle Book; The Complete VW Beetle by K Seume; Volkswagen - Rise from the ashes of War.

also Volksworld magazine [UK publication] and personal primary source material.

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reichpilot
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Post by reichpilot » 13 Dec 2006 05:34

Hey Matt .... very interesting stuff. Was Ferdinand Porsche ever involved in any of these law suits? I'm not up on the history of Porsche or his involvment, but I remember seeing pictures showing him and Hitler and the Bug, which would indicate that he had a hand in the Beetle project somehow. Am I correct? Fill me in if you can. Thanks.

Don

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Matt Gibbs
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Post by Matt Gibbs » 14 Dec 2006 00:16

Hello Don
No he died well before this.
Porsche was instrumental in the KdF project. Indeed, without him it is doubtful it would ever have happened.
I shall start a new thread shortly about this for your interest ;)
Regards
Matt Gibbs

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reichpilot
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Post by reichpilot » 14 Dec 2006 02:11

That sounds great, Matt. Looking forward to it.

Don

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Matt Gibbs
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Post by Matt Gibbs » 18 Dec 2006 18:29

Oracle
I have split the very interesting GM and world car maker relations info into a special thread of its own here so this does not get lost in detail specific to the kdf wagen savings scheme and hope more people will contribute

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=112949

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Matt Gibbs
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Getting a Car

Post by Matt Gibbs » 20 Dec 2006 21:16

I thought I would now go through my understanding of the Saving scheme system regarding how people applied.

Firstly an expression of interest to the DAF in the local Gau or through the mail would result in the sending or giving of a Brochure, Dein KdF-Wagen. In the centre was a Sparkarte application form.

[I have never seen a brochure in a collection intact with one!]

This was filled in a sent off to the Gau administrative office indicated where in most cases there was a KdF-wagenwart who dealt with all aspects of these transactions.

The office would send out a letter informing the propsective owner the details of where and when the stamps were available to buy, and enclosing the first Sparkarte.

Do not forget the car was priced at 990RM and the cards only held 50 stamps, at 5RM each. Thus one needed 5 cards to fill up, including the final one to pay for the compulsory insurance and delivery charges.

When a card was filled up it was returned and the stamps were cancelled, to say they had been seen and accouted for.

Then on the next card the section detailing what had been paid would be filled out, and the person could start on the next 50 stamps. Also they recieved a reciept for what they had paid!

When they had finished paying they were given a final reciept [still searching this!] and furthermore a scheduled delivery date and car number for the vehicle they were going to be allocated.

The earliest scheduled delivery date I have heard of was 1941.

Next I shall look at the other method of paying for a car.

Regards
Matt Gibbs

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Helly Angel
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Post by Helly Angel » 25 Dec 2006 14:32

Very very interesting! thanks Matt!

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