On this day in auto history - August 2nd

Mon 2nd Aug 2021

It was on this day in 1947 that famed engineer Ferdinand Porsche was released from captivity in France, two years after he had been arrested for suspected Nazi war crimes.

It eventually took a $62,000 release bond, raised by his son Ferry and the Italian racing team Cistilia, to secure his freedom. A French court later found Ferdinand Porsche not guilty for war crimes, though the release bond was never repaid.

Having originally established his reputation by designing ground-breaking military vehicles during Germany’s First World War effort, Porsche became a close acquaintance of Adolf Hitler who again tapped into his engineering nous by appointing him head of Germany’s Tank Commission at the outbreak of World War II.

Despite his achievements in creating the best-selling VW Beetle and establishing an eponymous sports car brand, Porsche’s Nazi party membership and links to the SS paramilitary group have remained a source of controversy ever since and continue to overshadow his legacy in some quarters.

In 2014, residents of his birth town of Vratislavice (modern day Czech Republic), started a campaign protesting at the ‘memorialising’ of its most famous son.

Not only were town officials moved to remove signs proclaiming Vratislavice as Porsche’s birthplace, they also changed the content of a local exhibition to acknowledge his importance to the Nazi war cause alongside his automotive achievements.