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It was also well known that Ferdinand Porsche had secured Hitler's support to develop an inexpensive, robust family vehicle as part of the dictator's plans to advance mass motorization so as to demonstrate National Socialism's purported commitment to creating a classless, racially pure ‘national community [promoted as the ]’ in the sphere of consumption.
Rather than remaining a merely functional object, the car came to articulate and communicate a broad range of sentiments that, given its prominence, highlight key aspects of West German collective identity.
A large number of people including politicians, engineers, line workers, management executives, advertising agents, car dealers and, last but not least, countless ordinary drivers played important roles in making this vehicle an exceptional success that gained symbolic significance despite inauspicious beginnings.
Second, West Germans took the car’s success abroad as a signal of their country’s acceptance within an international, American-led order that assigned the Federal a secondary role.
That the Volkswagen concern developed into a multinational company wielding considerable power in Latin American countries like Mexico left no imprint on the Beetle’s iconography in Germany.
Despite the intimate links with the Nazi dictatorship, the Volkswagen and its production site provided a collective marker of West Germany from the earliest postwar days.
No period of critical detachment or uncomfortable silence preceded the Volkswagen's public embrace after 1945.
From this perspective, the Beetle signalled both the achievements of postwar reconstruction and the country's integration into a new international order.
Still, how a product that began life as a National Socialist prestige project came to be adopted by Germans as a symbol of the postwar order remains an open question.
The circumstance that neither Wehler nor his interviewers ever mentioned the vehicle in their conversation was by no means unusual.
Volkswagen's most famous product has been called upon as a symbol of the Federal Republic with such frequency and regularity that it seems superfluous to Germans to spell out how exactly this automobile stands for the postwar order.