I always wanted a Porsche, early on the Speedster and later the 911. I’ve owned BMWs, MGs, a Triumph, Toyotas, and now a Subaru BRZ. But, for whatever reason and even after I could afford one, I’ve never bought a Porsche. Now, I’ve discovered that an invisible force may have kept me from doing so.
A few years back, I was elated when I discovered that Ferdinand Porsche, one of the most innovative automobile engineers in history, had been born in the Czech Republic, the country of my own birth. Wow! Porsche’s name should be added to the list of world-famous Czechs, I thought, names such as Dvorak, Masaryk, Kafka, Capek, and Havel. After all, he designed the world’s first gasoline-electric hybrid (in 1898!), the air-cooled Volkswagen Bug, and founded the company which would become a manufacturer of the finest of high-performance cars.
My admiration for the man came to a crashing halt recently, upon discovering Porsche’s Nazi past. Yes, he was born in Vratislavice, a small Czech town with a predominantly ethnic German population. But when Hitler came to power, Porsche immediately embraced the Fuehrer’s dreams of a “pure” Aryan nation. He gave up his Czechoslovak citizenship, joined the Nazi party and the murderous SS, and became a Hitler confidante. After the war, many people–as in the case of Wernher von Braun–excused Porsche’s Nazi past. “He was apolitical,” they said. “He was only interested in science and technology. Joining the Nazis was his only way to achieve his professional goals.” What trash! Von Braun was responsible for killing thousands of Londoners with his technological achievements, the V-1 and V-2 rockets. Porsche used hundreds of slave laborers, POWs and Jews, to build the “people’s car.”
So, thus ends my desire to own a car emblazoned with the name of a guy whose brethren murdered twenty-five members of my family–and millions of others.