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On this date, March 7, 1934, Hitler delivered the opening speech at the Berlin auto show


On this date, March 7, 1934, a politician delivered the opening remarks at the International Automobile and Motorcycle Exposition in Berlin. That politician's name was Adolf Hitler.

In his speech, Hitler prattled on with justifiable national pride about the construction of the Autobahn, and the invention of the automobile and the engine, all attributable to German engineers. And while boasting about Daimler and Benz, he set the stage for a new vehicle that the average German could afford: "The German Government desires that the German Volk take an animated interest in motorized vehicles, and it follows that the economy must design and build the right vehicle for the German Volk," which foreshadowed the creation of affordable transportation for the masses. In June, just a few months after his Berlin speech, Hitler contracted Ferdinand Porsche to design a car for the Volks—a Volkswagen—that would cost only 1,000 Reichsmarks.

Initially, Hitler's dream car was called the KdF-wagen (for Kraft durch Freude, or "Strength through Joy"), but after WWII became known as the Beetle. As the most despicable tyrant who ever lived, Hitler wasn't right about much, but some of his assertions involving automobiles remain inarguable:

"What a tremendous development has taken place between that fateful December 16, 1883, when an automobile engine was patented for the first time in the world, and today! Who can doubt that we will succeed in carrying on this wonderful development for the benefit of our entire German Volk? And furthermore, we perceive in this new means of transportation an element of human cooperation which, extending far beyond the borders of an individual nation, ties nations together."

There's even video of Hitler's visit to the Berlin auto expo five years later, with Porsche's fully realized Volkswagen KdF making its appearance at around the 3-minute mark: