A brief history on the origin of Volkswagen
(pulled directly from Wikipedia):
Volkswagen was originally founded in 1937 by the Nazi trade union, the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront). In the early 1930s German auto industry was still largely composed of luxury models, and the average German rarely could afford anything more than a motorcycle. As a result only one German out of 50 owned a car. Seeking a potential new market, some car makers began independent “peoples’ car” projects.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler got involved in the “peoples’ car” project, demanding the production of a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h (62 mph). The “People’s Car” would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme at 990 Reichsmark (US$396 in 1930s dollars)–about the price of a small motorcycle (an average income being around 32RM a week).
Despite heavy lobbying in favour of one of the existing projects, it soon became apparent that private industry could not turn out a car for only 990RM. Thus, Hitler chose to sponsor an all-new, state-owned factory. The intention was that ordinary Germans would buy the car by means of a savings scheme (“Fünf Mark die Woche musst du sparen, willst du im eigenen Wagen fahren” – “Five marks a week you must put aside, if you want your own car to ride”), which around 336,000 people eventually paid into. Prototypes of the car called the “KdF-Wagen” (German: Kraft durch Freude – “strength through joy”), appeared from 1936 onwards (the first cars had been produced in Stuttgart). The car already had its distinctive round shape and air-cooled, flat-four, rear-mounted engine.
The VW car was just one of many KdF programs which included things such as tours and outings. The prefix Volks— (“People’s”) was not just applied to cars, but also to other products in Germany; the “Volksempfänger” radio receiver for instance. On 28 May 1937, theGesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH (sometimes abbreviated to Gezuvor) was established by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. It was later renamed “Volkswagenwerk GmbH” on 16 September 1938.
(pulled directly from DasTank.com):
The logo was the result of an office competition to see come up with a logo. The winner of the competition (who won 50 Marks for his troubles) was an engineer named Franz Reimspiess (the same man who perfected the engine for the Beetle in the 1930′s).
(pulled from adrants.com):
Nikolai Borg, born in 1919, claims he developed the Volkswagen logo in June 1939 under the direction of Nazi engineer Fritz Todt. Borg does not want money but simply acknowledgment from VW. VW is denying Borg’s involvement and claims the logo was submitted to the Third Reich patent office for copyright in 1938. VW also denied Todt ran the “Volswagen” project which was part of a larger Nazi “Kraft durch Freude” project which was a propaganda recruitment campaign. One of the primary aspects of the KdF program is said to have been the encouragement of people to buy the “people’s car” or “Volkswagen.”
The outer ring of the VW logo was a cog, not the current circle. That was later change by the British after WWII. The logo for the DAF, parent to KdF and a Nazi trade union, was a swastika surrounded by a cog. Whether Borg’s claim is true or not, Volkswagen, though it needn’t really worry at this point, is distancing itself from the situation. Borg will present his case July 6.
Nikolai Borg’s lawsuit against VW (pulled directly from 4time2fun.com):
The copyright holder of the internationally-famous Volkswagen Logo is not to be Nikolai Borg. His suit against the Wolfsburg car concern has been dismissed by the Vienna Business Court. The judges did not deny in any way that Borg had drawn up the design in the 30s and had also delivered it. But the logo itself had already existed for a while prior to this.
The 86-year old Borg, who comes from Sweden originally and now lives in the Tyrol, had taken action in the summer of last year against Volkswagen, because he wanted to bring about legal recognition of his copyright to the logo.
He was not concerned about the money but about “historical truth”, announced his lawyer. According to this statement, the graphic artist Borg had been commissioned in 1939 by the then Reich Minister Fritz Todt to prepare designs for the Volkswagen emblem. After a logo had been delivered, he was then strung along with the story that things were being postponed until after the “Final Victory”. However, when Borg discovered his logo on a vehicle belonging to the Army in 1943, he began to feel he was being cut out.
Yet this action submitted by him sixty years later has remained unsuccessful. The court found in favor of Volkswagen. A certain Ludwig Hohlwein had already designed apposite logos in 1920, said an expert on Copyright and Patent Law, Michel Walter. The actual inventor of the Volkswagen emblem should however be viewed as Franz Xaver Reimspiess, whose original design had already been submitted in a trademark application from 1938. A more developed emblem which showed the letters in a so-called Strahlenkranz (radiant garland) was, according to Walter, displayed on wheel caps at the Berlin Auto Show in April 1939.
Borg’s lawyer, Meinhard Ciresa, did not want to comment on the judgement for the time being. He wanted to first study the transcript in detail before he thought about the possibility of taking matters further.