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Porsche ‘researching, coming to terms’ with history during Holocaust

A study is expected next year from the German auto company and a nonprofit formed by the second cousin of Porsche’s Jewish cofounder.

Adolf Hitler and Porsche company founder Ferdinand Porsche (left) ogle a model of the original Volkswagen Beetle. Credit: JNS File Photo.
Adolf Hitler and Porsche company founder Ferdinand Porsche (left) ogle a model of the original Volkswagen Beetle. Credit: JNS File Photo.

The German car company Porsche, which is reportedly worth about $73 billion, celebrated its 75th birthday over the summer with “a frenzy of sports cars whizzing around its Stuttgart headquarters in front of an audience including heirs to co-founders Ferdinand Porsche and Anton Piëch,” the Financial Times reported.

But the company was founded in the 1930s, well before it made its first car. And it “had a third co-founder, Adolf Rosenberger, who gave up his role and stake before fleeing Nazi Germany and remains largely absent from the famed brand’s corporate history,” the British newspaper wrote.

Porsche has recognized Rosenberger as a co-founder but only recently began to examine the circumstances under which he sold his shares to Ferdinand Porsche’s son “at far below their full value in 1935,” per FT.

A study is expected next year, by the company and a nonprofit formed by Sandra Esslinger, Rosenberger’s second cousin.

Porsche told the British paper that it and its parent company, Volkswagen, are “researching and coming to terms with history” and “fully support research into their past.”

Rosenberger raced motorbikes and cars successfully until “a serious accident at the German Grand Prix on the Berlin AVUS in 1926 cast a shadow over Rosenberger’s career,” according to the Mercedes-Benz website. “Although he and his co-driver escaped with serious injuries, two students in the timekeeping hut and the sign painter at the lap board were killed.”

Rosenberger became a partner in 1931 in the new design office of Porsche “and took over its commercial management. Because of his Jewish faith, he was persecuted by the National Socialists shortly afterwards, was arrested and narrowly escaped being sent to the Kislau concentration camp in 1935,” Mercedes-Benz added. “In early 1938, he emigrated from France to the United States, where he changed his name to Alan Arthur Robert and built a new life in California.”

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