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The conception of the Volkswagen had begun in 1933 when Adolph Hitler announced at the 1933 Berlin Auto Show the importance of transportation in the form of a small, economical car. He stated that the living standard of a nation was judged by the total length of its good highways. Also, a good highway was important only in that it could be the avenue for a dependable, yet inexpensive car that could be owned by the average German worker. Hitler's concept of the "Peoples Car" was contained in five basic requirements.

  1. SPEED:         The car had to be capable of a sustained speed of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) for the great new autobahn then under construction.
  2. ECONOMY:  Fuel consumption had to be about 7 liters per 100 kilometers (33 mpg) and repair costs were to be minimal.
  3. SEATING:      Four or five persons and luggage should be accommodated so that parents and children could travel together.
  4. AIR COOLING:         Because of the cold winters in Germany, and as most potential owners would not have garages, an air-cooled engine would eliminate the hazard of a frozen radiator or engine block.
  5. LOW PURCHASE PRICE: The initial cost of the car had to be less than 1000 RM (Reich Marks which was about $250 back in 1933).

Hitler requested the German automakers to produce such a car. The German automakers at that time could not see how a "Peoples Car could be produced cheaply enough for the middle classes, much less for the large population of the average German workers. They regarded Hitler's idea as political propaganda, but little did they know that the development of the "Peoples Car" would be included in the official Nazi government budget.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche had been developing the Volksauto for the German automaker NSU. Through secret meetings between Dr. Porsche and Hitler, the authority was given to Porsche from the Nazi government to design and produce a "Peoples Car" - the "VOLKSWAGEN" as we know it today. The immediate task of Dr. Porsche was to design and build three prototypes at his workshop in Stuttgart. Using previous ideas and designs from his NSU Volksauto, Dr. Porsche developed the "VW SERIES 3," completed in October 1936 and this represented the birth of the Volkswagen. Strenuous tests were then held, and the three test cars proved themselves suitable.

Hitler realized that a separate company or organization had to be formed if his "Peoples Car" project was to be carried through to production. Hitler met with Dr. Ley, the head of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF), and it was decided that a government owned company was to be chartered to perfect the design and to build a production factory. The charter provided proper financial backing that allowed Dr. Porsche to refine his design. In less than a year, 30 more prototypes were completed under the official designation "VW SERIES 30." These 30 vehicles underwent an extensive and punishing series of road test covering thousands of kilometers and the basic design proved to be road worthy.

A few months later, Dr. Porsche had completed the next in the series, the "VW TYPE 38." A suitable location for the production factory was decided upon in northern Germany. The cornerstone ceremony for the location of the factory was held in the newly formed town of "Stadt des KdF Wagen" ("City of the KdF Wagen" later changed to Wolfsburg in May, 1945) on May 26, 1938, with Hitler and Dr. Porsche in attendance. Three of the VW TYPE 38 vehicles (a sedan, a sunroof sedan and a convertible) were in attendance as well, for the people to view. The KdF sedan model was a split-window Beetle in which its basic design would be produced as a post war Volkswagen for many years to come. The "KdF" abbreviation came from the German Labor Front slogan "Kraft durch Freude" (Strength through Joy). The KdF Wagen was presented in the following year at the Berlin Auto Show and a special German postage stamp was issued depicting a happy family speeding along the autobahn in their KdF Wagen.

A KdF Wagen application was filled out and upon approval of the DAF, a confirmation post card was mailed to the applicant that informed them that they could purchase a KdF Wagen and also the reference number of a KdF Wagen reserved in their name. The DAF then issued a KdF Sparkarte (savings book) which was to be filled with the weekly purchased 5 RM stamps until 990 RM was accumulated (actually more stamps could be purchased but 1 stamp per week was the minimum). Several books had to be filled out since one card held only 50 stamps. These 5 RM stamps look similar to small postage stamps and had a small embossed white KdF Wagen and had either red or green background color design. An additional two year auto insurance plan was also provided, costing 200 RM. Upon completion of the 990 RM and 200 RM requirements (took about 4 1/2 years), the worker would be required to travel to the KdF factory and pick up their new KdF Wagen. By the way, there was no choice of colors for the KdF Wagens it was only available in the official blue/gray color. The KdF Wagen - Peoples Car had become a reality in the eyes of the German workers although not a single worker would ever receive one because the KdF factory was used to produced vehicles for the War effort. Several hundred KdF Wagens were produced but were for the officials and high-ranking officers of the Nazi Party.

Because of the economic situation during this time in Germany, only the upper class of society could own and afford the luxury automobiles produced then. The average German worker did not own a car and their father probably never owned a car either. The family household grew up never owning an automobile and the bicycle, walking or public transportation was the way of life. Now there was the excitement of owning a KdF Wagen but since you grew up without an automobile, how do you know anything about owning one?  How do you drive it? What are the laws of the road? What kind of maintenance is required and perhaps you want to know how it is built. Well, I guess someone in the KdF Wagen organization knew this was a major concern and so the German printing company by the name of HAUSSER was commissioned to produce a KdF Wagen game set. The purpose of this game was to educate the new KdF owner about the “in and outs” of owning their first automobile and have fun gathering the family together to play the game.

The KdF game came in a box with a nice colorful design of a KdF Wagen flying out of the corner of the box and the bright red lettering of ”DEIN KdF WAGEN." The KdF game was produced in two different sizes with different itemnumbers: 150/4 for the largest version and 150/ 2 1/2 for the smaller version. The measures of the large box are 46,5 cm x 36 cm, the large gameplan measures 82 cm x 45 cm. The measures of the small box are 39 cm x 27,5 cm, the small gameplan measures 55 cm x 37 cm. The early postwar version was the large version, but had a VW sticker covering up the KdF name on the cover artwork. Inside the box was a three section game board that opened up and laid flat. There was also a die and six small ceramic game pieces about 35mm in length designed in the shape of a KdF Wagen. The fragile ceramic KdF Wagens were glazed in different colors so that the players could keep track of their game piece during the driving competition. The game board was very colorful and located on the top center was the blue/gray KdF Wagen with the KdF factory in the background and other factory scenes on the side. The players took turn rolling the dice and moved their game piece along a yellow/orange path that was numbered from 1 (starting) to 70 (finish line). OK, are you ready? Let’s play the game.

Starting with step number 1, a couple makes the decision to join the KdF Savers program and goes to the official DAF office to register. Next the KdF Sparkarte savings book is acquired (book used to paste the weekly five Reich Mark stamps in). Then enrollment into a driving school is required at step 7 in which the driver learns about the construction of the body, chassis, engine, axle and steering. Additional training is required for the understanding of the heating system, electrical system, instrument panel and what does a flat tire look like and how to change it with a spare tire. A close up look of the interior is noted and next learning how to start the car is taught. Once the car is started, then learning how to shift the gears is pointed out. At this point, an introduction to street signs is next in the driving school program and if all is passed, you will get your driver's license at step 22. OK, now you have your driver's license in hand but there is no KdF Wagen to drive because you have not completed the four books of savings stamps (990 Reich Marks which is over four years of saving) required to take possession a KdF Wagen.

Four and a half years later, all your saving books are completed and at step 24, you have to make arrangements to go the KdF factory to pick up your KdF Wagen. No picking your car at the local dealer back then. Now you have gotten your KdF Wagen and you are cruising down Hauptbahn Strasse of Stadt des KdF Wagen observing all the road signs you learned in driving school. Before you know it, its time to visit the local tankstelle to get some gasoline at step 28. During a pleasant sight seeing trip you go over the speed limit around step 34 and get a ticket for speeding (in a KdF Wagen - must have been in a school zone?). You have to pay a 1 RM fine into the game board bank in which the player who gets to step 70 first is the winner and gets the bank. The game board is set up with violations and 1 RM fines which is paid to the game bank.

Things are going well until at step 38 in which you have a flat tire and have to make a tire change trying to remember what was learned in driving school. Your luck is not with you because at step 44 there is a wild animal warning sign and shortly later you hit a deer in the road (mechanical brake era) and have your KdF Wagen towed to a repair shop. Repair work takes longer because the KdF blue/gray paint is not available at the local Farben Geschaft and has to be shipped from the KdF factory. Finally when you arrive back home, you wash your car and put it away in the garage in step 48.

Now winter is approaching and you take your KdF Wagen to the official garage for service that includes an oil change at step 54 followed by installing snow chain for the icy roads. Now you are ready for a winter cruise in the Black Forest and you stop at a rest area at step 57 and have a couple of beers (one too many) at the local Gasthaus. Back on the autobahn again you get stop by the Polizei and are busted for drunk driving (1 RM fine) at step 60.  Some time later you have to perform routine maintenance on the car that includes filling the battery, a lube job, air in the tires and toping off the oil at step 65. You then learn about spare parts such as bumpers and windows to keep your KdF Wagen looking like new and before you know it, after paying no parking, wrong way, and other type fines, you are the winner at step 70, the finish line. Nice driving and congratulations on receiving the cash in the bank! Maybe there is enough to buy a 5 RM savings stamp.

After the war, the HAUSSER game was still produced but modernized and the Nazi Government markings on the game board was removed and the post war Volkswagen name and theme was used. The HAUSSER game boards from time to time are available for sale on online auctions or at Volkswagen shows and because they are truly collector items especially the KdF version.

Happy collecting and safe driving on the game board.

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