Adolf Hitler’s Volkswagen

Adolf Hitler’s Volkswagen

It may be surprising to some to learn that a brand of car we are all familiar with, Volkswagen, was the result of a collaboration between Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler. The project arose out of an effort to motorize Germany. In 1935, only 1.6 percent of the population in Germany owned a motor vehicle. This put them behind other European countries in car ownership such as France (4.9%), Britain (4.5%), and Denmark (4.2%).

Hitler took many steps to put Germans behind the wheel of a vehicle. He announced the launch of a motorway building program (Autobahn), and a tax burden reduction on car ownership. The result was that the number of passenger cars on the road doubled between 1932 and 1936.

The prototype design for the Volkswagen, or the “People’s Car,” also dubbed the “Strength Through Joy Car,” was ready by the end of 1937. Sloganed as “a car for everyone,” Hitler envisaged up to a million models being produced every year. A massive advertising campaign was launched to encourage German citizens to save up for one by putting aside part of their wages.

Yet, the “motorization of Germany” turned out to be one of many Nazi visions that never came to fruition. As military production revved up in the mid to late 1930’s, resources were diverted from many places to keep up with the demands of the military, including car manufacturing. However, this did not stop the Nazi regime from continuing to advertise the Volkswagen.¬†Despite not actually producing any of the passenger vehicles, the government continued to encourage citizens to part with a portion of their wages for the car. Turns out, this was nothing more than a scheme to get workers to put in overtime so that they could contribute to the financing of rearmament. 270,000 people lent 110 million Reichsmarks to the state in this way by 1939 and not one of them ever got a Volkswagen in return.

Despite no models ever coming off the assembly-line during the Third Reich, the Volkswagen¬†became one of the world’s most popular passenger vehicles in the second half of the twentieth century. The car was, without a doubt, made famous for its rounded “bettle” shape that Hitler gave it in his original design.

Source: Richard J. Evans. The Third Reich in Power. New York. Penguin Books. 2005.

Image Credit

Advertisements

The Fire of Revival

The Fire of Revival

112 years ago on April 9th, 1906, a small meeting took place at the home of Richard and Ruth Asberry located at 216 North Bonnie Brae Street in Los Angeles, California. Soon they would outgrow that space and move to a building located at 312 Azusa Street that had once housed an AME church. The building on Azusa Street was so run down that a Los Angeles newspaper referred to it as a “tumbledown shack.” This meeting, led by a one-eyed man who was the son of freed slaves, William Seymour, erupted into an all out revival that would last almost 9 years. From this small meeting the modern day Pentecostal and Charismatic movement was born. Christian denominations such as the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, TN), Foursquare, Pentecostal Church of God, and Church of God in Christ all point back to the Azusa Street Revival as their origin.

Seymour, a black man with little education, led a revival that sparked a worldwide movement. Revivals began to break out in other parts of the United States including Nyack, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; San Antonio, Texas; Dunn, North Carolina; and Cleveland, Tennessee. Revival also broke out to the north of us in Winnipeg, Toronto and St. John’s, Newfoundland. Across the globe in places such as Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway, the fire of revival was burning. It seemed that there wasn’t a place in the world you could go that had not been touched by Pentecost.

The revival also saw people of many different ethnicities worshipping together, something that was very rare at the turn of the twentieth century. Gary B. McGee notes:

For a short time, African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians, and others prayed and sang together, creating a dimension of equality that allowed men, women, and children to have fellowship collectively and participate in the worship as led by the Spirit.

An eyewitness to the revival, Frank Bartleman (a Pentecostal writer), noted that “the ‘color line’ was washed away in the blood.” The Azusa Street Revival predated the Civil Rights Act by almost 60 years! Pentecostals, empowered by the Spirit, have historically stood by those who were victims of injustice, and have been strong advocates for the civil rights of all.

While many historians lump all Pentecostals together, they were not always so similar. Many were poor, yet some were wealthy. Some were uneducated, yet a few held Seminary degrees. Pentecostals also differed in regards to doctrine. Some believed speaking in tongues was required evidence of the Spirit’s baptism, others did not. Probably the most well-known doctrinal difference between Pentecostals had to do with the nature of the Trinity. Some Pentecostals held to the orthodox Christian view of God in three persons, others conceived God as one person in Jesus Christ (Oneness).

What began as an insignificant meeting in a small home blossomed into a world-wide movement with hundreds of millions of adherents today.

Source: Gary B. McGee. People of the Spirit. Springfield, MO. Gospel Publishing House. 1984.

 

Nationalism and the Cyclical Nature of History

Nationalism and the Cyclical Nature of History

The election of Donald Trump was unexpected, and no one ever dreamed that Britain would actually vote to leave the European Union. For decades the world had been moving toward globalism, while nationalism seemed to be an idea of the past, regulated to the days predating World War II. Now it seems nationalism is growing in influence and globalism is slowly dying.

I want to divert from the topic for just a moment to make something clear. I am not at all saying the form of nationalism we are seeing in America and Britain today is the same form we saw in Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. Germany saw nationalism in its most extreme form. Neither am I saying that Donald Trump is comparable to Adolf Hitler. Trump has not taken away individual rights. Trump has not slaughtered 11 million people. Trump has not consolidated power into a central office. Those who say that Donald Trump is “literally Hitler” have no understanding of Hitler, Nazi Germany, or history in general. Also, I do not use the terms nationalism and globalism negatively. Both can be and are good. It is the extreme forms of both that are dangerous.

Yet, without a doubt, there will be a day when globalism will see a revival. It may look different from the globalism of the past, much like today’s nationalistic movement looks different from the nationalism of the 1930’s and 40’s, nonetheless we will see globalism at the forefront again.

Those who view history as linear may disagree with my assessment. The view of history as linear sees events in one segment of time. Once that event passes, it is never to be seen again. It also sees history as progressive. As we move forward in time, mankind and the world evolves into better forms. Thus, the crises of the past do not take place in the future because we will have evolved into something better. Many who have this view of history were certain that nationalism died with the fall of Nazi Germany (Nationalism did not only effect Germany. Every country at war in the 1940’s were gripped with their own version of nationalism.) Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest reasons so many were shocked by the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump.

The flaws with the view of history as linear are obvious. An ideology doesn’t die, never to be seen again, with the passing of time. Man is not evolving into better forms, and history is not progressing to the point where the crises of the past will be averted in the future. It is more appropriate to have a cyclical view of history. History is not progressing linearly, but is moving in cycles. The preacher in Ecclesiastes stated it best when he wrote, “what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9). People who view history as cyclical were not as surprised by the revival of nationalism. They also won’t be surprised when nationalism wanes and globalism rises again.

Image credit