Atlanta Won’t Rename Henry Ford II Avenue to Ferdinand Porsche Avenue Due to his Nazi Past
There’s no denying that the crimes committed during World War II (WWII) by Nazi Germany are among the darkest pages of mankind’s history.
It’s also no secret that Germany’s industries were providing its army with airplanes, tanks, vehicles and ammunition, and that the use of forced labor in the plants was a common practice.
Even though war ended in 1945 and the world has become a very different place now, with Germany being an ally of its former enemies, history occasionally comes back to haunt the modern Germans’ descendants.
Porsche Cars North America has invested US$ 100 million in building its new headquarters and a test track in a 26-acre estate close to Atlanta’s International airport.
In a strange twist of fate, the street where Porsche’s complex is located is named Henry Ford II Avenue, since in the past, the estate was home to a Ford plant.
It’s only natural that Porsche executives would want to rename the street. We imagine, for example, that Ford would do the same if its HQ was built in Walter Chrysler Avenue.
The German automaker asked for the street to be renamed to “Ferdinand Porsche Avenue” in honor of its founder. Atlanta city officials initially agreed to Porsche’s request, but then all hell broke loose.
The reason is that Ferdinand Porsche was a member of the Nazi party since 1937 and, apart from the hugely successful VW KdF (Kraft durch Freude: strength through joy), aka the Beetle, after Adolf Hitler ordered him to design an affordable car for German people (Volks Wagen: people’s car) he also participated in the design of military vehicles and weapons.
After the war, he was arrested and charged with war crimes, but he was later exonerated. Nevertheless, many Atlanta citizens opposed naming one of the city’s streets after a Nazi party member.
A Porsche spokesman said: “It is highly regrettable but true that Professor Porsche had some direct contracts with the immoral dictators who ran Germany during those terrible times, as did every other prominent business leader.”
He noted though, “It has been equally well documented that the Volkswagen concern, of which Porsche is a part, did far more to care for its workers and has done more to make reparations to its former workers and their heirs, than any other enterprise. The VW Group of companies has been widely acknowledged by numerous organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, as the world’s leader in atoning for those darkest of times.”
Eventually, the administration and the carmaker agreed to name the street “Porsche Avenue”. We will leave it up to you to decide whether the city’s reaction was justified or not.
By Andrew Tsaousis
Story References: CL Atlanta via