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The historical Dein KdF Wagen sales brochure is so very colorful with the front cover from the 1938 era that depicted a KdF Wagen car and a Sparkarte Savings card. Not often seen in historical photos of this brochure is the back or reverse side of the cover showing a KdF Wagen car, of the time, driving around a curve in a scenic European mountainous area. The German artist of this wonderful water color cover artwork for the KdF Wagen brochure was Werner von Axster-Heudtlass, Berlin. The vibrant colors of the brochure cover alone caught the casual eye of the interested prospect to look further into what was in the brochure. Just to note, an original B/W postcard from the 1938 era depicts an Austrian high alpine scene of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, curve 6, with two mountains, the Sonnenwelleck (3266m) and the Fuscherkarkopf (3332m) in the background. It is for sure that Werner von Axster-Heudtlass was at the Hochalpenstrasse, curve 6, as can be seen in his water color painting capturing the majestic beauty of the area for the brochure cover.

In regards to the KdF Wagen sales brochure itself, the year was 1938 and Dr. Porsche had completed in the previous years, several series of prototype cars that eventually would become the KdF Wagen (Volkswagen Beetle or “VW Bug” as we know it today). A suitable location for the production factory was decided upon in northern Germany. On May 26, 1938, the cornerstone ceremony for the location of the factory was held in the newly formed town of Stadt des KdF Wagens with Der Führer and Dr. Ferdinand Porsche in attendance. Three of the VW Type 38 vehicles, a dark blue/grey Sedan (the basic KdF Wagen color), a black Sunroof Sedan and a burgundy red soft top Convertible were in attendance as well, for the people to view and hope to own one someday. The VW Type 38 Sedan model was a Split Window Beetle in which its basic design would be produced in the post war era for many decades 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, 1939, 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. The German toy manufactures of the time, such as TIPPCO, DISLER, HUKI and MÄRKLIN, also introduced and were producing their version of the KdF Wagens, in miniature form as well. The KdF Wagen – “The Peoples Car” had become very popular and a reality in the eyes of the Germans to someday own a real car of their own.

The Nazi labor organization established a savings plan system allowing for the purchase of a KdF Wagen. This plan enabled the German citizen to sign up to buy a car by purchasing a weekly 5 Reichsmark saving stamp which was pasted in a KdF Savers booklet. To promote the new KdF Savers Program, a wonderful sales brochure that contained detailed information pertaining to the KdF Wagen and the Savers Program. The brochure was produced by Volkswagenwerk GmbH., Berlin, and published by Verlag der Deutschen Arbeitsfront GmbH, Berlin, in which 500,000 copies were made in the first printing (erste auflage). There was also a second printing (zweite auflage) shortly after that released another 500,000 copies as well.

This 32-page brochure was first printed in 1938 and had a very colorful front and back cover which showed a front 3/4 view of the KdF Wagen with a savings booklet (Sparkarte) in the background. As mentioned before, the German artist of the colorful brochure cover was Werner von Axster-Heudtlass. His initials, vAH, can be seen in the lower corner of the back cover. The remainder of the brochure was printed in black and white and contained an official application to the KdF Savers Program. The main feature of this sales brochure is the collection of many interesting photographs and drawings, at least 65, of the KdF Wagen of this pre-1940 time period.

The KdF Wagen sales brochure also included an application form to be completed and turned into a local Deutsche Arbeitsfront office. When an application was filled out and submitted, upon approval of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront, a confirmation post card was mailed to the applicant informing them that they were approved to purchase a KdF Wagen for 990 Reichsmark (subjected to required additional costs as required) and also the reference number of a KdF Wagen reserved, at the factory, in their name. The Deutsche Arbeitsfront then issued a KdF Savers booklet (Sparkarte) that was to be filled with the weekly purchased 5 Reichsmark stamp until the total amount of Reichsmark were accumulated. Actually, numerous stamps could be purchased at a single time to complete the Sparkarte early, but one stamp, per week was the minimum. The Sparkarte booklets appeared in either a beige color with red and black lettering or also in a grey color with blue and black lettering. The 5 Reichsmark stamps look similar to small postage stamps and had a small embossed white KdF Wagen and had either red or green background color design. It is still unknown why there were the two different type booklet colors or the different color stamps that were used.  Several Sparkarte booklets had to be filled out since one booklet held only 250 Reichsmark worth of stamps. An additional two-year auto insurance plan was also provided, costing an additional 200 Reichsmark. The roll back KdF Wagen Sunroof model was an additional 60 Reichsmark. Upon completion of the basic 990 Reichsmark and 200 Reichsmark requirements for a KdF Sedan and insurance took about 4 1/2 years of weekly 5RM stamp savings to complete. In addition, the German saver would be required to travel to the KdF factory and pick up their new KdF Wagen (no local home town delivery plan). By the way, there was no choice of colors for the KdF Wagens. It was only available in a dark blue-grey color!

Over the years, these original 1938 KdF Wagen sales brochures have become collector’s items and from time to time can be bought (usually fetching high prices) via the Internet online auctions. To the delights of the vintage Volkswagen collectors and enthusiasts, there are available several reprints of the 1938 KdF Wagen brochure. These reproduction copies are of excellent quality and have additional pages added which have English translation of the original German text and photo captions contained in the brochure. One reproduction has a front cover also printed in color and a blue color tone that is used on pages within the brochure to add a special touch for viewing. These reproduction KdF brochures available are highly recommended if you are interested in the development and exploitation of the Volkswagen Beetle Sedan of the 1938 era and you do not want to invest in an original, high dollar, original brochure.

By the way, the funds raised by the KdF Savers program were put in a special account of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront treasury. During the program, more than 380 million Reichsmark were collected from about 700,000 German citizens of which about 336,000 had completed their KdF Savers program. HOWEVER, NOT A SINGLE GERMAN WORKER RECEIVED A KdF WAGEN. The funds from the Deutsche Arbeitsfront treasury (located in a bank in the Post War Russian Zone) were stolen by the Russians. Now with the war going on, the KdF factory was busy producing vehicles for the war effort. Those vehicles were the jeep called the Kuebelwagen and the amphibious car called the Schwimmwagen. There were about 630 KdF Wagens built at the KdF factory but were used by the military or government officials of the Nazi Party. The KdF Wagens were always on display and driven so that the German citizens saw them and kept hope theirs would soon be delivered.

All was not a total loss for the German citizens of a completed KdF Savers card. The problem being the KdF Wagen was a product of the fallen Nazi government and the Volkswagen is a product of a new post war German enterprise. In 1950, a group of KdF Savers pressed claim for credit towards purchase of a Volkswagen, which by that time had become a reality. Their claim was in court for 12 years and a settlement was reached in October 1961. A complete KdF Savers cardholder would receive 600 post war Deutsche Marks credit towards the purchase of a new Volkswagen. This credit would amount to about $150 towards a $1,300 VW Sedan back then. The cardholder also had the option of taking 100 Deutsche Marks in cash ($25).  What amazing Volkswagen History!

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: AXSTER-HEUDTLAẞ
  • Length: 23cm X 30cm
  • Production Era: 1938 1st Printing 500,000 Copies
  • Country: Germany
  • Materials: Paper
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