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KdF WAGEN CHARACTERISTICS & ADVANTAGES BROCHURE

Probably the rarest of the known KdF Wagen sales literature, this very attractive, undated and untitled brochure was printed in Berlin, probably in or about 1940. The KdF abbreviation stands for “Kraft durch Freude” (Strength through Joy) an office of the German Labor Front that assumed responsibility for the financing and marketing of the vehicle.

The original brochure, featured in this article, was obtained from an elderly collector many years ago. He worked in the print shop at the time of printing and said that the print run was not distributed. The reason is unknown. It may have been related to then prevailing requirements that traditional German words be used instead of those derived from foreign languages. For example, the foreign word, “Limousine” was used instead of the traditional German word “Innenlenker” in the text in this brochure. This and other considerations perhaps led to a very limited released quantity. In this context, it may be interesting to note, that the first edition of the supplemental instruction manual, Der KdF-Wagen von A bis Z in about 1940 was also withdrawn until revised with only traditional German words. This brochure was, however, included in a KdF press release kit and several original copies of the brochure are known in the hobby/collector world. Therefore, it would seem that some originals made it out the door as-is, officially and unofficially.

The KdF Wagen brochure measures 24.7 x 20 cm, consists of a heavier paper front and back cover. The front is plain and has a KdF and “Volkswagenwerk GmbH“ embossed on the cover. The inside of the back cover has a paragraph of text. The outside back cover has a wonderful drawing of an Autobahn cloverleaf interchange and several KdF Wagen vehicles (9) on the highway and the exit ramps. The title used for this article is that of the first section of the brochure, “Eigenschaften und Vorzüge,” translated as “Characteristics and Advantages.”

The attractive feature of this brochure is the number and variety of its very colorful graphics contained within. The first of the twelve inside pages depicts a KdF sedan from the right side. The drawing was created by Bernd Reuters, a German graphic designer and is dated 1939. This and the later comparable view of a KdF sunroof sedan, in this brochure, are probably the first ever of what would become the Reuters’ many famous post-WWII iconic drawings of the Volkswagen Beetle and Transporter used in Volkswagen sales material for many years to come.

Interestingly to note, there are ten original, large size KdF factory instructional posters that were created by Thomas Abeking, the same German artist that made the rare TRANSART (see-through) brochures and other KdF Wagen graphics during this era. These very colorful KdF workshop posters were only given out to important domestic (within Germany) KdF repair shops and also used internally by the Volkswagen factory for training purposes. These posters were printed in about 1939 or early 1940s. The details in the phantom views were simplified but provided a lot of important technical information. These posters are truly a Holy Grail item of the KdF era. Included in this brochure are several of the Abeking color workshop posters showing the engine, transmission, heating and brake system.

This brochure also features several colorful line drawings from the German artist Hermann Schneider. He also created a number of Germany patriotic drawings of tanks, other German military equipment, travel brochures, and more during the period and thereafter. In 1936, the Reichsbahnzentrale für den Deutschen Reiseverkehr (The Central Authority for German Travel) engaged Hermann Schneider (1908-? – believed to have been Jewish) to create promotional materials directed to foreign markets and potential foreign tourists. He developed posters and brochures based on subtle water colors.

Schneider’s illustrations in this brochure depict technical or performance characteristics including braking distance, climbing ability of the four speed transmission and turning radius. Also, the vehicle’s parking garage dimensions, fuel economy - 100 km on 6.5 liters of gas, interior comfort, and of course, the Autobahn cloverleaf on the back cover of the brochure. His signature name SCHNEIDER can be seen on the drawings as well.

This amazing 80+ year old brochure also contains a couple of black and white photos of the KdF itself. For example, KdF Wagen IIIA-43019 was a VW38, built in 1938 and number 32 in the series of 44 built. Several photos of the interior are also included.

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: VOLKSWAGENWERKS
  • Length: 24.7 X 20 cm
  • Production Era: 1940 ??
  • Country: Germany
  • Materials: Paper
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