Thursday, 12 August 2010
The official unveiling of the ‘The Major and the Beetle’ exhibition and new permanent exhibit, is celebrated with a historic Volkswagen car show and a ‘meet up’ for Volkswagen enthusiasts, all dedicated to the memory of Major Ivan Hirst, REME
The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and Volkswagen have a long history together from the end of the Second World War when the intervention of a young British Army officer changed the future of the fledgling giant of European motoring.
Sent by the Control Commission to ‘sit on’ the bombed remains of the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg in August 1945, the 29 year old Major Ivan Hirst REME and his team decided to restart production instead. Major Hirst then secured an order for 20,000 Beetles from the Military Government; meeting this order would take all the management and engineering skill he had.
Post-war Wolfsburg suffered shortages of food, skilled workers, housing and work materials. Major Ivan Hirst’s engineering and management skills together with his people skills, his open door policy and his will to succeed, turned the Volkswagen Factory around and ensured its survival.
Part of the exhibition is a video display and a unique ‘Beetle sofa’. Created from half a Beetle, it incorporates a seat and built-in audio facility so visitors can sit in a piece of history and learn about it simultaneously.
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