As a resident of Atlanta I can assure you they have bigger fish to fry.
Atlanta slams brakes on naming street after Ferdinand Porsche, famed auto engineer and former Nazi
Porsche will soon begin construction next door to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on its $100 million, state-of-the-art North American headquarters. Millions of travelers who fly into the world's busiest airport each year will catch a glimpse of the 26-acre complex, which will incude a green roof, a racetrack for enthusiasts to test their Cayennes, and a restaurant.
There's just one problem: the street where the auto company plans to build the complex is named Henry Ford II Avenue, a relic from the days when a massive Ford Factory stood on the property.
Understandably, Porsche would prefer not to do business on a road named for a former executive of another car company. Coca-Cola would prefer not to welcome corporate guests to RC Cola Court. And Creative Loafing would probably not want its offices on AJC Street.
So the German car manufacturer asked the city to rechristen the thoroughfare. And legislation was introduced (PDF) to change the street's name, which will be noted with interstate signage, to Ferdinand Porsche Avenue. No other names were considered, Porsche says. The proposal was scheduled for what we're sure would've been a very heated public hearing on Oct. 9, but which now might have fewer fireworks.
Why? Well, there's no delicate way to put this, but Porsche, like many German business leaders during World War II, was involved with the Nazis — a fact that the auto company, to its credit, fully acknowledges. And because of a strict city code or an unfamiliarity with German industrialists, the city that helped birth the civil rights movement was put in the position of almost accidentally honoring one of Adolf Hitler's former allies with a street — one next to the world's busiest airport. Yeah, whoops.
When we first noticed the Ferdinand Porsche Avenue legislation on last week's City Utilities Committee agenda, we immediately wondered if maybe the city had confused the founder of the eponymous company and Volkswagen with an heir who shares the same name. Maybe one that didn't have any ties to the Third Reich. We were wrong.
When asked by CL about the founder's past, Porsche spokesmen referred us to the work of Hans Mommsen, a German historian who, along with Manfred Grieger, researched the company's links with the Nazi Party. Books have been written about these links — Mommsen's runs 1,055 pages — and the Internet overfloweth with information. Porsche, who also founded Volkswagen and created the hugely popular Beetle model, joined the Nazi Party in 1937, served as chairman of Hitler's tank commission and helped design military vehicles, including tanks, and weapons.
"It is highly regrettable but true that Professor Porsche had some direct contacts with the immoral dictators who ran Germany during those terrible times, as did every other prominent German business leader," a Porsche spokesman said in a statement emailed last week to CL.
In addition, he was accused of using forced labor in his factories during World War II. According to an Associated Press review of Mommsen's book, which is only available in German, Porsche was reportedly "'morally indifferent' to the slave laborers' misery." After the war, he was arrested and charged with war crimes, for which, it should be noted, he was later exonerated. According to Der Spiegel, Mommsen believed that "the question as to the extent to which Porsche understood the criminal character of the regime he served must remain open." In the decades since, the company has tried to make amends.
Added the spokesman:
"It has been equally well documented that the Volkswagen concern 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 Volkswagen group of companies (of which Porsche now is proudly a member) led the formation of, and provided an overwhelming proportion of the funding for, the groups which made these reparations. Today's Porsche AG, like most major German companies, contributed significantly to those funds. The Volkswagen 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."
So how did the car company founder's name end up on a piece of city legislation? According to the part of the city code, Atlanta streets can only be named after people, not corporations. So somewhere along the way, Ferdinand Porsche's name was slapped on the application.
Porsche has agreed with the city to rename "Henry Ford II Avenue" to simply "Porsche Avenue," after the corporation, the mayor's spokeswoman tells CL.
“Atlanta is known around the world for its commitment to civil rights, tolerance, and inclusion. We respect all members of our diverse community," she said in a statement emailed to us today. "As such, the Reed Administration supports legislation renaming 'Henry Ford II Avenue’ to 'Porsche Avenue.’ We are pleased to have Porsche’s support for this naming as we welcome the company’s North American headquarters to the City of Atlanta.”
Next week, new legislation will be introduced (or the old legislation will be amended) to make the change. To do so, the city will most likely have to waive a portion of the city's code that prohibits naming streets after corporations. That's a smart provision, which has surely prevented our fair city from being littered with "Aaron's Rents Lane" and "Home Depot Terrace." But in this case, it also led to someone putting the name of a Nazi on a piece of city legislation. Something that, had someone not noticed, might have slipped through the cracks.
Now Henry Ford may not have been a card carrying Nazi but he was an antisemitic activist and did things that may even be described as anti-American. Ferdinand Porsche was a member of the Nazi party but so was a huge chunk of the German population that would have been non-political had the Nazis not forcibly politicized every aspect of life in Germany, including business. Porsche was held after the war for alleged war crimes but never charged. If he really was a big bad Nazi, both the German and the American authorities knew where he was. There's no denying or excusing Porsche's involvement during the 3rd Reich but it is massively ironic to overlook the fact that the street is already named for a family/company with an anti-semitic history while being unable to look beyond the label "Nazi".Ford had opposed America's entry into World War II  and continued to believe that international business could generate the prosperity that would head off wars. Ford "insisted that war was the product of greedy financiers who sought profit in human destruction"; in 1939 he went so far as to claim that the torpedoing of U.S. merchant ships by German submarines was the result of conspiratorial activities undertaken by financier war-makers. The financiers to whom he was referring was Ford's code for Jews; he had also accused Jews of fomenting the First World War (see the section on his anti-Semitism below). In the run-up to World War II and when the war erupted in 1939, he reported that he did not want to trade with belligerents. Like many other businessmen of the Great Depression era, he never liked or entirely trusted the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, and thought Roosevelt was inching the U.S. closer to war. However, Ford continued to do business with Nazi Germany, including the manufacture of war materiel. Beginning in 1940, with the requisitioning of between 100 and 200 French POWs to work as slave laborers, Ford-Werke contravened Article 31 of the 1929 Geneva Convention. At that time, which was before the U.S. entered the War and still had full diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany, Ford-Werke was under the control of the Ford Motor Company. The number of slave laborers grew as the war expanded although Wallace made it clear that companies in Germany were not required by the Nazi authorities to use slave laborers.
In Germany, Ford's anti-Semitic articles from The Dearborn Independent were issued in four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World's Foremost Problem published by Theodor Fritsch, founder of several anti-Semitic parties and a member of the Reichstag. In a letter written in 1924, Heinrich Himmler described Ford as "one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters." Ford is the only American mentioned in Mein Kampf.Adolf Hitler wrote, "only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews'] fury, still maintains full independence...[from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions." Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his "inspiration," explaining his reason for keeping Ford's life-size portrait next to his desk.Steven Watts wrote that Hitler "revered" Ford, proclaiming that "I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany," and modeling the Volkswagen, the people's car, on the Model T.
Last edited by kimilein; 10-03-2012 at 11:12 AM.
Space makes it ok.
On the dammed moon!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't most prominent German businessmen of that time part of the 3rd Reich because they had to be? What other choice did they have? I'm sure that had Porsche refused to help the Nazis, he would've been imprisoned or killed.
Nothing warms my soul like Nazi sympathizing. Yeah, the guy made cool cars, but he was a Nazi.
You know the bridge-builder/skin flute player joke? That applies for Nazis.
Official Miami Dolphins Thread: Come share in the misery!
Make it three yards mother****er and we'll have an automobile race
Just like how more people are ready to vote for Romney than people who actually like Romney for the man he is and even the policies he runs on, just to vote against Obama and the status-quo.
They may not have liked or even agreed with Hitler's social policies, but businesses were getting contracts that they couldn't dream of under the Weimar administration and individuals were working and putting food on the table.
Do you guys think that this version of the Pzkfw VI had more "soul" than its Henschel counterpart?
Um, but anyway, no sympathy for Nazis or their collaborators from me; yes I recognize that hindsight allows us to better judge what was going on at the time than people in the moment but I don't think it matters. If you happily dance with the devil, then that's going to be your legacy regardless of however many other people were dancing, too.
So all this talk of Henry Ford's anti-semitism or the conduct of other German industrialists (abhorrent though it may be) is irrelevant to Porsche's complicity in genocide and war. And I don't think this means that people should feel bad about driving a 944 or whatever, either. Time has passed the man by and "Porsche" is now something else entirely.
So, yeah, in the 1930s they loved him, and by the mid-1940s they hated him. (sh)It happens.
That's a matter of historical record --Really makes you wonder how he got so much power... you know, since everyone hated him... hmm.
1) Hitler gave millions of unemployed Germans jobs, both in the military, and in building the Autobahns.
2) Hitler fomented racial hatred towards Jews and other foreigners, who were already disliked amongst Germans, and propoganda was used to convince the average idiot German that it was the Jews that caused them to lose the first world war.
and that's pretty much it.