Intro:An Attempt to Achieve Autarky Volksempfaenger Volkswagen KdF Images Bibliography Literary Analysis

Volkswagen kdf_wagen.jpgA very important aspect of the Third Reich was the invention of consumer products that would only be virtually consumed. These consumer products were introduced and heavily advertised, but never actually available for consumption. They were introduced to the German citizens to project the illusion that people could consume and invest their money and that these products would be made available one day.

One example from this category was the Volkswagen, a cheap car that would not cost more than 1000 Reichsmark's, and would allow every German citizen to allow a car. Although the factory was built in 1938 and there were no cars available commercially before 1945, the Nazi regime promoted the automobile heavily. Furthermore a financing plan was set up, to allow Germans (by depositing 5 Reichsmarks a month), to save up and supposingly receive a Volkswagen within the time period of four years. Not only was this option introduced to finance the rearming of Germany, in preparation for the war, but it was also used to limit the German’s purchasing power. As Berghoff describes it: “the regime succeeded in deceiving its citizens or- to put it in more technical terms-in using virtual consumption in one sector to prevent increased consumption in others…”.1 A further indication that the creation and advertising of the Volkswagen was mainly virtual, becomes apparent when one looks at the insatiable demand for the vehicle after the war was over.

Other virtual consumer goods included the Volksfernseher ( "The People's Television Set") and the Volkskuehlschrank ("The People's Refrigeator"). As opposed to the Volkswagen those two products never came into existence, since the beginning of war put all further plans for the development of consumer products on hold. VW2.jpg


Berghoff, "Enticement and Deprivation"178.