Behind the Badge: Connecting the Volkswagen Logo, Hitler, & Office Competition
The Volkswagen emblem has become so recognizable over the years that the company is often referred to simply by the initials on the logo: VW. The Volkswagen Automobile Company–founded in Wolfsburg, Germany in May 1937–has become one of the top auto makers in the world and remained so for nearly a century.
But where did the Volkswagen logo originate, exactly? And what is its association with the Nazis?
Who Made the Volkswagen Emblem?
Before World War II began, Adolf Hitler approached Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche at a car show about creating an inexpensive automobile for the working class. In the years to come, Porsche founded the Volkswagen company and began work on a “people’s car” (volks-wagen in German).
During that time, a company emblem was created but an official origin is unknown. Three possibilities exist, the first being the most supported:
- An office competition in 1937 won by Porsche employee Franz Xaver Reimspeiss, who won 50 or 100 Reichsmarks for his chosen logo design.
- Graphic designer Nikolai Borg created the emblem when commissioned in 1939 before it appeared at that year’s Auto Show–which he contested ownership of in court.
- German artist Martin Freyer, who claims to have won a 1938 design competition for his similar logo.
Since its inception, the Volkswagen logo has remained a pillar of the graphic design industry for its simplicity, legibility, and use of negative space.
Enjoy learning about Volkswagen? Check out the rest of our Behind the Badge series examining automotive brand logos!