Ganz: How I Lost My Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle is a design classic. Championed by Hitler, the Beetle's true origins were obscured by a web of intrigue, espionage and slander. This extraordinary documentary reveals the untold story of Josef Ganz, the Jewish visionary behind one of the world's most adored cars. As relatives search for traces of Ganz's legacy, they seek to recover the genius of a man edited out of history.
Suzanne Raes
Alan Morris
DocumentarySpecial Interest
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Femke WoltingBruno Felix
Journeyman Pictures
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3.9 out of 5 stars

29 global ratings

  1. 54% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 18% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 12% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 0% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 16% of reviews have 1 stars

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Top reviews from the United States

TechEd29Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2020
1.0 out of 5 starsFailed Attempt at Historical Revisionism
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This could be rated higher had it simply been about two classic car enthusiasts who restore an exceedingly rare prewar car... sloppy timeline editing notwithstanding. The background story of Ganz would also have been better told had it been framed in a more pragmatic, and ultimately truthful context of the volatile, extremely litigious nature of the European auto industry at the time. But this would only appeal to a narrow audience of like-minded enthusiasts and students of automotive history like me. Instead, the producers chose to pander to the average lay-person's appetite for sensationalism. Here they misleadingly suggest that, had Ganz not been persecuted, he would have been worthy of the fame and adulation associated with the idea of a simple, affordable car for everyone, and the creation of the Beetle and its worldwide successes in particular. Nothing could be further from the truth. The clever and thinly-veiled juxtaposition of Beetle shapes and imagery, which were common in the early designs of others, and use of the word “Volkswagen”, which at the time was accepted by European society as a moniker and not the name of a company, are rather narrow and childish in an effort to revise a complex history. In fact, Josef Ganz was but one of many European engineers who were inspired by the true father of a car for everybody, Henry Ford (Model T). Ultimately, if one chose to compare the standing and accomplishments of his peers in the early-mid 30s time frame: Barényi, Ledwinka, Lefèbvre, Porsche etc., it’s obvious that he was not on par with these brilliant engineers. In fact, Ganz’s Standard Superior shown at the 1933 IAA was a crude (smelly 2-stroke), and highly impractical two seat design where most of the body structure used wooden framing that others abandoned in favor of metal, like Ledwinka’s “Beetle-shaped” Tatra 77. One can argue the merits of the Beetle shape and the Volkswagen name as a moniker in terms of being worthy of some sort of adulation, but the story here is far more complex than the producers would have you believe. Rightly or wrongly, Dr. Porsche and his team succeeded with a sophisticated, practical, modern design. Had Ganz not been persecuted and his designs chosen in 1938, they would have failed miserably from an engineering point of view because he could never suppress his recalcitrant and moody nature long enough to surround himself with the solid team needed to make a proper go of it, and Volkswagen as we know it would not likely not exist, Hitler or no Hitler. But to call Porsche the father of the Beetle is also shortsighted due to the patent litigious and exceedingly political nature of the time. In this, one could argue that Ledwinka was the true father of the Beetle by virtue of "a shape", but why does one attach so much incredible worth to this after learning the complexities of the above?
13 people found this helpful
John WernerReviewed in the United States on October 24, 2020
4.0 out of 5 starsGanz's Design Was First On The Road Yet Being Jewish In The Worst Political Climate Cost Him Dearly
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The story of the VW "Beetle" is a unique mix of politics and burgeoning auto design in a most unusual time. The story of a German automobile that was cutting edge in function, safety, and affordability that ultimately conquered the world remains noteworthy. The fact that the true designer in form and function of "the people's car" was stolen is something else entirely. Erased from VW history, Josef Ganz fled Germany for his life, and the credit for "The Beetle" was given, by the Nazis, to Ferdinand Porsche who expertly tweaked it. Somehow in the many years since the Ganz story has been kept largely under wraps. That is until now. This documentary about Ganz is a kind of late vindication and credit. If you are a history or car buff this is important and a must see. Happenings as recent as "diesel-gate" only help to put this in perspective. Like many huge industrial and political marriages deceit is still alive and well. BTW, a negative review here insinuated Ganz simply put together a design and another person is most responsible. All I can say is, really? So where's the documentary about this man and his car? Until that reviewer, or a filmmaker, makes that one I find this one shows a lot of merit to support Ganz.
2 people found this helpful
SammieReviewed in the United States on June 15, 2020
5.0 out of 5 starsVW - The People's Car
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My yellow 1972 Beetle was the best little car I ever owned. So much room in it, I packed all my belongings and my dog to travel half way across the country. Mileage was fantastic, toasty heater under the driver's door, and the unique put put engine noise. I had it until the floorboards and undercarriage rusted out. I still miss it even today.

So it was really fun to watch this documentary. I never knew the full story about the original designer and how Porsche stole the VW from him. The history of Hitler's commandeering Ganz's designs and all the troubles he had in his life was sad but informative.

Very well made documentary.
4 people found this helpful
Coronet BlueReviewed in the United States on August 14, 2020
4.0 out of 5 starsInteresting!
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Stories of forgotten and/or uncredited inventors are always interesting but what made this most interesting to me was that, presented with the research and the details, the folks at WV were still skeptical that Ganz deserved any credit. This was rather startling as nothing in the documentary prepared you for this.

In hindsight, it's not that unusual really; there are still disputes over inventions from photographic film to FM radio. Most of the time, the facts are known but people choose to believe what they wish (like politics). But I know nothing about cars so I really can't say who deserves credit and how much.
2 people found this helpful
KAVReviewed in the United States on January 7, 2020
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Important Story
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There is no shortage of books chronicling the development of the Beetle. Many books point to Ferdinand Porsche's ripping off Tatra's designs in the 1930s. But this story is new and compelling. The fact that Porsche still discounts Ganz's work is astonishing.

An important story even if you are not a car nut. It's a tragedy in bucket seats.
6 people found this helpful
David JordanReviewed in the United States on April 30, 2021
1.0 out of 5 starsIf your going to try and re-write History, first know it
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Case in point, I admit I do not know and or understand 1930's German Law, and obviously these people don't either.
The plain simple facts are :
This Guy created a concept Car that was a total FLOP, the May Beetle.
Porsche created a working design that went into production.
This Video is like watching somebody pop up and say my Ancestors' created the Wheel so now every owes me ...
If the Guy had just sought credit for being a forward thinking Inventor that had some interesting concepts, vs some genius that Porsche stole from ... which is silly even to consider, it would be a interesting watch, but as it is it's BALONEY.
One person found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on July 26, 2020
1.0 out of 5 starsToo Little Too Late !
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This story (If True) should have been told 70 years ago. Waiting this long to release another Anti-Sematic documentary causes the viewer to wonder why it was produced at all.
3 people found this helpful
E. CookReviewed in the United States on December 18, 2019
5.0 out of 5 starsImportant and factual history of the best selling car of all time.
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Enjoyed this one! I work at a shop that restores air cooled VW's, so this was very special to me. Lots of great historical footage. If you love cars or VW’s specifically, or needed one more reason to hate the Nazis, give this one a go.
5 people found this helpful
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