Heinrich Nordhoff was working as service manager in a Hamburg garage when the British Military Government of northern Germany appointed him Managing Director of the bombed-out Volkswagen factory in January, 1948.
Nordhoff, who had served on the Board of Directors of Opel AG, who had run the Opelwerke in Brandenburg – Europe’s largest truck factory – and who had traveled the United States as an executive of the General Motors subsidiary, took the garage job in 1946 as a means of supporting his family in the post-war chaos of Germany.
From the Hamburg garage, he rose to guide Volkswagen to a place of eminence among the automotive manufacturers of the world, and established the first truly international company in what was to become the Federal Republic of Germany.
For the first six months, Nordhoff lived in the factory, directing its rebuilding. In the first year, Volkswagen produced 19,244 cars, largely from parts salvaged from the bombing. Shortly after August 6, 1955, when the one-millionth Volkswagen rolled off the line at Wolfsburg, the Bonn government awarded Dr. Nordhoff the Grand Cross of the Federal Service Cross with Star – the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Six years later, in 1961, Volkswagen produced 1,007,113 vehicles, the first time any European automaker reached the million-a-year mark.
Honors were many for this ardent advocate of free trade and corporate social responsibility…doctorates from the University of Gottingen and Boston University, and the academic honor of Senator from the Technical University of Berlin. In 1958, he became the first automotive executive to win the Elmer A. Sperry Medal, awarded jointly by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
Britain’s Institute of the Motor Industry conferred the Lord Wakefield Golf Medal, and he was made honorary citizen of both Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. And of the State of Texas.
Wolfsburg’s local government named him "Feeman," the only person to hold the honorary title.
Amateur cinematographer, artist, naturalist, orchid grower, Nordhoff was proficient in classic Greek and Latin, and read ancient texts as a hobby.
By 1968, Professor Nordhoff – the rank was conferred by the Technical University of Brunswick – could refect upon a company foruth among the car producers of the world, the leading auot exporter in the world and Germany’s largest industrial enterprise. He died in April of that year, after 20 years at the helm of Volkswagen.
It's pretty Obvious what the Volkwagen logo is (a V over a W in a blue background, sorounded by a circle). It's origin is rather mundane though. The logo was the result of an office competition to see come up with a logo. The winner of the competition (who won 50 Marks for his troubles) was an engineer named Franz Reimspiess (the same man who perfected the engine for the Beetle in the 1930's).