Our Wermacht Beetle

Daniel Spannraft

Here is a good one from the 1946-1947 era. My late father was an Officer in the US Army who actually came from Austria right after WW1. He was posted to West Berlin after getting married in mid 1946 in Paris. He was fluent in German and looked the part, so his one of his duties was interrogating captured German Officers and soldiers. In fact, the US Army had a Wehrmacht uniform for him to wear.

Once the war ended, he was stationed in West Berlin. Like every good American boy, he wanted his own car. The US Army started to allow privately owned vehicles thru a lottery system. You would enter your name, and if and when it was pulled, you could buy what they had available. Mid-year, much to his surprise, his name was drawn. He had wanted an US made car, but was surprised that the only thing available was a WW2 vintage ex-Wermacht Beetle.

The car was mouse grey inside and out. Rather than gamble on being reentered into the lottery, Dad took the car. He had it repainted maroon and had the bumpers and hub caps chromed.

One of the stories in the family is how he had a fender bender in West Berlin right after getting the car redone. Well, I found the photos of the accident. Here they are in all their glory.

Perhaps someone can come up with the ID of the West German owned car. I can only imagine what went thru the minds of the Polizei when the got to the accident scene and the two participants were probably arguing in Deutsch. I can see two MP Jeeps and two Polizei cars. I believe Dad was going from left to right on the one photo. If I remember, the West German driver was cited for not giving right of way, but I have no idea of any of the circumstance. The snow does make it look like early Winter or late Spring.

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