Vienna, July 17: A graphic designer who claims that he was commissioned by the Nazis to design the VW logo for Volkswagen, the German car giant, is suing the company for allegedly failing to recognise his work.
Nikolai Borg, 86, who has a heart condition, has been fighting VW since the 1950s without success. He accuses it of being too embarrassed by its Nazi past to acknowledge its debt to him, a charge the company denies. Borg has now resorted to legal action in a last attempt to bring VW to account before he dies.
Borg claims that his involvement with VW began in June 1939 ' six years after Adolf Hitler met Ferdinand Porsche to discuss his idea for a “people’s car” that could carry five people, cruise at up to 62 mph, return 33 mpg and cost only 1,000 Reichmarks.
Porsche came up with a number of designs that formed the basis of the VW Beetle. According to Borg, who was born in Germany to Swedish and Russian parents, he was asked on the eve of the Second World War to design the VW logo by Fritz Todt, a Nazi transport minister in charge of building motorways.
“I was a 20-year-old student and had just won a top award for a logo for the Reich’s youth hostel association,” Borg said last week. “That brought me to the attention of Dr Todt, who a year later became minister for weapons, munitions and armament.
“He read about me in the papers and was very impressed by the work I had done and the fact that I was so young.
“He called me to his office at the ministry and gave me three assignments: to design a logo for the company building the motorways, a lakeside resort, and Volkswagen. He said that the car logo was a new project and wanted me to get working on it straight away.”
Borg said he created three logos for the different names he was given for the new company: VW, KDF or Kraft Durch Freude (power through joy) which was what Hitler called the project, and VWW or Volkswagen Werk (VW factory).
Almost 60 years after he first started hounding VW, Borg will get his day in court later this month, after a pre-trial hearing failed to resolve the dispute.
Lawyers for VW were prepared to accept unofficially that Borg was involved. An official creator of the VW logo has never been registered. Public acknowledgement of Borg’s work could mean that he is entitled to compensation.
Yet from his home in the Austrian Tyrol, Borg ' still frail after returning from his latest hospital visit ' said: “I am not after money. I just want to live to see my work acknowledged. I will not settle for anything less than historical acceptance. I feel that VW not only fears financial retribution but is also wary of confrontation with the Nazi past.
“The company used prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates as slave labour, and produced Nazi weapons and military machinery. Its policy has always been to avoid that kind of publicity as much as possible.”