Last updated at 5:32 PM on 14th January 2012
Adolf Hitler stole the idea for the iconic Volkswagen Beetle from a Jewish engineer and had him written out of history, a historian has sensationally claimed.
The Nazi leader has always been given credit for sketching out the early concept for the car in a meeting with car designer Ferdinand Porsche in 1935.
His idea for the Volkswagen - or 'people's car' - is seen by many as one of the only worthwhile achievements of the genocidal dictator.
Hitler stipulated that the vehicle would have four seats, an air-cooled engine and cost no more than 1,000 Reichsmarks - the exact price that Mr Ganz said the car would cost.
Three years before Hitler described 'his idea' to Mr Porsche in a Berlin hotel, Mr Ganz was driving a car he had designed called the Maikaefer, or May Bug.
The lightweight, low-riding vehicle looked very like the Beetle that was later developed by Mr Porsche, who is still considered the foremost car designer in German history.
Jewish inventor Mr Ganz had been exploring the idea for an affordable car since 1928 and made many drawings of a Beetle-like vehicle.
Within days of the meeting between Hitler and Mr Porsche in 1935, Mr Ganz's car magazine was shut down and he was in trouble with the Gestapo.
The journalist and inventor left for Switzerland and died in Australia in 1967.
He is not mentioned in VW's first corporate history or in the Story of Volkswagen exhibition in Wolfsburg.
'So many things were the same in Hitler's sketches,' said Mr Schilperoord.
'Hitler definitely saw his prototype and I'm quite sure he must have read Ganz's magazine.
'It's quite clear Ganz had a big influence on how the idea was developed by the Nazis.
'Ferdinand Porsche drove Ganz's prototype in 1931. I found a lot of evidence that all similar rear engines in the 1930s can be traced by to Ganz.
'Even the price was the same. Porsche said doing this for 1,000 Reichsmarks was not possible but was forced to make it happen by the Nazis.'
But although VW admits to producing military parts and using slave labour, Porsche was never tried for war crimes.
But VW puts the doubt over the car's origins down to the fact that many people at the time were talking about the concept of a small and low-priced car.
It claims that through Hitler, Mr Porsche found the funding that Mr Ganz lacked and was able to make something real out of what was a popular idea.