Today the role played by the German business community in National Socialism has been extensively studied and historically documented. Researchers have left no doubt that Hitler’s dictatorship and the penetration of Nazi ideology into almost every area of society would not have been possible without the willing participation of the traditional elites of the Weimar Republic. Through large-scale infrastructure projects such as the autobahns crisscrossing the country and the comprehensive rearmament of the Reichswehr (subsequently known as the Wehrmacht), the regime managed not only to rapidly reduce the unemployment rate but also to secure the support of the generals and the major industrial companies in Germany. Today it is equally well documented that the automobile companies benefited to an extraordinary extent from the Nazi government’s armament and transportation policy.
In the case of the company then known as Daimler-Benz AG, this benefit was enhanced by the fact that Hitler himself had a pronounced preference for cars with the Mercedes star, even before he became the Reichskanzler. It is well known that he traveled in chauffeured in a Benz as far back as 1923, and that starting in 1931 his regular vehicle was the biggest Mercedes model, a 770. Today we know that even before he seized power he was being given dealer discounts on his cars – and that continued later on. This was obviously a good business deal for both sides. There is no doubt that the company gloried in the fact that their vehicles therefore played a featured role at public events and in weekly newsreels.