Picture of the signing of the Foundation's Contract at the Ahrensburg near Bad Eilsen on May 19, 1961
Signing the Foundation's Contract at the Ahrensburg near Bad Eilsen on May 19, 1961 (Photo: Wilhelm Hauschild)

The Volkswagen Foundation is not affiliated to the company of the same name. Although the Volkswagen automobile manufacturer was at the beginning of things, it is now past history as far as the Foundation is concerned:

After the Second World War, claims to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg were asserted from several sides, and yet there was no clear owner. After lengthy disputes in the 1950s, the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Lower Saxony finally agreed to turn the company then known as Volkswagenwerk GmbH into a public company listed at the German Stock Exchange and to set up a Foundation from the proceeds.

From the Volkswagenwerk to the Foundation Capital

60 per cent of the capital stock was transferred to private ownership through the issuing of so-called people’s shares, while the Federal Government and the state of Lower Saxony retained shares of 20 per cent each. The proceeds from the privatization and claims to the shares in annual net profits that remained payable to the State of Lower Saxony and the Federal Government – the Federal Government has meanwhile sold its shares – were transferred as the assets of the newly founded Stiftung Volkswagenwerk, as it was known until 1989.

The Foundation was set up with independent legal statutes under civil law in the year 1961. It started its activities in 1962.

In the meantime, the capital of the Foundation amounts to some 3.9 billion euros. Today it is the task of some 100 employees in the Kastanienallee in Hanover to increase the assets of the Foundation and to put the income to effective use in line with the purpose of the Foundation.