Tel Aviv, fifty years ago: a knight in a suit of armour, his visor tightly shut, his shield resting on his left foot, and emblazoned on the shield, the “VW” emblem. We read: “You feel as safe and secure in a Volkswagen as you do in this armour.” While Burian is releasing this newspaper ad in the German language in Israel, Rolf Pauls, a Second World War officer who was awarded the Knight’s Cross and is now the first German ambassador to Israel, is being greeted in Jerusalem in 1965 by furious demonstrators and a hail of stones thrown at his car. German products are taboo for many Israelis, and “Made in Germany” is a negative epithet. Five years earlier, when the Eichmann trial in Israel was sharpening public awareness of the genocide against the Jews, in Tel Aviv Felix Burian became one of the first Volkswagen dealers, offering sales and service for a product that could hardly be any more German: the Volkswagen Beetle.
Shortly thereafter he became one of the leading Volkswagen dealers in the country – a rather unusual story of success that could not have been predicted from the previous course of his life. In fact, quite the reverse.