So I bought a new car recently. It happens. Living in suburbia in Canada sort of makes a car a necessity. It’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, but in spite of living close to a bus route, driving a car has become a convenience I’m loathe to give up. I drive a car to take pets to the vet, patients to the doctor (I live with two non-drivers), and to exit the city and hang out in nature. (Okay, I drive a car for a lot of mundane things too . . . like when I’m too lazy to walk, time-conscious, or too much of a wimp to face the rain, north wind or the darkness of late nights.)
The thing about cars is that they wear out. My little red putt-putt was starting to cost lots of money to keep on the road and so I made what I hope is a smart financial decision and got a nearly new used car . . . big enough to haul lumber to repair the broken fence, to carry my bike, tent, inflatable kayak and, of course, the dog.
I’m a happy soul.
I had a budget and I stuck to it. Now I could have got myself a nice little German import for that price, but my dad—dead now for almost thirty years—stopped me. His resentment towards the Germany that detoured his life for fifteen years, and impacted it for a lifetime, echoed in my ears. “Why would I buy a German car? I’m not supporting that country now, I’m done with Germany.” That country . . . the one he served through military service for nine years . . . joining the Luftwaffe in 1936 at age 18. That country . . . the one for whom he spent an additional five years in a Soviet POW camp. Why would he support that country’s car industry? And why would I? I know, it’s not a Nazi country anymore and yet . . . VW was created in May of 1937. It was to be the people's car and employees had automatic withdrawals from their pay checks to fund this national endeavour. But then Hitler decided to have a war instead.
In my father's memory, I don’t buy German cars. It’s funny how I still hear his voice and feel his influence all these years later. Germans might have a reputation for making good cars, but they’ll forever carry a tainted history . . . at least in my driveway.