A shortish, miserable-looking man with a square moustache strutted into the room, his face non-committal, his uniform vaguely operatic. He had come to see what he had got for his money.
He stopped in front of the silver racing car and scowled. A man in a business suit described the car to the poker-faced despot, while his entourage stood a respectful distance away in their Sunday best. Adolf Hitler stared dolefully at the new Mercedes-Benz W 25 and wondered if it would do the trick.
Standing to the Führer’s right on that wet January day in 1934, relishing the propaganda potential of the Nazis’ involvement in such a high-profile sport, was the cunning Dr. Joseph Goebbles, the Nazi party mouthpiece and propaganda minister. He would exhort his minions to spur on the motor racing branch of his brainwashing empire, because the campaign had to be successful and had to promote Nazi invincibility to a world already deeply concerned about the ambitions of the fanatics now in charge of Germany and its fast-growing war machine.
The entire Grand Prix project came about after Hitler, who was then the freshly elected Chancellor of Germany, went to see the 1933 Avusrennen near Berlin. He was appalled to note that there were no German cars in the first three places, the winner being Italian Achille Varzi in a French Bugatti.
So the Führer let it be known that he wanted new energy pumped into German motorsport. And he wanted victory for the Fatherland. The propaganda value of German technology’s success in the world’s most exciting sport was not difficult to see. But the German car manufacturers groaned and resisted as much as they dared. The depression that had swept Hitler to power was hitting them just as hard as the rest of German industry, so they were reluctant to spend money on an expensive pastime like motor racing.