Now 89 years old, Burian proudly displays a shelf of books containing training materials and rules of conduct for Volkswagen managers.
In his sales talks, the young man no longer asked people “Can you afford it?” but rather “How much of a down payment would you like to make?” He resolutely set out to place ads he created himself in his native language in newspapers read by yekkes. The ads emphasise German virtues: “Service and quality!” is a common phrase, or “First-class workmanship and precision – this is the German way.” He draws special attention to the Beetle’s technical highlight – its air-cooling system, which is a major advantage in Israel’s climate: “Even in the hottest summer your engine won’t boil over, you won’t lose water, and the car will always be ready to drive.”
Burian’s efforts pay off. Soon his customers consist of various high-ranking military officers, including a general chief of staff. The Beetle is especially popular among yekkes, and an ever more familiar sight on Israel’s roads. The dark events of the past are brought to the fore when the car is introduced onto the market, but Burian himself is never the target of personal attacks. To critics he responds that the Germans have changed from enemies to helpers.
His wife Netty, who like Felix lost close family members in the Holocaust (his grandparents and his father’s brothers were killed), says: “We will not forget, and will not forgive. But life goes on.
There is a new generation” – a motto that Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion soon uses, who negotiates reparations worth billions with Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.