Late in 1948, a large Bubonic plague outbreak started in Berlin, Germany. By the early 1949, hospitals were overflown with diseased, dying and ultimately dead patients.
Bodies started piling up and a safe medical transport from the hospitals to the crematoriums was desperately needed… a people’s car for the dead and dying!
Due to a shortage of available vehicles, Volkswagen engineers quickly developed a new and efficient solution. A VW Beetle Wagon (officially VW Typ 1 2400 Diesel Kombinationskraftwagen).
Radical new design had a MAN-sourced 2.4-liter Diesel engine in front to make room for up to four bodies in the back. The car was soon known as Der Große Totenkäfer, The Big Death-beetle. From 1948 to early 1951 an estimated 1.500 Totenkäfers were built, transporting 320.000 terminally ill patients to the Research Institute for the deceased.
After the Great Berlin Plague Outbreak, all VW Typ 1 2400 D were burned and buried in the marshes around Neustrelitz, 100 km north of Berlin.