Monday, 26 March 2012

La storia di Waldo Rook e la sua Kubelwagen / The story of Waldo Rook and his Kubelwagen



L’interessante articolo pubblicato su AirMighty 07 nella rubrica Rarest of the Rare dedicato al kit di conversione del cambio sulla colonna dello sterzo mi da l’occasione di raccontare una storia straordinaria e dimenticata: la storia di Waldo Rook, il fondatore della prima scuola guida per invalidi in Germania, e della sua Kubelwagen.
Prima della guerra Waldo Rook faceva il meccanico. Gravemente ferito, ha subito l’amputazione della parte inferiore del braccio destro. Durante la lunga degenza in ospedale, Waldo ha conosciuto un grande numero di invalidi che come lui avevano perso, assieme agli arti, anche ogni speranza di potere ricominciare una vita normale. E’ cosi’ che ha avuto l’idea che ha cambiato la sua vita e quella di molte altre persone, e cioe’ quella di un sistema di protesi in alluminio che ricordano a grandi linee delle chiavi a bussola, e che consentivano di afferrare saldamente oggetti diversi grazie a terminali intercambiabili.
Il sistema si e’ rivelato tanto efficace da consentirgli di condurre in tutta sicurezza una vettura opportunamente modificata. La vettura utilizzata da Waldo era una Kubelwagen. L’alluminio proveniva offerto dalle autorita’ nei settori della Germania occupati da Americani ed Inglesi. L’esempio di Rook e’ stato cosi’ importante  che la Citta’ di Berlino ha sponsorizzato nel 1948 la fondazione della prima scuola guida per amputati, affidandone a Rook la direzione. A tutti coloro che partecipavano e completavano il corso, la Citta’ offriva in omaggio una protesi completa di tutti gli accessori. Alla fine del 1952 oltre 700 invalidi  avevano preso la patente nella scuola di Waldo Rook.
Waldo Rook ha anche messo a punto un sistema per consentire la guida della Kubelwagen a persone che avevano subito l’amputazione di entrambe le gambe, e che probabilmente era molto simile a quello prodotto dalla Fischer nel 1952 e presentato sulle pagine di AirMighty.
Molto interessante nell’articolo di AM e’ anche la lettera, datata 14 Febbraio 1952, con la quale il Servizio Tecnico Volkswagen manifesta il suo totale dissenso in merito all’utilita’ del sistema, dimostrando di non avere capito nulla della sua reale utilita’; nella lettera infatti si fa cenno solo al fatto che tale sistema era completamente inutile e la sua installazione da contrastare poiche’ la Volkswagen non aveva spazio a disposizione per tre persone sui sedili anteriori ... Quando si dice burocrati.





An interesting article published in the section Rarest of the Rare of AirMighty 07 is dedicated to the “column shift” conversion kits and gives me the opportunity to tell a remarkable and forgotten story: the story of Waldo Rook, the founder of the first driving school for amputee in Germany, and his Kubelwagen.

Before the war Waldo Rook was the mechanic. Severely wounded in battle, he suffered the amputation of the lower right arm. During his long hospital stay, Waldo met a large number of invalids who had lost, together with arms and legs, all hope to be able to resume a normal life. It is so that he had the idea that has changed his life and that of many other people, and that consisted in a system of aluminum implants operating on the principle of a sockets wrench, and that allowed it to firmly grasp objects with different interchangeable tools.

The system was so effective to enable him to safely drive a car suitably modified. The car used by Waldo was a Kubelwagen. The aluminum for thr fittings was donated from scrap in the American and British sectors of Germany. The example of Waldo Rook s was so important that the Berlin municipality in 1948 has sponsored the founding of the first driving school for amputees, entrusting the management to Rook. To all those who participated and completed the course, the Municipality offered free an artficial arm complete with all accessories. At the end of 1952 more than 700 invalids had learned to drive a modified car  in the Waldo Rook’s  school.
Waldo Rook has also developed a system for the driving the Kubelwagen dedicated to people who had suffered amputation of both legs, and was probably very similar to that produced by Fischer in 1952 and presented on pages AirMighty.
Particular interesting in the AM article is  the letter, dated February 14, 1952, by which the Volkswagen Technical Service manifests its total disagreement about  the utility of the system, proving not to have understood how useful it could have been ; in the letter it is only mentioned that the system was useless because Volkswagen had no space for three people in the front seats and its installation to be discouraged... When you say bureaucrats.

2 comments:

  1. That's interesting! Waldo is or better was my father's uncle when alive! I hardly recognized him but although I was a child then, my memories come back slowly. I will dig up some old pictures at my parents home. Thank you for sharing this article.

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  2. I am very happy that Waldo Rook has not been completely forgotten, and that there is still somebody who keep his memory! The Paralympics Games are over only from a few weeks, and they delivered stories of great humanity and courage of women and men who have found in sports motivation to overcome the trauma of the loss of their skills. Well, Waldo Rook has found the same courage by putting his creativity and ingenuity at the service of those who, like him, had left impaired by the war, offering them something extraordinary, and that is the possibility to drive a car, and do so in perfect self-sufficiency. In 1949, his story has literally been around the world; in Germany articles about him were published by Auto Motor und Sport and ADAC Motorwelt, and in the United States by the magazine Popular Mechanics. I would be extremely grateful to know something more about him and his achievement, because I think that his story should not be forgotten....

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