Until now, much of his history had been either unexplored or glossed over. On the official Mazda website, they describe him only as an inventor who conducted research with the German Aviation Ministry during World War II to “serve the national interest.”
But an article published today on Jalopnik contends that Herr Wankel was kicked out of the Nazi party twice for being “too radical” and was a member of Germany’s most anti-Semitic group. The piece references those who believe Wankel worked for the Nazis simply because they happened to be the biggest funder of his research at the time, but that argument is quickly dismissed.
There is no denying the rotary engine’s brilliance as a piece of technology. Even if Wankel’s politics were abhorrent, it only puts him in the company of other automotive luminaries of the time such as Henry Ford. Perhaps it is best to divorce the man from the machine.