THE EUROPEAN JEWISH PRESS
MUNICH (EJP)—German carmaker BMW has expressed regret for using forced labor to help supply Nationalist Socialist leader Adolf Hitler with weapons components during WWII.
‘To this day, the enormous suffering this caused and the fate of many forced laborers remains a matter of the most profound regret,” BMW said in a statement issued on the 100th anniversary of its founding in Munich in 1916.
Adolf Hitler tours a BMW plant in Munich with CEO Franz-Josef Popp in 1935.
Under the National Socialist regime in the 1930s and ’40s, BMW operated exclusively as a supplier to the German arms industry, the company said in a statement. As demand for its aero engines increased, BMW recruited forced laborers, convicts and prisoners from concentration camps to assist in manufacturing them.
BMW’s ties to the National Socialist regime are linked to those of the Quandt family — major shareholders in BMW credited with making the company a success.
The family’s ties to the Nazis were exposed in a 2007 German TV documentary showing company files from the 12-year period of the Third Reich. Subsequent research and studies showed that a patriarch of the family became a National Socialist Party member on May 1, 1933, a month after Hitler rose to power.
Afterwards that same patriarch divorced his wife, who went on to marry National Socialist party propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The couple committed suicide together after killing their six children in Hitler’s bunker in 1945.
“Since the 1990s, the BMW Group has been actively engaging in efforts to promote openness, respect and understanding between cultures,” says the BMW group’s statement.