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March 7, 2016 3:57 pm

On 100th Anniversary of Founding, BMW Expresses Regret for Having Used Forced Labor to Supply Nazis With Arms

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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BMW expressed regret for using forced labor to help supply Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, pictured, with weapons. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

BMW expressed regret for using forced labor to help supply Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, pictured, with weapons. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

German car manufacturer Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) expressed regret on Monday for using forced labor to help supply weapons components to the Nazis during WWII, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

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.

‘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.

BMW issued the statement on the 100th anniversary of its founding in Munich in 1916, at the height of WWI. The company celebrated with an event in the city, where it unveiled a new “Vision Vehicle” concept car. The futuristic automobile has a spacious interior and self-driving features.

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The statement and celebration also come days after BMW and Rolls-Royce became involved in a dispute over whether the UK should remain in the European Union.

According to the Daily Mail, BMW’s ties to the Nazi 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 Nazi 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 Nazi party propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The couple committed suicide together after killing their six children in Hitler’s bunker in 1945.

Leading historian Joachim Scholtyseck concluded, “The Quandts were linked inseparably with the crimes of the Nazis. The family patriarch was part of the regime.” In 2011, after years of silence, the Quandt family dynasty admitted using slave labor, taking over Jewish firms and doing business with members of the Nazi party during WWII.

In 1999, the German car maker became a founder of Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, a foundation dedicated to the compensation of former forced laborers. BMW says that in recent years it has been “actively engaging in efforts to promote openness, respect and understanding between cultures.”

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  • How about donating a few zillion of the money you have made from Jewish blood to old and impoverished survivors around the globe, and also to programs and research helping survivors of other genocides, and preventing more!

  • Emily Kuriloff

    How about donating about a zillion dollars to survivors living in poverty, and to programs and research helping and understanding genocide?

  • Jeffrey Karp

    In deference to Myron who posted that now maybe he’d consider buying a BMW, for me, now on my 4th consecutive BMW vehicle, I’d have think long and hard and also conduct my due diligence as to what “regret” means to BMW and exactly what by way of reperations BMW has made to the families of their “slave labor workforce” derived from concentration camps and so forth before I’d EVER consider purchasing another BMW vehicle. I am personally disappointed that my ignorance allowed me to associate Mercedes Benz and Volkswagon with the automakers of the third reich even though I knew that BMW focused on airplane and weapon components. I was simply unaware of just how closely aligned the BMW ownership was with the Nazi Party leadership. Grotesque in every possible respect. I hope that since the end of WW II, BMW has found a way to make a profound statement of apology and offer significant reparations to the families of the Jews, Homosexuals, Gypsies, and any other facet of humanity which BMW exploited under the Nazi Regime.

  • Reform School

    To honor its slave labor, the Bavarian Munitions Works and its Vision Vehicle’s gearshift levers will be circumcised?

  • Myron Slater

    Maybe now I’d consider buying a BMW auto!