By on October 2, 2007

goebbels-family.jpgA documentary aired on German TV (without advance notice) has linked the family controlling BMW and the Nazis. In "The Silence of the Quandts," filmmakers Eric Friedler and Barbara Siebert reveal that BMW's eventual owner Günther Quandt used Jewish slave labor in his battery factory during the war. The connection with the Nazi regime went right to the top; Quandt's first son Herbert was raised by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, architect of Kristallnacht and other horrific aspects of the state-sponsored pogram against German Jews. Herbert Quandt assumed control of the German automaker in 1959. Although a family spokesman said the allegations were "not incisively new," the Quandts have previously denied allegations that they cooperated with the Nazis; up until now they have portrayed themselves as victims of the Third Reich. When the German Forced Labour Compensation Program was established, the family declined to make a contribution, claiming they had no reason to do so.

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19 Comments on “German Documentary: BMW’s Quandts Tied to Slave Labor...”


  • avatar
    Vega

    While BMW itself has a dark history of slave labour in WW2, in contrast to the Quandt family the company today is open about it, contributed to the German Forced Labour Compensation Program and even employed a historian to shed light on that era. I think it is unfair to hold the company responsible for the actions of the main shareholder family.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    I’m not trying to be appologetic to the Nazis (Say what you want about the tennants of National Socialism, at least they have an ethos…), but are we really surprised that any German company, regardless of what they have said in public, was in bed with the Nazis in WWII?

    And can someone tell me exactly how BMW was “racially insensitive”. Its the damned PC crowd that needs to make sure everyone loves everyone who made it racially insensitive.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Big deal.

    The elevator I ride to the fourth floor here at work in Atlanta has been manufactured by Thyssen-Krupp. Krupp basically bankrolled the WWI, the Nazis and WWII, and also used slave labor (as did many German factories). Werner von Braun became an American hero, even though he worked for the nazis developing their rocket program that helped kill many people.

    The questions is, does anyone still care after 60 years? I don’t see anyone in my building refusing to ride the elevator, and I don’t think the sales of BMW will suffer any.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    It matters to the reactionary types who would have money paid to the decendants for decades after the fact. we have organizations looking for billions to be paid to decendants of slaves in this country, despite the fact few Americans today were even remotely responsible for the slave trade or business. European countries bear much of the blame for the slave trade, where are the lawsuits against Holland, Portugal and Spain to name but three?

  • avatar

    kkop :

    The questions is, does anyone still care after 60 years? I don’t see anyone in my building refusing to ride the elevator, and I don’t think the sales of BMW will suffer any.

    Yes, some people still care about uncovering the truth about those dark days. Very much.

    But not so many as to cause any harm whatsoever to BMW’s sales. Lest we forget, both Ford and GM also supported the Nazis.

    Anyway, I think the salient point here is that the Quandts didn’t come clean about their involvement with slave labor.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    If as the caption under the picture says Herbert Quandt is in the back row right, then I would think the pigtails would be a much bigger problem for the family. Did he have a sex change operation or does he still wear his hair in pigtails.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Wow, such bad timing, especially coming on the heels of Chris Bangle’s “axis of white power” comment.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    I never knew that Magda Goebbels was Herbert Quandt’s mother.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Wow, such bad timing, especially coming on the heels of Chris Bangle’s “axis of white power” comment.

    Do you think that’s no coincidence, seeing also that the show was also not announced…

    Cool…a conspiracy theory :)

    I always thought BMW had relatively clean hands compared to VW and Mercedes, both of which used forced labour of the captured jews.
    E
    ven if this is maybe because BMW was practically broke at the time, so there wasn’t much labour to do. The Quandts I really don’t know about, but if they were involved they deserve the blaim at least. To link it directly to BMW however, is probably a little unnecessary at this point…

  • avatar
    pete

    This isn’t new news BTW. These revelations have been made in the past in biographies and even in David Kiley’s book about BMW.

    As someone else pointed out – what German company doesn’t have something like this in their past?

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    My personal favorite has always been the Monte Blanc Rumor…

  • avatar
    Luther

    ALL corporations were forced to co-operate with the Nazis…It is the definition of Facism. The corporations co-operated for the same reason we all co-operate with the IRS or a mugger holding a gun. It is physical survival and not necessarily willing support.

  • avatar
    Jason

    A lot of people still care about this stuff and won’t let it go.

    My family is Jewish. They get bent out of shape about all kinds of German-related things. My mom didn’t understand how I could date a German girl who was in the U.S. getting her MBA. My stepfather can’t understand how I can own a BMW. Honestly, it just doesn’t bother me. My ex-girlfriend didn’t kill Jews during the holocaust. The nice people who designed and built my BMW hopefully didn’t either. Maybe I can’t know for sure, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time worrying about it.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    oh damn, not another one. were these companies blind or stupid when their new “workers” showed up? geeze…. and I dont really get the “everyone was doing it” arqument… I own a vw, I recognize that the people who are responsable for my cars probably were not the same ones who did this forced labor… never theless, i would prefer that it be upfront, so we can deal with it.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Henry Ford was a Nazi sympathizer, donated money to the Nazi party, and was recognized for his support by the Nazi party itself.

    Write an article on THAT.

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    Henry Ford was a Nazi sympathizer, donated money to the Nazi party, and was recognized for his support by the Nazi party itself.

    Write an article on THAT.

    THAT isn’t a secret. To imply that the two issues are related is missing the point of the article. Henry Ford’s anti-semitic feelings and support for the Nazi’s has been exposed..this is an entirely different issue. Nice attempt at deflection though.

    Apparently, the Quandts have mislead the public about the history of their company, and have thumbed their nose at the efforts to make good by other German companies by opting out of the compensation program. That is definitely a point of interest..everyone is so interested in history until it’s something they don’t want to hear.

    I AM interested in seeing how this is approached..as mentioned previously, given the flap surrounding Herr Bangle getting giddy about his white power mobiles the timing of this information being presented is interesting.

    There’s ein spinmeister staring at a blank screen somewhere trying to figure out which direction to go with this I bet…

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Three questions I as a German would pose. Is this story new? Second, is it significant? Lastly, does it have legs?

    It is new insofar as this movie had to be shown in a clandestine operation shortly before midnight. The Quandts are one of the world’s richest families and anybody saying anything negative about them better be prepared for a crippling lawsuit. Some of the facts of the matter may be old-news but the movie (which I haven’t seen) apparently unearthed new damning information and told the story as it has not been told before.

    Is this story significant? You bet it is. Those German individuals and companies who have owned up to the past do not take it well when a family of billionaire inheritors and surviving collaborators shirk their responsibility. Not to mention the various international pressure groups, as well as surviving victims.

    Also — the Quandts are expected to response in a few days. And the movie will be shown, in an expanded 90-minute version, on TV on November 22.

    So, this story matters and it will continue. Let’s not forget that the Quandts still own almost 50% of BMW. I for one will refuse to contribute to line these people’s pockets before they behave responsibly.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Sometimes, these things progress on a positive note: the Quandts have decided to refrain from legal action against the movie.

    Instead, they have now hired a professional historian who will collect records and write a “unsparing” history of the Quandt clan, including all Nazi blemishes.

    http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0,1518,509837,00.html

    In case anybody needs an English-language synopsis of this story, they can let me know and I will translate.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Here’s the English-language translation, courtesy of Der Spiegel:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,511193,00.html

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