BMW's Quandt Family: Still No Apology for Slave Labor

Martin Schwoerer
by Martin Schwoerer
bmw s quandt family still no apology for slave labor

Last September, German public TV aired a documentary about the Quandt family, the secretive clan that owns 46.6 percent of BMW. The film revealed that Günther Quandt had used slave laborers during WWII and convinced Nazi contacts to send a Belgian competitor to a concentration camp (after he refused to sell his company to Quandt). Responding to the first screening, the Quandt family said they were "profoundly touched" by the movie and promised to employ a historian to examine the family's history during the Third Reich. Spiegel reports that a re-screening last Thursday contains new material. Quandt biographer Rüdiger Jungbluth noted that no family member has ever apologized to the few remaining victims of Quandt's wartime labor camps. Carl-Adolf Soerensen, a former Danish resistance fighter, watched most of his 40 comrades perish at a Quandt factory. Soerensen said it would be easier to die in peace if the Quandts offered some words of regret. "The one time we tried to contact the heirs of Quandt, they were extremely arrogant. And since them, we have heard nothing but silence. They have not even acknowledged that their companies employed slave laborers… I don't need a historian to tell me what happened. Neither do the Quandts. I can meet them and show them what happened in their factory."

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  • Johnster Johnster on Nov 27, 2007
    Virtual Insanity: Using that logic, I guess I shouldn’t but a Japanese car becasue of Pearl Harbor. They have no obligation or reason to appologize, and their lack of appology for something some ancestor did isn’t going to stop me from buying another BMW once I have the money to do so. Well, actually, Japan has apologized numerous times to most of the different groups they attacked during WWII and they did, indeed, have a "moral" obligation to do so. (Of course, when you lose a war, that makes it it easier, too.) Combined with the unreliable mediocrities coming from Detroit, the apologies made it more a lot more palatable for lots of people to buy Japanese. And slave labor compinsation fund? You gotta be kidding me. No kidding. The West German government has offered similar apologies to different groups who suffered because of WWII, including compensation funds set up for concentration camp victims and their families, although they're really pretty meager. The U.S. has formally apologized to people of Japanese decent, most of whom were U.S. citizens, who were held in concentration camps and they were eventually provided with meager, symbolic compensation for being deprived of their civil rights and the hardships they endured. “Using that logic, I guess I shouldn’t but a Japanese car becasue of Pearl Harbor.” Actually, that was one of the reasons that I grew up in a Ford/Mercury family, and why my dad never got me one of those “Walkmans” when I really, really wanted one, and why we had an old RCA television. Old Henry Ford was notorious for his anti-Semitism and refusing to hire Jews to work at his factory. Henry Ford was real buddy-buddy with Adolph Hitler. Hitler copied large chunks of "Mein Kampf" from the writings of Henry Ford. After WWII the Ford Motor Company issued formal apologies to the Jewish community, contributed to Jewish charities and funds to help WWII Jewish refugees, and made a point of hiring Jews. Even so, for many years there were many Jews who would not purchase Ford products.
  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Nov 27, 2007

    Guys, guys, this is not like asking Americans to apologize to Indians or something. There is this Danish guy Soerensen, he spent a few years in a slave labor factory which was owned by a man (Quandt) who managed to escape prosecution, and survived the war with 67 mill in pocket. Soerensen was snubbed every time he tried to speak with the Quandts. The Quandts are now one of the world's richest families. Are you surprised Soerensen is angry? There is the Laval family in Belgium, who used to be one of Europe's foremost makers of batteries. Mr Laval survived the Hohenschönhausen concentration camp but his family feels justice has not been done. Neither do I.

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Nov 27, 2007
    "Behind every great fortune there is a crime." -- Honore de Balzac
  • Jcp2 Jcp2 on Nov 29, 2007

    The Ford family aren't exactly saints, but my father was a bit peeved when the Japanese soldiers took potshots at his father during WWII. However, age does mellow the soul, as he (my dad) currently owns an Accord. Maybe those apologies did make an impact after all.