By on November 26, 2007

0102064723600.jpgLast 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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14 Comments on “BMW’s Quandt Family: Still No Apology for Slave Labor...”


  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Why should they have to appologize?

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    So, if my grandfather (or father) did something bad I am supposed to apologize?

    Good grief…

  • avatar

    TexasAg03 :

    So, if my grandfather (or father) did something bad I am supposed to apologize?

    Personally, I would have no problem apologizing for my father or grandfather if he’d committed war crimes or crimes against humanity. That would be especially true if I was living large as the [partial] result of his nefarious deeds.

    I don’t want to get all hung-up on the personal apology thing. This issue is a lot wider than a “sins of the father” discussion.

    The Quandts ARE BMW. And I believe that a corporation has a moral obligation to make reparations for the damage they created– no matter how far back in the past it may go.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Not only have they not apologized, the Quandts chose not to participate in the slave labor compensation fund which was set up a few years ago. Their reasoning was along the lines of, well there is no proof that we really employed slave labor. Let’s also not forget that one heir, a Suzanne Klatten, is the richest lady in Europe (save England’s Queen). Her fortune is based on the 67 million Dollars that Günther Quandt hid from Allied authorities.

    It wasn’t beneath the Pope to apologize for what his church allowed to happen during WW2. Why be so pleasant to the (minority) owners of BMW, who are rumored to have intentions to make big investments in Daimler?

    Of course, the Quandt family is under no legal obligation to apologize for anything. But they do want people like me to buy the cars that their company makes. Now, why would I do that?

  • avatar
    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.

    And slave labor compinsation fund? You gotta be kidding me.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Virtual Insanity: Why should they have to appologize?

    TexasAg03: So, if my grandfather (or father) did something bad I am supposed to apologize?

    Good grief…

    They (the Quandt family) should have to apologize because, through inheritance, they have directly benefited from their ancestors having sent a competitor to the concentration camp and eliminating that competitor. It’s not like they drove the competitor out of business because they had a better product.

    They have also directly benefited, again through inheritance, from their ancestors’ use of wartime slave labor that helped to build BMW into the profitable powerhouse company it is today. They did not earned the fortune themselves through hard work and merit, and their ancestors did not earn the fortune through fair and moral means.

    The Quandt family’s fortune and the BMW Corporation is built upon a foundation of moral rot! (Of course they are not the only ones and these situations are quite common among those who have family fortunes and among many successful corporations.)

    If I had inherited a part of a fabulous family fortune earned through unethical means, I’d be apologizing all over the place (while hanging onto that fortune).

    RF and MS are both right. While the Quandts have no LEGAL obligation to do so, from both a moral perspective and from a P.R. perspective, it would make sense to apologize and come up with some cash for reparations.

    Besdies, they’ll probably be able to claim it as a tax deduction or as a cost of doing business which they can pass along to their shareholders and employees.

    It’s not like it will personally cost the Quandt family very much, if anything, in monetary terms. The bottom line is really all that matters. Isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      mattd44

      Foundation of moral rot? BMW was founded long before Nazi Germany, and was on the verge of liquidation in the late 50s when Herbert Quandt invested and turned the company around. What was created far outweighs the negatives and the current Quandts owe nothing more than a PR apology.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    In that case, I’ll go ahead and appologize for any of my annscestors that go as far back as pre histroicaly recorded times for anything bad they may or may not have done that may or may not have been morally questionable that may or may not have bennefited me in any way shape or form to this point in time.

  • avatar
    kjc117

    Why is this news now? Arrogant Germans, no?
    Did someone from BMW anger Spiegel? When will the world let WWII end?

  • avatar
    jcp2

    “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. Also one of the reasons (maybe the only reason) why GM is doing so well in China.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    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.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    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.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”
    — Honore de Balzac

  • avatar
    jcp2

    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.

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