Daimler's Works Council Claims Company Is Being 'Infiltrated by Nazis'

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

On Wednesday, Daimler’s German workers union publicly expressed concerns that neo-Nazis are trying to organize within the automaker’s ranks. While it did not specify which political groups were involved, it named several individuals from the Untertürkheim Mercedes-Benz plant in southern Germany and described the overall situation as “not acceptable.”

The works council believes Nazis are currently using Zentrum Automobil, an alternative labor union formed in 2009, as a base of operations to infiltrate the factory and placed several of its members on its board. “The Untertürkheim plant now appears in the media as a reservoir for neo-Nazis and a center of right-wing extremist activities,” explained members opposing the supposed infiltration.

That’s not great publicity for a German automaker with a rich history dating back through the Second World War. However, if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that the term “Nazi” currently gets thrown around more than a frisbee at a picnic. Are the claims valid?

Zentrum Automobil’s website certainly doesn’t express anything that might indicate a racial bent. Instead, it positions itself as an alternative to Germany’s established unions — which it claims are in close cooperation with manufacturers and don’t have the backs of those they purport to protect. It suggests “big unions (like IG Metall) are so closely linked to the political elite” that they have no solution to the problems associated with globalization, and are part of the overall problem facing today’s workers. This could be a case of more-powerful labor unions feeling threatened by an upstart and crying “Nazi” in the hopes of destroying it before it gains any more momentum.

However, for the past few months German media has suggested Zentrum has political ties to “extremist movements.” Most notable among them is the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which recently surpassed the Social Democrats (SPD) to become the country’s second strongest political party, according to polling from earlier this week. The AfD grew in popularity after mass immigration of young men resulted in a 10.4-percent increase in violent crimes between 2015 and 2016. The party is best known for its “controversially” harsh stance against Islam and immigration.

Simultaneously, Handelsblatt reported at least four of the Untertürkheim works council members from Zentrum Automobil have attended AfD and Pegida rallies and held previous membership in Wiking-Jugend (Viking Youth) and Kreuzritter für Deutschland (Crusader for Germany) neo-Nazi groups. Both organizations were outlawed as unconstitutional by the German government in 1994.

“The right-wing activities and the entanglements in neo-Nazi actions and organizations and the related public coverage are causing substantial damage to labor representation and through this are threatening our jobs,” the works council said in an official statement.

Staff at Daimler, Volkswagen, and other manufacturers are scheduled to elect new labor representatives over the next three months, and management and unions are keen to quench any extremist activity. Daimler announced its opposition to any “far right activity” within its workforce and would monitor developments closely. “We stand by the liberal, democratic basic order and expect all employees to live tolerance in their daily work and to act together with respect, openness, faith and fairness,” the automaker said.

[Image: National Archives]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • CuoreSprtv CuoreSprtv on Feb 22, 2018

    Slavuta, can you clarify your earlier comment? Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but do you understand what you are saying? "They both were “communal” regimes. The only problem between them was that Hitler hated Jews and considered Jews, communists and bolsheviks all one and the same. And he was kind of correct on this one." Is one of us having a language barrier and/or problem?

    • See 4 previous
    • Slavuta Slavuta on Feb 23, 2018

      bunkie, thanks for the tip!

  • APaGttH APaGttH on Feb 23, 2018

    I literally want off this planet. I cannot believe the anti-Semitic blather from the former B&B of TTAC. I simply cannot believe it, and once again Matt Posky has tossed around Nazi references and stories on the pages of TTAC. This isn't the first time. I just can't. Nazis irradicated my family in Hungary, subjected my wife's family to unspeakable suffering in Stalingrad during World War II, and my father lived with the trauma for his entire life of liberating Buchenwald. My opinion on these things are pretty f***** strong. I can't believe this debate are on these pages. This site has plunged off a cliff.

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    • Ttacgreg Ttacgreg on Feb 23, 2018

      Not just on this site, it is a general condition that crosses international borders. I do wish everyone would take a basic course in political science, and agree on some basic meaning of political terms. The terms socialism and fascism have been so derisively thrown around, that they have no meaning. We are all focusing our minds on our differences rather than what we have in common. Ignorance is the enemy. I want off of this planet too. Maybe my Infowars watching conspiracy theory friend can hook us up with the secret inter-stellar space program he says exists, and we can get out of here.

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