BMW owners acknowledge Holocaust record

By Jennifer Lipman, September 28, 2011

The owner of the car company BMW have admitted that they used forced labour during the Holocaust.

The German company, founded in 1916, produced arms, including rifles and U-boat batteries, for the Nazis during the war years and around 50,000 of its factory workers were slave labourers.

According to Die Zeit newspaper, Guenther Quandt, who was a member of the Nazi party, also did business with senior Nazis and took over Jewish businesses. He was reportedly even given the name "Wehrwirtschaftsfuhrer" (leader of the armament economy) by the Nazi leader for his efforts.

After the war he was arrested but subsequently released on the grounds that he had not actively taken part in Nazi crimes.

Mr Quandt's family still have a majority stake in the company and his grandson Gabriele Quandt said it would be "wrong" to continue to ignore this aspect of the family history.

The details of the company's Nazi past emerged following a study commissioned by the family. Last week it was revealed that German fashion house Hugo Boss also used forced labour during the war.

Last updated: 2:06pm, September 28 2011