For those who missed the news, a documentary aired late last month at the Hamburg film festival and on German television in which the Quandt family, principal shareholders in BMW, have been implicated in Nazi war crimes stemming from the family's past during the Holocaust and concurrent Second World War.
The result of five years of research into the Quandt family's wartime activities, The Silence of the Quandt Family asserts that Afa, the family's battery company that supplied specialized power cells and munitions to the Third Reich, employed slave labor provided by the Nazis. Documents unearthed as part of the research show that the company appallingly estimated that approximately 80 of its forced laborers would die each month at its factories. The film included testimonies from survivors who attested to the subhuman working and living conditions, as well as from former Nuremberg war-crimes prosecutors who asserted that, based on the evidence previously hidden by the Quandts and now revealed, the family would have been convicted of war crimes.
The Quandts, the documentary asserted, had close ties to high Nazi party officials. Adolf Hitler himself acted as witness to the second marriage ceremony of family patriach Gunther Quandt's first wife Magda to Nazi propoganda mastermind Joseph Goebbels, and the infamous couple raised Gunther's son Harald. The Quandts, according to the research, used the wealth amassed from the suffering of victims of the Nazi regime fifteen years after the war to buy BMW, and continues to hold 47% stake in the automaking conglomorate.
Even in the face of the publicly revealed evidence, the Quandts continue to refute any wrongdoing during the wartime period, have evaded justice and refused to contribute to restitution programs. They have, however, finally pledged to open the family records to independent historians for examination. While BMW itself, like other German companies, has acknowledged its role in the Nazi war machine, the Quandt family that owns it continues to deny any culpability.