Chances are, if you do enough digging around in your family's past, you're going to come up with something unpleasant somewhere down the line. That's exactly what Germany's Quandt family, heirs to the BMW kingdom, found after an independent study discovered that Geunther Quandt (pictured at right), the grandfather of Gabriele, used an estimated 50,000 forced laborers in his arms factory.
The workers were part of the Nazi "Aryanization" program. Gabriel Quandt said that it was wrong for her family to ignore this chapter of its past. The study, commissioned by the family, found that both Geunther and his son, Herbert, were responsible for Nazi injustices.

Despite Gabriel Quandt's acknowledgement of the transgressions of her forbears, the family still plans to award the Herbert Quandt Media Prize. Stefan Quandt says that the prize should stand because of the values that Herbert conveyed on the company later in life.


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  • 67 Comments
      dinobot666
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM were war profiteers and worked with the Nazis as well. The invasion of France, Poland and Russia would not have been possible without the cooperation of GM to build 8,000 + Opel Blitz trucks that were used. Oddly enough, when the Germans got to Russia, the Russians were driving American Studebaker's that they got from the Lend Lease Act! Even calls from the Roosevelt administration weren't enough to get GM to shut down for the war effort, it took a lot of arm twisting to make it happen. Ford and GM still won't open up their war time archives to this day. The whole war gets pretty murky when you look really far into it.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dinobot666
        GM also killed electric street cars and sold some pretty killer battery patents to Texaco. Ford definitely seems to be the lesser evil.
          schattig84
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Also Ford had a little thing against the Jews and refused to hire them at any of his factories
          dinobot666
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Adolf Hitler had a picture of Henry Ford on his desk and Henry Ford was given the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938. The highest ranking medal that a foreigner can receive.
          Frank
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Chrysler not only did not have anything to do with the Nazi's but helped our war effort in numerous ways, building tanks, helping with component parts for bombers, and lending considerable engineering talent to the atomic bomb effort. While other companies made huge profits legally during the war years KT Keller did most things at cost and passed any savings from engineering and production efficiencies back to the government. http://www.allpar.com/weblogs/2006/04/18/true-patriotism/
      Narom
      • 3 Years Ago
      In those times of war it was always going to be a case of exploit or be exploited. Hindsight means we can now say what's right and what's wrong. Look at it now. If your country was invaded, would you stand by to be launched into concentration camps because you don't agree with it. Or would follow the very strong tide (bearing in mind the Nazi's were an elected party at first) and just agree with them? We may all say now we'd die for our principles, but if that meant your entire family dying would you still?
        thedriveatfive
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Narom
        Hmmm you left out the option of leaving the country. I see what your saying, but they knew right and wrong then as well. Dosent meen I wont buy a BMW today, but seriously wouldent in the post war years when the guilty partys were still alive and at the helm.
          kwa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @thedriveatfive
          Umm, did you just say that in order to avoid the problems of WWII all they had to do was "leave the country?" OMG.
      flammablewater
      • 3 Years Ago
      From Wikipedia on Henry Ford: Hitler regarded him as "the leader of the growing Fascist movement in America". Point is, you can't really hold a company responsible for the transgressions of someone from that long ago who is now dead. However I still wont buy Fanta Orange.
      Ducman69
      • 3 Years Ago
      And VW and the ever popular Beetle was a Hitler invention no less, using a close personal relationship with Porsche. In Germany at the time, you either worked with the Nazi party as my grandfather initially did as governor, or you get replaced and are thrown into a work camp, as he also eventually found himself in. Its as voluntary as paying the IRS. You may not want to play along, but its a lot better than the alternative.
        Zondaracer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        The founders of Adidas and Puma (the shoe companies) were alsO members of the Nazi party. I don't think most of the German people were fully aware of the atrocities in their own country until after the fact. They just went along with national pride and were trying to do what they were told to do out of national interest. Either that or get replaced, like Ducman said.
      sstowes
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Despite Gabriel Quandt's acknowledgement of the transgressions of her forbears, the family still plans to award the Herbert Quandt Media Prize. Stefan Quandt says that the prize should stand because of the values that Herbert conveyed on the company later in life." Unless you're Hitler--unapologetic about the transgressions you make against other lives--, I think it's fair for someone to try a second chance at life. We may not always forgive that person, but that's not really a knock against that person. Human beings have the capacity for forgiveness, but rarely these days do we really use it (look at the Troy Davis case). I think if Herbert felt in his heart to instill new values, than those things deserve just as much (if not more) acknowledgement than what he did in the past.
        Gorgenapper
        • 3 Years Ago
        @sstowes
        Ah yeah, reminds me of the Penny Arcade comic. "When you wish... upon a star... it doesn't matter...who you are...." *looks at Hitler* "Except you."
      bearreport
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've been the to the BMW museum in Munich and they openly acknowledge the company's history during WW2 - and yes, Nazis did have totally badass motorcycles. Gabriel Quandt should get respect for not just wanting to sweep this stuff under the carpet and being as open as possible about her family's and the company's history.
        Pj Taintz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @bearreport
        when did you go? i was there the week it opened, and there was no mention of their ties to the nazis, on the timeline wall they have from the 1910's on have a lot of information in them except for the 30s, to the 40s, maybe its changed since it had opened
      Scott Matthew Harris
      • 3 Years Ago
      As much as i love BMW these reports are a bit underwhelming, Hugo Boss recently admitted to using forced labour, however neither have readily committed to paying any compensation to those involved or their heirs.
        dinobot666
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Scott Matthew Harris
        He designed some pretty brilliant looking uniforms for the Nazis too, much of which was later used as inspiration for the baddies in Star Wars. Take a look next time, the similarity is striking.
      budwsr25
      • 3 Years Ago
      All of the German car company's had ties to Nazi Gremany. Porsche, Volkswagen, Auto Union (AUDI) all had soming to do with hitler.
      ccccc212
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Quandts continue to make considerable efforts to sweep their past "under the rug". As they have strong ties to the German media, they have, according to an anonymous source at BMW, paid a considerable amount so that the documentary is rarely broadcasted. Furthermore, it is only broadcasted between midnight and 6:00 in the morning!!! They need to finally truly confront the past and not just pay a very small percentage of their wealth to a fund and make the media play it down.
      McNonymous
      • 3 Years Ago
      Back then it was "Just following orders". Today it is "Just trying to pay the mortgage". Firms do what they have must to survive. We will never know if they "supported" injustice or not. Interesting bit of history though.
      mikelee
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hell...if you're going after Nazi "ties", look at every German company during WWII. Check out Mercedes...Hitler's favorite car(!). They all have blood-stained hands.
      Pj Taintz
      • 3 Years Ago
      its funny because in the bmw museum in munich, in the timeline of BMW, the 30s and 40s are blank. they dont even say anything about the ties to the nazis in the bmw museum
        Sukairain
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Pj Taintz
        They probably had a section on the 30s and 40s, and then a bunch of people whined about *history* and so that part of the exhibition was removed. Seriously people, there are beautiful parts of HUMAN history, and then there are really ugly parts. It's easy to label it *German History* *Nazi History* whereas in fact well, it's just HUMAN history. We are horrible by design, learn from our mistakes, deal with it.
        Georg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Pj Taintz
        BMW of today is only a bike and car producer ...befor WW2 BMW was mainly a plane engine producer with a very limited and very late (1929) started car production (BMW was the last of the three German premium brands starting car production Daimler 1890 Audi 1911) ...for example the first BMW produced in Munic was after WW2... the models sold befor ww2 were devlopt between 1926-1936 the car production stoped after the beginn of ww2 and was restarted with pre war models in late 40´s ...so there is no car to show from late 30´s to late 40´s
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