BMW owners make pledge over Nazi past

BMWEmblem REUTERS BMW emblems.

Germany's Quandt family, a major shareholder in car manufacturer BMW, has pledged more than 5 million euros (6.9 million dollars) to a memorial for forced labourers in Nazi Germany, media reported Sunday.

The Quandt family, which is one of Germany's richest, benefited under Nazi rule from using forced labour in its factories, including Jews rounded up in concentration camps.

In August Stefan Quandt, a member of BMW's board of directors, visited a former Nazi forced labour camp which also supplied workers to a battery factory operated by the Quandt family at the time, Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported.

Quandt said he was “very impressed” by the memorial centre, and told the newspaper, “The documentation centre ... is exemplary in the important task to remember forced labour under National Socialism.”

The donation is Germany's largest ever individual private contribution for historical purposes, according to Bild am Sonntag.

Stefan Quandt's grandfather Guenther is thought to have exploited up to 50,000 forced labourers, and to have profited from laws making it easy to buy up Jewish-owned businesses in Nazi Germany.

In an earlier interview, Quandt said his grandfather had gone beyond what could be considered the deeds of an “honourable businessman.” - Sapa-dpa


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