Volkswagen CEO apologizes for phrase similar to Nazi slogan

17 March, 2019, 04:00 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Anger as VW chief executive plays on Nazi slogan at company event

Herbert Diess this week said "EBIT macht Frei" before apologizing for the comments and explaining he in no way wanted to draw a comparison to the Nazi-era slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei", which appeared on the gates of Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

Ebit is a commonly used acronym for "earnings before interest and taxes".

No German audience would fail to spot the reference to Auschwitz, where more than a million people were murdered by the Nazis - the overwhelming majority.

"At no time was it my intention for this statement to be placed in a false context", Diess wrote in a post on social network LinkedIn on Wednesday. The automaker was founded by the German government in 1937 to mass-produce a low-cost auto, and was originally operated by the German Labour Front, a Nazi organization.

The inscription appeared at the Dachau concentration camp, set up by Heinrich Himmler in 1933 to use dissidents as slave labour, and later became part of the Nazis' deception for the real use of the concentrations camps. Volkswagen is betting its future on electric cars He said his comments were meant to highlight Volkswagen's strong profits, not cause offense.

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The Volkswagen executive said: "It was a very unfortunate choice of words and if if I accidentally hurt feelings with it, I am extremely sorry".

Volkswagen's first factory was built in 1938 in Wolfsburg by the Nazi party. Within Volkswagen, "brands with a higher margins have more freedom within the Group to make their own decisions".

"Volkswagen has undertaken many activities over the last 30 years that have made the company, myself personally and our employees fully aware of the historical responsibility Volkswagen bears in connection with the Third Reich", Diess wrote. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment.

Volkswagen's CEO has apologised for the remarks.

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