The Quandt family empire, which became a major shareholder in BMW after the Second World War building it up to become one of the most desirable car brands, launched a project to investigate its Nazi-era activities after unpleasant revelations were aired in a 2007 TV documentary.
The ensuing research using company files from the 12-year period of the Third Reich has established the depth of collaboration between the family patriarch, Günther Quandt and his son Herbert, and Hitler’s regime.
“The Quandts were linked inseparably with the crimes of the Nazis,” concluded Joachim Scholtyseck, the Bonn historian who compiled and researched the study, “The family patriarch was part of the regime.”
The 1,200 page report provides details of the practises common at Quandt family factories where an estimated 50,000 slave labourers from concentration camps were used to supply arms contracts to the regime.
Hundreds of these labourers died from working in the inhumane conditions and others were executed.
The family was also discovered to have profited from taking over dozens of businesses seized from Jewish families by the Nazis and handed over to the Quandts.
BMW was not implicated in the report.
Gabriele Quandt, the grandson of Günther Quandt, responded to the study’s conclusion by admitting his family had been “wrong” in trying to avoid confronting the truth about its Nazi past for so long.