Volkswagen Boss Sorry About Nazi Gaffe

Herbert Diess used phrase 'EBIT macht frei'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2019 12:47 PM CDT
Updated Mar 14, 2019 1:10 PM CDT
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Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen AG, attends the annual press conference of the car manufacturer Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg, Germany, Tuesday, March 12, 2019.   (Christophe Gateau/dpa via AP)

(Newser) – Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess is in hot water for what he's now calling "definitely an unfortunate choice of words" he used at a company event Tuesday: "EBIT macht frei." If that sounds familiar, it's because it echoes "Arbeit Macht Frei," or "work sets you free"—the slogan on the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp. In Diess' phrase, "EBIT" is an acronym used to mean "earnings before interest and taxes," and in his explanation, he said he was referring to EBIT's importance to the freedom VW brands have, France 24 reports.

"At no time was it my intention for this statement to be placed in a false context. At the time, I simply did not think of this possibility," he said. "If I unintentionally hurt any feelings, I am truly sorry." VW was founded under Hitler and once used slave laborers from concentration camps, the BBC reports, and as such, Diess acknowledged the company has "special responsibility in connection with the Third Reich." (This is not the first time Diess has had to apologize.)

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