Audi Reveals Dark Details of Its Nazi Past

Predecessor Auto Union used concentration camp labor
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2014 8:32 AM CDT
Updated May 31, 2014 3:30 PM CDT
Audi Reveals Dark Details of Its Nazi Past
The logo of German car producer Audi is seen on the wheel of a Audi RS 8 sportscar.   (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle, File)

Audi has finally released what Germany's other major car manufacturers have—a report detailing how its predecessor company made use of concentration camp labor. The admission comes via a newly released historical study that the company itself called for. It found that 3,700 concentration camp inmates were made to work for Auto Union at one of seven labor camps specifically built for the carmaker by the Nazis and run by the SS; that the company bears "moral responsibility" for some 4,500 people interned at Flossenbürg concentration camp who died while working at an Auto Union plant near the camp; and that 16,500 people not held in the camps were forced to work at two of the company's existent factories in the country's east.

The findings were born from a review of the archives of the company, which became part of Volkswagen Group in 1965 and was renamed Audi in 1985 following a merger. Though Haaretz reports that Audi had previously owned up to the fact that it used forced labor, the company expressed shock at the extent of the report's findings and its revelations about company chair Richard Bruhn, who had "closet ties" to Nazi leaders, was instrumental in the use of slave labor, and was known as a "Wehrwirtschaftsfuehrer," a title that reflected the company's key contribution to the war's supply needs. A rep tells the Local that Bruhn's company biography will be altered; his name may also be wiped from things like pension plans. Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW previously commissioned similar studies. (More Audi stories.)

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