(JTA) — While commemorating its 100th birthday, the German auto company BMW expressed regret for its actions during the Holocaust.
In a statement on its website under the heading “Facing up to the past,” the car company said it “operated exclusively as a supplier to the German arms industry” under the Nazis, using “forced labourers, convicts and prisoners from concentration camps” in its manufacturing.
“To this day, the enormous suffering this caused and the fate of many forced labourers remains a matter of the most profound regret,” the statement said.
BMW notes that in 1983, it “became the first industrial corporation to initiate a public debate about this chapter of its history, publishing a book on the topic.”
“The BMW Group is explicitly facing up to this dark chapter of its past and in 1999, it became a founding member of the foundation Erinnerung, Verantwortung, Zukunft (Remembrance, Responsibility and Future) for the compensation of former forced labourers.”
In addition to the use of slave labor, BMW also benefited from its owner’s friendship with Adolf Hitler, who gave them businesses that had been confiscated from the Jews, according to the New York Post.
According to The Independent, a 1,200-page independent study commissioned by BMW and published in 2007 found that the company’s wartime owners, Gunther and Herbert Quandt, willingly collaborated with the Nazis and an average of 80 slave laborers died each month at BMW factories.