Car part supplier Schaeffler, one of the pillars of the German industry, used hair shaven from prisoners at the Auschwitz Nazi extermination camp to make textiles during World War II, historians working at the Auschwitz museum in Poland said Monday.
The researchers said they found rolls of fabric at one of the company's former factories in southern Poland made of the hair of over 40,000 inmates.
The Schaeffler concern rejected the allegations and the company's historian said that there was no evidence to support the theory.
Dr Jacek Lachendro, a historian at the Auschwitz museum, told Germany's Der Spiegel television channel on Monday that 1.95 tons of cloth made from inmates' hair had been discovered at a former Schaeffler textile and army tank parts factory in the town of Kiertz (formerly Katscher) after the Germans withdrew at the end of the war.
According to Lachendro, samples taken from the fabric contained traces of the Zyklon B gas used by the Nazis to murder millions in the death camps. Former workers at the factory in Kiertz who were interviewed by Der Spiegel said that they remembered two wagon-loads of human hair being delivered to the company in 1943.
Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was opened on April 27 1940. some 1,300,000 Jews, 100,00 Polish inmates, 17,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 23,000 gypsies had been murdered at the camps until its liberation by the Red Army on January 27 1945.
In 1967, Poland turned the site into a museum commemorating the crimes of the Nazis.
Monday's report dealt yet another blow to the German company that is currently facing bankruptcy after accumulating a $14 billion debt. The concern's owner, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, recently admitted that the company used forced labor in its factories during World War II. However, the firm refuses to disclose details of its operations during the war.