BERLIN – Over the years, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), the German automobile manufacturer, has become a symbol of quality, prestige, and social status. As it turns out, the company has been hiding a dark secret for decades.
The Quandt family - Germany’s richest– is a major shareholder of the leading German automobile manufacturer.
It made its fortune during the Second World War through the Nazi war machine, profiting from the forced labor of thousands at concentration camps.
According to an investigative report that premiered at the Hamburg Film Festival on Sunday, the family managed to escape punishment after the war, and continued building its empire – an empire that has left its members billionaires many times over.
The investigative report, which took five years in the making, reveals for the first time the close ties between members of the Quandt family and the Nazi regime’s leadership.
Günther Quandt, the empire’s founder, was the first husband of Magda Ritschel, who later married Joseph Goebbels, a German politician and one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates.
According to the report, Quandt’s first son with Magda was raised by the Goebbels, and became one of the managers of his father’s business after the war.
The report also revealed a series of incriminating documents found collecting dust in various archives throughout Germany, which prove the extent of cooperation between the Quandts and the Nazis.
Makers of the investigative report also located survivors of the camps used by the family during World War II, who testified to the horrible conditions they were forced to work under.
The family refused to cooperate with reporters who participated in the investigation.
The Quandt’s have previously denied allegations that they cooperated with the Nazis, and in fact, for years portrayed themselves as victims of the Third Reich.
When the German Forced Labour Compensation Program was established, the family made no contribution, claiming it had nothing to do with the issue.