VW chief apologizes for evoking Nazi concentration camp slogan

VW chief apologizes for evoking Nazi concentration camp slogan

Speaking to workers at a VW event earlier this week, CEO Herbert Diess coined the line "EBIT macht frei" - a German phrase that echoed "Arbeit macht frei", the false promise "Work makes you free" that was emblazoned atop the wrought-iron gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The executive said "EBIT macht frei", using a financial acronym for earnings before interest and taxes. "In fact, it was a very unfortunate choice of words and if I had unintentionally hurt feelings with it, I am extremely sorry". "I would like to apologise in any form". Volkswagen is betting its future on electric cars He said his comments were meant to highlight Volkswagen's strong profits, not cause offense. The automaker was founded by the German government in 1937 to mass-produce a low-cost auto, and was originally operated by the German Labour Front, a Nazi organization, according to Britannica.com.

"The statement of the CEO Herbert Diess is in this context considered inappropriate and hard to comprehend", VW's supervisory board said Friday, adding that it "strongly distances itself from this, but at the same time takes note of the immediate apology from Mr. Diess". The CEO's comments were first reported by German news outlets. In his post, Diess said that he and the firm's employees "are aware of the special responsibility of Volkswagen in connection with the Third Reich", referring to the period between 1933 and 1945 when Germany was under Hitler's rule.

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Asked whether Bernstein analyst Max Warburton was right to suggest that Diess had lost support internally as a result of the remarks, Volkswagen's supervisory board said such an inference was inappropriate.

VW said the SEC complaint is "legally and factually flawed" and the company will "contest it vigorously".

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