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Volkswagen’s Nazi-Era Blood Crimes | The Nation

27.12.15

Volkswagen’s Nazi-Era Blood Crimes | The Nation: According to historical records, as early as June 1940 Volkswagen had already begun using forced labor. German historian Ulrich Herbert has documented in his 1997 book Hitler’s Foreign Workers that, at times, as much as 70 percent of the company’s workforce was conscripted, primarily from Eastern Europe. Basically, these workers were slaves, given just a pittance to live on. But Volkswagen subscribed fully to the Nazi racialist theories that categorized non-Aryans as subhuman—and, like the Nazis themselves, it had a pecking order, which factory director Hans Mayr later outlined for Allied war-crimes investigators. Scandinavians were treated slightly better and got better rations than Poles, and Poles, in turn, received better treatment and rations than Russians. (By this time, Jews were regarded as so inferior that those not sent to the death camps were worked to death in the factories.) Still, according to the investigators, even with the laborers subsisting on near-starvation rations, Volkswagen officials would steal food from the kitchen and either eat it themselves or sell it back to the conscripts. Mayr disclaimed any responsibility on the part of himself or the company by telling the investigators, “You know these Russians; they would plunder anyhow.”


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