Company employed thousands of slave laborers, with 4,500 dying at its plant.
Joining other German automakers including BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen, Audi AG has finally come forward and acknowledged the darkest chapter in its history. During the rule of the Nazi party in the 1930s and 40s, Audi’s forerunner company, Auto Union, employed thousands of slave laborers in various plants in eastern Germany and Bavaria. The company’s “father,” Richard Bruhn, who continued to lead the company even after WWII, was a Nazi party member.
According to a recent study conducted by historians Martin Kukowski and Rudolf Bosch, Auto Union employed 18,000 slave laborers in an underground plant in Bavaria, in addition to 16,500 people in eastern German plants. 3,700 concentration-camp inmates were among the slave laborers, and 4,500 workers died while working at the Bavarian plant. Audi has recognized its wartime guilt and contributed widely to a fund set up by the German industry to compensate slave workers.