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Trouble at "Home" (low Audi content)
Looks like a bit of potential conflict overseas.....
Hmmm.... could this possibly affect VW/Audi/Porsche sales?
FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuter) - A new book on links between
German automaker Volkswagen AG and the Nazis, accusing ancestors
of current VW head Ferdinand Piech of using slave labor in
factories, is causing trouble even before it is published.
Piech, grandson of VW founder Ferdinand Porsche, says the
authors of ``Volkswagen and Its Workers in the Third Reich''
turned the original manuscript into an attack on his family
after he took over Europe's largest carmaker in 1993.
Hans Mommsen, a co-author and one of Germany's best-known
historians, replied that Volkswagen withdrew support for the
book after Piech became head of the company.
The two men squared off in the latest issue of Der Spiegel
magazine ahead of the book's formal presentation on Wednesday.
Volkswagen refused to comment on the growing fight over the
book, which the publisher says is the first to fully explain the
role of a major industrial group in the Nazis' plans for and
execution of World War II.
The book says Ferdinand Porsche, who created the Porsche
sports car after the war, was a Nazi party member who was
``morally indifferent'' to using concentration camp inmates and
prisoners of war to boost his firm's productivity.
It portrays Porsche and his son-in-law Anton Piech, VW's
wartime chief executive and father of the present boss, as
responsible for the treatment of thousands of slave laborers.
Mommsen told Spiegel he was commissioned to write VW's
tell-all story in 1987 by then-VW Chief Executive Carl Hahn,
whose father was also an early German car industry leader.
``When the new guy (Piech) arrived, it was all over,''
Mommsen, who spent some 10 years on the book, told Spiegel.
Piech rejected the accusation, telling Spiegel that VW
poured almost 3 million marks ($2 million) into the project and
agreed to buy one-third of the book's first run of 3,000 copies,
create an archive and fund a chair at a German university.
He said his ancestors were neither Nazis nor anti-semitic,
adding that his grandfather built a church that still stands on
VW grounds, to the disgust of Nazi leadership.
Piech accused Mommsen of changing the manuscript to target
his family. ``I read the first 600 pages of the book two or
three years ago and my father's name never appeared,'' he said.
Piech said the book could cause trouble for Volkswagen,
which has been hurt by a nasty legal battle with rival General
Motors Corp. amid allegations it lured away top managers who
brought secret documents with them.
The book's publisher, Econ Verlag, sought to play down the
dispute between Piech and Mommsen, saying only about 150 of the
book's 1,056 pages deal with Porsche and his son-in-law.
``Mommsen does not pass much judgment in the book but wants
to explain what happened at the time. He wants to tell what
happens when professionals met a system of fascism and how they
reacted,'' said Lutz Dursthoff, the publisher's editorial
The book recounts how VW was founded by Porsche after he
left Daimler-Benz AG in frustration, attracted Hitler with his
dreams for a mass-produced car at a reasonable price and then
got the Nazi leader to back the project.
Newsreels showed Hitler riding around in a prototype VW
convertible, but production was delayed by war.
Porsche recruited Auschwitz inmates to work at a plant,
building some of the V1 rockets used during the war against
London and other cities. The plant, run by Anton Piech, also
made other armaments and a jeep used as a model for the famed
The plant employed about 16,000 workers, most of them slave
laborers from conquered countries, prisoners of war or
concentration camp inmates. Many died at the Wolfsburg plant.
"Perception is often stronger than reality!"