- Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess commented on "ebit macht frei", a slogan game from the Nazi era at an internal event at the company.
- The phrase "arbeit macht frei" or work frees you above the doors of Holocaust sites such as Auschwitz.
- The CEO of Volkswagen is excused for his remarks.
Volkswagen Managing Director Herbert Diess apologized for what was said to be a slogan of the Nazi era. a tough week for the builder fighting a SEC lawsuit.
Diess said Tuesday "ebit macht frei" at an internal event at the company, echoing the maxim "arbeit macht frei" or "work makes you free", which was listed at camp gates of concentration like Auschwitz.
EBIT is an acronym commonly used for "earnings before interest and taxes". The comments of the CEO were first reported by the German press.
"At no time did I intend to place this statement in a false context," the CEO said in an email. "It was definitely an unfortunate choice of words, I am extremely sorry."
The few days were difficult for the German manufacturer. The US Securities and Exchange Commission sued the company and its former general manager, Martin Winterkorn, in connection with an emissions scandal that allegedly defrauded US investors. In a separate email to Business Insider, Volkswagen described the case as "flawed on a legal and factual basis, and Volkswagen will vigorously challenge it."
The historical relationship between Volkswagen and the Holocaust is profound. In the early 1930s, the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered the design of a popular car, or "Volkswagen". The company was founded in 1937 as part of a plan to ensure that the Germans have the means to buy a car and used the slave labor of those found in concentration camps during the Second World War.
Volkswagen shares traded down 0.6% at 9am in London (5am ET).