NEW YORK - Senior German industry figures, including the CEOs of companies that collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, have lent their support to the World Jewish Congress’ We Remember campaign ahead of International Holocaust Memorial Day. Joining the more than 1.2 million people from around the world taking part in the WJC’s campaign, BMW CEO Harald Krüger, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser and Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller and VW Board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch have posted pictures holding a We Remember sign.
Matthias Müller, CEO of the Volkswagen Group said: “Remembering the crimes of World War II and the Holocaust is an established part of Volkswagen’s corporate culture. Given our company’s history, we have a very special responsibility for society. We have been fulfilling this responsibility for the last 30 years through a vibrant culture of remembrance and special education projects. We are committed to speaking out against intolerance, anti-Semitism and racism, and for international understanding, tolerance and humanity. More than 630,000 people work for the Volkswagen Group – all over the world. Diversity is in our DNA. It has shaped us and made us successful.”
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder called it “a powerful statement” by the top executives of the three companies, adding: “We are deeply grateful for the time and effort people around the world have taken to commemorate the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. We have been overwhelmed by the response, and by the desire of so many to share in spreading this critical message against hate. It is particularly meaningful to us that the CEOs of German companies that employed slave laborers during the Nazi era are taking their historic responsibility seriously and are acknowledging the crimes of their predecessors. We thank them for their support.”
Deutsche Bahn CEO Richard Lutz, whose company was predated by the Reichsbahn that transported Jews to their death during the Nazi era, also took part in the campaign.
Other participants related to the topic include the Chairman German Trade Union Federation (DGB), Reiner Hoffmann, and Marlis Tepe, Chairwoman of the Educational and Scientific Trade Union of Germany (GEW), whose unions were banned by the Nazis in the spring of 1933. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Justice Minister Heiko Maas, and dozens of other influential Germans also took part in the campaign.