VW CEO reportedly mimicked an infamous Nazi slogan during a company event

Volkswagen board condemns CEO for evoking Nazi slogan

Volkswagen board condemns CEO for evoking Nazi slogan

Speaking to workers at a VW event earlier this week, CEO Herbert Diess coined the line "EBIT macht frei" - a German phrase that echoed "Arbeit macht frei", the false promise "Work makes you free" that was emblazoned atop the wrought-iron gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Diess said "ebit macht frei" at an internal company event Tuesday, echoing the maxim "arbeit macht frei" or "work sets you free", which was inscribed on the gates of concentration camps such as Auschwitz. "This was definitely an unfortunate choice of words". "For that I would like to fully and completely apologise". The automaker was founded by the German government in 1937 to mass-produce a low-cost auto, and was originally operated by the German Labour Front, a Nazi organization, according to Britannica.com.

The Volkswagen factory was also repurposed during the Nazi era to build military vehicles and equipment.

The expression "Ebit macht frei" was made in an internal management presentation in connection with operating margins from various company brands, Diess said.

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Responding on LinkedIn, Diess said he had meant to say that more profitable divisions had more freedom to make decisions and hadn't meant to invoke the Nazi slogan. "My comment was made within this context", he said.

He said he and Volkswagen employees are keenly aware of Volkswagen's history with the Third Reich.

Diess took to social media this week to apologize for the gaffe.

The Security and Exchange Commission accused Volkswagen and its former CEO Martin Winterkorn of "massive fraud", claiming they made "deceptive claims" about the cars' environmental compliance while raising billions from bond investors. In a separate email to Business Insider, Volkswagen called the case "legally and factually flawed, and Volkswagen will contest it vigorously".

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