Business with a Nazi past

BMW headquarters in Munich. Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images

The only businessman indicted at Nuremberg was Friedrich Flick. He received a seven-year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 1947. After his release in the first half of the 1950s, he quickly became the richest man in West Germany. He never paid any compensation to anyone - says Dutch journalist David De Jong.

TVP WEEKLY: It will soon be 90 years since Hitler took power in Germany. And you wrote how the businesses built in this time still exists. How many from the list of 10 richest people in Germany have that kind of material heritage?

DAVID DE JONG: I don’t actually know what is the list for 2023 is but my guess is… half. And this isn’t a secret in Germany, but it is freely ignored. I’ve been reporting on these families for a decade, first as a reporter for Bloomberg News, then while writing a book about German business dynasties and their Third Reich histories. Unfortunately, these firms care more about protecting their reputations than about facing up to the past.

Let's start with the lexical issue. Nazis or The Germans? What do you think about political correctness addressing the history of 1933-1945?

You’re right. It is an interesting point that today’s the world uses the word Nazi as a name for this alien force which came from a different planet and took control of the German state. Technically Nazis were in Germany and Austria, and during 1939-1945 they controlled German-occupied Europe - that’s how we should name it. And I fully agree with you that we must use the word German rather than Nazi in the context of occupation, the concentration camps, and the army. They were German, for the most part. But I need to use the term Nazi in the title of the book. The title “German billionaires” wouldn’t work. It’s too general. The word ‘Nazi’ still says a lot about the topic.

Read the entire interview in TVP Weekly.

- Cezary Korycki