The Uncomfortable Legacies of German Automakers

In today’s Germany, the manufacture of automobiles accounts for a tenth of the GDP, and, moreover, serves as an important symbol of the country’s technical and economic accomplishments. It is also an industry that owes much to the Third Reich. Despite the German “culture of remembrance and contrition,” notes David de Jong, the Nazi founders and early leaders of Porsche, BMW, Volkswagen, and other brands are frequently celebrated by their heirs, and “their names adorn buildings, foundations, and prizes.”

Take the Quandts. Today, two of the family’s heirs have a net worth of roughly $38 billion, control BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce, and have significant holdings in the chemical and technology industries. The family’s patriarchs, Günther Quandt and his son Herbert Quandt, were members of the Nazi party who subjected as many as 57,500 people to forced or slave labor in their factories, producing weapons and batteries for the German war effort.

Günther Quandt acquired companies from Jews who were forced to sell their businesses at below market value and from others who had their property seized after Germany occupied their countries. Herbert Quandt helped with at least two such dubious acquisitions and also oversaw the planning, building, and dismantling of an uncompleted concentration subcamp in Poland.

After the war ended, the Quandts were “denazified” in a flawed legal process in postwar Germany that saw most Nazi perpetrators get away with their crimes. In 1960, five years after inheriting a fortune from his father, Herbert Quandt saved BMW from bankruptcy. . . . Today, two of his children, Stefan Quandt and Susanne Klatten, are Germany’s wealthiest family, with near-majority control of BMW. The siblings manage their fortunes in a town near Frankfurt from a building named after their grandfather.

The modern-day Quandts can’t claim ignorance of the actions of their father and grandfather. . . . And yet Günther Quandt’s name remains on their headquarters, and Stefan Quandt awards an annual journalism prize named after his father. Stefan Quandt said he believed his father’s “life’s work” justified it.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Germany, Nazi Germany

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy