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VW chief apologises for Auschwitz pun

AFP  |  Berlin 

Wednesday apologised for making a play on words with a Nazi slogan at a company meeting, insisting he was keenly aware of the German firm's roots in the Third Reich.

Diess told he had not aimed to cause offence when he said "EBIT macht frei" during a VW management gathering on Tuesday.

EBIT refers to earnings before interest and taxes and Diess said he wanted to emphasise their importance to the company's bottom line.

But the phrase echoed the infamous slogan on the main gate of the Auschwitz death camp "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free").

"It was in no way my intention to put my statement in the wrong context -- I honestly didn't think it would at the time," he said.

"It was in fact a very unfortunate choice of words and if I unintentionally hurt any feelings, I am truly sorry." Diess added that he, the company and its staff were "aware of the particular historical responsibility of in connection with the Third Reich".

In 1938, himself laid the foundation stone for the first factory in in northern Germany, tasked with building an affordable car for all Germans -- which would go on to become the iconic

During World War II, VW used concentration camp internees and prisoners of war as slave labour in its factories.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 13 2019. 23:20 IST