On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, HR Board Member Gunnar Kilian, Plant Manager Rainer Fessel and Works Council Coordinator Ulf Günther laid a wreath at the Wolfsburg plant on behalf of the workforce. Over the past years, many Volkswagen employees have regularly followed this traditional way of remembering the victims of the Holocaust. This day has become a key element in Volkswagen’s remembrance work. The company has continued this tradition even in the present situation, which is dominated by Covid-19, although the usual event at the Group Archive could not be held as a result of the pandemic.
HR Board Member Gunnar Kilian emphasizes: “Volkswagen has been working thoroughly on its own history for many years. As a globally active company, we bear a special responsibility, which we take very seriously. Not least with our long-term cooperation with the International Auschwitz Committee, we are determined to ensure that the atrocities of the National Socialists are never forgotten. This is the mission which we have taken up in line with the discussions that we were able to hold with survivors of the Holocaust. We see learning from history as a key part of our corporate culture.”
Works Council Coordinator Ulf Günther says: “At Volkswagen we will keep remembrance and responsibility alive and actively pass them on. Our projects at Auschwitz with apprentices, master craftspeople and our management are only one example. We will not be drawing a line. We are standing up for remembrance at Volkswagen – and will continue to do so in the future.”
Remembrance culture is an integral part of Volkswagen
Volkswagen has been continuously engaged in remembrance work for many years. For 33 years, the company has worked together with the International Auschwitz Committee. Every year, apprentices from the Volkswagen Group go to Auschwitz to work actively on the preservation of the Memorial Site and to learn about the history of Auschwitz. In 2018, Volkswagen also started cooperation with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Together with the ADL, the company is working on concepts to transfer the lessons learnt from the past to entrepreneurial thinking and action in the present.
Dialogue between the generations on the Holocaust
With the support of the IAC and the ADL, Volkswagen was able to interview two people this year who exchanged views on how people can learn from history on the basis of their own perspectives. Marian Turski survived Auschwitz Concentration Camp, later worked as a journalist and is a key representative of Jewish remembrance work to this day. Dalia Grinfeld is the Deputy Director for European Affairs of the ADL. She refers to herself as a “Jewish activist” and is an outstanding representative of young Jewish life in Europe. The result is an intriguing dialogue between the generations with some important messages.