Volkswagen was founded in 1937, as part of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's vision to enable German families to own their first vehicle.
In 1938, Adolf Hitler himself laid the foundation stone for the first Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg in northern Germany, tasked with building an affordable vehicle for all Germans - which would go on to become the iconic Beetle.
Diess said "Ebitmachtfrei" during an internal Volkswagen event, evoking memories of "Arbeit machtfrei", the words that appeared prominently at the entrance of Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz.
Diess apologized, explaining he was trying to make the point that VW's more profitable units had more financial freedom. Founded in 1937 as part of Adolf Hitler's vision for every German family to own a auto, Volkswagen used more than 15,000 slave laborers during the war as it manufactured vehicles for the German army. Diess has been CEO of Volkswagen since April previous year. Diess' comments were first reported by German news organizations.
"The history of the Volkswagen group and the resulting responsibility is an important part of its corporate identity", the supervisory board said in the statement.
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