• Germany's news in English

Auto parts family Schaeffler worked with Nazis

AFP · 26 Feb 2009, 08:00

Published: 26 Feb 2009 08:00 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The company initially specialised in textiles but converted to work in the arms industry and employed forced workers which included French, Poles, and Russians, historian Gregor Schöllgen wrote in the magazine's latest edition published on Thursday.

Schoellgen, who is based at the university in Erlangen, southern Germany, was mandated by heirs to the group's founders, including the current boss Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, to explore the family's archives, a company spokesman told AFP.

The research was completed two years ago but has not been published before.

It was released this week owing to "false allegations on the Internet" that the historian sought to clarify, the spokesman said.

According to the report, Schaeffler grew out of Davistan AG, a company owned by a Jewish family that fled Germany following calls for a boycott of Jewish firms by the Nazis, Schoellgen explained.

The company was taken over by a consortium of banks that sold it in 1940 to Wilhelm Schaeffler, the researcher said.

Schaeffler began to produce military equipment and became a member of the Nazi Party, while his brother Georg also invested in the new company.

In 1946, Wilhelm Schaeffler was arrested by US forces and turned over to Polish authorities.

He was convicted of "liquidating" assets that belonged to the Polish state and citizens, and Jews, "on behalf of the Third Reich," in 1949 and imprisoned in Poland until 1951, Schoellgen said.

Schaeffler's Internet site sets the start of its history in 1946, with the launch of a group to produce industrial parts such as needle rollers, a kind of specialised ball bearing, by Georg and Wilhelm Schaeffler.

Story continues below…

Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler is Georg's widow.

The report in Cicero appeared after Schaeffler asked for public aid to avoid bankruptcy while expanding rapidly in recent years.

The company has been hit by the global slowdown in auto markets, and by the purchase last year of its much bigger German rival Continental, which has turned into a heavy weight on Schaeffler's finances.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Teen girl stands trial for 'Isis' police stabbing in Hanover
Police guard the courthouse in Celle. Photo: DPA

A teenage girl stands trial from Thursday in Germany for stabbing a police officer, an assault allegedly "ordered" by Isis but which was not claimed by the jihadist group.

Merkel threatens Putin with more sanctions on Berlin visit
Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel created a united front with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Thursday to denounce Russia’s “war crimes” in Syria.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd