Verena Bahlsen (26), heiress of the eponymous biscuit empire, caused a scandal with statements about Nazi forced laborers at Bahlsen last week. In the “Bild” newspaper Bahlsen said about forced labor: “It was before my time and we paid the forced laborers as well as the Germans and treated them well.” The Bahlsen Group had “come to nothing wrong”.
Forced laborers? Handled well? The reactions to Bahlsen's statement did not take long to come. The biscuit heiress was sharply criticized, including her history oblivion was accused. Media reported worldwide. Bahlsen has since apologized for her statement. There is nothing further to it than “belittling National Socialism and its consequences,” she said in a statement.
In an interview with the “Bild am Sonntag” (BamS) speaks now for the first time the head of the biscuit maker, Werner M. Bahlsen, about the controversial Nazi statement and announces a relentless processing of the company's history.
Bahlsen boss shows self-critical
“My daughter said something that was wrong, she saw that and publicly apologized for it, and we talked about it with each other,” the head of the Bahlsen board told the BamS. He sees the discussion about the treatment of forced laborers as an occasion for a ruthless work-up of the Nazi history of the family business. “The stone has started to roll and we have to face each other, I even see it this way: It's good that everything is now on the table,” said Bahlsen. “Nothing should be transfigured, nothing whitewashed.”
As the company announced on Thursday, the Göttingen historian Manfred Grieger was commissioned to set up an independent panel of experts. Grieger should “reveal everything, even the dark sides”.
The Bahlsen boss also reveals himself in a self-critical interview: “I feel like we did not have our history worked up earlier to take the burden on the next generation at this point.” At the age of 26, his daughter “certainly did not see the entire dimension”.