Why Did Volkswagen Fire Its Historian?

3 11 2016

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Manfrieg Grieger is in the centre.

Later this month, I will be attending a workshop in Sweden that is about corporate archives and their uses. I am, therefore, extremely interested in the rapidly evolving case of Manfred Grieger, who was recently fired as the official historian of Volkswagen. As did many other German firms, Volkswagen tried to come to terms with its Nazi past in the 1990s: it commissioned Grieger to wrote a warts-and-all expose of the firm’s use of slave labour during the Second World War. Under Grieger’s leadership, the corporate archive was opened up to the use of a wide range of academic researchers.

For reasons that are not yet clear, VW’s attitude towards its Nazi past appears to have reverted to its pre-1990s attitude to denial and secrecy. Grieger has been fired and the speculation is that his dismissal is in retaliation for research that alienated members of the family that still control a block of VW’s equity. 75 German academics have signed a letter of protest.

Interesting times.

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