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Volkswagen Drops Mexican Distributor That Used Nazi-Era Poster

2019 Volkswagen Beetle
Photo: D.Boshouwers
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Daniel Rufiange
The automaker was quick to condemn the gesture and cut ties with the dealer

Volkswagen will always have to answer for its past, the company being a product of the Nazi Germany era of the late 1930s. Though the company today is totally different from the one that sprang up at that time, its past simply cannot be forgotten.

The company was faced with another reminder of that this week, when a photo appeared on Twitter showing that a wall inside a Mexican dealership was displaying a poster celebrating the legendary Beetle, taken during the Nazi era. On the poster, the swastika was clearly visible.

Without delay and without hesitation, the German firm broke its ties with the distributor, which is located in Mexico City.

In a statement, the Mexican division of Volkswagen condemned the images in question and underlined its commitment to defending human dignity.

"We strongly disapprove of (the distributor) showing those images at its facilities, which showed a regime that emphasized hatred and discrimination at a point in history that has fortunately been left behind."

- Volkswagen Mexico

The dealer has not at this time responded to requests for comment.

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Originally founded in the 1930s by order of the Nazi regime to build the "people's car", Volkswagen used forced labor for the German military effort during World War II.

Shortly after the image of the poster came to light, a leading Jewish human rights organization asked Volkswagen to end its relationship with the company.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote in a letter to Volkswagen Mexico that “The most appropriate (thing) would be to drop the concession completely, in order to pass a clear message to your customers that you have learned from your history."

"German cars in Mexico are unacceptable if they come with the swastika," the group added.

Recall that back in May, Volkswagen withdrew an advertisement after many decried that it contained a gesture associated with white supremacy. The company was compelled to apologize after that fiasco.

It should be pointed out that in the present case, Volkswagen the parent company was not involved in any way; rather, it reacted promptly to a reprehensible gesture.

And let's be clear. The idea here is not to forget the history of Volkswagen. A poster advertising the Beetle during the Nazi era has its place in a museum interpreting history. Where it doesn’t have its place, however, is on the wall of a Volkswagen dealership.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists