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Anger as VW chief executive plays on Nazi slogan at company event

Herbert Diess, the chief executive of Volkswagen, is facing calls to step down 

Credit:
Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

The chief executive of Volkswagen is facing calls to resign after an astonishing gaffe in which he appeared to riff on a Nazi death camp slogan.

Herbert Diess apologised on Thursday for a speech at a company event in which he repeatedly told VW employees: “EBIT macht frei”.

The phrase appears to be a play on “Arbeit macht frei” — work makes you free — a notorious Nazi slogan that was inscribed over the entrance to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

EBIT is an acronym for Earnings Before Interest and Tax, a key indicator of a company’s profit.

No German audience would fail to spot the reference to Auschwitz, where more than a million people were murdered by the Nazis — the overwhelming majority…

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