Kühne+Nagel and the Third Reich

Crowdfunding so that the past not be forgotten

In order not to forget the inherited waste of history we want to raise money for a memorial. Come bid with us!

Bild: dpa

(German version) One million euros isn't much for Kühne+Nagel, the world's third largest logistics group. And it doesn't even need that much in order to purchase 1.000 square meters of land on the banks of the Weser river in Bremen: The Bremen government is offering the company land in this inner-city area for a mere 900 euros per square meter, so that the latter can build its new headquarters. Kühne+Nagel employs in Bremen about 1,200 people – and is therefore an investor that deserves special attention.

One million is a lot for the taz, however. Therefore, we'll settle for just four square meters of that riverside property, which we want to purchase with the help of our readers. Why? Because a memorial on this very spot is urgently needed as a visible reminder of the business dealings with the National Socialists by this Bremen forwarding company: Kühne+Nagel secured itselves the monopoly for the transport of property expropriated from Jews deported from Western Europe to the commercial exploitation.

You can help:

 

taz, die tageszeitung

Postbank Berlin

IBAN: DE 8510 0100 1002 8299 7104

keyword: Kühne+Nagel

 

If Bremen declines our offer, we will donate the money to the Jewish Community for the support of their elderly members and for those who are in need of money.

 

The taz has also launched an artistic open call for ideas and proposals for such a memorial. It would be the first memorial that explicitly addresses the economic dimensions of the Holocaust, the greatest mass-murder in history. Furher information: 4qmWahrheit@taz.de

The company, whose head – Klaus-Michael Kühne – is the son of the owner at that time, doesn't want to remember – and doesn't want to be reminded. Questions from historians are placated, while the company archive remains off-limits. The standard reponse is that all documents from the era were burnt, of that time are supposedly burnt, even though this has long been disproved.

In 2015 Kühne+Nagel celebrated it's 125th anniversary with elaborate history marketing, including  a large amount of nostalgic pictures. Mayors and State senators were present to fawningly give their congratulations;  the city of Hamburg, too, paid tribute to Klaus-Michael Kühne.

The taz accompanied the anniversary year critically from the very beginning: it consulted historians and archives, and found in the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Montreal the very contracts allowing Kühne+Nagel to sever its ties to its Jewish partner in 1933.

This report generated considerable media attention. Kühne+Nagel made a few concessions, but stood by its story-line that it was itself a victim „of the great economical difficulties in those dark times“. The salary of Alfred Kühne, however, had increased enormously during his very period.

The bargain price for which Bremen wants to offer the development site to Kühne+Nagel can also be seen in a positive light: we can bid as well. With 8.000 euro offering for four square meters we are easily above the price required of Kühne+Nagel. At the very least, should our bid not send a clear political signal? That civil society will not tolerate companies actively blocking knowledge about their past.

This is not a matter of one medium-sized company and how it muddled through the Third Reich. This is about how Kühne+Nagel helped to empty the home of Jews -  72,000 apartments and houses - sendind their belongings, amongst other destinies, to the so-called „Jewish-Auctions“.

Frank Bajohr, head of the Centre of Holocaust Studies at the Munich Institut for Contemporary History attests that Kühne+Nagel stood with „relative proximity to mass murder“ and that it "robbed the dead". During WWII Kühne+Nagel also developed into the leading logistics partner of the Nazi Wehrmacht – and it still is it for the Bundeswehr today.

The property deal with Kühne+Nagel is well underway. The public space along the Weser riverbank that is earmarked for the building site has already been tested against environmental contamination. In order not to forget historical contamination, we have to be quick. Help us raise money for a winning bid and a fitting memorial. 

TEXT: HENNING BLEYL

TRANSLATION: MAREIKE BARMEYER

(German version)