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Choco Leibniz biscuit heiress apologises about Nazi-era labor comments



 Verena Bahlsen

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AFP

Image caption

Verena Bahlsen is an estate to the Bahlsen biscuit empire
                

The heiress of a German biscuit company has apologized for saying the firm "did nothing wrong" in its use of forced labor during the Nazi rule.

Verena Bahlsen, 25, had been accused of being "oblivious to history" and the company had distanced itself from her comments.

But after the backlash she admitted her remarks were inappropriate.

"It was a mistake to amplify this debate with thoughtless responses," Ms Bahlsen said in a statement

Bahlsen, which makes Choco Leibniz biscuits, employed about 200 forced laborers between 1

943 and 1945 – most of whom were women from Nazi-occupied Ukraine

What did Verena Bahlsen say?

The controversy started last week when Ms Bahlsen told delegates at a marketing conference: "I'm a capitalist. I want to buy a sailing yacht and stuff like that. "

Although German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the audience clapped and laughed along with her, some social media users accused of being insensitive to the company's past exploitation of forced laborers at making light-hearted remarks about her wealth

Asked about the criticism in an interview with Bild newspaper, Ms Bahlsen replied: "That was before my time, and we paid the forced laborers exactly as much as German workers and we treated them well. "

These comments only deepened the controversy.

What has the response been?

The Nazi Forced Labor Documentation Center in Berlin tweeted that there was "a great knowledge gap for the family members of the Bahlsen family" .

Guy Stern, a 97-year-old Ms Bahlsen – "Reporters that she was talking about forced laborers" from the high viewpoint of an heiress.

The Social Democratic Party's general secretary Lars Klingbeil said: "Someone who inherits "So great wealth, also inherent in responsibility and should not be so arrogant." "

He also criticized here" obliviousness to history ".

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Getty Images

Image caption

Bahlsen produces some of Germany's most popular biscuits
                

Ms Bahlsen has now apologized, admitting her comments were thoughtless.

"Nothing could be further from my mind than to downplay national socialism or its consequences," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

She added that she recognized the need to learn more about the company's history.

"As the next generation, we have responsibility for our history. I expressly apologize to all whose feelings I have hurt," she said. 19659036]
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