May 16, 2019

Bahlsen is having its role played in forced labor during the era of National Socialism researched scientifically

Bahlsen and the owning family are having the role Bahlsen had during the era of National Socialism researched scientifically. This was triggered by the current discussions surrounding forced labor at Bahlsen.

Professor Dr. Manfred Grieger of the University of Göttingen has been contracted to put together an independent panel of experts to compose a scientifically founded company history. Bahlsen’s role in forced labor will be examined in detail in this composition, including the treatment of forced laborers at Bahlsen.

In the 90s, a research project conducted by the Institute of Political Science at the University of Hannover examined the history of the workforce at Bahlsen, including the time during the era of National Socialism. The company opened its archives for that purpose.

The panel of experts will research this chapter of the company history in even more detail and determine the past development of the family company in this regard. The constitution of the expert panel of historians and the further steps will be made known in a separate statement.



May 15, 2019

Verena Bahlsen deeply regrets statements she made concerning forced labor at Bahlsen and apologizes with a personal statement:

"I deeply regret that my speech on economic sustainability at the marketing congress in Hamburg has turned into a debate on German history and forced labor in the Third Reich and the role Bahlsen played. That was not my intention in any way. It was a mistake to amplify this debate with thoughtless responses. I apologize for that. Nothing could be further from my mind than to downplay national socialism or its consequences.

I have also recognized that I need to learn the more about the history of the company whose name I carry. As the next generation, we have responsibility for our history. I expressly apologize to all whose feelings I have hurt."

May 13, 2019

Forced labour at Bahlsen during the Second World War

At Bahlsen, forced laborers worked in production during the war period. Overall, from 1943 to 1945, an estimated 200 forced laborers, mainly women, worked in production at Bahlsen.

Compensation claims of former forced laborers were dismissed by the District Court of Hannover due to the expiration of the limitation period. In December 1999, the company decided to join the initiative of the Foundation of German Business for compensating former forced laborers in Germany during the time of the Second World War. In the year 2000, the company made a payment of 1,000,000 DM, and 500,000 DM in 2001, to this foundation initiative.  

The company is aware of the great grief and injustice suffered by forced laborers and so many other people then and herein recognizes its historical and moral responsibility. It will have the history of the forced laborers at Bahlsen researched even more fully by independent historians and published.

Update July 1st 2020: According to the latest research, the number of persons was about 700 forced labourers. Further information can be found here.