The world’s leading transport and logistics company Kühne + Nagel is portrayed in a new study as the removal firm of choice for the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Under the code name “Furniture Action” or also “M-Action” (abbreviation for “Möbel-Aktion”), the “Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg” looted approximately 70,000 homes since early 1942 of French, Belgian, and Dutch Jews who had either fled or had been deported. The objects of art from these homes were inventoried separately,
photographed, and transported to Germany. Alfred Rosenberg, who also became “Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories” as of July 1941, wanted to furnish German administrative offices in the East with the confiscated furniture and other items. In fact, bombed-out families in Germany mainly profited from the looted furniture.In Paris alone, the “Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg” combed through 38,000 homes. A Parisian department store served as an interim storage space before the looted furniture was transported to Germany.
K+N played a key role in the so-called ‘M Action’ – plundering the homes of western Jews who had been deported.
Furniture, clothing and possessions were stored in vast warehouses and either sold at knock-down prices or distributed to Germans who lost everything in Allied bombing raids.
The first cargo ship from Amsterdam arrived in December 1942 in Bremen. On board were 220 armchairs, 105 beds, 363 tables, 598 chairs, 126 wall units, 35 sofas, 307 boxes containing glassware, 110 mirrors, 158 lamps, 32 watches, a gramophone and two baby strollers.
That cargo ship full of goods stolen from Jews who were sent off to concentration camps was chartered by K+N.
“This is a form of corpse robbing,” said Frank Bajohr of the Munich Centre for Holocaust studies.
“The genocide of the Nazis was a bureaucratically organized process of individuals, institutions and companies. And Kühne + Nagel was involved in this process. I see the company in the relative proximity to mass murder.” he added
He also added that although no company representative stood at the edge of death pits or in extermination camps, the company bears corporate responsibility for its role in the Holocaust.
For its part, the company said: ‘Kühne + Nagel is aware of the shameful incidents during the period of the Third Reich and regrets very much the fact that it has exercised its activities in part on behalf of the Nazi regime.’
Historian Jaromír Balcar, who carried out the research with Beerman, said many other companies in Nazi German acted as accomplices in the robbery of the doomed Jews.
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