(Volokh) Mercedes-Benz’s latest marketing ploy is to associate itself with Che Guevera. Over at the Huffington Post, Michael Gonzalez (Heritage Foundation) supplies the details.
It’s not surprising that a corporation which is currently pro-Che was pro-Hitler, far more so than many other German businesses during the Third Reich. As recounted in Cecil Adams’ “The Straight Dope”:
Daimler-Benz . . . avidly supported Nazism and in return received arms contracts and tax breaks that enabled it to become one of the world’s leading industrial concerns. (Between 1932 and 1940 production grew by 830 percent.) During the war the company used thousands of slaves and forced laborers including Jews, foreigners, and POWs. According to historian Bernard Bellon (Mercedes in Peace and War, 1990), at least eight Jews were murdered by DB managers or SS men at a plant in occupied Poland.
UPDATE: Regarding Eugene’s post, immediately above. My own view would be that a corporation is a collection of individuals (and, I agree with him, therefore entitled to free speech and other constitutional rights); in the same sense, a human body is a collection of cells. Over time, all of the individuals in a corporation may change; likewise, the collection of cells that constitute “David Kopel” is today very different from the collection that constituted “David Kopel” 45 years ago. Yet the corporate body, like the human body, has a continuing existence as the same entity. (That’s one of the benefits of incorporation.) Corporations sometimes have cultures or other enduring traits that distinguish them even while their individual members may be replaced. It would be accurate to say that Yale Law School is a corporation that places far higher value of scholarly prestige than on teaching ability, and this was true not only today, but also 40 years ago, even though the Yale faculty is now entirely different. (Yes, to be precise, Yale Law School is just a unit within the larger corporation of Yale University.) None of the original personnel at National Review magazine are still there, but one can find many similarities between the corporate culture and mission of NR in 1955 and 2011. That the various corporations of the Ivy League schools discriminated against Jews in the 1920s is, in my view, of some relevance in understanding their current discrimination against Asians. That Mercedes-Benz was, compared to other German corporations, unusually supportive to Hitler then, and is similarly unusual (compared to other German corporations) in its attitude towards Che today, suggests that the corporation may lack an internal self-regulator which recognizes the wrongfulness of extolling totalitarian thugs.