Netflix Documentary

VW: Don’t compare monkey tests to Hitler

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A lawyer’s decision to refer to VW’s past may yet come back to haunt him. Source: Imago

Many marketing departments would probably give their right arm to be featured free-of-charge in a Netflix series these days. But this probably wasn’t what Volkswagen had in mind. The first episode of a new documentary on the global streaming site, called “Dirty Money,” delved into the corporate greed behind VW’s long-running Dieselgate scandal. It also honed in on revelations that a lobby group, sponsored by VW and other German carmakers, had tested diesel emissions on monkeys.

The documentary released last week is pretty damning. Particularly some of the language: “One cannot help to think back throughout history to individuals being gassed by a person who was actually at the opening of the first Volkswagen factory,” Michael Melkerson, a lawyer who is leading a class-action lawsuit against VW, says in the documentary. The allusion to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis (who did in fact help found VW) is clear.

For VW, which has paid out more than $20 billion because of Dieselgate and watched its reputation be dragged through the mud for nearly three years now, this was a step to far. The German carmaker now says it can no longer get a fair trial in the United States – at least not right now. Mr. Melkerson disagrees.

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