DaimlerChrysler 'German' ad campaign attacked over Nazi links

NEW YORK - Jewish groups have attacked a new advertising campaign from DaimlerChrysler highlighting the company's German influence, which uses images closely associated with the Nazi era.

The ads, created by BBDO in Detroit, illustrate examples of German-American collaboration. One links Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. A second ad links German rocket scientists with NASA's space exploration.

Another ad says that the autobahns, built in the 1930s under the Nazi regime to allow its army to move swiftly across the country, were the inspiration for freeways in the US, saying: "Germany built the first superhighway. America put them everywhere".

The ads were launched in support of Chrysler's seven-year warranty, and include three television spots, radio and print ads.

Now Jewish groups have written to DaimlerChrysler to say that the ads "serve to whitewash the history and criminality of the Nazi regime".

A letter from Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, says that the scientists who helped develop the American space programme "developed and built 'German rocket science' in service of the Third Reich during World War II, using and mercilessly murdering slave labourers".

Another organisation, the American Jewish Centre, has questioned the description of Albert Einstein as simply German. Einstein was a German jew who was able to escape Germany and its concentration camps to reach America. Einstein eventually settled in the US and took up US citizenship.

George Murphy, senior vice-president of global marketing at Chrysler, said in an interview this week that the advertising had been tested with consumers and encountered no problems.

DaimlerChrysler has previously paid compensation to those who served in German labour camps during World War II.

Chrysler also makes the legendary Jeep vehicle, which was a workhorse of Allied troops during the war.

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