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German Biscuit Heiress Apologizes for Nazi Forced Labor Remarks

FILE - Werner Bahlsen, CEO of German cake-producer "Bahlsen" poses before the annual press conference in Hanover, Germany, Sept. 16, 2008. His daughter Verena apologized she made that seemed to downplay the use of forced labor in Nazi Germany.

The heiress of a German biscuit empire has apologized for comments that seemed to downplay the use of forced labor in Nazi Germany.

Verena Bahlsen, who is part owner of her father’s Bahlsen bakery, said she “deeply regrets” her remarks about the way the company treated those forced to work under Hitler’s regime.

“It was a mistake to amplify this debate with thoughtless responses. Nothing could be further from my mind than to downplay national socialism or its consequences,” Bahlsen said.

She said she recognizes the need to learn more about the company’s history.

Bahlsen told Germany’s Bild newspaper that the bakery treated forced laborers “well” during World War II and paid them as much as it paid German workers.

Many of the forced laborers were women from Nazi-occupied Ukraine.

Some in Germany have called for a boycott of Bahlsen products, including the famous Leibniz cookies.

German courts have thrown out compensation claims made by many former laborers because the statute of limitations had run out. But the company voluntarily paid more than $840,000 into a compensation fund in 2000.

Bahlsen was mocked earlier this month when she told a Hamburg business conference that she is happy to be part owner of a company because she wants to make money and buy yachts.