The Quandt family, whose members own large amounts of BMW stock, is seeking to clear the air around the family name. Upset by some of the accusations raised against the family, in part by a recent German TV documentary alleging wartime abuses of former prisoners at a Quandt-owned battery plant, the family announced it will launch an investigation into its own past.

Herbert Quandt is considered by many to be the saviour of BMW. In 1959, he quietly purchased nearly 50% of the then-troubled company's stock to prevent a take-over by Daimler-Benz. Shortly thereafter, under Herbert's guidance, BMW launched the 1500, the first modern BMW. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Quandt family is notoriously private, and has remained silent on the issue of Nazi ties for decades, BBC reports. However, the Quandts recently announced a research project to determine exactly what involvement the family's factories had with Nazi-sourced prison labor.

The factory that was the subject of the German TV documentary was owned by Guenther Quandt, Herbert's father. According to that documentary, the Afa batter factory was staffed in part by slave labor provided by a Nazi concentration camp. No other details of Quandt involvement with Nazi activities have yet surfaced.