Siemens Urges Staff in Eastern Germany to Stand Up to Xenophobia

(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s largest engineering company is urging its employees in eastern Germany to take a stand against “xenophobia and public breach of law” after days of violent clashes in the state of Saxony that industry groups fear may scare off investors.

Siemens AG managers wrote to the firm’s 4,300 employees in Saxony asking them to speak out against right-wing extremism. The initiative follows clashes between far-right groups and opposing camps in the city of Chemnitz, which started after two people were arrested as suspects in the killing of a 35-year-old German man on Aug. 26. The protests turned violent after local media reported that the two suspects are of immigrant origin.

Siemens Urges Staff in Eastern Germany to Stand Up to Xenophobia

“It is time for civil society in the state to take a public stand promoting tolerance and humanity, and against xenophobia and discrimination,” the managers said in the letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

Siemens Chief Executive Officer Joe Kaeser already called for tolerance on Sunday. Kaeser has spoken extensively on the topic, saying in July he fears there will be “cars burning in the streets” if the issues that leave some Germans feeling marginalized are not tackled by policy makers.

“The events in Chemnitz are unacceptable to German industry,” Eric Schweitzer, head of the DIHK chambers of industry and commerce, told Handelsblatt newspaper last week. “Xenophobia, nationalism and vigilante justice damage the image of Germany as a location for doing business.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.