- Tesla is building a $6.9 billion battery and electric vehicle plant outside of Berlin, Germany.
- The factory will receive $9.5 million seized from East Germany’s former communist regime, AP News reported.
- Victims asked why Tesla is receiving the funds when they could go toward new schools or memorials.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Victims of East Germany’s former Communist dictatorship asked why Elon Musk is receiving a $9.5 million subsidy from the regime’s trust fund to help build a Tesla gigafactory in Berlin, AP News reported.
UOKG, the association representing the victims, said it supports the factory’s construction but not Tesla’s use of public funds seized from the former dictatorship.
The victims asked, “why the state government of Brandenburg is helping the third-richest man in the world,” adding that the money could instead fund the construction of schools, elderly care homes, daycare centers, or victim memorials.
“It’s not right that multi-billionaire Musk should put the risks and side effects of his project onto the public’s shoulders, but keep all the profits for himself,” local politician Katharina Slanina said.
-Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 11, 2021
This isn’t the first time Tesla’s Berlin gigafactory has faced local opposition. Environmental activists protested the factory’s deforestation efforts and their impact on hibernating snakes and lizards as well as the local water supply.
The company also sparred with Germany’s biggest labor union – IG Metall – which represents metalworkers in the auto industry and other sectors.
“I think there could be less bureaucracy, that would be better,” the CEO told reporters at the Grünheide site in May.
Musk pushed back the factory’s official opening to late 2021 as Tesla awaits full approval from Brandenburg’s environmental authorities. The CEO said on Friday that he hopes to produce the first cars in the German gigafactory by October.
On Wednesday, Musk flew to Brandenburg to meet with German leaders to discuss the gigafactory. The state’s Economy Minister Joerg Steinbach tweeted a picture with Musk and wrote, “In an atmosphere of mutual trust we discussed the remaining tasks. Thanks to you and your great family for this visit, Elon!”
-Jörg Steinbach (@joergstb) August 11, 2021
Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.