Internet giant Amazon said Monday that it has fired a German security firm following reports that temporary staff at one of its logistics centers in Germany were unfairly treated by security staff with alleged neo-Nazi links.
Hensel European Security Services's (HESS) methods were the subject of a documentary last week by the German TV channel ARD, which used secret filming to establish how the firm harassed and intimidated foreign workers and also how some of its military-style employees appeared to have far-right allegiances.
The firm itself has strongly denied such links and said in a statement that it itself employs many immigrants. "We employ Christians, Muslims and Buddhists," the company said in a statement on Friday. "The allegations of far-right sympathies can't be reconciled with that."
However, the German TV documentary revealed that the company wore uniforms linked to the neo-Nazi scene with "HESS" written across the chest, which also spells out the name of Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess.
The documentary alleged that HESS regularly searched temporary staff members' accommodation and even frisked them after breakfast, to check that they did not steal rolls. On Friday, Amazon said it was looking into the allegations, but early on Monday the US company said it had parted ways with HESS.
A number of immigrant workers featured in the film testified about the treatment they were subjected to by security guards the company employed to "keep the order."
The film depicts guards in military-style uniforms patrolling the hostels and other budget accommodations housing the mostly foreign workforce. Employees described the atmosphere of fear and intimidation they said the guards incited.
"They tell us they are the police here," a Spanish woman stressed in the film. Another worker told ARD that she had been intimidated into leaving the chalet where she was living with five others for drying her clothes on a radiator.
Photographic evidence showed that the guards repeatedly conducted searches of workers' quarters without any prior warning.
Amazon’s spokeswoman in Germany, Ulrike Stoecker, told AP that Amazon has a "zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies it works with."