Thursday, July 23, 2009

US Corporate Assistance to Nazi Germany (after Pearl Harbor): A Brief

US Corporate Assistance to Nazi Germany (after Pearl Harbor): A Brief
September 2007; Updated July 2009

"Standard Oil of New Jersey made payments towards the development of synthetic petrol in Germany, for war purposes, up to 1944."[1]

According to historian Edwin Black, "...IBM managers in New York maintained close contact with Nazi Germany throughout the war. ...IBM's chief New York lawyer, HarrisonChauncey...traveled to Berlin in 1942 to arrange for IBM's head office to receive money from its German operations via neutral Switzerland."[2]

"...IBM actively supplied the technology and expertise that aided Nazi Germany...IBM's punch-card tabulating machine, the precursor to the computer, was critical to the first racial censuses conducted by the Nazis in their efforts to purify the master race... ultimately the so-called Hollerith machine was also used to organize Nazi deportations and concentration camps. [Author Edwin Black states:] "When Germany wanted to identify Jews by name, IBM showed them how. When Germany wanted to use that information to launch programs of social expulsion and expropriation, IBM provided the technologic wherewithal. When the trains needed to run on time, from city to city or between concentration camps, IBM offered that solution as well...".[3] And such endeavors were reportedly undertaken by the Nazis until war's end.

"Two of the nation's leading banking companies, Chase Manhattan and J.P. Morgan, were accused in a lawsuit...of wrongfully seizing bank accounts and safe deposit assets of Jewish customers during the German occupation of France in World War II and then failing to return them after the war. ... The suit charges that "the Paris branch of Chase, with full knowledge of its New York home office, collaborated with the German authorities and displayed excessive zeal in its enforcement of anti-Jewish laws," including blocking and freezing the accounts of depositors. It said Morgan continued to operate during the German occupation of France through an affiliate."[4]

"When American GIs invaded Europe in June 1944, they did so in jeeps, trucks and tanks manufactured by the Big Three motor companies in one of the largest crash militarization programs ever undertaken. It came as an unpleasant surprise to discover that the enemy was also driving trucks manufactured by Ford and Opel -- a 100 percent GM-owned subsidiary -- and flying Opel-built warplanes. ... A U.S. Army report by investigator Henry Schneider dated Sept. 5, 1945, accused the German branch of Ford of serving as "an arsenal of Nazism, at least for military vehicles" with the "consent" of the parent company in Dearborn. ... German Ford was the second-largest producer of trucks for the German army after GM/Opel, according to U.S. Army reports. ...

"The importance of the American automakers went beyond making trucks for the German army. ... American Ford agreed to a complicated barter deal that gave the Reich increased access to large quantities of strategic raw materials, notably rubber. Author Snell says that Nazi armaments chief Albert Speer told him in 1977 that Hitler ‘would never have considered invading Poland' without synthetic fuel technology provided by General Motors. ...

"Documents show that the parent companies followed a conscious strategy of continuing to do business with the Nazi regime, rather than divest themselves of their German assets. Less than three weeks after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, GM Chairman Alfred P. Sloan defended this strategy as sound business practice, given the fact that the company's German operations were ‘highly profitable.' The internal politics of Nazi Germany ‘should not be considered the business of the management of General Motors,' Sloan explained in a letter to a concerned shareholder dated April 6, 1939. ...

"General Motors and Ford became crucial to the German military, according to contemporaneous German documents and postwar investigations by the U.S. Army. James Mooney, the GM director in charge of overseas operations, had discussions with Hitler in Berlin two weeks after the German invasion of Poland. ... Opel used French and Belgian prisoners at its Russelsheim plant in the summer of 1940, at a time when the American Hoglund was still looking after GM interests in Germany. ...

"...after the war, American Ford received dividends from its German subsidiary worth approximately $ 60,000 for the years 1940-43. ... In June 1943, the Nazi custodian of the Cologne plant, Robert Schmidt, traveled to Portugal for talks with Ford managers there. In addition, the Treasury Department investigated Ford after Pearl Harbor for possible illegal contacts with its subsidiary in occupied France, which produced Germany army trucks. ... Ford was eager to demand compensation from the U.S. government after the war for "losses" due to bomb damage to its German plants and therefore should also be responsible for any benefits derived from forced labor."[5]

"But while Britain and the US regard their titanic war efforts as proof of the power of patriotism and community spirit, it appears some of their most important citizens had a different view of their national duty. ... In some cases, Hitler apparently would have been unable to carry out major operations without the co-operation of quintessentially US corporations such as Ford and General Motors."[6]

"George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany. ... His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz... The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. ... even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty." [7]


[1] Paul Lloyd, "Nazi Business," Hobart Mercury (Australia), 28 April 2001.

[2] Dominic Rushe, "IBM Faces Fresh Revelations of Nazi 'Collaboration'," Sunday Times (UK), 31 March 2002, Business section.

[3] Michael Hirsh, "Dark Questions for IBM," Newsweek , U.S. Edition, 19 February 2001 , International Section, p. 38.

[4] JOSEPH P. FRIED, "Chase and Morgan Sued Over Jewish Assets," The New York Times, Thursday, Late Edition – Final, December 24, 1998, Business/Financial Desk, Section C; Page 16; Column 1.

[5] Michael Dobbs, "Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi Collaboration," The Washington Post, Monday Final Edition, 30 November 1998, p. A01.

[6] Matthew Pinkney, "Who Financed Hitler?" Sunday Mail (Australia), 13 Dec. 1998, Sunday Edition, p. 4.

[7] Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell, "How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power," The Guardian (UK), 25 September 2004, online at:,12271,1312540,00.html.

(Compiled by Matthew J Bell)

No comments: