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Facilitating the Nazis: The Relationship Between American Business and The Third Reich.

September 7, 2008




World War II continues be to the most romanticized and analyzed period in American history outside of the Revolutionary War and Civil War. This era offers us a rich tapestry of anecdotes framing the violent struggle between great powers. Ironically, these stories often expose something quite different from the current popular view. People are constantly immersed in the imagery and symbols of the dominant interpretation of the past, which may omit or ignore any facts that invalidate it. This can create a gulf of understanding between what is believed and what has actually transpired. The World War II era is one of those instances where this disparity presents itself. Americans are unceasingly reminded of the shared memories of the self-titled “Greatest Generation,” that beat back the Nazis and saved the world from fascism. Are their stories worthy of a unifying view of the past? Although historians generally commend the United States as an instrumental force behind the undoing of Hitler’s Nazi regime, many prominent American companies and citizens knowingly aided the inception and military efforts of Nazi Germany.

There are several problems inherent in this line of research. Both Nazism and America’s involvement in WW II are contentious issues. The strong emotional resonance of the topic has created both intense interest and bitter debate. Recently, due to increasing criticism of American foreign policy and access to more primary source material, the story of this relationship has taken on new dimensions. Nonetheless, the binary view of America vs. Nazis as Good vs. Evil is still frequently espoused by US politicians and in popular culture. The question then remains: When has enough evidence been supplied to change this form of thinking? A holistic view of the various studies on this subject is important to providing a complete picture. This paper will attempt to survey and analyze support for the Nazis originating in the U.S. in terms of Military, Financial, Political and Cultural.

Military aid is perhaps the least esoteric place to begin this discussion. This type came in the form of building tanks, warplanes, munitions, poison gas, and most importantly, research and development of new military technology. Not only were US companies involved in all of these aspects, each took steps to maintain control of management and assets.

Ford Motor Company and General Motors played an instrumental role in the Nazi military industry.[1] Awareness of this fact comes from government investigation, historical research, and more recently, from lawsuits brought by former forced laborers. Although many individual executives from both of these companies, such as Henry Ford and James Mooney, sympathized with Nazis ideologically, it is worth looking at the actions of these companies as a whole first.

Ford Motor Company first established its German subsidiary, Ford-Werke, in Berlin in January of 1925. By the following year, Ford trucks and Model-Ts were being rolled out for commercial and private consumption in Germany. In 1929, Henry Ford himself laid the cornerstone of a new manufacturing plant on a fresh 52-acre tract of land on the Rhine River in Cologne. Even though depression-related financial problems ravaged Germany and much of the rest of Europe, the Ford-Werke plant was completed and opened for business three years later in 1931. Ford-Werke was an Aktiengesellschaft corporation, meaning it was a publicly traded company. Despite this fact, except for a brief period in 1928, Ford’s main headquarters in Dearborn has retained majority ownership to the present.[2]

Ford-Werke increased production greatly the year that Hitler took power. Many initiatives were introduced to use native German resources and to increase cooperation with the new Nazi authorities. Additionally, sales increased briskly due to a tax exemption granted to passenger vehicles as part of Hitler’s plan to bring Germany out of the Depression by stimulating consumer spending on automobiles. Problems with the shortage of raw materials, such as oil and iron, were solved as Dearborn pledged to offer any materials necessary.[3] This was partly accomplished through partnership with IG Farben, the chemical combine that built Auschwitz, which will be detailed later. This increased support led to new expansive state orders and ultimately won Ford-Werke a major contract to supply the Wehrmacht, or German military, in 1938. By this time profits had already increased 400 percent.[4] There is little doubt these profits are due to the enormous production of military trucks, which were later vital to the Blitzkrieg.[5] Ford produced 48% of all the 2-3 ton trucks in Nazi Germany, and an additional 90,000 civilian trucks were used by Nazi troops in occupied Europe.[6] Ultimately, Ford motors powered vehicles on land, sea and air as World War II broke out.

Ford did not just produce trucks and engines for the Nazis, which on its own could seem innocuous and plausible enough to deflect its critics. The company was also involved in building advanced munitions. To hide its involvement, Ford’s German director, Heinrich Albert, created Arendt GmbH, a front company to handle this production.[7]

As Germany made war on its neighbors in 1939-40, Edsel Ford, who was now running his father’s business, had full knowledge of the activities of its German subsidiary. He made efforts to ensure other Ford plants, now in occupied countries such as Belgium, France and the Netherlands would follow a seamless transition to Nazi stewardship.[8] Edsel responded to Albert’s efforts to oversee this in 1940:

We have a fairly complete impression of the present status of the Ford Companies in Germany as well as the other occupied territories. It is quite evident and very gratifying that you and your organization are looking after our interests successfully and we appreciate your efforts on our behalf. I am glad to hear that outside plants are beginning to operate…Anything that can be done constructively to keep these plants in operation will be a great help for the future.[9]

Ford Motor Company maintained communication with its director throughout the war through a French banker named Maurice Dollfus. Working with the Bank of International Settlements in Switzerland, Dollfus was empowered to help manage many American interests.[10] What makes Dollfus interesting is that he is representative of a pattern of appointments utilized after the U.S. and Germany were at war to manage American owned businesses.

No discussion of business within Nazi Germany is complete without explaining its use of slave labor. Due to massive conscription, work shortages were widespread. In order to counteract this, Nazis allocated POW’s and concentration camp inmates, or KZ (Konzentrationslager) to all available industries. Ford-Werke began using “foreign workers,” as the Nazis called them, in the winter of 1940. These workers were subject to brutal treatment via the racist Nazi hierarchy, especially pregnant females. By the end of 1943, half of its workers were forced laborers. Ford had essentially sponsored one of the largest labor camps in Cologne.[11]

In comparison, General Motors’ Adam Opel AG dwarfed the efforts of Ford-Werke. By the late 1920’s this company was the largest car manufacturer in Europe. Opel was also an Aktiengesellschaft corporation, which allowed all of its stock to be purchased between 1929-31 by General Motors (GM). American managers were then sent to Germany and remained there until the war began in 1939. Also the beneficiary of the Nazi tax exemption on automobiles, Opel’s production soared at its plant in Russelsheim. Although this economic stimulation led to the consumption of more passenger vehicles, Opel’s direction was increasingly geared toward military construction. Just like Ford, GM built boats, tanks, and warplanes.[12] One of the most useful vehicles to Nazi war aims, the Opel Blitz truck, was developed by GM in 1936.

It is important to note that many within Hitler’s government disliked American companies, labeling them a “foreign” influence. Ultimately more pragmatic voices won out, arguing that Hitler’s vehicle consumption program and military buildup would not be possible with out U.S. money and know-how.[13]

In 1938 Opel was granted a major military contract to increase the fleet of the Luftwaffe to five times its original size. This was incorporated through a partnership with Volkswagen and IG Farben.[14] GM had supposedly dispensed with the Opel plant as a tax write-off, claiming Reich authorities had confiscated the plant. Nazi opponents took notice, calling for an immediate seizure of the “foreign enemy property.” GM Overseas Director James Mooney personally intervened and installed Heinrich Richter, who would remain loyal to the company. Richter worked directly with Hitler to insure that his company remained independent. When he met Richter in Russelsheim, Hitler was so impressed with the speed and efficiency that the operation was able to produce, that he officially ended debates on expropriating the company in 1943 by an official certification of Opel’s “Germanic” origins.[15]

GM’s Opel also utilized slave labor during the war. By 1942, over 4,000 “foreign laborers” were working in Russelsheim and its sister plant in Brandenburg. After this time records are sparse, but available information regarding the brutal treatment of laborers, especially Russian POW’s is explicit.[16]

Just as in the case of Ford, GM resumed direct control of its subsidiary after the war’s end with little resistance and brought many of its own authoritarian management personalities back into the fold.[17] There are no records of profits recovered by GM, but Mooney’s own estimate appears to be exceeding 100 million dollars in 1940 alone.[18] According to Anita Kugler’s research, GM recovered “…a tax value of $4.8 million requiring a U.S. tax payment of 1.8 million…about $21 million less than the company saved on its 1941 tax bill.”[19] According to an accounting of GM’s tax breaks relative to the war in 1967 by writer Charles Levinson, the corporation was awarded $33 million in tax exemptions for “troubles and destruction occasioned to its airplane and motorized vehicle factories in Germany and Austria in World War II.”[20] An appropriate conclusion to this section on GM and Ford comes from Bradford Snell, a U.S. Senate staff attorney who reported on the dealings of these businesses during the war in 1974:

Due to their multinational dominance of motor vehicle production, GM and Ford became principal suppliers for the forces of fascism as well as well as for the forces of democracy. It may, of course be argued that participating in both sides of an international conflict, like the common corporate practice of investing in both political parties before an election, is an appropriate corporate activity. Had the Nazis won, General Motors and Ford would have appeared impeccably Nazi; as Hitler lost, these companies were able to emerge impeccably American.[21]

Rubber and Oil were also crucial to making the Nazi domination of Europe possible. Facilitating this task was the chemical company IG Farben. Like many other major corporations deeply involved in the Nazi war effort, IG Farben was as brutally efficient and expansive as the Nazis themselves. According to historian Richard Sasuly:

IG Farben factories were dotted all over the map of Germany…As fast as the Wehrmacht moved forward in the years from 1939 to 1943, IG Farben followed close after picking up control of plants in the conquered countries.[22]

IG Farben was principally an international chemical cartel with links to many American businesses, including Standard Oil, Dupont, GM and Ford. Top personalities from all of these companies would sit on the board of IG Farben. To administer the sprawling and sometimes contentious arrangement of these huge companies, they formed a group called the Joint American Study Company collectively in 1930.[23] Essentially, this was a deal to consolidate major areas of chemical and petroleum production. At this time IG Farben was able to gain more effective control over certain corporations, like Bayer in America, to produce chemicals for Nazi war aims.[24]

The most egregious example of this collusion occurred with increased manufacture of Zyklon B.[25] This cyanide-based chemical was originally used as an insecticide to fight the spread of typhus. The Nazis used Zyklon B in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other concentration camps to implement the so-called “Final Solution”. Essentially this plan was utilized, not only to murder millions of Jews, but also untold numbers of Poles, Russians, Gypsies and anyone else deemed undesirable in the Nazi worldview. Although it has never been made clear exactly what components were sent to factories in Germany to produce this infamous gas, most historians on the subject contend that American subsidiaries were indispensable to IG Farben’s chemical production.[26] To complete the section on IG Farben, it also important to note that it utilized the largest amount of slave labor of any corporation in Nazi Germany. At its height in 1941, IG Farben employed 83,000 forced laborers.[27]

It is important to state that before America’s entry into the war, none of these activities were illegal. Despite growing worldwide concern about Germany’s rearmament, American firms were engaged in explicitly military enterprises. By 1938 International Telephone & Telegraph of New York (ITT) had included Germany in its growing system of worldwide communications via its subsidiaries, Telefunken and Siemens, two of the largest communications technology companies in Germany.[28] ITT supplied telephones, aircraft intercoms, submarine and ship phones, electric buoys, alarm systems, radio and radar parts, and fuses for artillery shells to the Nazis. In 1942, ITT CEO Sosthenes Behn met personally with top Nazis Walter Schellenberg and Baron Kurt von Schroder to renegotiate this deal.[29] By 1944 not only had ITT continued and increased its supply of fuses, crucial to the war effort, it also was in the process of developing new technologies used in rocket systems and high frequency radio equipment for the Nazis.[30] ITT also worked directly with the State Department to ensure uninterrupted trade after the implementation of the Trading with the Enemy Act, instated when the U.S. declared war on Germany.[31]

International Business Machines (IBM) also sought special license for its subsidiary, Dehomag. According to historian Edwin Black, Hitler was very interested in being a partner with this corporation because of the early version of its revolutionary new tool, the computer. With this, the Nazis could achieve its two main goals: organizing Germany’s rearmament and committing genocide. Black puts this period in stark terms:

IBM had almost single-handedly brought modern warfare into the information age. Through its persistent, aggressive, unfaltering efforts, IBM virtually put the “blitz” in the krieg for Nazi Germany. Simply put, IBM organized the organizers of Hitler’s war.[32]

With IBM’s help, Hitler would gain the ability to use census data to locate and kill all the people he felt were racially inferior, or turn them into slaves for other corporations.[33] Thomas J. Watson personally supervised this process from his offices in New York.[34]

Throughout World War II, IBM remained in control of Dehomag.[35] With a very similar methodology to the other businesses we have already looked at, IBM ensured adherence to the Nazi program in all branches it owned in occupied countries.[36] Edwin Black offers us a brief synopsis:

Even after the U.S. entered the war in December 1941, IBM never lost control of its companies in Nazi-controlled lands. When German custodians, or receivers, took over, virtually all IBM staff and management remained in place. Only the profits were temporarily blocked as in any receivership. After the war, IBM fought to recover all those Nazi-blocked bank accounts, claiming they were legitimate company profits.[37]

In order to maintain the fidelity of its German assets, IBM employees drafted into the US Army worked directly with some of the Nazi managers to ensure production with little interruption after the war ended.[38]

This brief treatment of some of the military aid for the Nazis originating in America is by no means comprehensive. In fact, the picture is incomplete without touching upon the enormous financial aid Germany received from American sources throughout the early Hitler years. It is also essential to note that some of the aid that took place, as is in the case of the Union Banking Corporation, still went on after hostilities commenced between the U.S. and Germany.

Investment in Germany was increased during the interwar years via the Dawes and later, the Young plan. Basically, these were agreements among Allied central bankers to reorganize the banking system of Germany to facilitate reparations payments and increase foreign investment. A great deal of this investment originated in Britain and America.[39] The retooling of the German economy, with essentially the whole European financial network involved, also led to a means of getting money into Nazi hands.

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) of Basel, Switzerland was founded in 1930 as part of the Young Plan. Protected from outside intervention via its charter, it became an ideal environment to be dominated by the Nazis with the help of profit- minded foreign bankers. Montague Norman, governor of the Bank of England, was made chairman of the BIS in 1939.[40] Working with his friend and associate, Hjalmar Schacht, the Nazi minister of economics who helped conceive the Young plan, the board of directors of the BIS was populated by Hitler’s financial associates by the time Norman assumed office. Although Schact had fallen out of favor at this point, other Nazi financial leaders occupied crucial board positions. At this time the BIS implemented the first of several major transfers of gold out of Nazi occupied territories, starting with Czechoslovakia.[41] As the crisis unfolded, U.S. banker Thomas McKittrick, chairman of the British-American chamber of commerce, became president of the BIS. Historian Charles Higham advises that by this time the BIS was completely controlled by confidants of Hitler:

Among the directors under Thomas H. McKittrick were Hermann Schmitz, head of the colossal Nazi industrial trust IG Farben, Baron Kurt von Schroder, head of the J.H. Stein Bank of Cologne and a leading financier of the Gestapo; Dr. Walther Funk of the Reichsbank, and, of course, Emil Puhl [director of the Reichsbank]. These last two figures were Hitler’s personal appointees to the board.[42]

It is also important to note that at this time McKittrick also worked directly with Allen and John Foster Dulles, who were also members of the international banking and U.S. intelligence community.[43] Allen Dulles was, in fact, the first civilian and longest running director of the CIA. The involvement of these personalities increases the likelihood that the U.S. government was aware of the link between corporate profit taking and Nazi seizure of sovereign treasuries.

John Foster Dulles also worked with the international bank Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), which is often written about in the context of World War II for two reasons: First, because their subsidiary, the Union Banking Corporation (UBC), was a prominent institution to be seized with the Trading with the Enemy Act; second, because the chairman of this bank is the grandfather of the current U.S. President, Prescott Bush.[44] Much of what has been written has not been well sourced, making research into this facet of financial collaboration with the Nazis difficult. However, just as in the case with Ford, new lawsuits have spurred declassification of information related to this topic more readily available.[45] Essentially, the UBC worked solely for the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart in the Netherlands. The Thyssen family, prominent German industrialists and early supporters of Hitler, owned this bank. Fritz Thyssen used his directorship in IG Farben to leverage political power and helped Hitler become chancellor in 1933.[46]

During the period of German rearmament, the UBC under the auspices of Brown Brothers Harriman transferred enormous amounts of gold, fuel, steel, coal, and US treasury bonds to Germany.[47] According to the investigation done by The Guardian in 2004:

Between 1931 and 1933 UBC bought more than $8m worth of gold, of which $3m was shipped abroad. According to documents seen by the Guardian [Recently declassified Harriman papers], after UBC set up it transferred $2m to BBH accounts and between 1924 and 1940 the assets of UBC hovered around $3m, dropping to $1m only on a few occasions.[48]

The activities of the UBC in the 1930’s before the Trading with the Enemy Act were also not illegal. However, scandal erupted when the New York Herald-Tribune investigated the matter, precipitating the article “Hitler’s Angel Has $3m in US Bank” on July 30 1942 about the Thyssen and the UBC. This prompted the U.S. Alien Property Commission (APC) to look into the activities of the UBC. The APC determined that the Union Banking Corporation was directly connected to Thyssen, IG Farben, and Auschwitz. Prescott Bush and other directors were forced to divest their shares in the company and the UBC was shut down.[49] No further criminal action was taken against Prescott Bush or Brown Brothers Harriman.

Financial support unrelated to military spending should also be noted. Coca-Cola also continued to do business with the Nazis after war was declared adding needed economic stimulation to their consumer market. To increase its market share in Europe, Coca-Cola invented the company Fanta.[50] Fanta immediately began doing business in Germany under the auspices of being a separate company; all the while sending profits back to Coca-Cola’s U.S. headquarters. These profits increased greatly when Fanta began using prisoners of war as their primary workforce later in the war.[51]

Across the Atlantic, fundraising for the Nazis began even before Hitler became chancellor of Germany. The German-American Bund, or the Friends of the New Germany, organized themselves in Chicago in 1932. Many of the leaders of this group were members of an earlier organization called Teutonia, which had existed in Chicago since 1924.[52] Spreading rapidly, they openly created Nazi affiliated groups in New York City, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and elsewhere. In 1933, they were specifically ordered by Nazi Party leader, Rudolf Hess, to change their name to “The Friends of the New Germany” to avoid suspicion.[53] Considerable growth led the group to change its name again to The German-American Bund at a convention in Buffalo in March of 1936.

Presiding over this growth of this group was Fritz Kuhn. Kuhn was a German immigrant and ex Freikorps member, a right-wing German veteran’s group involved with the power struggles that ensued after World War I. He was also an industrial chemist who emigrated to Mexico for work. Ultimately, he got a job with Ford Motor Company and became an American citizen in 1933. He became president the same year after assuming leadership of the Gau-Mittelwest, the American Midwest branch of the organization.[54]

The Bund’s organizing work appeared to pay off. Claiming to receive their orders directly from the Nazi High Command, they initiated massive propaganda campaigns, and registered members of the group swelled to 20,000 by 1939. Fundraising was a prominent part of their activities, although they denied receiving any significant amount of money from non-Germans.[55]

Another organization sympathetic to the Nazis was the American Liberty League, which was funded by Lamont and Irenee Dupont. Also engaged in aggressive organizing, the group set up branches at twenty-six colleges and was financed by a half-million dollar budget in its first year alone.[56]

The line between financial and political support blurs as we turn the conversation to the prominent individuals sympathetic to Nazi aims. Many leaders of corporations discussed earlier, such as Henry & Edsel Ford, James Mooney, W. Averell Harriman, and Thomas J. Watson held U.S. government positions or at least had strong influence on domestic and international policy. Other figures, such as Ernst Hanfstaengl are less well known, but equally crucial.

Thomas J. Watson is an appropriate person to begin this section as one of the most influential CEO’s of his generation. By 1934, Watson was the highest paid executive in America, eclipsing the combined incomes of Chrysler and General Motors.[57] Both Watson and his company wielded tremendous political power. According to Edwin Black:

Thomas J. Watson had cultivated a loyal following of employees throughout the IBM empire, as well as a nation of admiring executives, a fascinated American public, and enamored officials throughout the U.S. government. He enjoyed close relations with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the First Lady, and Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Chiefs of state and royal families on several continents welcomed his company. His veneration internationally, and his esteem in America, overcame any incongruities and embarrassing curiosities of his little-understood multinational technocracy. Even when some American diplomats and Washington financial bureaucrats balked at sanctioning what clearly seemed like IBM’s marginal or improper actions against American interests, the reluctance was quiet and cautions.[58]

Watson was elected chairman of the American Section of the International Chamber of Commerce in 1935. In many capacities, this role made him the official representative of all U.S. business abroad. Two years later, Watson personally traveled to Germany to receive a medal from Hitler himself for his efforts in organizing Nazi aims. After the meeting, Watson wrote to Hitler:

Before leaving Berlin, I wish to express my pride in and deep gratitude for the high honor I received through the order with which you honored me. Valuing fully the spirit of friendship which underlay this honor, I assure you that in the future as in the past, I will endeavor to do all on my power to create more intimate bonds between our two great nations. My wife and family join in best wishes for you.[59]

Although Watson was pressured to return the medal in 1940, which angered many in the Nazi High Command, he simultaneously made discrete efforts to reassure them while forcefully taking steps to maintain control of his subsidiary with the help of the U.S State Department.[60]

As with IBM, the impact of the Ford Motor Company has been expressed by numerous writers. Undoubtedly, Henry Ford occupied a privileged place in the circles of the industrial elite and wielded influence over public policy.[61] In comparison to Watson, Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, were far more outspoken in their support of Hitler’s regime. Henry Ford was virulently anti-Semitic. According to historian Victoria Woeste, “[Henry] Ford gained as much fame for his anti-Semitic views as his cars. His Dearborn Independent, published dozens of articles between 1920 and 1925…the accusations in the Dearborn Independent, represented the broadest, most sustained published attack on individual Jews and Jews as a group in the nation’s history.”[62] Many of these articles were combined in a book called The International Jew published in 1922. This text would become very influential to Hitler and the Nazis, who reprinted thirty-seven different editions by 1942. According to historian Reinhold Billstein, “A reading of the International Jew alongside the sections about Jews in Mein Kampf (1924) reveals a largely identical content…”[63] In 1927 only one of the many lawsuits related to his racist publications made it into court against Henry Ford, but he was able to circumvent legal action by commissioning a Jewish constitutional lawyer who wrote an apology for him. Again we gain insight from Woeste, who states, “Ford then disposed of the distasteful affair by signing a statement in which he apologized for the wrongs he had ‘unintentionally’ done to the Jews.”[64] All charges were dropped. This example of the latitude U.S policy makers allowed Henry Ford would carry over to his son as he took over as leadership of their industrial empire in the 1930’s.

Edsel Ford continued his father’s expansion into Europe and was instrumental in maintaining political contacts to implement this policy.[65] It is also important to note that Edsel worked closely with many business leaders sympathetic to the Nazis. On June 26 1940 Edsel Ford, James Mooney of GM, and other corporate leaders held a celebration at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City commemorating Nazi victories in France and pledged to use their political influence toward more free trade and peaceful relations with Germany.[66]

James Mooney would become very popular with Hitler for bending the will of his company to Nazi aims. On December 22, 1936 he informed U.S. diplomat George Messersmith, “We ought to make some arrangement with Germany for the future. There is no reason why we should let our moral indignation over what happens in that country stand in our way”.[67] It was clear that business at GM/Opel would go on as usual with the Nazi regime. Two years later in 1938 he would be awarded, like Henry Ford and Thomas J. Watson, the Order of the Golden Eagle Medal directly from Hitler.

Another figure that played an equally important role was W. Averell Harriman, head of the powerful Harriman & Brown banking corporation, and owner of the UBC, as we have explored earlier. Highly politically connected as the governor of New York and a friend to FDR, he was well aware when prosecutors of the Trading with the Enemy Act were preparing to move on the UBC.[68] Conflict of interest appeared to be maintained at the highest levels by Harriman & Brown. According to investigator John Buchanan:

At the same time Bush and the Harrimans were profiting from their Nazi partnerships, W. Averell Harriman was serving as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s personal emissary to the United Kingdom during the toughest years of the war. On October 28, 1942, the same day two key Bush-Harriman-run businesses were being seized by the US government, Harriman was meeting in London with Field Marshall Smuts to discuss the war effort.[69]

Unfortunately, John Buchanan has lost a good deal of his credibility for stalking the personnel of media outlets trying to get a broader reach for his work on Prescott Bush and W. Averell Harriman.[70] Admittedly, however, he has come up with previously undisclosed information that is worth further research.

Another extraordinary character is Ernst Sedgwick Hanfstaengl. After graduating from Harvard, he took over management of one of his families businesses, the Franz Hanfstaengl Fine Arts Publishing House in New York City. There, he played piano at the Harvard Club where he became acquainted with Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and other members of high society. Hanfstaengl traveled to Germany in 1922 to manage his family’s German business interests. It is here that researcher Stephen Norwood best explains how he became involved with Nazism:

Scion of a wealthy Munich family, Hanfstaengl had been one of Hitler’s earliest backers, joining his Nazi movement in 1922 largely because he shared Hitler’s virulent antisemitism. After the abortive beer hall putsch in 1923, Hitler had taken refuge at Hanfstaengl’s country villa outside Munich, where he was arrested. Hanfstaengl provided important financial assistance to the Nazi party when it was first establishing itself in the early 1920s. He also later claimed to have introduced the stiff-armed Nazi salute and Sieg Heil chant, modeled on a gesture and a shout he had used as a Harvard football cheerleader…Hitler considered Hanfstaengl valuable because his wealth, air of sophistication, and fluency in English helped legitimate the Nazi party in conservative, upper-class circles, both in Germany and abroad. Hanfstaengl was descended on his mother’s side from a prominent Back Bay family, the Sedgwicks, which facilitated his entry into influential Boston Brahmin circles.[71]

Hanfstaengl would eventually fall out of favor with Nazis and fled to Switzerland and then England. Interestingly, he was taken back to the U.S. after being declared a prisoner of war and put to work under his old friend FDR with the Office of Strategic Services. There he helped put together the “Analysis of the Personality of Adolf Hitler” for top military intelligence. Ultimately, Hanfstaengl is a prime example of a prominent person worth deeper consideration for his role on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is important to place these figures in an American cultural context in order to understand the ideological reasons behind why they collaborated so willingly with the Nazis. The currents of racist ideology were present in many circles of American life. Eugenicists promoting racial purity had several offices around the country. Virulent anti-Semitic evangelists like Charles Coughlin held the attention of millions using the medium of radio. Hollywood sheltered many racist elements, producing films such as Birth of a Nation. Walt Disney himself, an American cultural icon, sympathized and contributed to these extreme right-wing undercurrents. On the Atlantic coast, elites in Boston entertained visiting Nazis in the mid 1930’s. Additionally, leading academic circles there identified with Nazi aims.

The American eugenics movement housed some of these intellectuals mentioned above. Active before Nazi Germany existed, many racist eugenics organizations were well established in the U.S. by the time Hitler took power in 1933. Influenced by genetics pioneers like Francis Galton and Gregor Mendel, Americans began to translate the racism that had already been festering in their country into pseudoscientific terms. Anger against increased immigration and struggles with natives and blacks in the late 1800’s found its way into publications like The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, trustee of the American Museum of Natural History.[72]

The results of this hateful ideology might not have been so tragic if it were not for the involvement of the Carnegie Institution. Headed by the thoroughly racist zoologist Charles B. Davenport, the new “Experimental Evolution” organization began its work in 1904. Striving to create an office where American genealogical records could be collected and studied, Davenport enlisted the financial help of E. H Harriman.[73] It is worth mentioning that he is the father of W. Averell Harriman, who has been mentioned earlier. Meanwhile, sterilization laws were being passed in many states under racist rationales. Between 1907 and 1912 California, Washington, Indiana, New Jersey and New York would all pass laws permitting forced sterilization of anyone pronounced ‘genetically unfit’.[74] As New Jersey’s governor, Woodrow Wilson signed his state’s eugenics law into existence on April 21, 1911. In order to surmount the understandable disgust from many segments of the American population to the widespread application of the new race laws, the Carnegie Institute enlisted the help of Secretary of State P.C Knox, who provided political cover for their activities. Incidentally, he was previously one of Carnegie Steel’s top lawyers.[75] In the ensuing decades, untold numbers of convicts, orphans, the mentally ill, and minorities of all types were sterilized in these states.

In the early 1930’s both Eugene Whitney, president of the American Eugenics Society, and Madison Grant would receive letters from Adolf Hitler extolling the virtues of their work. At many points in Mein Kampf Hitler references the American Eugenics movement and its efforts such as the U.S. National Origins Act, which sought racially based immigration quotas.[76] In fact, certain passages seem to be almost direct copies of Grant’s work.[77]

American eugenicists continued warm relations with the Nazis throughout the 1930’s. Several traveled to Germany to work directly for Hitler.[78] While worldwide outrage toward Nazism grew, major American eugenics groups pledged support for Hitler’s Regime. According to the 1935 annual report from the Human Betterment Foundation of Pasadena, California:

You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.[79]

On another front in the fight to distinguish who would be a ‘desirable’ citizen, Breckinridge Long would join the antisemitic cause. He would use his ability as Secretary of State to make things difficult for any Jews who attempted to flee Nazi Germany to escape to the United States. Starting his career as ambassador to Italy, Long was known to have sympathy for Mussolini’s regime, speaking out against proposed American oil embargoes.[80] Later, Long would then drastically constrict immigration quotas for refugees coming specifically from Germany and Eastern Europe as Secretary of State. He was able to do this by simultaneously reducing the number of Jews that could enter, and deliberately creating complex, obstructive rules for those that were attempting to. By the time the war was in full swing up to 90% of immigration quotas from areas controlled by Nazi Germany were going unfulfilled. In a hearing at the House of Representatives in 1943 Breckinridge Long deliberately lied, stating extraordinarily exaggerated numbers of Jews had escaped to the U.S. and that “all that can be done is being done.”[81] An investigation into the State Department’s activities eventually led to his demotion and the establishment of the War Refugees board in 1944 to oversee the rescuing of Jews from Nazi occupied territories.

Another striking example of openly warm relations with the Nazis were the activities occurring at Harvard University. James B. Conant, president of Harvard from 1933-37, was an influential figure during this period who was sympathetic to Nazism. According to historian Stephen Norwood, who has been looking at support for Nazism at many American Universities, describes the scene at Harvard this way:

From 1933, when he assumed the presidency…through 1937, Conant failed to speak out against Nazism on many occasions when it really mattered. He was publicly silent during the visit of the Nazi warship Karlsruhe to Boston in May 1934, some of the crew Harvard entertained. He welcomed the high Nazi official Ernst (Putzi) Hanfstaengl to the June 1934 Harvard commencement. In March 1935, the Harvard administration permitted Nazi Germany’s consul general in Boston to place a wreath bearing the swastika emblem in the university chapel. Conant sent a delegate from Harvard to the University of Heidelberg’s 550th anniversary pageant in June 1936, and extended warm greetings to the Georg-August University in Goettingen on its two-hundredth anniversary in June 1937.[82]

Two points from this chain of events should be noted: First, that both of the German universities mentioned were thoroughly Nazified and engaged in dubious eugenics studies to legitimize the developing genocide of European Jewish populations. Second, the 1934 visit of the warship Karlsruhe featured the arrest and beating of Jewish anti-Nazi protesters by Boston police on two separate occasions, both at the warship’s arrival at the Boston pier and at commencement events at Harvard. Unfortunately, sympathies for the Nazis were far more widespread than Boston and New York elites. In the mid west, other loud voices would also echo Nazi ideals.

Father Charles Coughlin is probably one of the most infamous American orators to openly espoused Nazism. A powerful political force in his time, he was an evangelical Catholic priest, who became one of the early users of radio to spread his sermons to a mass audience. Operating out of Detroit from 1926 to 1942, Coughlin’s radio show was on the air, peaking in popularity in the mid 1930’s. At this time he received thousands of letters a day and met with many major politicians, including FDR and Henry Ford. During this period, his sermons took on an overtly anti-Semitic tone as he focused on blaming Jewish bankers for the Great Depression. In these rants, he would often express sympathy for German and Italian fascist regimes for their fight against “International Jewry”.[83] In fact, an article published on December 5, 1938 in his newspaper, Social Justice, is almost an exact copy of a speech made by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels on September 13, 1935.[84] Biographer of Father Coughlin’s career, Donald Warren, sums up this era: “…Coughlin increasingly immersed himself in a global context of political advocacy and even direct political action, his identification with fascism and then Nazism became hallmarks of his public career.” Eventually his popularity would wane in the early 1940’s, but not before he would spread his hateful message to untold numbers of people.

Finally, one of the most unlikely characters, Walt Disney, also deserves a footnote in the list of Nazi sympathizers. According to Art Babbitt, who was one of Disney’s chief animators, Nazism was an active force in Hollywood. Babbitt states:

In the immediate years before we entered the war, there was a small but fiercely loyal, I suppose legal following of the Nazi party. You could buy a copy of Mein Kampf on any newsstand in Hollywood. Nobody asked me to go to any meetings, but I did, out curiosity. They were open meetings, anybody could attend, and I wanted to see what was going on for myself. On more than one occasion I observed Walt Disney and Gunther Lessing there [Disney’s lawyer], along with other prominent Nazi-afflicted [sic] Hollywood personalities. Disney was going to meetings all the time. I was invited to the homes of several prominent actors and musicians all of whom were actively working for the American Nazi party.[85]

It will take more research to substantiate the claims Babbitt has made. Unfortunately, these quotes are apparently the final interview for Mr. Babbitt, who died shortly after they were published in Marc Elliot’s Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince. Among the other explosive allegations in the book, according to Elliot:

In her memoirs German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl claims that after Kristallnacht she approached every studio in Hollywood looking for work. No studio head would even screen her movies except Walt Disney. He told her that he admired her work but if it became known that he was considering hiring her, it would damage his reputation.[86]

Again, more research is needed to hold up these claims. Given the growing contextual evidence on Nazi activism in America, these points are worth considering.

As stated previously, this subject is a challenging avenue for discussion. Despite all of what has been presented here, much of it shocking, it is important to address the prominent Americans who stood up and spoke out against the Nazis. Although far too many to mention here, people who did emerge during the course of this research were New York’s mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Pennsylvania’s governor Gifford Pinchot. Both frequently voiced strong criticism of the Nazis, the latter spearheading boycotts on Nazi Germany’s goods.[87] Obviously, the contributions of Treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau’s investigation of American-Nazi collaboration continue to be crucial to this study, and also led to the halt of some these activities. The efforts of Col. Bernstein, who investigated wartime production on the ground in Germany is an equally important figure. Finally, one should appreciate that the U.S. Military machine did help put an end to Nazism.

When considering why those who supported Nazism chose to do so, it is difficult but important to consider that in the highly unstable environment of the Great Depression, investment in Germany made sense for both material and ideological reasons. Gripped with fear of communist uprisings, business leaders gravitated toward authoritarian regimes. Many political leaders also saw Nazi Germany as a bulwark against Soviet Russia. Others believed war was simply good for business. However, there are problems that arise from this mode of thinking: More investigation needs to be done on the transfer of technology, and particularly why some advanced research, such as developments at Ford’s Arendt GmbH, did not make it to the Allied side until after the collapse of the Nazi state. Another issue that arises is the blurry line of legality. Much of the activities described in this paper were within the law in America. Once the Trading with the Enemy Act was put in place and the U.S. was officially at war, many businesses received a special license to continue operations in Germany. This phenomenon also needs more consideration. It is debatable whether or not legality is even an issue in the case of the Holocaust. Although hindsight allows us to know how Hitler’s program turns out, the question of how much those involved knew (or cared) is still problematic.

Many other avenues of research related to this topic are not expanded upon in this paper. For instance, of those corporations that have been mentioned, such as the case of Dehomag and Ford-Werke, many of their facilities were not bombed by the Allies despite being part of the Nazi war machine. Although IBM and the Holocaust and Working with the Enemy give this phenomenon brief treatment, this is a largely unexplored thread that deserves more treatment. Additionally, accusations of American corporate collaboration with the Nazis have also been leveled against General Electric, Chase Bank, National City Bank, Texaco, Eastman Kodak, and Westinghouse, to name a few. Given the limited scope of this project, the choice to deal with the activities of a small number of corporations became necessary. These activities were covered in part due to the large amount of easily obtainable evidence on them. There is still plenty of investigative research needed to define the ultimate dimensions of this topic. As stated earlier, a portion of the evidence presented in this paper has only become available recently, leading to the possibility that much more information may be uncovered in the future. To increase awareness and interest in this topic, it is imperative that this research continues.

Another dynamic linked to this area of study that was purposely not expanded upon in this paper were the efforts made to cover up collaborative activities. The victorious Allies discovered numerous instances where documents were deliberately destroyed or burned in former Nazi-occupied areas. In the U.S., all the corporations discussed in this paper took steps to obscure their involvement. John Loftus, vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida and a former American attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals provides insight:

This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich’s defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted.[88]

What is extraordinary about the subject of the U.S./Nazi connection is its lack of treatment in academic circles. The information presented in this paper deserves a footnote in the history books, even if some portions of it are contested. This is vital given the volume of recent writing on the subject. Several history books used within the last several semesters have not only fail to mention the topic at all, but they also provide information that may be inaccurate given the context of the evidence provided here. For example, in America’s History the text on America and the Holocaust states:

The Roosevelt administration had reliable information about the death camps as early as November 1942. Even if it aggressively sought a means to rescue the inmates, the obstacles of negotiating with Hitler’s regime made it unlikely that many could have been saved once incarcerated.[89]

Many of the sources used in this paper, especially IBM and the Holocaust use an exhaustive amount of examples from U.S. media showing that knowledge of what was happening in Germany dates to well before 1942. One article located in the course of research on this paper is located on the front page of the October 31 1938 edition of The New York Times providing specific references to the activities at the concentration camps.[90] The other problem with the information provided in this college textbook is its explanation that nothing could have been done to stop the incarcerations. Obviously, the direct involvement of IBM, Ford, GM and the UBC could have been halted. This is precisely why this paper explores the connection between the leaders of these companies and the U.S. government.

An overwhelming amount of movies, documentaries, and literature have been produced on America in World War II. However, the subject of collaboration is still taboo. Often distinct differences are made between profiteering and willful participation. World War II is still portrayed as “The Good War.” Given the millions of copies sold worldwide of People’s History of the United States and IBM and the Holocaust, many Americans are still unaware of the information provided in these texts, especially in relation to America’s direct connection to the Holocaust. Charles Mills, author of The Racial Contract, describes this phenomenon:

One could say then, as a general rule, that white misunderstanding, misrepresentation, evasion, and self-deception on matters related to race are among the most pervasive mental phenomena of the past few hundred years, a cognitive and moral economy psychically required for conquest, colonization, and enslavement. And these phenomena are in no way accidental, but prescribed by the terms of the Racial Contract, which requires a certain schedule of structured blindesses and opacities in order to establish and maintain the white polity.[91]

Again, the importance of disseminating information on Nazi/American collaboration cannot be understated relative to discussion on worldwide racial hegemony.

Major speeches by U.S. politicians suggest this kind of denial is taking place. World War II is consistently portrayed by American leaders as a righteous crusade, bereft of any moral ambiguity. For example, President George W. Bush linked the contentious issue of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to America’s battle against the Nazis in a speech at the World War II memorial in Normandy on May 27 2002:

Words can only go so far in capturing the grief and sense of loss for the families of those who died in all our wars. For some military families in America and in Europe, the grief is recent, with the losses we have suffered in Afghanistan. They can know, however, that the cause is just and, like other generations, these sacrifices have spared many others from tyranny and sorrow…Here, where we stand today, the new world came back to liberate the old. A bond was formed of shared trial and shared victory. And a light that scattered darkness from these shores and across France would spread to all of Europe — in time, turning enemies into friends, and the pursuits of war into the pursuits of peace. Our security is still bound up together in a transatlantic alliance, with soldiers in many uniforms defending the world from terrorists at this very hour.[92]

This comparison is disingenuous at best and provides a striking example of the lack of candor regarding America’s role in World War II, especially considering the speaker’s own grandfather has been implicated in this paper.

The Americans who fought and died in World War II are often heralded as the victors over fascism. However, the historical context reveals a collaborative element among the most elite and iconic forces in America with Hitler’s goals. There are at least two distinct reasons for this that should be expanded upon: First the fascist command economy was highly profitable. Corporate and fascist interests were intimately tied. Harnessing a terrified working population and concentration camp prisoners, businesses in the Third Reich were able to keep their labor overhead remarkably low. Second, the United States emerged as one of the two “super powers” fighting for global supremacy during the Cold War. Was support for Nazi aggression, and ultimately, the weakening of Europe key to formulating this dominance? Initially building up one camp and then giving tardy support to the weaker side, as a third party in the conflict, is unabashedly Machiavellian. Right after the start of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi offensive on Russia, then Senator Harry Truman’s statement is instructive: “If we see that Germany is winning, we should help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we should help Germany, so that as many as possible perish on both sides…”[93]

The current debated circumstance of the 9/11 attacks and America’s subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should give one pause considering the historical parallels to the actions of Nazi Germany. The Reichstag, the German parliamentary building, burned under suspicious circumstances and was blamed on external forces by the Nazis not long before launching their conquest of Europe. A lucid response to U.S. cooperation with the Nazis, perpetrated by businessmen and politicians in the World War II era, is vital to understanding the geopolitical nature of our current situation.

1. Reinhold Billstein, et al., Working for the Enemy: Ford, General Motors and Forced Labor in Germany During the Second World War, (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000) 1-4. This section is a decent overview of the text, noting in general terms the involvement of these two corporations and the research behind these revelations by the team of historians involved.

2. Ford Motor Company, Research Findings About Ford-Werke Under the Nazi Regime (Dearborn, MI: Ford Motor Company, 2001) Section 2 Historical Background of Ford Motor Company and Ford-Werke, 2. This source is made possible due to the first group of slave labor related lawsuits, starting with Iwanowa vs. Ford, which is still in appeal. Although Ford claims it lost control of its plant, its own report seems to contradict this.

3. Billstein, 110. Billstein picks up where the Ford report leaves off. Relying on Allied military accounts, we are able to set the stage for Ford’s deep involvement with Nazi Germany and its efforts to dominate Europe.

4. Ford, 161. This useful section contains the profit sheets of Ford-Werke from its inception through 1945.

5. Jacques R Pauwels, “Profits uber Alles! American Corporations and Hitler.” Labour/Le Trevail (2003). 18-23.

6. Billstein, 115.

7. Billstein, 115-116. This section is interesting in that the author notes that although Ford wanted to hide its munitions production, it did not obscure its construction of Luftwaffe (Nazi air force) motors or navy craft.

8. Billstein, 117. Much of this information is available due to the efforts of Col. Bernstein, who aggressively investigated Ford’s wartime activities. He was later aided by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, an instrumental figure in documenting and prosecuting American/Nazi corporate collaboration.

9. Ibid.

10. Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy: An Expose of the Nazi-American Money Plot

1933-1949, (New York: Delacorte Press, 1983) 157-162. This book focuses on Morgenthau’s research, among others, contained at his diary collection at the Roosevelt Memorial Library in Hyde Park, NY.

11. Billstein, 142-144. It is important to note that this text provides many primary sources of inmate labor at the Ford Plant to give as detailed a picture as possible. These pages are cited to provide a brief overview.

12. Billstein, 21-24. Anita Kugler’s summation of the early history Opel along side that of Nazism is useful for its contextual value.

13. Billstein, 24-25. Here Kugler references the work by Hans Mommsen, another historian crucial to this subject.

14. Billstein, 37. This section contains an interesting story about James Mooney, arguably one of the most powerful people at GM. His memoirs, which are the sole source of information on what GM knew about what was happening at Opel at this point, are our only source as other records are supposedly either lost or destroyed. Mooney visited Russelsheim soon after this contract was awarded, apparently on a “peace mission” and left for Basel, Switzerland a few days later, presumably to meet with members of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). At the same time Opel reinvested 40 million Reichmarks in its Russelsheim plant. GM has been able to use this lack of knowledge of Opel’s activities at this point as a defense to date.

15. Billstein, 73-74.

16. Billstein, 69-71. The text describes Opel’s records in detail on the racial differentiation of treatment of its slave workers, similar to Ford.

17. Pauwels, 56-58. This text is telling in its portrayal of the behavior of American corporations as they resumed control of their possessions in postwar Germany. In many cases the forces of anti-fascism were ignored in favor of right-wing controlling personalities, including former Nazi management.

18. Higham, 173. This appears to be another reference to Mooney’s memoirs.

19. Billstein, 75. Quote includes a section from GM executive C. R. Osborn’s report on the postwar corporate assets.

20. Higham, 177.

21. Bradford Snell, U.S. Congress Senate Committee on the Judiciary, American Ground Transport, (1974) A-22. This primary source states in no uncertain terms the involvement of GM and Ford in Nazi war production. Documents like this are important because they are explicit and drastically reduce deniability. Later this source will prove more instructive as we explore the level of involvement of Ford and GM executives within the U.S. government itself.

22. Richard Sasuly, IG Farben, (New York: Boni & Gaer Press, 1947) 8. Published in 1947, this book is the first of many scholarly efforts that came after to study this corporation. IG Farben is arguably the most studied Nazi war businesses. Again, it is the efforts of Col. Bernstein that we have to thank for his vigorous investigation into this company as well

23. Peter Hayes, Industry and Ideology, IG Farben in the Nazi era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) 37-38. The interests involved in this organization are truly dizzying. Behind GM, US Steel, and Standard Oil of New Jersey, IG Farben was the fourth largest corporation in the world.

24. Allyn Lite, “Another Attempt to Heal the Wounds of the Holocaust.” Human Rights: Journal of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities 27.2 (2000):12-15. This article is useful in its treatment of post war profit taking on American subsidiaries of IG Farben.

25. Hayes, 362. This chilling chart shows records recovered from IG Farben of increasing orders of Zyklon B, which were explained by Nazis as needed to fight the “growing typhus problem” at places like Aushwitz and elsewhere.

26. Graham D. Taylor & Patricia E. Sudnick, Du Pont and the International Chemical Industry, (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1984) 95-97. This text provides exhaustive detail on the intimate connection between German and American chemical firms at this time.

27. Hayes, 343.

28. Pauwels, 30.

29. Higham, 94.

30. Higham, 99. The author uses this section to emphasize just how essential this equipment was to the Nazi military.

31. Higham, 99-100. This section cites communication between the U.S. State Department legal counsel Yingling and the Assistant Secretary of State Long in 1942.

32. Edwin Black, IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation, (New York: Crown Publishing, 2001) 208. This well sourced documentation of U.S. corporate collaboration with the Nazis provides yet another example of the pattern of deliberate and ruthless implementation of Nazi goals.

33. Black, 7-11. The pages selected are an introduction to the text.

34. Black, 80-88, 111.

35. Black, 7.

36. Black, 247-251. This section contains a transcript between American IBM representative Harrison Chauncey and Nazi leader Karl Hummel reporting on wartime production in all Nazi occupied countries.

37. Black, 448.

38. Black, 405-411. Again, a pattern seems to be exhibited regarding the reintegration of corporate control and rehiring of former Nazi bosses as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

39. Eberhard Kolb, The Weimar Republic. Second Edition, (New York: Routledge, 2005) 60-62.

40. Higham, 5-8. What is not noted in the text is that Norman and Schact were part of the Anglo-German fellowship, an anti-semitic organization that shared much ideology with the Nazi Party. On a separate note, there is a fairly decent video about Nazi influence at the BIS from the UK history channel “Timewatch” series on called “Banking with Hitler”

41. Higham, 4-5. Once again, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau’s investigation becomes crucial to uncovering the looting of national treasuries by the Nazis.

42. Higham 2.

43. Pauwels, 43. John Foster Dulles would become the BIS corporate lawyer in New York and represent many international interests of corporations we have already discussed such as Ford, ITT and GM.

44. Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell, “How Bush’s Grandfather Helped Hitler’s Rise to

Power.” Guardian Unlimited September 25, 2004.,12271,1312540,00.html (accessed October 28 2004). As mentioned above, numerous authors have written about the involvement of the BBH, the UBC and Prescott Bush’s involvement with financial aid to the Nazis. This article is among the more judicious and disciplined examples of this avenue, providing a concise overview of the subject and its context. It helps to separate the more outlandish claims from well-sourced material.

45. Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell. According to the Guardian, two Holocaust survivors, Kurt Julius Goldstein and Peter Gingold, brought suit against the U.S. government and the Bush family in 2001 for their role in profiting off Nazi activities, specifically Auschwitz slave labor.

46. Henry A. Turner, “German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler.” The American Historical Review 75.1 (1969): 63-65. Fritz Thyssen’s support of Adolf Hitler has been well known to scholars of the subject. This older article was chosen for this reason.

47. Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell. Another reason this article stands out compared to the overwhelming amount of writing on the Bush/Nazi connection is due to its citation of the Harriman papers at the U.S. Library of Congress.

48. Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell.

49. Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell. This information can be found in the U.S. National Archives under vesting order 248 showing seizure of the UBC’s assets and Prescott Bush as a director. Within weeks, Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (linked to IG Farben and Auschwitz) was also vested. Prescott Bush was also a director of this organization.

50. Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Unauthorized History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It (New York 1993), 221.

51. Mark Pendergrast, 228.

52. Donald S Strong, American Council on Public Affairs. Organized Anti-Semitism in America; The Rise of Group Prejudice During the Decade 1930-1940. (Washington DC: American Council on Public Affairs, 1941) 21. This is another well-sourced document published by the U.S. Congress Committee on Public Affairs in 1941. The opening sentence is well in line with this avenue of research: “This study is an effort to throw some light on the growth of fascism in the United States.”

53. Donald Strong, 21-22.

54. Donald Strong, 24-25.

55. Donald Strong, 26-38. Much of this information is available through an investigation and eventual prosecution of Kuhn, who was accused of embezzling Bund funds. Another important note: though the group claimed to have non-German support, they do point to “silent supporters”, whom later authors, such as Charles Higham and Marc Elliot, have identified as prominent members of society such as Henry Ford, Irenee Dupont, and Walt Disney. The text does concede ample sources of American funding.

56. Higham, 165. Higham also ties this group to widespread anti-union activity. Pauwels also confirms Dupont’s and other industrialists anti-union/anti-simetic actions in Profit uber alles on page 14-16

57. Black, 119.

58. Black, 333.

59. Black, 137. For a description of the fanfare Watson received in Berlin see preceding pages 131-134.

60. Black 213-291. Although the details of this story are too numerous to be included here, the results of Dehomag-IBM struggle ended decisively. The assistance of U.S. Treasury Department should also be noted; IBM received a special license to trade with the Nazis after the Trading with the Enemy Act was instituted.

61. Billstein, 105. This citation points to an article in Fortune magazine naming Ford “Businessman of the Century”. It is difficult to ascertain just how much the modern world has been affected by the mass production Ford revolutionized. The political power the Ford family gained from this position is also a challenge to fully quantify.

62.Victoria S. Woeste, “Insecure Equality: Louis Marshall, Henry Ford, and the Problem of Defamatory Antisemitism, 1920-1929.” The Journal of American History 91.3 (2004): 4-6.

63. Billstein, 103-105.

64. Victoria S. Woeste, 4-6.

65. Higham, 154-160. Much of this section deals with Edsel Ford’s role in top management with IG Farben, Ford-Werke, and General Aniline and Film (another high profile organization prosecuted for war crimes in the U.S.) and his dealings with the U.S. State Department and government officials in Britain, Switzerland and elsewhere to continue operations in Nazi occupied territory.

66. Higham, 97. Also Pauwels, 23.

67. Higham, 166.

68. John Buchanan “’Bush – Nazi Dealings Continued Until 1951’ – Federal Documents.” The New Hampshire Gazette Nov. 2003. 1-2.

69. Ibid.

70. Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell.

71. Norwood, 199.

72. Black, Edwin. War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a

Master Race. (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows 2003) 9-29.

73. War Against the Weak, 46-51.

74. War Against the Weak, 67-69.

75. War Against the Weak, 71-72.

76. War Against the Weak, 274-275. This passage references Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler Vol. I ch. II 29, Vol II ch. III 439-440, and Vol I. Ch. IX 286.

77. Ibid.

78. Stefan Kohl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National

Socialism (Oxford: Oxford Publishing, 1994)

79. The Human Betterment Foundation, Report to the Board of Directors of the Human

Betterment Foundation, for the Year Ending February 12, 1935. (Pasadena, CA:The Human Betterment Foundation, 1935). Also referenced in War Against the Weak 260-261.

80. Public Broadcasting Service. America and the Holocaust. Public Broadcasting

Corporation. (accessed November 25, 2007)

81. Ibid.

82. Stephan H. Norwood “Legitimating Nazism: Harvard University and the Hitler Regime,

1933-1937” American Jewish History 92, no. 2 (June 2004): 189.

83. Warren, Donald. Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio. (New York:

The Free Press/Simon & Schuster 1996) 1-2, 115. 129-160.

84. William Manchester, “The Glory And The Dream,” (New York: Bantam Books 1974) 176.

85. Marc Eliot, Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince: A Biography. (Secaucus NJ: Carol

Publishing Group, 1993) 120-121.

86. Eliot 121.

87. Norwood, Legitimating Nazism 193.

88 Ben Aris and Duncan Campbell. John Loftus has also authored his own book on the subject of Nazi/American collaboration.

89. Henretta, James A. et al., America’s History. Fifth Edition. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s 2004. 770-771.

90. Wireless to the New York Times, “Ousted Jews find Refuge in Poland after Borders Stay,” New York Times, October 31, 1938. A-1.This article is located right next to the story on Orson Wells’ radio program “The War the Worlds” causing hysteria and revealed as a hoax. Though this may be trivial, it is notable for how much attention that particular edition may have received.

91. Charles W Mills, The Racial Contract, (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1997) 19.

92. Bush, George W., Remarks by the President in Memorial Day Commemoration. May 27,

2002. This transcript is available on the web at

93. Ralph B. Levering, American Opinion and the Russian Alliance, 1939–1945 (Chapel Hill, NC 1976), 46-47. Truman spoke these words on June 24, 1941.


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  1. jasonweixelbaum permalink

    Indentation seems to be a bit strange in the transfer between Word and this website. I hope this does not distract too much from the text. Please feel free to leave me any questions or comments. Thank you.

  2. I am a bit puzzled to see that you refer to my article, “Profits über Alles,” but not to my book, “The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War,” published in 2002 by James Lorimer in Toronto, and available also in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch.
    Also, updated versions of my article, “Profits…”, have recently been published in Germany and Italy, and I can make an English version available to you.
    Finally, if this is the summary of a thesis, how can one obtain a copy of the thesis itself?
    Kind regards,
    Jacques Pauwels

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