Hitler’s biggest allies in World War II were Ford, General Motors & Standard Oil
In 1937, William E. Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, sent an urgent warning to the American government:
“A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regimes in Germany and Italy. ”
Ford, General Motors and Standard Oil weren’t just the world’s leading automotive suppliers, they were among the largest and wealthiest corporations on the planet. Greedy, ruthless and drunk with Nazi ideology, they decided to help end democracy, first in Europe, then in America.
While their own country was at war with Germany, Ford, General Motors and Standard Oil kept or expanded their ties with the Nazis. Thus, when the Allied troops successfully invaded France near the end of World War II, they discovered that they had something in common with their German enemies: Ford and General Motors vehicles running on gasoline provided by Standard Oil.
Ford, GM and Standard Oil weren’t the only ones, of course. All in all, around 200 prominent US corporations helped the Nazis before and during World War II, but you don’t have to dig very deep to see that the automotive industry was the axle around which the wheel of American fascism turned. The Third Reich would have had financiers without the help of America, but it was Ford, General Motors, Standard Oil, Davis Oil & a few other key corporations which made the German military conquest both economically and technically possible.
Adolf Hitler kept a photo of Henry Ford on his desk; Henry Ford built Hitler’s trucks and pushed Nazi propaganda through his car dealerships. At a time when the German Nazi party was still a tiny bunch of nutters raving on Munich street corners, Ford is believed to have provided considerable amounts of finance to the fledgling party, enabling the Nazis to gain their stronghold on Germany. It is notable that even after the horrors of the Nazi era were exposed following World War II, Ford never denied financing Hitler.
By the mid-1930s General Motors was totally committed to large-scale war production in Germany, producing trucks, tanks & armoured cars. Its German subsidiary Adam-Opel manufactured a host of effective military equipment for the German military throughout the war. And, while the American Air Force used conventional piston engines, the German Air Force was close to getting the world’s first jet fighters, thanks almost entirely to General Motors.
The earth is flat
How did this happen in America, a country which prides itself on being a freedom-loving democracy? Well, the obvious answer is money, but money alone does not explain what happened. For that you have to look back in American history.
At the time when Standard Oil was giving corporations a bad name back in the late nineteenth century, the average American lived in a small town dominated by puritanical values. He or she might not travel further than a few kilometres from his or her home in an entire lifetime. Few voting Americans knew anything at all about other countries, and tourists were rare. The Victorian era was still in full swing. White people controlled China and much of the rest of the planet; India & many African countries were British colonies. Non-white people were widely considered to be savages. Women were expected to politely obey their husbands and could not vote. Hollywood, California was famous only for its fruit orchards.
America was united in name only. In the days before the Model T, America had mostly dirt roads and consisted of thousands of small towns, which operated more or less autonomously. There were no radios or movie theatres. Newspapers tended to cover an area of a few square miles. The average American today knows far more about the moon than the average American then knew about Africa or China. At the turn of the twentieth century it took a year for the American army base in Alaska to ask its Washington office a question: six months for a ship to sail from Alaska, and six months to sail back with the reply. Alaska was not reachable by road until World War II.
In an atmosphere like this, the prevailing mindset for both rich and poor was almost medieval in its simplicity: The world outside had no real shape or form and was often intensely threatening because it was unknown. The Victorians worshipped control, and American Victorians had no control of the world outside their town. Other races might as well have come from a different planet. The mental world of the Victorians was flat, and anyone who strayed too close to the edge was presumed to simply fall off into darkness.
Keeping things all white
As American industry grew massively during the early twentieth century, its leaders, almost all of them white Protestants, developed a simple, almost childlike philosophy: 'We are white, hard-working, virtuous, Christian men and we have grown rich and powerful. Therefore, if you are not rich and powerful, it is because you are not white, hard-working, virtuous & Christian'.
These businessmen were enthusiastic followers of the quaint nineteenth century theories of social & economic Darwinism – the belief that the rich and powerful were genetically superior to the common man. It was a very convenient doctrine to hold; if superior genes were the reason for their wealth & power, then it stood to reason that inferior genes must be the cause of poverty. Because the rich were rich as a result of superior genes, then it was foolish to try and help the poor, because the poor obviously arose from inferior genetic stock, otherwise they wouldn’t be poor. And, of course, the rich and powerful, being from superior genetic stock, had not only a right but an obligation to rule over the poor and keep the rabble from disrupting the natural order of things.
In his 1911 textbook, Principles of Economics, Harvard Professor Frank W. Taussig noted:
“More and more thought has been given of late years to the strange contrast between our care in breeding animals and our carelessness in breeding men. . . . Certain types of criminals and paupers breed only their kind, and society has a right and a duty to protect its members from the repeated burden of maintaining and guarding such parasites.”
When you strip away the scientific presentation, you get back to the basic bigotry behind all ethnic cleansing: the tribal leader believes that only he and his genetic group are holy, noble and righteous, and that therefore the ‘lesser’ races are a threat and must be exterminated. This bigotry is all the more shameful when it is presented as science. In this case, the science was called Eugenics.
The term Eugenics was first coined in 1883 by Charles Darwin’s cousin, English mathematician Sir Francis Galton and literally means ‘good breeding’ or ‘well-born’. Eugenics was well received by the wealthy in England, but it made its biggest impact in America in the early twentieth century.
America’s rapid economic growth had attracted hoards of non-white people from around the globe, eager to take part in the American Dream. While the American Dream was open to all comers, the American Reality was firmly in the hands of a small group of rich white businessmen who viewed their success as proof that rich white people were genetically superior. Thus, the cream of the American business community – including du Pont, Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, Andrew Mellon, Averell Harriman & Prescott Bush (president George Bush’s grandfather) – all viewed the presence of Chinese, Jews, Italians, American Indians and Negroes as an alarming dilution of the white gene pool.
The rich white businessmen weren’t about to take this ‘invasion’ lying down; they financed two groups that were to have a profound influence in both America and Germany: the Population Association of America, and the Pioneer Fund, founded in 1937 by General W. Draper. Draper himself drew upon the work and words of the founder of the planned parenthood movement, Margaret Sanger, who believed that through birth control she could “create a race of thoroughbreds”.
Does that sound familiar? Here are a few choice quotes:
“The marriage bed is the most denigrating influence of social order”
“Free maternity care to the poor will encourage the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others...a dead weight of human waste”
“...maternity facilities for slum mothers are injurious to the community and the race. Charity will only prolong the misery of the unfit”.
“Feeble-minded persons, habitual congenital criminals, those afflicted with inheritable diseases, and others found biologically unfit should be sterilised or in cases of doubt be isolated as to prevent the perpetuation of their afflictions by breeding.”
“We do not want word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.”
With corporate America picking up the tab, over half the American States passed eugenics laws, which allowed for the forced sterilisation of the mentally ill and incapable. In practice this usually meant poor whites, latinos, blacks and native Americans, all of whom were sterilised in the name of racial purity, and often on the flimsiest of grounds.
Pioneer Fund’s first president, Harry Laughlin, “wanted the lowest 10 percent of Americans sterilized to ‘eradicate inferior people’”. Over 75,000 Americans were sterilized against their will between 1924 and 1972. The legality of the compulsory sterilisations was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1927. The 1927 decision has never been overturned, and is still a part of US law.
Most of the ‘inferior’ people sterilised in America in the name of racial purity were in fact simply the uneducated poor. A TV crew that went back decades later and interviewed the offspring of couples where sterilisations were unsuccessful showed that the offspring appeared to have as good or better intelligence as anyone else.
The Population Association of America and the Pioneer Fund had a much larger part to play in world history, however: Hitler proudly and publicly based his own racial laws on the U.S. model. After meeting with Hitler, Lothrop Stoddard, a board member of Margaret Sanger’s Population Association of America, wrote a book called The Rising Tide of Colour Against White World Supremacy. It was well reviewed in the Association’s magazine Birth Control Review.
Jews, blacks and communists
For the rich & white, the struggle for racial purity was inextricably tied up with the struggle for free enterprise. As far as they were concerned, communists, Jews and non-white races all sprang from the same inferior source.
When we talk today of the United Nations or racial equality, we may have our grumbles, but most people accept at least the basic notion. Many modern American corporations have some kind of profit-sharing arrangement with their staff. Even the most rabid conservative accepts the need for laws governing the use of resources and basic human rights. However, if you had proposed those concepts at the beginning of the twentieth century you would have probably been labelled a radical socialist, and later on, a communist. To the conservatives who grew up in nineteenth century America, socialism and communism were not so much rival political and economic systems as some kind of deadly plague that could probably be caught off toilet seats.
If we take Henry Ford as the typical self-made tycoon of the early twentieth century, the question remains: why was he so obsessed with Jews and communism? Henry Ford never had any trouble getting finance for his ventures, and his backers were primarily white Anglo-Saxon Protestants; he was never turned down for a loan by a Jewish banker, he was never outwitted by some clever Jewish businessmen. The same applies to communists; even during the worst of the Great Depression, communism was never a serious threat in America. Nor does the obvious fact that communists wanted to take over Ford’s huge industrial empire explain his utter paranoia towards them. After all, General Motors and Chrysler also wanted to take over Ford’s huge industrial empire, yet he never spent his life raving about them.
You only hate in other people what you see in yourself. The bottom line is that Ford was a psychotic, and like most psychotics he couldn’t see that the real demons were inside his own mind. In his madness, however, Ford was not alone. As well as their prejudices against non-white races, the members of Henry Ford’s all-white corporate club were especially paranoid about trade unionists. Henry Ford saw trade union organisation as just another example of Jewish conspiracy;
“Unions are organised by Jewish financiers, not labour. A union is a neat thing for a Jew to have on hand when he comes around to get his clutches on industry.”
As far as Ford was concerned: “The Jews are the conscious enemies of all that the Anglo Saxons mean by civilisation”. Ford’s biography: The Fords: an American Epic describes how Ford protected his plant from the taint of ‘Jewish conspiracy’:
“Henry’s reaction to the labour movement was to make [the factory complex] into an industrial concentration camp overseen by [an] army of Service Department men. They followed workers into washrooms to make sure they didn’t talk about union matters; they demanded that someone walking from one place to another tell them where he was going and why. While workers were at their benches their lunch pails and overcoats were ransacked for union literature... There was no sitting, squatting, singing, talking or whistling on the job. Smiling was frowned upon... Anyone even suspected of being a [union] sympathiser was not only summarily fired but usually beaten up as well.”
During the 1930s, while Hitler’s thugs were smashing Jewish windows in Germany, Henry Ford’s car dealers were forced to distribute anti-Jewish, pro-Nazi propaganda. Ford and his colleagues were admired by the Nazis because they ruled their industrial empires with an iron hand. The admiration was mutual.
Irénée du Pont was a prominent member of the extraordinarily wealthy du Pont family, which owned General Motors. Like Henry Ford, Irénée had a childlike enthusiasm for snake-oil social science and a complete lack of contact with planet Earth. Despite being partly Jewish himself, he quickly picked up on Nazi theory and became and enthusiastic supporter of Hitler.
In 1926, Irénée gave a speech to the American Chemical Society in which he proposed that a race of supermen be created by picking prime youths during childhood and giving them enhanced characters by injecting them with special drugs. These Aryan youths would then grow to rule a brave new world, free from the taint of black skin and Jewish blood.
Henry Ford and Irénée du Pont were both nutters, but they were also industrial leaders in a culture which gave industrial leaders an almost god-like status. Like Henry Ford, Irénée used his car company as a vehicle for the New World Order.
Thus, General Motors became a substantial investor in the world’s largest chemical corporation I.G. Farben, which later became famous for supplying poison gases to the Auschwitz death camp. Through I.G. Farben and General Motors’ German subsidiary Adam-Opel, the du Ponts developed a close, incestuous relationship with the German Nazi party. Naturally, General Motors was given the contracts to build much of the Nazi war equipment.
While Adam-Opel was actively supporting the rise of fascism in Germany, General Motors was actively supporting the rise of fascism in America. From the early 1930s, the du Ponts and General Motors bosses heavily financed several pro-big business, anti-Jewish groups. Among them was The Black Legion, a semi-secret group which was named after the black hoods worn by its members. Described in an FBI report as “a secret organisation national in scope and military in nature”, the Legion’s oath of allegiance proclaimed: “We regard as enemies to ourselves and our country all aliens, Negroes, Jews and cults and creeds believing in racial equality or owing allegiance to any foreign potentates. These we will fight without fear or favour as long as one foe of American liberty is left alive.”
Orginally founded in the 1920s as the Black Guards, the organisation began as the paramilitary wing of the Ohio Ku Klux Klan. Run like an army, the Legion conducted a secret war of terror against enemies of the Klan. However, with the backing of the du Ponts, the organisation grew to become a private army for General Motors. Many Michigan Black Legionnaires were also members of the shadowy ‘Dawn Patrol’, a private security force that guarded Detroit auto plants.
General Motors’ foremen were encouraged to join the Black Legion, and as a result any attempt at union organisation within General Motors’ plants was often met with extreme violence. In all, over 50 deaths were linked to the Legion.
The Legion was seriously weakened after the 1936 killing of union organiser Charles Poole. Poole’s murder received nationwide publicity and the subsequent investigation saw eleven Legionnaires sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and another 37 imprisoned for other offences. Significantly, the Legion’s financial backers were never revealed.
An oily customer
Like Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller was a small town, small-minded puritan. After starting his working life as an accountant, he discovered he had a flair for oil exploration and refining. By a mixture of luck and good management he soon gained a healthy share of the local market.
However, Rockefeller wanted nothing less than complete control of America’s oil industry. His basic technique was to move into a new area and flood the local market with cheap oil until his competitors went broke, then he would quickly raise the price to the highest that the market would stand. In this manner his company, Standard Oil, moved across America until he controlled 90% of its oil production. When Rockefeller encountered an opponent with the resources to fight a prolonged price war he simply switched tactics and was known to resort to sabotage of his competitors’ pipelines or equipment. He also bribed both judges and politicians.
In 1890 the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed to end anti-competitive monopolies such as Standard Oil. However, Rockefeller was a slippery customer and it was not until 1911 that the US Supreme Court ordered the Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) to dismantle 33 of its most important affiliates, giving the stocks to its own shareholders and not to a new trust. Thus, Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, American & Esso became separate corporations. However, by this time, Rockefeller was one of the richest men in the world, and his dynasty continues to this day.
Standard Oil’s chairman Walter C. Teagle was great friends with Hermann Schmitz of I.G. Farben. Both were also close friends with Sir Henri Deterding of Royal Dutch-Shell. All were active supporters of the German Nazis. Teagle was also a director of the American wing of the giant German chemical firm I.G. Farben, a position he shared with Henry Ford’s son Edsel Ford. Both Standard Oil and I.G. Farben heaviliy invested in each other.
Standard Oil’s role in fuelling the Nazi War machine was considerable. Standard Oil in New Jersey owned a healthy 94% of Standard Oil’s German subsidiary, Deutsche-Amerikanische Petroleum A.G. Its board of directors read like a who’s who of the Third Reich.
However, Germany, with its heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels, was extremely vulnerable in the event of war, because it would be relatively easy for enemies to disrupt the flow of oil from other countries. The German solution was to manufacture synthetic gasoline from Germany’s vast coal resources. This proved technically difficult, until Standard Oil came to the rescue.
The U.S. Embassy in Berlin was also under no illusions as to what the fuel would be used for. In 1933 the commercial attaché informed his government that: “In two years Germany will be manufacturing oil and gas enough out of soft coal for a long war. The Standard Oil of New York is furnishing millions of dollars to help.”
As Germany’s war preparations began, I.G. Farben, a company with extensive cross-investments in both Standard Oil and General Motors, acquired the crucial synthetic fuel technology that made the early German invasions of Europe possible. Nazi armaments chief Albert Speer was quoted in 1977 as saying that without this synthetic fuel technology, Hitler 'would never have considered invading Poland'.
In 1941, with the world at war, American Undersecretary of State Summer Welles presented a detailed report revealing that Standard Oil of New Jersey and California were the chief suppliers of fuel to Nazi vessels in South & Central America.13 At the time Nelson Rockefeller (John D. Rockefeller’s grandson and former officer of the Venezuelan subsidiary of Standard Oil) was the head of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, an agency charged with halting the Nazi influence in South America.
This treason by Standard Oil was also repeated in many other countries throughout the war. Standard Oil subsidiaries around the world were also distributing Nazi propaganda.
The Golden Rules
In the early twentieth century, American corporations had four unwritten rules which overrode all others:
1) Businesses exist to make money, not friends.
2) Globalization is a desirable and inevitable expansion of commerce. Ties with existing businesses in foreign countries are a simple and effective means to achieving this globalization.
3) Big business does not need government regulation. Indeed, any form of government regulation is unnatural and will inevitably lead to inefficiency; specifically, regulation of big business is a form of communism, which must be fought at all costs.
4) Business is above politics – regardless of the party currently in power, business must continue as usual.
This last principle was quickly abandoned if the government of the day sought to regulate business activities, in which case the corporations would heavily support whichever political movement had the loudest free enterprise policy; by curious coincidence this was usually the local fascists.
The end of the illusion
Despite the increasing difficulties for the common man, the overall growth of the American economy in the early twentieth century was taken as living proof of the superiority of the unregulated free enterprise system.
Herbert Hoover, the Republican Presidential nominee in 1928, said:
“We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.”
Reality has an annoying habit of testing economic theory. Six months later, the stock market suddenly crashed, plunging America into the Great Depression. With his good Protestant sense of the value of hard work and individual enterprise, Hoover (who took much of the blame for the policies of his advisors) announced that while people must not suffer from hunger and cold, caring for them must be primarily a local and voluntary responsibility. The government would not prop up ailing banks and the unemployed should look to their friends, family and local communities for help.
Writing in retrospect, Hoover spoke bitterly of:
“The ‘leave-it-alone liquidationists’ headed by Secretary of the Treasury Mellon [who was at that point one of the wealthiest men in America and who] felt that government must keep its hands off and let the slump liquidate itself. Mr. Mellon had only one formula: ‘Liquidate labour, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate’. [Mellon] held that even panic was not altogether a bad thing. He said: ‘It will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people’”.
Banks went bust, and with each bankrupt bank, panicking depositors rushed to withdraw their deposits from the remaining banks, which meant that the other banks had no more money to pay out, and so went broke, so depositors rushed to withdraw their deposits from the remaining banks, and so on. The reason this lunacy was allowed to continue was because big business feared government regulation more than it feared recession. By 1933, 11,000 of the United States’ 25,000 banks had failed.
To quote from J. Bradford DeLong:
“At its nadir, the Depression was collective insanity. Workers were idle because firms would not hire them to work their machines; firms would not hire workers to work machines because they saw no market for goods; and there was no market for goods because workers had no incomes to spend.”
Election day came and the American people threw Hoover out on his ear. President Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ gave some relief to the unemployed and very slowly kick-started the American economy. You’d think that the corporates would have been grateful, but they were outraged. State-funded work schemes were little short of outright communism, they said. Blacks, Jews, trade unionists & the illiterate poor all needed rigid state controls, but the virtuous, hard-working, Christian men like Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller were so clearly superior to the common man that it would be unthinkable for elected governments to regulate their activities.
There was also a strong element of self-interest. The previous government had slashed income tax in an effort to boost the economy. The opponents of the New Deal didn’t want to pay extra taxes to provide relief for a bunch of lazy Jews, niggers & sharecroppers.
What do you do when you’re rich, white, full of a self-righteous sense of your own importance and angry at the president? Why, you overthrow the government, of course. In 1934, the Morgan Bank assembled an incestuous cabal of industrial giants who also just happened to be among the nation’s largest automotive suppliers – General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, Goodyear Tyre Co, backed by Du Pont & others – to arrange a coup d’etat. The coup would end democratic rule and replace it with a business-friendly fascist government. $3 million – a large fortune in those days – was raised and organisers despatched across the nation.
The plot failed mainly because the conspirators were appallingly bad judges of character. They chose as their prospective coup leader war veteran Smedley Darlington Butler. The plotters knew that Butler, who had faced gunfire 120 times, was the undisputed hero of everyone in the armed forces and could rally the gullible, the unemployed and the paranoid into a cohesive fighting force. Butler had other credentials, too. His role in the U.S. Marines led him to be a de facto trouble-shooter for U.S. economic interests overseas. He gained two Congressional medals for his bravery.
The trouble was, Butler had a conscience. On August 21, 1931, Butler stunned the audience at an American Legion convention with a speech that few papers dared report even in part:
“War is a racket. Our stake in that racket has never been greater in all our peacetime history. It may seem odd for me, a military man, to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force – the Marine Corps.... I spent 33 years...being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.
"I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street....
"In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested....I had...a swell racket. I was rewarded with honours, medals, promotions....I might have given [notorious Chicago mobster] Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents...”
Apparently unaware, or uncaring of Butler’s current attack of conscience, the plotters asked him to organise an army of 500,000 soldiers to be called the American Liberty League, modelled after the French veterans’ group, the Croix de Feu.
The plotters employed lawyer Gerald MacGuire to put the proposal to Butler. Under the deal offered by MacGuire, Butler would become the American equivalent of Hitler. Millions of dollars were offered, with more in the pipeline. That goddamned commie Roosevelt would be deposed and an all-white corporate team, under Butler, would rule America. Arms and munitions would be supplied by Remington, a du Pont subsidiary.
Butler pretended interest, but he was quietly horrified. He was, after all, a loyal and patriotic American. He rang the White House and blew the whistle to Roosevelt.
Secret executive hearings of the U.S. government Commitee for Un-American Activites opened on November 20th, 1934.18 Sworn testimony revealed the incestuous cabal behind the plot. Some people named as plotters laughed, all denied everything, but the plot fizzled in the light of public scrutiny.
It’s worth noting that if the plotters had been communists, seeking to overthrow the US government by force, they might deservedly have been hanged. What happened to the plotters? Basically, nothing. The hearings were regarded as something of a joke by the news media, who were more than willing to believe MacGuire when he said that the aging Butler had “misunderstood” his intentions. However, when the House committee finally published its report, the document concluded that: 'with the exception of the direct statement suggesting creation of the organization', it 'was able to verify all the pertinent statements by General Butler'.
The showdown approaches
As the world moved towards inevitable war, many Americans wanted to stay out of the impending conflict. There were three main reasons for this: one was that America tended towards an isolationist foreign policy. In other words, what happened overseas was of no concern to America unless it threatened American interests. Two was the fresh memory of the masses of young American troops needlessly killed in World War I. The third was that Standard Oil, General Motors, Ford & friends spent a great deal of public relations money keeping America ‘neutral’, meaning that Nazi Germany should be left to take over Europe without American intervention.
Standard Oil’s top spin-doctor, Ivy Lee, was given the task of selling fascism to the American masses. One half of his job was to feed the German Nazis with top-level information about American reaction to such things as the German armament programme. The other was to feed anti-Jewish, pro-Nazi propaganda to the American public. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbour, however, American sentiment swung overwhelmingly against both Japan and her German ally.
Business as usual
Politics aside, Ford & friends saw their wartime role as making money, not taking sides. If the Germans wanted Ford trucks and SKF ball bearings, then why should they lose the sale? One side was going to win, and if they helped both sides, then they really couldn’t lose. It wasn’t very patriotic, but it made a lot of dough. Plus it was a splendid opportunity to help the expansion of Germany and thus create a single, business-friendly government that would control most of the world and which would doubtless welcome them with open arms.
One bank greased the wheels of international commerce: The Bank for International Settlements. Founded in 1930 as an international clearing house for the world’s great banks, the organisation was conceived by Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht, the Nazi Minister of Economics and president of the German Reichsbank. Despite the bank’s public position of neutrality, it was in fact controlled from Nazi Germany throughout the war, and returned most of its profits to the Third Reich.
It is difficult to believe that the activities of Ford and General Motors’ German factories were unknown and unregulated by their American owners, although both companies have since claimed their innocence.
Hard evidence shows that the German and American industrial combines were joined by a vast web of investment, ideology and international trading networks. However, whereas Ford and General Motors’ American workers earned cash each week, many German workers were rewarded each week with the gift of life. They were slaves, shipped in at gunpoint from the neighbouring countries and forced to work under threat of death.
Was American Ford innocent? The evidence suggests exactly the opposite: Henry Ford appointed a number of key Nazis to run Ford in Germany, and was given special treatment by the Germans. Ford Germany director Carl Krauch testified in 1946 that:
“I myself knew Henry Ford and admired him. I went to see [Hitler’s right hand man Hermann] Göring personally about that...and I told Göring that if we took the Ford independence away from them in Germany, it would aggrieve friendly relations with American industry in the future...Thus we succeeded in keeping the Ford works working and operating independently of our government’s seizure.”
After meeting with top Nazi official Gerhardt Westrick in 1940, Henry Ford refused to build Rolls-Royce aircraft engines for England. However, he had no problems supplying similar products to the Germans. In 1940 the giant French Ford factory began making aircraft engines, which were used to bomb England, together with trucks for the German army. The plant was run by Carl Krauch and Hermann Schmitz in conjunction with Henry’s son Edsel Ford in the U.S.
After the bombing of the American bases at Pearl Harbour, the arrangement became a little trickier, so with the approval of both the U.S. State Department and the Nazis, a courier travelled back and forth from the French plant with communications to & from the Ford head office in Dearborn Michigan.
When the RAF reduced the French factory to rubble, Ford Motor Co was paid compensation by a grateful German government. Ford simply took the machinery out of the bombed factory and continued production in a number of secret locations around France. Meanwhile Ford had set up a German-financed plant in French-controlled Algiers making trucks and armoured cars for Rommel’s African invasion force.
Ford and his agents around Europe also provided an excellent level of customer service to the Nazis, servicing and repairing tens of thousands of trucks for the German army, with the full knowledge and authorisation of the American head office.
What’s good for General Motors is good for America
Like the Ford Motor Co, General Motors has since claimed that its German operations were outside its control during World War II. About the kindest thing that can be said about G.M.’s claim is that it appears to be flatly contradicted by almost all available evidence. General Motors was not just a car company that happened to have factories in Germany; G.M management from the top down had extensive Nazi connections, both on a business and personal level.
American G.M. vice-president Graeme K. Howard (later colonel Graeme K. Howard) was a committed Nazi whose book America and the New World Order read like a P.R. handout for the Third Reich. Hitler awarded G.M. boss James D. Mooney with the Order of Merit of the Golden Eagle for his services to Nazi Germany.
General Motors’ internal documents show a clear strategy to profit from their German military contracts even after the outbreak of war between America and Germany. Defending the German investment strategy as 'highly profitable', G.M.’s Alfred P. Sloan told shareholders in 1939 that G.M.’s continued industrial production for the Nazi government was merely sound business practice.
In a letter to a concerned shareholder, Sloan said that the manner in which the Nazi government ran Germany
“should not be considered the business of the management of General Motors...We must conduct ourselves as a German organisation. . . We have no right to shut down the plant.”
After 20 years of researching General Motors, Bradford Snell stated that:
“General Motors was far more important to the Nazi war machine than Switzerland ... Switzerland was just a repository of looted funds. GM was an integral part of the German war effort. The Nazis could have invaded Poland and Russia without Switzerland. They could not have done so without GM.”
So how were these corporations able to get away with it? The bottom line is: the government was scared of big business, and the American news media was largely incapable of seeing threats to the American way of life unless they originated from communists or trade unions.
Where the news media actually did its job, the government was sometimes forced to take action. For example, in July of 1942 the New York Herald Tribune ran a headline reading: 'Hitler’s Angel Has 3 Million in US Bank', The story told how Hitler’s financier had stashed money away for safekeeping in America. The US Government seized the assets of the bank after the story was run.
Prescott Bush, president George W. Bush’s grandfather, was one of seven directors of that bank. Prescott Bush suddenly developed a born-again zeal for very public anti-Nazi activities, and travelled America raising money to boost the morale of troops. Thus he emerged from World War II with his reputation largely intact.
However, according to John Loftus, a former prosecutor in the Justice Department’s Nazi War Crimes Unit, leading Nazi industrialists secretly owned the bank at that time, and were moving money into it through a second bank in Holland even after the United States declared war on Germany. U.S. Government investigators concluded that:
“huge sections of Prescott Bush’s empire had been operated on behalf of Nazi Germany and had greatly assisted the German war effort.”
The bank was liquidated in 1951, Loftus said, and Bush’s grandfather and great-grandfather received $1.5 million from the bank as part of that dissolution. $1.5 million was a lot of money in an age when a brand new Plymouth V8 business coupé cost around $1500. “That’s where the Bush family fortune came from”, Loftus said, “it came from the Third Reich.”
One door shuts, another opens
So how come Germany lost the war? The bottom line is, however much support Ford, du Pont and their comrades gave Germany, the simple fact was that the majority of ordinary people in America and the rest of the world hated the Nazis and everything they stood for. Millions of troops from America, England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other nations across the globe made enormous sacrifices to defeat the Third Reich.
But even as the businesses in the Third Reich were crumbling, new opportunities for international commerce were opening up. In 1944, while the war was still raging, the Bank for International Settlements assembled in Basle, Switzerland for an annual meeting. Representatives from America, Japan, Germany, Italy and Great Britain met in friendship to discuss the distribution of the spoils of war.
The meeting was chaired by an American, Thomas Harrington McKittrick, and high on the agenda was $378 million in gold held by the bank on behalf of the German Nazi government, much of it looted from Germany’s national bank, the Reichsbank, or from the teeth, spectacle frames and jewellery of the millions of Jews who died in the Nazi concentration camps. The $378 million ended up in the Swiss National Bank, with the paperwork stating that it was payments to the American Red Cross and the German legations in Switzerland.
After heavy pressure from the U.S. Treasury, the Bank of International Settlements handed over $4 million, a shortfall of $374 million. For his sterling efforts in protecting international banking from the meddling hand of government, McKittrick was appointed vice-president of the Rockefeller-controlled Chase National Bank in New York.
In from the cold
In 1946, George F. Kennan, who was attached to the American Embassy in Moscow, sent a paranoid telegram to the U.S. State Department warning of Soviet plans to dominate the world. World War III was an imminent possibility, he claimed. As Kennan himself later admitted, his statement was complete garbage, but it kick-started the Cold War.
Aside from a few brave efforts to expose corporate America’s treason, interest in the men who backed the Nazis died with the onset of the Cold War.
As veteran Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal put it in 1984:
“Nazi criminals were the principal beneficiaries of the Cold War.”
American priorities suddenly switched from ending fascism to defending the free world against godless communism. In addition to many former high-ranking Nazis being immediately restored to power in Germany, many thousands of former Nazis were also smuggled into America, ostensibly to help fight the Russians.
The trials at Nuremberg of a few high profile war criminals provided a brief focus on the horrors of Hitler’s Germany, but the American backers of the Nazis went largely unnoticed and unpunished.
For example, when U.S. Justice Department lawyer James Stewart Martin arrived in Europe to investigate the hiding of Nazi assets, he discovered that his superior at U.S. Military Command in London was a leading American Nazi, colonel Graeme K. Howard, vice-president of General Motors. Martin protested in vain about the General Motors-Nazi connection. However, he did discover a copy of Howard’s book America and the New World Order. Fearful of bad publicity so soon after the war, the U.S. sent Howard home, but no other action was taken.
Actually, some action was taken: after growing rich from knowingly aiding the enemies of the United States and directly contributing to the deaths of around 55 million people, General Motors was given a further $33 million in tax exemptions to make up for the damage that its German factories suffered during World War II.
The Cold War deepened into the ultra-paranoid McCarthy era, where a lifetime career in any industry could be wrecked overnight by even the suggestion that a person might be a communist or communist sympathiser.
Many of the people who had the dirt on the American corporates’ role in World War II were disgraced, imprisoned or even robbed of their citizenship, usually without a proper hearing and often on the flimsiest of evidence.
Instead of the truth, America’s children grew up believing that the brave American motor industry helped defeat the Nazis by building planes and trucks for the Allied soldiers, thus making the world safe for democracy.
The bottom line is this: World War II could have occurred without Hitler, but it couldn’t have occurred without Ford, General Motors and Standard Oil.
As they said in the 1950s: ‘What’s good for General Motors is good for America’. Yeah, right.