Friday, May 8, 2020

Victory in Europe Day: These American Corporations Aided Nazi Germany

treason business crime corruption Nazi

May 8 marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied armies’ victory in Europe, the day when they accepted the formal surrender of Nazi Germany after a bitter, six-year-long struggle that saw tens of millions killed in fighting, famines or exterminated in death camps. While many novel socially-distanced celebrations across the world are going on, some large corporations are laying low in the knowledge that they actively collaborated with and helped Hitler’s war machine.

Standard Oil, a huge monolith now split up into a myriad of smaller ones, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and Marathon, was crucial to both prolonging and intensifying the bloodiest conflict in human history. In the 1930s and 1940s, only the United States and Venezuela produced large quantities of oil. Starved of the substance, Germany was almost completely dependent on imports from the Western hemisphere, which Standard Oil dominated. Even after the United States declared war on Germany, it continued to use a great array of tricks to fuel Germany’s war effort, quietly filling up German tankers in the Spanish Canary Islands who would then transport the crucial liquid to German ports. Indeed, one historian quipped that “Without the explicit help of Standard Oil, the Nazi air force would never have gotten off the ground in the first place.”

The American business community was deeply impressed by Hitler. Wall Street executive Prescott Bush (the father and grandfather of two presidents) aided Hitler’s rise and even organized a failed coup to overthrow President Roosevelt and install German-style fascism in the United States. Chase Bank performed a number of key duties for the Nazis, including accepting, laundering and converting their money into foreign currency. In 1945, they were placed on trial in a federal court for violation of the Trading with the Enemy Act. And if there is one thing Henry Ford is known for besides his cars, it is his antisemitism. Ford himself received a medal from Hitler in 1938 and profiteered from both sides during the war, manufacturing vehicles for both the Allies and the Nazis. The company is also widely accused of knowingly using slave labor in its German plants. In 2000, Food giant Nestle paid out over $14 million to survivors for the same practice.  (more...)

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