Corporate America’s support for Adolph Hitler did not end with funds to train a generation of physicians to rid Germany of its “unfit” and create its Master Race. For a decade before his 1932 electoral victory Corporate America was busily funding Hitler’s rise to power. And after assuming title of Führer, they turned to funding Germany’s illegal rearmament. When the United States found itself at war with Germany Corporate America showed far less enthusiasm to produce armaments for the United States than they did for Hitler’s Wehrmacht.
Such charges (note, these are not assertions) will sound strange since the Roosevelt Administration never charged Corporate America under statutes of the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917. “Reluctant” or not, the administration needed Ford and GM, et al, to provide the arms necessary to America’s war effort. In more recent idiom, Corporate America were just “too big to fail,“ a term invented to justify bailing out many of those same corporations (GM and Chase, for example) during the Great Recession beginning 2007. Nor was providing arms to America’s enemy during wartime the limit of their treason: Corporate America intended a fascist-style coup d’etat against the newly-elected Franklin Roosevelt.
Who was “Corporate America”? Hardly a major American industrial giant was not on the list: Ford, GM, Standard Oil, DuPont, IBM, ITT, Chase, J.P. Morgan, and on. Most were major contributors to the eugenics movement; all were fervent supporters of Nazism’s ruthless application of eugenics as model for the National Socialist state. Before the war Ford and GM in particular were key players in arming the Wehrmacht (the massive rearmaments program being the heart of Hitler’s “economic miracle”) and enthusiastic supporters of his war aims. In particular were Corporate America on board with Hitler’s intention to destroy “Judeo-Bolshevism”:
In 1918, following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the United States and its allies went to war against the new soviet regime. By 1920 the “allies” were in retreat, the attempt at imposed regime change a failure.
The 1920’s was also a period of labor unrest in the United States which intensified with the approach of the Great Depression. Unemployment and hunger were spreading.
In spring of 1932 thousands of war veterans and their families marched to Washington to demanding payment of their promised “service certificates.” 40,000 men women and children set up camp in a DC park, refused to leave when ordered by the Attorney General. The “Bonus March” ended violently when General MacArthur, Colonel Eisenhower, and Major Patton were ordered to empty the camp. Bayonets fixed and cavalry sabers drawn the camp was attacked. General MacArthur, deciding the protest “a Communist attempt to overthrow the U.S. government,” set the Army against American war veterans.
In an atmosphere of panic regarding Communism in Russia and labor unrest at home police and military force were used to put down strikes. In the early 1930’s “company guards” backed by the police killed five striking Ford workers, and the scene repeated at other strike sites. In the heated imagination of Corporate America Communism was everywhere threatening the status quo and their wealth. It was not surprising that they would admire Hitler’s “well-ordered” police state society: would want the same for America.
In 1936 William Dodd, Roosevelt’s Ambassador to Germany, warned the president that,
“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 regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime. On [the ship] a fellow passenger, who is a prominent executive of one of the largest financial corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies.” (Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy, p.167)
The plot was apparently the inspiration of JP Morgan banking. In early 1933, just after Roosevelt entered office (by coincidence Hitler entered office about the same time) Corporate America decided they preferred Hitler:
Among the active plotters were DuPont, Goodyear, Bethlehem steel and JP Morgan, and high ranking members of the Democratic and Republican parties. Funding was through a Democratic Party organization created to oppose Roosevelt’s election, the American Liberty League, consisting of DuPont, US Steel, General Motors, Chase Manhattan Bank, Standard Oil and Goodyear.
Had the plotters chosen General MacArthur, hero of the assault on the Bonus Marchers, the coup might have succeeded. Instead they chose another popular right-wing general, Smedley Butler. The general listened the plotters out then reported it to Congress where an investigative committee confirmed it.
Possibly someone needing to cling to American Exceptionality might dismiss this narrative as just so much conspiracy theory, isolated events which, if true, are unrepresentative and not worthy of note. Yet they represent moments in a historical process and will, as this narrative unfolds, fall into a compelling pattern.
Before Hitler declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, Corporate America had not yet committed treason. But by 1933 IBM had already provided Hitler the data processing ability to identify and locate Germany’s 600,000 Jews. The company made it possible to track each and every Jew from arrest to murder. With punch card technology IBM was able to identify inmates according to skills, maximizing the benefit to US and other companies needing slave labor according to specific requirements. IBM introduced the infamous blue tattoo common on survivors in order to coordinate person with punch card. The notorious blue tattoo which branded camp inmates was introduced by IBM to coordinate inmate to punch card! But IBM’s contribution to the German war effort was not limited to creating an efficient extermination program:
Once America entered the war IBM, GM, et al, were now guilty under America’s 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act, and they could have been prosecuted had the government chosen to do so. Any private person engaged in assisting the enemy in time of war would have been charged with treason and possibly executed. But not one “American as apple pie” companies was ever even charged. After the war they were even compensated for losses suffered in U.S. bombing raids:
Opel, GM’s 100% owned German subsidiary, produced trucks and aircraft and even, too late to be used in combat, produced for Hitler the world’s first jet fighter.
International Telephone and Telegraph owned one quarter of the shares of German airplane manufacturer Focke-Wulf, so not only provide communications technology provided the Luftwaffe fighter planes for use against U.S. servicemen.
Texaco and Standard Oil provided Germany the diesel fuel, lubricating oil, and other petroleum products without which Germany could not have fought the war. After the US entered the war they used third countries as cutouts to bypass American export restrictions.
GM partnered with Standard Oil and her sister company I.G. Farben (builder of the slave labor industrial complex Auschwitz III), to provide Hitler the fuel additive Tetra-ethyl lead which, according to Albert Speer, provided the high octane which made Germany’s blitzkrieg warfare possible.
When the issue of the Forced and Slave Labor Negotiations was raised by the US Treasury Department in 1999 Ford and GM and most American corporations that had supported Hitler’s war effort at first denied, then accepted the “possibility” that their German “subsidiaries” may have been guilty of working extermination camp inmates to death. Through the thinly-veiled lie of Germany having “taken control” of their subsidiaries rendering them powerless, so not responsible, Corporate America resolutely maintained innocence. But their records told a different story. Ford opened its records to the public and it was clear that the parent company maintained control over FordWerke policy. GM refused to follow Ford in self-disclosure which in their eyes provided a measure of deniability. Regardless, in the end GM and Ford, et al, were forced to pay compensation to the few remaining slave labor survivors who failed to follow the script and be worked to death. Slave laborers, “were concentration camp prisoners requisitioned by German [and American] companies from the SS. A high percentage of them died as a result of inhuman working conditions that were intended to result in death.”
From GM to Coca Cola, Corporate America built their factories adjacent to murder centers for easy access slave labor. Although their treason to the United States and public disclosure of their use of slave labor during the Holocaust was proven prior to the Forced and Slave Labor Negotiations, no governmental action beyond “compensation” for victims has ever been pursued. As regards “compensation;” as measured against the magnitude of the crime, the impact on the survivor’s lives, the amount agreed upon represents little more than a symbolic victory.
There exist today lists of some two-thousand “German” firms that engaged in slave labor. Lists of American corporations guilty of exploiting slave labor are limited to the “200 with German subsidiaries” and included in Stuart Eizenstat’s 1999 compensation list:
But use of slave labor was not just limited to greedy corporations. The Catholic Church, and the Evangelical Church in Germany also exploited slave labor. The Evangelical Church acknowledged guilt and agreed to pay compensation; the Catholic Church, following the GM lead, continues to stonewall claiming that,
Some may feel it unfair to paint Corporate America today with the brush of yesterday’s criminal and treasonous activities. Some ethicists point out that today’s corporate leadership had nothing to do with the coup or the Holocaust and slave labor (although slave labor is still exploited by several major American corporations around the world: indigenous peoples in South American, for example). But if these ethicist’s arguments were extended to countries, neither should today’s governments be held responsible for the acts of their predecessors. Or today’s government’s for future atrocities. But the purpose of this discussion is not just to ascribe the criminality as such, but to place it in context, to appreciate that past behavior does provide precedent for future behavior.
In earlier chapters reference was made to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws removing German Jewry from the protection of the German state; as defining “Jew” by degree according to a convert in the family tree. 1935 represents a precedent that should another charismatic leader arise in, for example, the United States, that the Nuremberg Laws might well serve as legal precedent, serve as an established and workable definition for “Jewish identity.” Why reinvent the wheel?
Corporate America laid bare its extremist political instincts in the 1930’s and ‘40’s, and even today in its continuing exploitation of indigenous peoples for slave labor. Its fascist politics was early demonstrated in its support for Hitler long before he became Germany’s Führer. Corporate America idealized Nazism as a model for a “well-ordered society” to the point of attempting to overthrow the America Government and replace it with a fascist regime. Corporate America funded the eugenic ideology of a racially pure America, an Aryan superman, and this long before Hitler made the idea unpopular. Corporate America openly supported Hitler’s war-time goal of a crusade against “Judeo-Bolshevism.” And what did that imply for the survival of American Jewry had Hitler succeeded?
And what does this history suggest, what implications for American Jewry should social stress in this country rise to levels experienced in Germany during the Great Depression; should antisemitism in the United return to levels expressed by Americans during the Holocaust years? Will American “exceptionality” parrot German-Jewry’s insistence of their fatherland’s “exceptionality,” and will we follow them down the road already precedent in the Holocaust?