"Helping Hitler: Nazi support from the U.S."

Without help from U.S. industrialists, Hitler might never have been able to wage World War II.

While most Americans were appalled by the Nazis and the rearming of Germany in the 1930s, some of America's most powerful corporations were more concerned about making a buck from their German investments. Here are a few examples of how U.S. industrialists supported Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

General Motors

• The Nazi connection: GM, which was controlled by the du Pont family during the 1930s, owned 80% of the stock of Opel AG, which made 30% of Germany's passenger cars.

• Helping Hitler: When Hitler's panzer divisions rolled into France and Eastern Europe, they were riding in Opel trucks and other equipment. Opel earned GM a hefty $36 million in the 10 years before war broke out, but because Hitler prohibited the export of capital, GM reinvested the profits in other German companies. At least $20 million was invested in companies owned or controlled by Nazi officials.

• GM may have even been plotting against the Roosevelt administration. According to Charles Higham inhis book Trading With The Enemy, GM representatives met secretly with Baron Manfred von Killinger, Nazi Germany's West Coast chief of espionage, and Baron von Tippleskirsch, the Nazi consul general and Gestapo leader, in Boston on November 23, 1937. The group "signed a joint agreement showing total commitment to the Nazi cause for the indefinite future," and proclaimed that "in view of Roosevelt's attitude toward Germany, every effort must be made to remove him by defeat at the next election. Jewish influence in the political, cultural, and public life in America must be stamped out. Press and radio must be subsidized to smear the administration," and a fόhrer, perhaps Sen. Burton Wheeler of Montana, should be in the White House. Although the group tried to keep the agreement secret, Reprsentative John M. Coffee of Washington found out about it and had the entire text of the agreement printed in the Congressional Record in August 1942.

HENRY FORD, founder of the Ford Motor Company

• The Nazi connection: Ford, an outspoken anti-Semite, was a big donor to the Nazi party.

• Helping Hitler: Ford allegedly bankrolled Hitler in the early 1920s, at a time when the party had few other sources of income. In fact, the Party might have perished without Ford's sponsorship. Hitler admired Ford enormously. In 1922, The New York Times reported, "The wall beside his desk in Hitler's private office is decorated with a large picture of Henry Ford. In the antechamber there is a large table covered with books, nearly all of which are translations of books written and published by Henry Ford." (Hitler actually borrowed passages from Ford's book The International Jew to use in Mein Kampf). The same year, the German newspaper Berliner Tageblatt, a Hitler foe, called on the American ambassador to investigate Ford's funding of Hitler, but nothing was ever done. Ford never denied that he had bankrolled the fόhrer. In fact, Hitler presented Nazi Germany's highest decoration for foreigners, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, to Ford.


• The Nazi connection: Employees of Curtiss-Wright taught dive-bombing to Hitler's Luftwaffe.

• Helping Hitler: When Hitler's bombers terrorized Europe, they were using American bombing techniques. The U.S. Navy invented dive-bombing several years before Hitler came to power, but managed to keep it a secret from the rest of the world by expressly prohibiting U.S. aircraft manufacturers from mentioning the technique to other countries. However, in 1934, Curtiss-Wright, hoping to increase sales of airplanes to Nazi Germany, found a way around the restrictions: instead of telling the Nazis about dive-bombing, it demonstrated the technique in air shows. A U.S. Senate investigation concluded, "It is apparent that American aviation companies did their part ot assist Germany's air armament."


• The Nazi connection: The oil giant developed and financed Germany's synthetic fuel program in partnership with the German chemical giant, I.G. Farben.

• Helping Hitler: As late as 1934, Germany was forced to import as much as 85% of it's pertroleum from abroad. This meant that a worldwide fuel embargo could stop Hitler's army overnight. To get around this threat, Nazi Germany began converting domestic coal into synthetic fuel using processes developed jointly by Standard Oil and I.G. Farben.

• Standard taught I.G. Farben how to make tetraethyl-lead and add it to gasoline to make leaded gasoline. This information was priceless; leaded gas was essential for modern mechanized warfare. An I.G. Farben memo stated, "Since the beginning of the war we have been in a postition to produce lead tetraethyl solely because, a short time before the outbreak of the war, the Americans had established plants for us ready for production and supplied us with all available experience. In this manner we did not need to perform the difficult work of development because we could start production right away on the basis of all the experience that the Americans had had for years." Another memo noted that "without tetraethyl-lead, present methods of warfare would not be possible." (Trading With The Enemy)

• Still another I.G. Farben memo chronicled Stadard's assistance in procuring $20 million worth of aviation fuel and lubricants to be stockpiled for war: "The fact that we actually succeeded by means of the most difficult negotiations in buying the quantity desired by our government... and trasnporting it to Germany, was made possible only through the aid of the Standard Oil Co." (Note: According to a 1992 article in the Village Voice, Brown Brothers Harriman was the Wall Street investment firm that "arranged for a loan of tetraethyl lead to the Nazi Luftwaffe" in a 1938. A senior managing partner of the firm was George Bush's father, Prescott Bush.)

• Standard Oil may also have undermined U.S. preparations for war. A congressional investigation conducted after World War II found evidence that Standard Oil had conspired with I.G. Farben to block American research into synthetic rubber, in exchange for a promise that I.G. Farben would give Standard Oil a monopoly on it's rubber-synthesizing process. The investigation concluded that "Standard fully accomplished I.G.'s purpose of preventing the United States production by dissuading American rubber companies from undertaking independant research in developing synthetic rubber processes."

• Standard Oil may have also helped distribute pro-Nazi literature in Central America. According to Charles Higham in Trading With The Enemy, "on May 5, 1941, the U.S. Legation at Managua, Nicaragua, reproted that Standard Oil subsidaries were distributing Epoca, a publication filled with pro-Nazi propaganda. John J. Muccio, of the U.S. Consulate, made an investigation and found that Standard was distributing this inflammatory publication all over the world."


• The Nazi connection: IT&T owned substantial amounts of stock in several German armaments companies, including a 28% stake in Focke-Wolf, which built fighter aircraft for the German army.

• Helping Hitler: Unlike General Motors, IT&T was permitted to repatriate the profits it made in Germany, but it chose not to. Instead, the profits were reinvested in the German armaments industry. According to Anthony Sutton, author of Wall Street and the Rise Of Hitler: "IT&T's purchase of substantial interest in Focke-Wolfe meant that IT&T was producing German planes used to kill Americans and their allies - and it made excellent profits out of the enterprise." IT&T also owned factories in the neutral countries of Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Sweden, which continued selling products to Axis countries.

• The relationship with the Nazis continued even after the U.S. entered the war. According to Charles Higham in Trading With The Enemy, the German army, navy, and air force hired IT&T to make "switchboards, telephones, alarm gongs, buoys, air raid warning devices, radar equipment, and 30,000 fuses per month for artillery shells used to kill British and American troops" after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. "In addition," Higham writes, "IT&T supplied ingredients for the rocket bombs that fell on London... high frequency radio equipment, and fortification and field communication sets. Without this supply of crucial materials, it would have been impossible for the German air force to kill American and British troops, for the German army to fight the Allies in Africa, Italy, France, and Germany, for England to have been bombed, or for Allied ships to have been attacked at sea."

CHASE NATIONAL BANK (later Chase Manhattan Bank)

• The Nazi connection: Chase operated branches in Nazi-occupied Paris and handled accounts for the German embassy as well as German businesses operating in France.

• Helping Hitler: As late as 6 months before the start of World War II in Europe, Chase National Bank worked with the Nazis to raise money for Hitler from Nazi sympathizers in the U.S.

• According to Higham in Trading With The Enemy, "In essence, the Nazi government through the Chase National Bank offered Nazis in America the opportunity to buy German National Bank offered Nazies in America the opportunity to buy German marks with dollars at a discount. The arrangement was open only to those who wished to return to Germany and would use the marks in the interest of the Nazis." Americans who were interested had to prove to the Nazi embassy that they supported Hitler and his policies.

• Cooperation with the Nazis continued even after Amercia entered the war. For example, Higham says, Chase offices in Paris remained open long after other American banks had shut down, and even provided assistance to the Nazis: "The Chase Bank in Paris was the focus of substantial financing of the Nazi embassy's activities throughout World War II with the full knowledge of [Chase headquarters in] New York. In order to assure the Germans of its loyalty to the Nazi cause... the Vichy branch of Chase at Chateau-neuf-sur-Cher were strenuous in enforcing restrictions against Jewish property, even going so far as to refuse to release funds belonging to Jews because they anticipated a Nazi decree with retroactive provisions prohibiting such a release." (Trading With The Enemy)


• Facts and Fascism, by George Seldes (out of print; check your public library)

• Trading With The Enemy: An Exposι of the Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949, by Charles Higham (Delacorte Press, 1983)

"Click on Diamond to Return to Directory"