"Commerce defies every wind, overrides every tempest, invades every zone." - chiseled above the entrance to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce
As stunning as it may sound, an argument can be made that neither the Nazi Party’s rise to power nor even WWII itself could have happened without the backing of U.S. industry and finance. Cash contributions through the 1920’s and ’30’s helped elevate Hitler’s brownshirts from mere street thugs to a political party and financed “off budget” ops for the SS. Before and after the U.S. entered the war, military equipment and critical technology transfers flowed from U.S. corporations and subsidiaries to the Third Reich.
The record reveals more than just self-serving opportunism. It proves the existence of what sociologist C. Wright Mills called a Power Elite – born to privilege; attending the same prestigious schools; belonging to the same insular, rarified social circles; naturally assuming some God-given right to rule the world and in these particular cases, blinded by fanatical anti-communism and completely unhinged from democracy.
To discover the many personal relationships formed through class and propinquity that bind these elite, consult the sources cited to learn more of what we’re not taught in school.
U.S. firms like J.P. Morgan made millions financing World War I, a business that grew with post-war reconstruction and reparations.
The Bank for International Settlements, still operating today, was created to administer Germany’s WWI reparations. Run by Thomas McKittrick, a Wall Street banker and friend of the Dulles brothers, it was “effectively controlled by Hitler’s regime” by 1940 and had laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in looted gold – from coins to teeth fillings. Five BIS directors were charged at Nuremburg with war crimes.1
The Dawes Plan was created to rebuild German industry and provide reparations to England and France required by the Treaty of Versailles. U.S. representatives on the international committee were Charles Dawes, first director of the U.S. Budget Bureau and Owen Young, president of General Electric Co. In 1929, theYoung Plan succeeded Dawes’.
Between 1924 and 1931, Germany paid 36 billion marks to the Allies, 33 billion of which was borrowed from investors who bought German bonds issued by Wall Street firms, paid to England and France as reparations and then sent to the U.S. as loan repayments. The bondholders received interest payments and according to Sutton, “The international bankers sat in heaven, under a rain of fees and commissions” made by lending other people’s money to Germany.2
During this period, John Foster Dulles, later Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, was CEO of Sullivan and Cromwell (S&C), at which his brother, Allen, later Eisenhower and Kennedy’s CIA chief, was a partner. Foster structured deals that funneled U.S. investments to German companies like IG Farben and Krupp. Sullivan and Cromwell “was at the center of an international network of banks, investment firms and industrial conglomerates that rebuilt Germany after WWI.”3
An open secret through the ’20’s was Henry Ford’s financial support for Hitler. A December 20, 1922 NY Times story claimed links between new uniforms and sidearms for 1,000 young men in Hitler’s “Storming Battalion” and Ford’s portrait and books the Fuehrer prominently displayed in his well-staffed Munich office.4 Sutton also claimed Ford’s money helped fund Hitler’s failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch that gave the fledgling dictator time in jail to write “Mein Kampf,” incorporating whole sections of Ford’s “The International Jew.”
In 1932, Wilhelm Keppler, Hitler’s Secretary of State and a director of AEG, started a “Circle of Friends,” later combined with Himmler’s Circle of Friends to raise “off budget” funds for Himmler’s SS. One contributor, the German-American Petroleum Co., was owned 94% by Standard of NJ and made payments until 1944. In 1943-44, ITT contributed 127,000 marks.5
In February 1933, Hermann Goering held a fundraiser at his home for the National Trusteeship, a front group from which Rudolf Hess paid Nazi Party election campaign expenses. Industrialists and financiers pledged 3,000,000 marks including 400,000 from IG Farben and 60,000 from General Electric Corporation’s subsidiary, AEG. On the board of IG Farben’s U.S. subsidiary were Edsel Ford; Walter Teagle, board member of the NY Federal Reserve, Standard Oil of NJ and FDR’s Warm Springs Foundation; Paul Warburg, Chairman of the Bank of Manhattan and a director of the NY Fed; and Carl Bosch, who was also on the board of Ford’s German subsidiary, Ford AG. One week after that massive infusion of funds the Reichstag was burned. A week later, national elections swept the Nazis into power.
That same year, Allen Dulles remarked on Goebbels’ “sincerity and frankness,” during a meeting with Hitler to see what might be in store for S&C’s German clients.
Opel, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors Corp., and Ford AG produced a significant number of the Wehrmacht’s vehicles. In 1938, Henry Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle award. In December 1941, Ford Afrique was incorporated in Vichy France and granted all rights of Ford’s British subsidiary in Algeria, Tunisia, French Morocco, Equatorial and West Africa. In 1942, Vichy France paid Ford Co. 38,000,000 francs for damage RAF bombs caused a French Ford plant. Ford also manufactured vehicles for Soviet Army at a plant in Gorki, Russia.6
General Electric Co. of NY owned 25% of AEG, the largest electric company in Germany. GE’s board chair, Owen Young, founded RCA Corp., was a director of GM, NBC, the International Chamber of Commerce and deputy chairman of the NY Federal Reserve.7
In a 1936 memo, William Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, reported that Farben gave 200,000 marks to a PR firm “operating on American public opinion.”
In 1938, the Luftwaffe urgently needed 500 tons of tetra-ethyl lead, the anti-knock compound critical for aviation fuel. Ethyl Corp. (jointly owned by GM and Standard of NJ) “loaned” the amount to the Reich Air Ministry despite a U.S. Army Air Corps prohibition. Brown Bros., Harriman and Co. of New York arranged collateral security.
In 1940, a Berlin lawyer and S&C partner came to New York to lobby U.S. oil companies. While there he threw a Waldorf-Astoria gala to celebrate the fall of Paris to the Nazis. In the ensuing uproar in the press, Foster Dulles continued to defend him.
By 1944, German oil (85% synthetic, produced with Standard of NJ technology) and high explosives production were controlled by IG Farben and Vereinigte Stahlwerk, respectively. Both companies were created under the Dawes Plan and financed by Wall Street loans packaged by S&C. An internal Farben memo, coincidentally written on D-Day, 1944, said Standard’s technical expertise in synthetic fuels, lubricating fluids and tetra-ethyl lead was “most useful to us,” without which “the present methods of warfare would be impossible.”8
Churchill and FDR met in Casablanca in January 1943 and agreed to fight Germany to an unconditional surrender, in part to keep Stalin in the Allies. Soon after, Allen Dulles met in Switzerland with an agent for Himmler to tell him the agreement could “be scrapped without further ado” if Germany sued for a peace that would eliminate Hitler but leave the Reich intact. Ignoring Casablanca and against FDR’s orders, Allen’s “Operation Sunrise” arranged for the surrender of German forces in Italy just before Germany’s surrender, infuriating Stalin. Dulles’ German counterpart was General Karl Wolff, to whom Dulles gave a promise of immunity for war crimes, even though Wolf had arranged slave labor for Nazi industrialists; was the banker for Himmler’s Circle of Friends; shuttled Jews to Treblinka; administered medical experiments in Dachau; commanded Nazi security forces in Italy and as a result was high on the prosecution list. Dulles kept his promise, submitting an affidavit on Wolff’s behalf, which got him out of prison for time served in 1949. In 1953 Wolff organized a German neo-fascist party and in ’56, an association of former SS officers.9
Even after Hitler took power in 1933, Foster Dulles continued to represent IG Farben and refused to shut down S&C’s Berlin office until partners, tired of having to sign letters, “Heil Hitler,” rebelled in ’35. Throughout the war, Foster protected the U.S. assets of Farben and also Merck from confiscation as alien property. Arthur Goldberg, who served with Allen in the OSS, the CIA’s forerunner, and later on the Supreme Court, claimed both Dulles brothers were guilty of treason.10
In 1945, Lt. Richard Nixon, wrapping up Navy east coast war accounts, discovered Nazi documents explaining how Foster and Allen Dulles laundered payments from their German clients. Allen bought Nixon’s silence by agreeing to finance his 1946 congressional campaign against incumbent Jerry Voorhis, launching Nixon’s red-baiting career against a New Dealer whose “communist” activities consisted of supporting a government takeover of the Federal Reserve, creating a national credit union, expanding Social Security and opposing the oil depletion allowance and offshore drilling.11
Space limitations prevent describing post-war “ratlines” run by OSS officers that helped Nazis escape Germany; or Operation Paperclip, an official U.S. program to bring to the U.S. Nazis like Hitler’s rocket scientist, Werner von Braun; or various examples of OSS-funded and organized sabotage operations in Eastern Europe sure to fuel Moscow’s paranoia; or Operation Gladio, which armed right-wing partisans in Western Europe and stockpiled weapons for “stay-behind” paramilitary units; or sabotaging European political parties judged insufficiently anti-communist; or decades of aggression against Cuba fueled by mafia dons and corporations ejected by Castro’s revolution.
Besides the connections between U.S. corporations and Nazis, there is another sinister commonality. America’s “secret government” resembles Himmler’s SS in the way both used funding from industrial and criminal elites to pursue ruthless “off budget” activities.
Some of the CIA’s sources included the Rockefeller Brothers who “served as private bankers for (Allen) Dulles’ intelligence empire,” including the MKULTRA mind-control experiments, and William Pawley, a U.S. sugar baron run out of Cuba by Castro.12
Today, those in the growing social movement to end corporate constitutional rights and the doctrine that money equals “free speech” are under no illusions. It’s likely that passing resolutions for a constitutional amendment to strip corporations of these powers won’t be enough.
Political resistance to corporate rule and oligarchy/plutocracy at some point may become inevitable as the corporate and political elite extends their grip on government and culture – a development often identified as a marker of fascism. Democracy activists may even have to risk their own personal safety to hold back that flood. History tells us what may happen if we don’t.
1“The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government” David Talbot 2015
2“Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler” Antony C. Sutton 1976
3Talbot op. cit.
4Sutton op. cit.
5Sutton op. cit.
6Sutton op. cit.
7Sutton op. cit.
8Sutton op. cit.
9Talbot op. cit.
10Talbot op. cit.
11Talbot op. cit.
12Talbot op. cit.
Ferner is a POCLAD principal and former national President of Veterans For Peace.