Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nazi Military-Industrial Complex (Global corporations and their Nazi connections)

Last century saw the rise and clash of three dominant political ideologies capitalism, Marxism and fascism. The inherent conflicts between these ideologies created a deep and sinister impact on the world politics and humanity at large. Towards the end of 1920, the meteoric rise of National Socialism in Germany, and with it of Nazi dictatorship, emerged as a major threat to communist Russia and Capitalist United states. 

In those eventful 12 years of Nazi rule (1933-1945) that culminated into WWII, Germany created a powerful industrial -military complex which was far more potent and interconnected than anyone had ever seen. As a result of this alliance between Nazi leadership and industrial-military complex, many big corporations in those times witnessed a sudden upsurge in their profits. Industries big and small all over Germany became part of Hitler's massive war machine. In fact, many of the most dominant corporations of our time made fortunes funding both sides of the war and this not only had German firms but also some of the major US and European companies and banking giants. This blogpost is an attempt to explore such mutualistic relationships between some of these big corporations and the Nazi leadership.

I.G. Farben
The foremost name in this list is that of I.G. Farben, the colossus nazi industrial trust that created the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. I.G. farben was a chemical conglomerate formed in 1925 bymajor companies such as BSAF, Bayer, and Hoechst among others. I.G. Farben’s top officials were staunch Nazi followers and some of them were SA officers who personally knew both Rudolf Hess and Ernst Roehm. I.G farben had a very pivotal role in the creation of Nazi war machine. As post-war investigation by US war department revealed – 

Without I. G.'s immense productive facilities ,its intense research, and vast international affiliations, Germany's prosecution of the war would have been unthinkable and impossible; Farben not only directed its energies toward arming Germany, but concentrated on weakening her intended victims, and this double-barreled attempt to expand the German industrial potential for war and to restrict that of the rest of the world was not conceived and executed "in the normal course of business." The proof is overwhelming that I. G. Farben officials had full prior knowledge of Germany's plan for world conquest and of each specific aggressive act later undertaken ....

I.G. Farben obtained all major government and military contracts, thanks to its nazi connections, to build factories and provide rubber, gasoline, lubricating oils, magnesium, fibres, explosives and other chemicals. In its most infamous plant at Auschwitz, it even installed its own patented pesticide Zyklon B in the gas chambers. It didn’t stop there. Farben used unwilling inmates in these camps as guinea pigs to test their chemicals, pharmaceuticals and vaccines resulting in disturbing consequences.

In this due course I.G Farben immensely grew in size and power and acquired controlling interests in numerous German and foreign firms.  Its reach was not restricted to Europe alone. It formed complex cartels with US firms such as Standard Oil of New Jersey (Rockefeller owned), DuPont, Alcoa, Dow Chemical, and others to acquire the raw materials from abroad. It also received heavy financing from Wall Street bankers such as National city bank, Federal Reserve Bank of NY. In the Nuremberg trials, all directors of Farben were charged guilty of war crimes.  

Thyssen and Krupp
Thyssen, a major German steel manufacturer set by by influential German industrialist August thyssen, merged with another German firm Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp in 1999 to form ThyssenKrupp, a large conglomerate world famous for its elevators. Krupps were a very prominent 400 year old German dynasty and famous steel manufacturers. After Nazi seizing power in 1933, Hitler appointed Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, then controller of Krupp industry, as chairman of the Reich Federation of German Industry who eventually succeeded by his son Alfried Krupp. During Nazi rearmament program, Krupp was the principal German maker of large caliber artillery, armor plate, and other high quality armament, the largest private builder of U-boats and warships, the infamous German Panzer tanks, and the second largest producer of iron and coal in Germany. On the other hand Fritz Thyssen, son of August thyssen, was influenced by Nazi ideology of supression of communist and social democrats but could not swallow the idea of anti-Semitism. While trying to emigrate to France but was captured by Nazi army. He was sent to Dachau camp and remained there till he was liberated by axis forces.

Volkswagen and Porsche
German Volkswagen group and world famous expensive car manufacturer Porsche was founded by Ferdinand Porsche, who threw himself in the services of German war machine and eventually benefitted by it. Ferdinand Porsche enjoyed a strong reputation with both Hitler and Josef Stalin. Designed under the Nazi regime, VW beetle became the famous “people’s car”. Hitler helped Porsche with land, fund and other means to set up his plants close to autobahn and canals. Being obsessed with the productivity concerns, Porsche turned to his SS friend, Fritz Sauckel, responsible for the mass deportation of workers. With his help, Porsche employed forced laborers sourced directly from death camps at VW factories at minimum or no cost which allowed for pocketing huge profits.  Ferdinand Porsche himself served Hitler during the war as the head of his tank commission.

Likewise, The Quandt family empire, which became a major shareholder in BMW after the Second World War building it up to become one of the most desirable car brands were linked inseparably with Nazis. Family patriarch, G√ľnther Quandt and his son Herbert collaborated with Nazis and used estimated 50,000 slave laborers from concentration camps in their factories to supply arms contracts to the regime.

Similarly, another giant in the German automobile industry, Mercedes Benz accepted that its  armament production accounted for an ever-growing proportion of the company’s revenues up to the start of the war. The company focused on the manufacture and assembly of military components for the army, navy and air force. Daimler-Benz also used forced laborers. These prisoners of war, abducted civilians and detainees from concentration camps were housed close to the plants. Forced laborers from Western Europe lived in guest houses, private accommodation or schools.

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