These American companies might have worked with the nazis at some point…
As the world’s leading capitalist nation, everyone wants to do business with the United States. However, there are dark chapters in the business book of American history as we have shaken hands and done international business with countries, administrations, and governments with “questionable” views on social rights. And it is still going on today, our relationship with the current regime in Saudi Arabia being a prime example.
When it comes to naming the most despicable, criminal, and genocidal regimes of all time, few fingers would point anywhere else than straight at the Nazis. They dealt with many companies to help build up their regime of terror before inflicting it on the world and some of those companies just happened to be American.
With the far right, fascism, and Nazism beginning to rear their ugly heads across the nation, many have expressed their outrage and pointed out that we fought a war to destroy this ideology. But people are quick to forget that Nazism has long been entrenched in not only the minds of a few moronic malcontents but some major US companies.
So, here we take a look at 10 US companies that worked with the Nazis and have seemingly been forgotten by history.
1. Chase-Manhattan Bank
Originally founded on September 1, 1799, as The Bank of The Manhattan Company before merging with the Chase National Bank (founded in 1877) in 1955 to create the financial entity we know today, the Chase Manhattan Bank has a questionable history with Hitler and Nazi Germany. This relationship was brought into sharp focus when in 2004 the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released declassified documents proving their business relationship.
One of the more egregious revelations concerns Chase-Manhattan ( along with a handful of other US banks) and their aiding in the rise of the Third Reich by allowing Nazi sympathizers to purchase Marks with dollars at a discounted rate and helping the Nazis raise $20 million for a dollar exchange, for which they received a healthy bonus of $500,000. Between 1936 and 1941 it only got worse for French Jews and fleeing Jewish people as Chase-Manhattan actively froze or blatantly stole money from their accounts.
2. Ford Motors
This is world famous multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, was founded by Henry Ford on June 16, 1903, but it wouldn’t take the founder long to show his disdain and disgust for the Jewish people as in 1918 he purchased his hometown newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, and continuously filled it with his anti-Semitic rants. It’s still debated today whether his four-volume set of anti-Semitic pamphlets, ‘The International Jew,’ inspired Hitler and his ilk to create the Third Reich.
However, come the rise of Hitler, the mutual respect and admiration the two men had for one another were as plain as the nose on your face. Hitler awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle on his 75th birthday, 30 July 1938, and in turn, Hitler proudly hung a portrait of Henry in his Munich office and told reporters that “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration.” The true extent of their evil association would come to light years later when it was discovered that Ford Motor factories were exploiting enslaved Russians to work in their factories mainly in the city of Cologne.
3. Dow Chemical
Currently among the three largest chemical producers in the world, Dow Chemical made its name when chemist, and soon-to-be company founder, Herbert Henry Dow invented a new strategy to extract the bromine that was trapped in brine at Midland, Michigan in 1897. And although they would supply many war materials in WWI that the United States had previously imported from Germany, it wouldn’t be long before Dow was in bed with the Germans.
The horrifying collaboration was uncovered in the early 1940s by the Truman Committee when they revealed that right up until the United States entered into the Second World War, Dow Chemical and their Nazi counterpart, chemical conglomerate I G Farben, had been running a magnesium cartel. They were selling large quantities of magnesium to the Nazis for 21¢ a pound while simultaneously selling it to the US for 30¢, whilst also trying to shut out the British. That magnesium would be used in the incendiary bombs that would rain fire over Europe, costing countless lives.
Invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia, before being sold in 1888 to businessman Asa Griggs Candler whose marketing prowess turned this temperance drink intended to be a patent medicine into the soft-drink behemoth it became throughout the 20th and 21st century. The company is no stranger to dodgy collaborations as recently as July 2001, the Coca-Cola Company was sued over its alleged use of far-right death squads to terrorize Colombian bottler workers for wanting to unionize. So it shouldn’t be surprising that they worked with the Nazis.
And the work they did, they were already a major part of German consumerism up until the United States entered into the war in 1942. But when they did enter the conflict, the United States established a trade embargo against Nazi Germany to make the export of Coca-Cola syrup difficult. That was until Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland, decided to circumvent this by creating a new product made for ingredients only found in Germany and naming it ‘Fanta.’ While you can argue it is only a soft drink, in a time when sugar was rationed and harder to find, Fanta was right there to supply it.
At the beginning of this story, it can be argued that the F. W. Woolworth Company was somewhat caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea, or the Nazis and the US government. Woolworth had long sold merchandise throughout the United States and Germany but when the movement to boycott Jewish businesses in Germany reared its ugly head, Woolworths was accused of being a Jewish-owned business.
The founder Frank Winfield Woolworth was, in fact, Methodist and it is believed that because Hitler was rather fond of Woolworth’s stores he made sure not to nationalize or destroy them. The company was caught between anti-Nazis wanting to boycott their products for seemingly working with the Nazis, while others who still perceived them as a Jewish-owned business want to boycott them for that reason. Don’t feel sorry for them as they quickly clarified their position by firing all its Jewish workers and were considered honorary Aryan sellers by the Reich.
MGM started its journey to becoming Hollywood’s most prestigious film studio on April 17, 1924, when business magnate Marcus Loew combined Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures into one company. The studio would become wildly popular not only in the United States but, in Germany as well.
German audiences, who through these films had a romanticized view of America, made up a huge portion of their profit and traffic so even when the war started after the 1939 invasion of Poland, MGM was more than happy to provide both entertainment and support for the Nazi regime. So much so that they donated 11 film reels for relief efforts even while evidence of what the Nazis were doing in the concentration camps began to surface. The show must go on.
Producing various products related to its historic basis in analog photography, the company George Eastman and Henry A. Strong founded on May 23, 1892, would have no problem in becoming the most dominant photographic company in the 20th century, so it will come an as little surprise that they had no problem making shady deals with the Nazi’s. They already had numerous subsidiaries and businesses in Germany, so, when the war came along and closed their main operations in the country, the subsidiaries just carried on making money.
And that was the only thing Kodak was interested in, profit. They had no issues whatsoever in selling photographic and electronic equipment to the Nazis to aid their war effort, so much so, that they even used 250 slave laborers taken from concentration camps to help them keep the money rolling in. What a “Kodak moment.”
8. General Electric
General Electric is arguably one of the most famous names in American history, but one event that has left a considerable stain on their legacy seems to not see the spotlight so much these days. The year following the end of World War II the American government accused GE of criminal conspiracy during the war. And they weren’t wrong in their accusations. GE had partnered with the massive German company, Krupp Aktiengesellschaft, during World War II to create shortages of carboloy, an important material during the war, by forcing the price up from $48/pound to a staggering $453/pound.
On top of that, Krupp, with the help of GE, exploited Jewish slave labor and used that slave labor to build the very things that would end their lives, the gas chambers found in concentration camps. Though found guilty by the United States government and fined, the estimated $1.5 million working with Krupp during WWII, sure made those fines an easy pill to swallow as once again, profits over people.
The Alcoa Corporation (an acronym for Aluminum Company of America) may be one of today’s largest possessors and manufacturers of aluminum, which was also the case in the lead-up to the Second World War. With the war drums sounding on the horizon, Nazi Germany was eager to get their hands on as much aluminum as they could to aid their increasing war machine. And Alcoa was more than happy to oblige as there was some serious money to be made.
There was one small problem with this deal, with all the aluminum going to Nazi Germany, there was little left to aid America when it entered the war. That hindered America’s early military efforts and operations so much that in June of 1941, Harold Ickes, the then Secretary of the Interior, said: “If America loses this war, it can thank the Aluminum Corporation of America.” That’s quite a damning statement to make about an American company at that time.
Originally founded in 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company by trust businessman Charles Ranlett Flint, before changing its name to “International Business Machines” in 1924, this New York-based technology corporation would be responsible for some of the greatest innovations in the computer and then digital age. However, some of their ‘innovations’ helped facilitate one of the greatest crimes in history. The Holocaust.
Through their majority-owned German subsidiary, Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen GmbH (Dehomag), they developed the Hollerith punch card and alphabetical accounting equipment, a punch card system that the Nazis used to better identify Jews and other “undesirables.” This implemented the Nazi’s ‘Final Solution’ run as efficiently as possible as they could easily track and catalog Jewish populations and route them to concentration camps to meet the most grizzly of ends.
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