Funding Evil

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For the NSDAP to become as powerful as it did, it had to receive financial backing, They could not only rely on donations of party members, because in the early 1930s many of them were not that wealthy, one of the reasons they had joined the party was to get themselves in a financial better position.

On November 19, 1932 , twenty representatives of industry, agriculture and the finance sector signed a petition ,urging Paul von Hindenburg to make Adolf Hitler the Chancellor of Germany.

The drafting of the petition was aided especially by Hjalmar Schacht, who had been the President of the Reichsbank until 1930 and resumed that position again after Hitler took power in January 1933.

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A few months after that petition, on February 20 1933, a group of 20 German  industrialists had a secret meeting with Hitler at the residence of Hermann Göring.  Hjalmar Schacht was again one of the participants. The meeting was held to facilitate funding for the Nazis election campaign for the March 5 ,1933 election.

The aim was to  achieve a two-thirds majority in order  to pass the Enabling Act,which would give Hitler total power over the Reichstag,   they wanted to raise three million Reichsmark to fund the campaign.

The Nazis  did not achieve the 3 million they desired during that meeting, but according to records,  over two million Reichsmarks were contributed or pledged at the meeting.

This is where it gets a bit problematic for me although several of the companies present on that day or who contributed monies afterwards, are no longer in existence. Some of them were disbanded after the war, or others like Hoechst who were  bought up r merged into  by other companies, Hoechst for example was partially acquired by the Dutch Hoogovens in the 1970s and the remainder of the company merged with France’s Rhône-Poulenc S.A. in 1999.

But there were companies who are still trading nowadays and are some of the biggest brands in the world. Companies like Siemens,Opel,Allianz insurance,BMW or companies like Osram lighting  who contributed 40,000 Reichsmark and AEG Electronics who gave 60,000 Reichsmark.

These companies are now household names, my dilemma is do we need to boycott them? Which would mean we can no longer sit leave alone drive an Opel or BMW, and lets not forget VW and Ford had also links to the NSDAP.

IG Farben who not only contributed 400,000 Reichsmark but also supplied Zyklon B via its subsidiary Degesch.

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But a part of IG Farben continued trading after the war as Bayer, which is one of the biggest pharmaceutical and life sciences companies in the world, many patients depend on their medicines,

As for Hjalmar Schacht who so willingly  participated in the meeting and petition, he was one of the non military people involved in the 20 July plot to kill Hitler.

I genuinely struggle with this because it is not a black and white issue. Do we really boycott all the companies who had ties with the Nazi regime? Because that is basically a great deal of companies who have been around since before WWII.

Coca Cola(via Fanta); Hugo Boss;Mercedes Benz;C&A;IBM;Chanel,Audi;Nestle;Barclays Bank;Kodak;AP;Adidas and Puma. There are literally hundreds of companies.

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Turning 2 blind eyes to the Nazi regime

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One of the reasons why the Nazi’s became so powerful as they were, was because a lot of people and companies in Germany and indeed across the world decided to look away or ignore the atrocities because it suited their own agenda and lined their own pockets.

The Associated Press

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At the height of World War II, the Associated Press made secret arrangements with an SS officer to obtain pictures taken by Nazi photographers that were distributed to American newspapers — a deal authorized by senior U.S. officials.

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(A photo of Hitler surveying Nazi troops, taken by AP News.)

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When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, many international news organizations operating in Germany began to experience pressure from the government to conform to Nazi standards.

That same year, the Nazi government’s Editor’s Law came into effect, mandating that all professional journalists be of Aryan descent and that any Jews be removed from the newsroom. The law also strictly limited what papers were allowed to publish.

Most international news organizations withdrew from Nazi Germany under these conditions, but the AP remained — and fired all their local Jewish staff.

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While the Nazis journalism laws were limited in scope, and only really affected German citizens, the pressure on the AP had already led them to alter their news habits to placate the Nazi regime.

By late 1933, the head of the German branch of the AP was already refusing to publish images that depicted the discrimination against Jews in Germany in order to stay on the good side of the Nazis.

By 1935, the AP was already one of the few international news organizations still operating in Germany. Large British-American news agencies such as Keystone and Wide World Photos had been banned from the country by the Nazi government. However, the AP remained in the nation due to their continued efforts to appease the Nazis.

At this point, the AP office in Germany came entirely under the control of the Nazi government. They placed SS members into the newsroom and began scrupulously censoring anything that portrayed the Nazis in a negative light.

In its capacity as a photo news service, the AP knowingly sold the Nazis images of Jews from inside Germany and around the world to be used in anti-semitic propaganda. They were also the leading supplier of images for a propaganda book called The Jews in the USA, and in third place among suppliers of photos for the anti-semitic book The Subhuman.

As part of their photo service, the AP also sold images from Germany to the rest of the world. These images could only leave the country after being inspected by some of the many SS members working in their offices. As a result, the AP was publishing images that showed Nazis as heroic leaders, and Jews as subhuman cowards.

This collaboration with the Nazi government was unprecedented for a foreign news press service and contributed to Nazi propaganda both within and outside Germany.

In 2017, the AP released a statement where they claim that their cooperation was justified as it allowed them to provide reporting from within Nazi Germany to the outside world. They have not apologized for their actions.

Kodak

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Like most international companies of the era, Kodak had subsidiaries in Germany and across Europe. And as Germany’s international aggression increased through the 1930s, Kodak kept its subsidiaries in Germany.

Then, in 1941, the United States joined World War II and mandated that U.S. businesses could no longer import to or export from hostile nations. As was the case with many corporations, Kodak’s branch in Germany became more autonomous at this time, coming completely under Nazi control.

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However, unlike many of those companies, Kodak started using their subsidiaries in neutral European nations, like Switzerland and Portugal, to continue doing business with Nazi Germany. They also continued to have control over their German branch thanks to their close relationship with Hitler’s personal economic adviser, Wilhelm Keppler.

These Kodak subsidiaries made substantial purchases of photographic equipment from Nazi Germany, providing funds to a foreign enemy of the United States. They also sold large amounts of photographic and electronic devices to the Nazis, much of which was used towards their war effort.

In internal documents, company leadership continued to justify their relationship with Nazi Germany on the basis of profit throughout the war. In addition to all of that, their German branch used more than 250 slave laborers from Nazi concentration camps.

And after the war, Kodak reabsorbed their German subsidiary and profited off of what they created.

Kodak paid $500,000 into a fund providing for families of those used as slave labor for Nazi corporations, but never apologized for their continued business dealings with Nazi Germany.

The Chase Manhattan Bank

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The Chase Manhattan Bank’s form of colluding with the Reich was particularly heinous. Because Carlos Niedermann, Chase’s representative in Paris, had very good personal relations with the Nazis, he agreed to their requests that the bank seize the assets of at least one hundred Parisian Jews that were considered especially worth pursuing by the Reich. This doubtless helped the Gestapo capture those people.

Chase Manhattan was hardly alone in this, though. In 1998, the company was part of a suit demanding reparations from J. P. Morgan and Citibank for the millions of dollars stolen. In the end, the payouts were $200 a month. The survivors and descendants had to fight to not have large amounts of the payments eaten up by wire transfer fees.

 

IBM and the Holocaust

IBM

Punch cards, also called Hollerith cards after IBM founder Herman Hollerith, were the forerunner of the computers that IBM is famous for today. These cards stored information in holes punched in the rows and columns, which were then “read” by a tabulating machine. The system worked like a player piano . First designed to track people and organize a census, the Hollerith system was later adapted to any tabulation or information task.

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From the first moments of the Hitler regime in 1933, IBM used its exclusive punch card technology and its global monopoly on information technology to organize, systematize, and accelerate Hitler’s anti-Jewish program, step by step facilitating the tightening noose. The punch cards, machinery, training, servicing, and special project work, such as population census and identification, was managed directly by IBM headquarters in New York, and later through its subsidiaries in Germany, known as Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft (DEHOMAG), Poland, Holland, France, Switzerland, and other European countries.

Among the punch cards published are two for the SS, including one for the SS Rassenamt, or Race Office, which specialized in racial selections and coordinated with many other Reich offices. A third card was custom-crafted by IBM for Richard Korherr, a top Nazi statistician and expert in Jewish demographics

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who reported directly to Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler and who also worked with Adolf Eichmann. Himmler and Eichmann were architects of the extermination phase of the Holocaust. All three punch cards bear the proud indicia of IBM’s German subsidiary, DEHOMAG. They illustrate the nature of the end users who relied upon IBM’s information technology.

Iin 1937, with war looming and the world shocked at the increasingly merciless Nazi persecution of the Jews, Hitler bestowed upon Watson a special award — created specifically for the occasion — to honor extraordinary service by a foreigner to the Third Reich.

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The medal, the Order of the German Eagle with Star, bedecked with swastikas, was to be worn on a sash over the heart. Watson returned the medal years later in June 1940 as a reaction to public outrage about the medal during the bombing of Paris. The return of this medal has been used by IBM apologists to show Watson had second thoughts about his alliance with the Reich. But a newly released copy of a subsequent letter dated June 10, 1941, drafted by IBM’s New York office, confirms that IBM headquarters personally directed the activities of its Dutch subsidiary set up in 1940 to identify and liquidate the Jews of Holland. Hence, while IBM engaged in the public relations maneuver of returning the medal, the company was actually quietly expanding its role in Hitler’s Holocaust. Similar subsidiaries, sometimes named as a variant of “Watson Business Machines,” were set up in Poland, Vichy France, and elsewhere on the Continent in cadence with the Nazi takeover of Europe.

Particularly powerful are the released copies of the IBM concentration camp codes. IBM maintained a customer site, known as the Hollerith Department, in virtually every concentration camp to sort or process punch cards and track prisoners.

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The codes show IBM’s numerical designation for various camps. Auschwitz was 001, Buchenwald was 002; Dachau was 003, and so on. Various prisoner types were reduced to IBM numbers, with 3 signifying homosexual, 9 for anti-social, and 12 for Gypsy. The IBM number 8 designated a Jew. Inmate death was also reduced to an IBM digit: 3 represented death by natural causes, 4 by execution, 5 by suicide, and code 6 designated “special treatment” in gas chambers. IBM engineers had to create Hollerith codes to differentiate between a Jew who had been worked to death and one who had been gassed, then print the cards, configure the machines, train the staff, and continuously maintain the fragile systems every two weeks on site in the concentration camps.

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Recently -released photographs show the Hollerith Bunker at Dachau. It housed at least two dozen machines, mainly controlled by the SS.

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The foreboding concrete Hollerith blockhouse, constructed of reinforced concrete and steel, was designed to withstand the most intense Allied aerial bombardment. Those familiar with Nazi bomb-proof shelters will recognize the advanced square-cornered pillbox design reserved for the Reich’s most precious buildings and operations. IBM equipment was among the Reich’s most important weapons, not only in its war against the Jews, but in its general military campaigns and control of railway traffic. Watson personally approved expenditures to add bomb shelters to DEHOMAG installations because the cost was born by the company. Such costs cut into IBM’s profit margin. Watson’s approval was required because he received a one-percent commission on all Nazi business profits.

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Two telling U.S. government memos, now published, are remarkable for their telling irony. The first is a State Department memo, dated December 3, 1941, just four days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and as the Nazis were being openly accused of genocide in Europe. On that day in 1941, IBM’s top attorney, Harrison Chauncey, visited the State Department to express qualms about the company’s extensive involvement with Hitler. The State Department memo recorded that Chauncey feared “that his company may some day be blamed for cooperating with the Germans.”

The second is a Justice Department memo generated during a federal investigation of IBM for trading with the enemy. Economic Warfare Section chief investigator Howard J. Carter prepared the memo for his supervisors describing the company’s collusion with the Hitler regime. Carter wrote: “What Hitler has done to us through his economic warfare, one of our own American corporations has also done … Hence IBM is in a class with the Nazis.” He ended his memo: “The entire world citizenry is hampered by an international monster.”

At a time when the Watson name and the IBM image is being laundered by whiz computers that can answer questions on TV game shows, it is important to remember that Thomas Watson and his corporate behemoth were guilty of genocide. The Treaty on Genocide, Article 2, defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” In Article 3, the treaty states that among the “acts [that] shall be punishable,” are the ones in subsection (e), that is “complicity in genocide.” As for who shall be punished, the Treaty specifies the perpetrators in Article 4: “Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals.”

In February 2001, an Alien Tort Claims Act claim was filed in U.S. federal court against IBM for allegedly providing the punched card technology that facilitated the Holocaust, and for covering up German IBM subsidiary Dehomag’s activities. In April 2001, the lawsuit was dropped. Lawyers said they feared proceeding with the suit would slow down payments from a special German Holocaust fund created to compensate forced laborers and others who had suffered due to the Nazi persecution. IBM’s German division paid $3 million into the fund, although the corporation made clear that it was not admitting liability with its contribution.

In 2004, the human rights organization Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA) filed suit against IBM in Switzerland. However, the case was dismissed in 2006 due to an expiration of time under the statute of limitations.

Edwin Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust, The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation, newly released in the Expanded Edition.

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