What do IBM, Hugo Boss, Porsche, Audi, Degesch, Ford, Bayer, BMW, Krupp, Seimens and Mercedes have in common? Multinational Fortune 500 companies? Well known and popular brands? Close…They were ALL Nazi collaborators made successful through willing capitulation and involvement with the brutal regime. Please don’t be mistaken in the view that their hands were forced: these companies had to meet some very tight requirements and competition to be allowed access to the free and captive workforce that the Nazi party were waving around as reward for being official suppliers as well as continuing to trade on the commercial market. If the ever the events of the past could teach us anything, it is why we must think and make actively ethical purchasing choices.
“A well-known anti-semite, Henry Ford, published anti-Jewish slandersand was awarded the highest medal Hitler could award a foreigner (The Grand Cross of the German Eagle). Ford was even named in Hitler’s auto-biography, Mein Kampf, as the only man in America who was fully independent from Jewish control” –
A US Army report shows Ford, the company, as an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler’s regime whose German division made huge profits in becoming an “arsenal of Nazism.” Like IBM, Ford claims to have lost control of its German division, Fordwerke, before it started using forced labour but according to a well-researched and damning report in The Nation, “Robert Schmidt, the man appointed to run Ford Werke in 1939, states that the company used forced laborers even before the Nazis put the plant in trusteeship.” Ford also placed a rabid Nazi as head of Fordwerke, and US Government documents show that Ford was in constant communication with the Ford plants in Nazi-occupied Vichy France.
It’s interesting to note that while Americans of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and placed in camps by the US government, large companies like Ford were allowed to help build the Nazi military without much interference.
Used slave labour to repair aeroplane engine. It is estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 slave labourers, POWs and concentration camp inmates were used. If they were paid at all their wages were sent to the SS treasury to fund their own destruction.
Audi were formerly known as Horch and then as Auto Union and made, among other things, the SDKFZZ 222 armoured cars and the Horche type 80 (otherwise known as Kraftfazuef or the KFZ11)
The company was founded by Ferdinand Porsche just before the beginning of WWII. Porche’s partner in the design of the VW beetle was the orchestrator of the horror himself; Adolf Hitler. The idea behind the beetle was to provide a cheap car that every German could afford. Porsche lobbied the fuhrer for support and soon after he had factories churning them out in the thousands.
“Soon, its factories were also producing grenades, land mines and V1 rockets to help the Nazis fight the war. To speed along production, VW used as many as 20,000 slave laborers – the vast majority being foreign prisoners from Russia, Poland, France, Belgium and Holland. At Volkswagen, the foreign workforce was subjected to incessant beatings, malnutrition and early death.”
Ferdinand Porsche, was an SS activist and chairman of the Panzer committee which developed innovations in armored vehicles. He also played a key role in developing the Fi 103 flying bombs which were used indiscriminately against civilians.
“”In the opinion of this officer the function of this organization was nothing more than a death chamber for children of slave workers and veiled by the term ‘maternity hospital.'” “The infants literally rotted away with the same sequence of symptoms, vomiting, diarrhoea, emaciation, distended blueish colored abdomens and death. The nursery was loaded with bedbugs and flies. The infants cried all night while being bitten by the bedbugs. . . . One mother attempted to take her child from the nursery in a hand bag.” Statements taken from the U.S. Army War Crimes Investigation
They started using foreign workers and Soviet & French POWs as forced labor in early 1941, and were heavily dependent on them by the end of that year. Many of their Soviet workers refused to work, and engaged in strikes. Daimler-Benz sent the “ring-leaders” of these strikes to concentration camps.
“In December of 1944, Daimler-Benz was using 26,958 forced foreign workers, 4,887 POWs, and thousands of concentration camp inmates under the most brutal conditions to build the Luftwaffe and other weapons of the Nazi war machine. However, this number does not take into account the number of workers who had previously escaped, died, or had been sent to concentration camps. As the war progressed and it became obvious that Germany would lose, Daimler-Benz factories became even more cruel, using more and more prisoners, and sending greater numbers of dissident workers to the camps.” – http://www.theawfultruth.com/salbmw/
Neil Gregor wrote an exhaustive account called Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich. Referring to Daimler-Benz and other companies using forced labour, Gregor states:
“Insofar as industrialists and managers did drift into barbarism, they did so in any case because they broadly accepted National Socialist ideology and had allowed it to permeate the culture of the company…The company was able to survive in a relatively healthy position down to the end of the war at least partly at the expense of the health, and indeed in many cases the lives, of these thousands of victims of forced labour.”
BAYER used to be a much larger German chemical company called IG Farben. It was also known as Degesch. The company is still in business, producing insecticides and pesticides. This company, alongside Tesch/Stabenow -which liquidated in 1979 – were the producers of Zyklon b; the cyanide gas which was used to murder so many people. It also used prison labor in the production of synthetic rubber and oil. During the Nuremburg trials, 24 IG Farben executives were indicted and charged with 5 counts including “slavery and mass murder.” 25,000 of the 30,000 slave labourers who worked for IG Farben at Auschwitz died there.
Bayer is most important for given heroin its name. The drug was promoted as having “heroic” properties, which is ironic since it by all accounts turns you into a shivering shell of a man.
After he oversaw the first use of chemicals in warfare, his wife killed herself in their garden with his service revolver in protest. Once Hitler took over, Haber decided to renounce Judaism to fit in, only to be told that he was still Jewish according to the Nazi rule book because his mother was Jewish. He died of a heart attack while fleeing the country he spent his life serving. The chemical he originally invented to kill insects was used to kill a number of his relatives in the Concentration Camps.
Bayer, though, has continued some of its ‘master-race’ attitudes into the modern era. First off, Aspirin was invented by a Jewish man, Arthur Eichengrun, whose name Bayer still refuses to acknowledge. To this day, the “official” history of the company denies Eichengrun’s involvement in the invention of aspirin, and states that an Aryan invented the drug, because as we all know, Aryans are better at everything. One such Bayer-employed Aryan was a nice, thoughtful fellow by the name of Josef Mengele, who Bayer sponsored to seek out medical discoveries in the important field of torturing people to death.
IBM have always been an American company but pre-war American industry was also known to be somewhat ambiguous on the ethical practices front (what’s changed?) so trading with Nazi controlled Germany wasn’t enough to make them bat so much as an moral eye-lid. Groups such as the Rockerfeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute are also known to be donors to the Nazi eugenics programs prior to the start of the war. Once the war had began, most American companies had done the decent thing and ceased trading but IBM continued exploration into Hitler’s ‘final solution.
In those days databases were kept in the form of punchcards and IBM led the way in both the construction and maintenance of those databases. They claim that they were merely the victims of circumstance and that their German branch had fallen under Nazi control, like many businesses of the time but records exist which contradict that claim. IBM issued internal memos within their New York office acknowledging that their machines were aiding the Nazification of Germany by making them more efficient and that they would have to increase production in order to meet the demand. They made no attempt to end the relationship and separate themselves from their German branch.
Neither have they ever attempted an apology or even acknowledged that an apology is needed. It appears that they hope that time is all that is needed to erase their complicit and active involvement in the murder of so many people.
The company is a rare beastie in that it has its roots back in the 19th century founded by famed scientist Werner von Siemens. He was dead long before the 1940s, so Mr. Werner von Siemens is guilty of nothing. The same cannot be said for company he gave that name to. The rise of Hitler in the 1930s was taken as a cue to begin building factories at Auschwitz and Buchenwald and hundreds of thousands of slave workers were employed to build all sorts of goodies for the German military to use on both the western and the eastern fronts. Siemens was in charge of Germany’s rail infrastructure, communications, power generation … the list goes on.
These days Siemens is being forced to pay due to a series of lawsuits from survivors. So, at least they’re sorry and own up to it, right? Wrong. A few years ago, in an act of insensitivity so colossal it could blot out the sun, Siemens tried to trademark the name “Zyklon” with the intent of marketing a series of products under the name including gas ovens.
They built the gas champers and used an estimated 70,000 people in armament factories. Krupp even built a plant inside the Auschwitz camp to produce fuses and had another within the Ravensbreuk camp. The family contributed 4,738446 marks to the Nazi Party and violated treaties on forced labour by importing forced-labourers from nearly every Nazi occupied country. They were compelled to produce munitions for use against their own countries and were underfed, overworked, misused, inhumanely treated by the company. Krupp’s records were captured in 1944 and show that they were working 54,990 foreign forced labourers and 18,902 POWs.
“While Hugo Boss was a member of the Nazi party, there is no proof that he personally subscribed to the Nazi doctrine. It is believed that while Hugo Boss was a member of the Nazi party, he was one of many Germans who joined the Nazis as a survival method to save themselves and their businesses.” – History Of Hugo Boss by: Sameerah Blue
Hugo Boss founded the company in 1923. The head office is still in Stutgard, Germany. He went bust in1930 but in an agreement with his creditors he was able to keep 6 sewing machines and start again in 1931. From making mens’ bespoke suits he moved on to production of working clothes and uniforms. 1931 was also the year that Boss joined the Nazi Party and began producing uniforms for the SS and the Hitler Youth among others. The reason he gave was that he hoped the party would end the devastating unemployment ravaging Germany at the time, adding that he had become withdrawn from the Lutheran church. As well as a member of the Nazi party, he also became a sponsoring member of the SS.
- 1936 – Joined the German labour Front
- 1939 – Joined the Reich Air Protection Association
- 1941 – Joined National Socialist People’s Welfare
Boss personally admitted supporting the party with uniforms since 1924 but this is more likely to have been since 1928 and certain from 1934 when he became their official supplier. Like many other business at the time, Boss took advantage of the cheap and captive labour from concentration and POW camps provided to him by the Nazis in order to make the branding of their own oppressors and captors. In 1946, the denazification project declare Boss an opportunistic sympathiser, supporter, activist and beneficiary of Nazism. As a result he was stripped of the right to vote, to run a business and fined more than 80,000 marks. Hugo Boss died in 1948 and the company was taken over by his son-in-law.
In 1997 the company appeared on a list of dormant Swiss bank accounts spurring a litany of articles highlighting the company’s willing involvement. By 1999 lawsuits were filed in New Jersey on behalf of the survivors or families of those used to provide forced labour. No comment was made by the company about the cases but they reiterated an earlier statement that that it “would not close it’s eyes to the past but rather dead with these issues in a forthright manner”. They even funded the research of historian Elisabeth Timm but when she went to the press with her findings, they refused to publish them.
The German government and a team of American class action lawyers, Jewish groups and the US government reached an agreement to compensate slave labourers used during WWII. This was to be achieved by way of a $1.5 billion fund to be contributed equally by German industry and the German government. Hugo Boss agreed to pay 752,000 euros to the fund: a small price to pay for the pain, misery and humiliation caused by the company’s appalling ethical practices.
It is worth remembering that due to the nature of the Nazi party, if Hugo Boss and the other collaborating corporations had not cooperated with the regime, others would have. Their refusal to comply would have only resulted in the imprisonment of the objectors and the complete take over of the business. It does not excuse their actions but nor does it condemn the people that now run and work for those companies. It would be unreasonable to expect the working generation to accept responsibility for the actions of their predecessors of more than 70 years ago in the same measure that it is unjust to expect the victims of those atrocities to merely forgive and forget what was done to them. It is not this generation’s place to either offer forgiveness or demand accountability for events and crimes that, though within living memory, have had little effect on us other than shock after a few weeks of history lessons.
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00zf4hz – Publishing the Third Reich
http://www.google.co.uk/search?aq=0&oq=hugo+boss+and+the+n&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=hugo+boss+and+the+nazis#q=hugo+boss+and+the+nazis&hl=en&prmd=ivns&ei=OPWBTd-BC4yKhQf1t8y7BA&start=50&sa=N&fp=c94ade29ed9ade5 – Google Search Results
- http://boingboing.net/2008/01/07/from-nazi-collaborat.html – have asked them to verify some of their claims as I have found contradictory information.