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The Ford family's association with Nazis, far from being an exceptional fluke, was representative of the American automobile industry. The du pont family owned 37% of General Motors. Lammot du Pont served on the Board of Directors of General Motors from 1918 to 1946 and his older son, Pierre, was made president of GM in 1920 while his younger son, Irénée, sat on the board of directors of the auto company between 1921 and 1924. Like the Fords, and despite the fact they were Jewish, the du Ponts were anti-Semiic and in the 1930s they funded native American Fascist organizations like the American Liberty League. In 1936 "Irénée du Pont used General Motors money to finance the notorious Black Legion. This terrorist organization had as its purpose the prevention of automobile workers from unionizing. The members wore hoods and black robes, with skull and crossbones. They fire-bombed union meetings, murdered union organizers, often by beating them to death, and dedicated their lives to destroying Jews and communists. They linked to the Ku Klux Klan...[Irénée] personally paid almost $1 milion from his own pocket for armed and gas-equipped storm troops modeled on the Gestapo to sweep through the plants and beat up anyone who proved rebellious."

In 1933 GM's President, William Knudsen, traveled to Germany to meet with Göring,who assured him there would be no German annexation of GM operations in Germany. "By the mid-1930s, General Motors was committed to full-scale production of trucks, armored cars, and tanks in Nazi Germany." The company's vice president, Graeme K. Howard, wrote the book America and a New World Order in 1940, which praised Hitler and advocated appeasement with the Nazis. James Mooney, GM's head of its European operations, also strongly advocated appeasement, telling U.S. diplomat George Messersmith on December 22, 1936 in Vienna, "We ought to make some arrangement with Germany for the future. There is no reason why we should let our moral indignation over what happens in that country stand in the way." The next day, Messersmith reported to the Acting Secretary of State on Mooney's views, writing that, "It is curious that Mooney and Col. Sosthenes Behn [chief of American International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation...both give this opinion. The factories owned by ITT in Germany are running full time and in double shifts and increasing their capacity for the simple reason that they are working almost entirely on government orders and for military equipment. The Opel works, owned by General Motors, are [also] working very well [in the same way.]"

In 1938 Mooney received the Order of the Golden Eagle from Hitler. In 1939 Mooney traveled to Berlin and then to London to enlist U.S. Ambassador Joseph Kennedy's support for a peace plan that would, according to Mooney's notes [paraphrased here by Higham], involve giving Germany "a half to one billion gold loan through the BIS, a restoration of Germany's colonies, a removal of embargo on German goods, participation in Chinese markets. On Germany's side there would be armaments limitations, nonaggression pacts, and free exchange." Higham notes that, "Whatever Mooney's motives, these were pure Nazi objectives, nothing else."

On June 26, 1940, Mooney, along with other American business leaders including Edsel Ford, gave a party for Gerhardt Westrick, the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation's chief in Germany, who had traveled to the United States in March. Westrick's law partner until 1938, Dr. Heinrich Albert, was the head of Ford in Germany, and Westrick "represented in Germany not only Ford but General Motors, Standard oil, the Texas Company, Sterling Products, and the Davis Oil Company." The party hosted by Mooney and Ford was to "celebrate the Nazi victory in France." During his stay in the United States, Westrick gave an interview to The New York Times in which he expressed views shared by the Nazis and the American business leaders he represented: He said the U.S. should loan the Nazi government $25 billion at one and one half percent interest, with the money shipped to the Bank for International Settlements, and he called for a peace presided over by Wall Street, the Reichsbank, and the Bank of Japan.

When asked his opinion of Mooney in 1941, Messersmith wrote on March 5, "Mooney is fundamentally fascist in his sympathies. Of course he is quite unbalanced...he is obsessed by this strange notion that a few businessmen, including himself, can take care of the war and the peace. I am absolutely sure that Mooney is keeing up this contact with the Germans because he believes, or at least stillhopes, that they will win the war, and he thinks if they do that he will be our Quisling." In response to FBI questioning by L.L. Tyler in mid-October 1940, Mooney said, "Besides, Hitler is in the right and I'm not going to do anything to make him mad. I know Hitler has all the cards" and added that [as paraphrased by Higham] "Germany needed more room; and that if we tried to prevent the expansion of the German people under Hitler, it would be 'just too bad for  us.'" Shortly after making these statements, Mooney was promoted to assistant to the company's president for defense liaison work in Detroit. [277]

The last of the top 10 wealthiest families' corporations that we consider here is the Mellon family's Aluminum Corporation of America (Alcoa). In May 1941, Congressman Pierce of Oregon charged hat Alcoa's sabotage of American war production had cost the U.S. "10,000 fighters or 1,665 bombers [because of] the effort to protect Alcoa's monopolistic position..." Secretary of the Interior Ickes, on June 26, said, "If America loses this war, it can thank the Aluminum Corporation of America." These accusations sprang from the fact that, as George Seldes wrote in 1943, "By its cartel agreement with I.G. Farben, controlled by Hitler, Alcoa sabotaged the aluminum program of the U.S. air force. The Truman Committee [on National Defense, chaired by then-Senator Harry S Truman in 1942] heard testimony that Alcoa's representative, A.H. Bunker, $1-a-year head of the aluminum section of O.P.M. [Office of Production Management], prevented work on our $600,000,000 aluminum expansion program." [278]

The pro-Fascist American businessmen cited above are only some of the ones that Higham and others have written about. Clearly many of the largest and most powerful industrialists in America did not fear Germany or Japan as a threat to their business profits. They understood how to do business with Fascists and expected business would be very good. [279] For these businessmen, the American war effort was something that they either disagreed with or treated as an inconvenience. Insofar as this sector of the American business elite is concerned, the evidence certainly does not suggest that competing economic interests of Allied and Axis bankers or industrialists proved the motive for the war.

Kid Gloves for Traitors

Most Americans are not aware of the pro-Fascist sympathies of many American corporate leaders during World War II. The reason is that the FDR and subsequent administrations kept a lid on this information and never prosecuted the corporate executives who could have been charged with crimes such as trading with the enemy in times of war. On the contrary, these men were often given important roles in the wartime government: Standard Oil's William Farish served on the War Petroleum Board, and General Motors President William S. Knudsen headed the Office of Production Management. The government treated the Fascist leanings of corporate leaders merely as an embarrassment to be hidden from public view. President Roosevelt and his cabinet and other advisors were highly sensitive to how the general public perceived the government and corporate leadership class. Their prime concern was preserving the power of this class over American working people, which was a far more fundamental problem than ensuring high profits. These politicians were experts at manipulating public opinion and using the rhetoric of war to control domestic rebellions. They understood, in many cases with far greater sophistication than business leaders, that the purpose of the U.S. entry into World War II was to provide an ideological cover for actions that were in fact meant to defeat working class movements at home and abroad. The appearance of an "all out war against Fascism" was more important than its reality. If U.S. banks and industry were making money by supplying war materials to the "enemy"--so what? The important thing was that ordinary Americans did not hear about it and become cynical about their leaders' real motives. Thus, whenever the "dirty little secret" of corporate indifference to the military outcome of the war leaked out, government officials aced shocked and pretended to take strong action, but did not do so for real. Two examples illustrate the pattern.

On March 26, 1943, Congressman Jerry Voohis introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for an investigation of the Bank for International Settlements, including "the reasons why an American retains the position as president of the Bank being used o further the designs and purposes of Axis powers." When the resolution was not considered by Congress, Congressman John Coffee objected, sating, "The Nazi government has 85 million Swiss gold francs on deposit in the BIS. The majority of the board is made up of Nazi officials. Yet American money is being deposited in the Bank." Objections to the BIS had become strong enough that when the International Monetary Conference met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, on July 10, 1944, one economist there called for the BIS to be dissolved. The Chase and the First National banks and others tried to silence the criticisms of the BIS, but then New Hampshire's Senator Charles Tobey addressed the meeting on July 18 and said, "What you're doing by your silence and inaction is aiding anbd abetting the enemy." Under these circumstances Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau and Secretary of State Hull (who had approved of the BIS until now) decided that the U.S. delegation to the Conference would officially approve he dissolution of the BIS, and he Conference voed to dissolve it. But it was all for show. Despite the Bretton Woods Resolution, the BIS was never dissolved. [280]

On February 16, 1943 the economist Henry Waldman, alarmed that U.S. companies were providing gasoline and petroleum products to Spain via the Spanish tanker fleet--in quantities equal to the full capacity of the Spanish fleet--and that Spain was helping thereby to fuel the Nazis, wrote to the New York Times, "Here we are, a nation actually assisting an enemy in timne of war, and not only that, but stating through our Ambassador, that we stand ready to continue and extend such help...Spain is [an enemy] and yet we aid her." Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles handled this problem by announcing on March 11 that "adequate guarantees have been furnished to satisfy the British and United States governments that none of these quantities of oil will reach Germany or German territory." Welles did not reveal that the "guarantees" were merely the empty promises of Spain's fascist General Franco. [281] The oil going to the Nazis was never the real problem, but word of the fact getting to the public was.

Anti-Fascist Business Leaders  click here to continue to page 4

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