During World War Two, Kodak's German branch used slave laborers from concentration camps. Several of their other European branches did heavy business with the Nazi government.And Wilhelm Keppler, one of Hitler's top economic advisers, had deep ties in Kodak. When Nazism began, Keppler advised Kodak and several other U.S. companies that they'd benefit by firing all of their Jewish employees. (Source: The Nation)
In the 1930s, Hugo Boss started making Nazi uniforms. The reason: Hugo Boss himself had joined the Nazi party, and got a contract to make the Hitler Youth, storm trooper and SS uniforms. That was a huge boon for Hugo Boss... he got the contract just eight years after founding his company... and that infusion of business helped take the company to another level. The Nazi uniform manufacturing went so well that Hugo Boss ended up needing to bring in slave laborers in Poland and France to help out at the factory. In 1997, Hugo's son, Siegfried Boss, told an Austrian news magazine, "Of course my father belonged to the Nazi party. But who didn't belong back then?" (Source: New York Times)
Ferdinand Porsche, the man behind Volkswagen and Porsche, met with Hitler in 1934, to discuss the creation of a "people's car." (That's the English translation of Volkswagen.) Hitler told Porsche to make the car with a streamlined shape, "like a beetle." And that's the genesis of the Volkswagen Beetle... it wasn't just designed for the Nazis, Hitler NAMED it. During World War Two, it's believed that as many as four out of every five workers at Volkswagen's plants were slave laborers. Ferdinand Porsche even had a direct connection to Heinrich Himmler, one of the leaders of the SS, to directly request slaves from Auschwitz. (Source: The Straight Dope)
During the Holocaust, a German company called IG Farben manufactured the Zyklon B gas used in the Nazi gas chambers. They also funded and helped with Josef Mengele's "experiments" on concentration camp prisoners. IG Farben is the company that turned the single largest profit from work with the Nazis. After the War, the company was broken up. Bayer was one of its divisions, and went on to become its own company. Oh... and aspirin was founded by a Bayer employee, Arthur Eichengrun. But Eichengrun was Jewish, and Bayer didn't want to admit that a Jewish guy created the one product that keeps their company in business. So, to this day, Bayer officially gives credit to Felix Hoffman, a nice Aryan man, for inventing aspirin. (Source: Alliance for Human Research Protection, Pharmaceutical Achievers)
Siemens took slave laborers during the Holocaust and had them help construct the gas chambers that would kill them and their families. Good people over there. Siemens also has the single biggest post-Holocaust moment of insensitivity of any of the companies on this list. In 2001, they tried to trademark the word "Zyklon" (which means "cyclone" in German) to become the name a new line of products... including a line of gas ovens. Zyklon, of course, being the name of the poison gas used in their gas chambers during the Holocaust. A week later, after several watchdog groups appropriately freaked out, Siemens withdrew the application. They said they never drew the connection between the Zyklon B gas used during the Holocaust and their proposed Zyklon line of products. (Source: BBC)
Coca-Cola, specifically Fanta:
Coke played both sides during World War Two... they supported the American troops but also kept making soda for the Nazis. Then, in 1941, the German branch of Coke ran out of syrup, and couldn't get any from America because of wartime restrictions. So they invented a new drink, specifically for the Nazis: A fruit-flavored soda called Fanta. That's right: Long before Fanta was associated with a bunch of exotic women singing a god-awful jingle, it was the unofficial drink of Nazi Germany. (Source: New Statesman)
Henry Ford is a pretty legendary anti-Semite, so this makes sense. He was Hitler's most famous foreign backer. On his 75th birthday, in 1938, Ford received a Nazi medal, designed for "distinguished foreigners." He profiteered off both sides of the War -- he was producing vehicles for the Nazis AND for the Allies. I'm wondering if, in a completely misguided piece of logic, Allianz points to the Detroit Lions giving Ford the naming rights to their stadium as a reason why they should get the rights to the Meadowlands. (Source: Reformed Theology)
The Luftwaffe needed tetraethyl lead gas in order to get their planes off the ground. Standard Oil was one of only three companies that could manufacture that type of fuel. So they did. Without them, the German air force never could've even gotten their planes off the ground. When Standard Oil was dissolved as a monopoly, it led to ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, all of which are still around today. (But fortunately, their parent company's past decision to make incredible profits off of war have not carried on.) (Source: MIT's Thistle)
A lot of banks sided with the Nazis during World War Two. Chase is the most prominent.They froze European Jewish customers' accounts and were extremely cooperative in providing banking service to Germany. (Source: New York Times)
IBM custom-build machines for the Nazis that they could use to track everything... from oil supplies to train schedules into death camps to Jewish bank accounts to individual Holocaust victims themselves. In September of 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, the "New York Times" reported that three million Jews were going to be "immediately removed" from Poland and were likely going to be "exterminat[ed]." IBM's reaction? An internal memo saying that, due to that "situation", they really needed to step up production on high-speed alphabetizing equipment. (Source: CNet)
Random House publishing:
Random House's parent company, Bertelsmann A.G., worked for the Nazis... they published Hitler propaganda, and a book called "Sterilization and Euthanasia: A Contribution to Applied Christian Ethics". Bertelsmann still owns and operates several companies. I picked Random House because they drew controversy in 1997 when they decided to expand the definition of Nazi in Webster's Dictionary. Eleven years ago, they added the colloquial, softened definition of "a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc." (Think "Soup Nazi".) The Anti-Defamation League called that expanded definition offensive... especially when added by a company with Nazi ties... they said it, quote, "trivializes and denies the murderous intent and actions of the Nazi regime... it also cheapens the language by allowing people to reach for a quick word fix... [and] lends a helping hand to those whose aim is to prove that the Nazis were really not such terrible people." (Source: New York Observer, ADL)
After the war, Sommer was interviewed by the US Chief of Counsel on his activities under the Nazi regime, and specifically, about which companies used Nazi slave labor. Sommer said that the firms, after filling the necessary prerequisites, were allowed to come in to the camps and choose the prisoners they wanted. Even after seeing the horrible conditions in these camps, seeing the death, starvation, torture... these firms chose to take some of these people and exploit them for profit.
The first such firm named on Sommer's list is BMW, which makes 4 further appearances on the list. Altogether, BMW admits to using to using 25,000 - 30,000 slave laborers, POWs and concentration camp inmates. If they were payed, their meager earnings (20 cents an hour) went into the SS treasury to further fund their own annihilation (information from The Ethnic Newswatch 03.31.98). Other firms listed by Sommer include Ford, Volkswagen, Krupp, Siemens, Bayer, Porsche and Daimler-Benz (Mercedes).
Sommer's affidavit (Document No. NI-1065) is now on file in the National Archives.
Makers of washing machines, coffee makers, and the Nazi gas chambers. Krupp used over 70,000 people as slave labor in factories making armaments for the Nazis. It even operated a plant inside the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp which manufactured fuses, and another at the Ravensbreuck camp. Quotes from the war crimes tribunal transcripts: * "The Krupp family contributed from the treasury of the main Krupp company 4,738,446 marks to the Nazi Party fund." * "Once the war was on, Krupps, both Von Bohlen and Alfried being directly responsible therefor, led German industry in violating treaties and international law by employing enslaved laborers, impressed and imported from nearly every country occupied by Germany, and by compelling prisoners of war to make arms and munitions for use against their own countries. There is ample evidence that in Krupp's custody and service they were underfed and overworked, misused, and inhumanly treated. Captured records show that in September 1944 Krupp concerns were working 54,990 foreign workers and 18,902 prisoners of war." * The children were housed in "sort of prison bunks... The children there were quite naked... Many of them had swollen heads... These children were so undernourished... Fifty or sixty children died every day, and as many were born every day, because there was an influx of eastern female workers with children... The children were cremated inside the camp...."
used to be a much larger German chemical company called IG Farben. Like Krupp and the telecom company Siemens, IG Farben operated in the Auschwitz death camp where it used prison labor in the production of synthetic rubber and oil. However, their most ghastly act was in the sale of Zyklon B - the poison used in the Nazi gas chambers. During the Nuremburg trials, 24 IG Farben executives were indicted and charged with 5 counts including "slavery and mass murder." 25,000 of the 35,000 slave laborers who worked for IG Farben at Auschwitz died there. The life expectancy of the average slave laborer was 3 and a half months..
DAIMLER-BENZ: (now Daimler-Chrysler):
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. The forced laborers were housed in barracks at the plants and worked horrible shifts doing the most back-breaking tasks. Many of the 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. Using Daimler-Benz's own archive to research it's activities under Hitler, Neil Gregor wrote an exhaustive account called Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich. Referring to Daimler-Benz and other companies using forced labor, 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 labor." Click here to see a pre-war pro-Nazi ad by Daimler-Benz
a subsidiary of GM, employed thousands of forced laborers in it's German auto plants. GM claims that it cut all ties with Opel during the war, yet it regained control of Opel after the war, keeping the profits Opel made working for Hitler. Opel produced half of all the trucks and many of the airplanes used by the Nazi military. In 1967, GM was given $33 million of our tax dollars as payment for the GM factory the US bombed in Russelsheim.
Thanks to E.T.