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This is a new article, although it's not exactly news. Don't ask me where it belongs here (I'm guessing probably not the front page). It's interesting though. If you don't believe it, or hate the article, that's fine--there's a lot to ponder. And yes, I've scaled it back as much as I felt I could (if I should just post a link next time let me know).


How GM got the Third Reich rolling: part two
General Motors celebrates its 100-year anniversary. It is time to assess its ties to the enemy of the US: Nazi Germany.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 By Edwin Black

By the spring of 1933, the world was beginning to learn about the lawlessness and savagery of the Nazi regime, and the Reich’s determination to crush its Jewish community and threaten its neighbors.

On March 27, 1933, a million protesters jammed Madison Square Garden in New York, and millions more around the world joined in a coordinated show of protest against Nazi brutality. By May 10, 1933, Nazi-banned books were being torched in public bonfires across Germany. The corporate library at General Motors’ Opel in Germany was purged, as well, of Jewish-authored publications and other undesirable literature.

Beginning in the late spring of 1933, concentration camps such as Dachau were generating headlines reporting great brutality...

GM’s president Alfred P. Sloan knew what was happening in Germany. Sloan and GM officials knew also that Hitler’s regime was expected to wage war from the outset. Headlines, radio broadcasts and newsreels made that fact apparent. America, it was feared, would once again be pulled in.

Nonetheless, GM and Germany began a strategic business relationship. That relationship is largely the focus of a exclusive investigative series that re-examines the company’s conduct on both sides of the Atlantic before, during and immediately after World War II. The four-part investigation reveals that while General Motors was helping mobilize the Third Reich, it was conspiring to demobilize America’s electric mass transit, and in the process, was helping addict the United States to oil...

Unleashing The Blitzkrieg

Opel became an essential element of the German rearmament and modernization Hitler required to subjugate Europe. To accomplish that, Germany needed to rise above the horse-drawn divisions it deployed in World War I. It needed to motorize, to “blitz,” that is, to attack with lightning speed. Germany would later unleash a Blitzkrieg, a lightning war. Opel built the three-ton truck named “Blitz” — to support the German military. The Blitz truck became the mainstay of the Blitzkrieg.

Quickly, Sloan and James D. Mooney, GM’s overseas chief, realized that the Reich military machine was in fact the corporation’s best customer in Germany. Sales to the army yielded a greater per truck profit than civilian sales — a hefty 40 percent more. So GM preferred supplying the military, which never ceased its preparations to wage war against Europe.

In 1935, GM agreed to locate a new factory at Brandenburg, where it would be geographically less vulnerable to feared aerial bombardment by allied forces. In 1937, almost 17 percent of Opel’s Blitz trucks were sold directly to the Nazi military.

That military sales figure was increased to 29 percent in 1938 — totaling some 6,000 Blitz trucks that year alone. The Wehrmacht, the German military, soon became Opel’s No. 1 customer by far. Other important customers included major industries associated with the Hitler war machine.

Expanding its German workforce from 17,000 in 1934 to 27,000 in 1938 also made GM one of Germany’s leading employers. Unquestionably, GM’s Opel became an integral facet of Hitler’s Reich...

The Masquerade

To conceal American ownership and reinforce the masquerade that Opel stood as a purely Aryan enterprise, Sloan and Mooney, beginning in 1934, concocted the concept of a “Directorate,” comprised of prominent German personalities, including several with Nazi Party membership. This created what GM officials variously termed a “camouflage” or “a false facade” of local management. But the decisions were made in America. GM as the sole stockholder controlled Opel’s board and the corporate votes.

Among the decisions made in America beginning in about 1935 was the one transferring to Germany the technology to produce the modern gasoline additive tetraethyl lead, commonly called “ethyl,” or leaded gasoline. This allowed the Reich to boost octane that provided better automotive performance by eliminating disruptive engine pings and jolts. Better performance meant a faster and more mobile fighting force — just what the Reich would ultimately need for its swift and mobile Blitzkrieg...

GM moved quickly — in conjunction with its close ally Standard Oil. Each company took a one-quarter share of the Reich ethyl operation, while I.G. Farben, the giant German chemical conglomerate, controlled the remaining 50 percent.

The plants were built. The Americans supplied the technical know-how. Captured German records reviewed decades later by a U.S. Senate investigating committee found this wartime admission by the Nazis: “Without lead-tetraethyl, the present method of warfare would be unthinkable.”

Years after the war, Nazi armaments chief Albert Speer told a congressional investigator that Germany could not have attempted its September 1939 Blitzkrieg of Poland without the performance-boosting additive.

On The Homefront

Ironically, while GM’s Opel was a deferential corporate citizen in Nazi Germany, going the extra mile to comply with Reich requirements and making no waves, Sloan helped foment unrest at home as part of the company’s efforts to undermine the Roosevelt administration.

For example, the GM president was one of the central behind-the-scenes founders of the American Liberty League, a racist, anti-Semitic, pro-big business group bent on rallying Southern votes against Roosevelt to defeat him in the 1936 election. The American Liberty League arose out of a series of private gatherings organized in July 1934 by Sloan, du Pont and other businessmen. Some of those meetings were even held at GM’s office in New York...

Roosevelt openly acknowledged that Sloan, GM, the du Ponts and other corporate giants hated him for his reforms and his efforts to relieve Depression-era inequities. In his final 1936 campaign speech, the president threw down the gauntlet, shouting to an overflow Madison Square Garden crowd, “They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

Roosevelt added that he wanted his first four years to be remembered as an administration where “the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match.”

Fearing Roosevelt’s possible re-election, several of Sloan’s top executives at GM actually considered deliberately extending the financial woes of the Depression, presumably in retaliation against the entire nation. In the final days of the 1936 election campaign, several GM officials met with W.H. Swartz, a Lehman Brothers investment banker, according to a historian who studied the incident.

The GM officials apparently planned to stop investing in and expanding their company in the event of Roosevelt’s expected victory. Swartz’s Nov. 4, 1936, confidential memo about the GM meeting asserted, “Certain General Motors people also felt further capital expenditures could not be expected now, in view of Roosevelt’s possible re-election.”

Based on their plans, Swartz predicted “a break in general business next year … mid-summer is the logical time to expect it,” adding, “I would suggest that the rather intense political emotions of certain of these men may have colored their thinking more than they themselves may have realized.”

Despite the lush opposition funding by Sloan and other affluent anti-New Deal nemeses, Roosevelt was re-elected by a landslide.

While no capital slow-down was actually implemented by GM, Sloan did continue to battle the administration. The conflict was not subtle. Washington knew that Sloan and GM were powerful adversaries. For example, in 1937, when Sloan telephoned Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins to renege on a promise made to meet with labor strikers, Perkins lashed out bitterly at the GM chief.

Shocked at the reversal, Perkins shouted into the phone, “You are a scoundrel and a skunk, Mr. Sloan. You don’t deserve to be counted among decent men…You’ll go to hell when you die… Are you a grown man, Mr. Sloan? Or are you a neurotic adolescent? Which are you? If you’re a grown man, stand up, and be a man for once.” A flabbergasted Sloan protested, “You can’t talk like that to me! You can’t talk like that to me! I’m worth 70 million dollars and I made it all myself! You can’t talk like that to me! I’m Alfred Sloan.”

http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=15515
 

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It's on the internet, it must be true. :rolleyes:
 

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This article may have elements of truth mixed in with half truths and lies, but taken as a whole it is rubbish. I read Sloan's "Adventures of a White Collar Man" which he complained about the National Recovery Act (NRA). He was not alone; the U.S. Supreme Court struck down practically the whole act. He was also opposed to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which did tilt too much power to the unions and was eventually moderated by the Taft Hartley Act. Apparently the author prescribes to the theory that all the evil in the World can be traced to big business, a very tired theory. He should write an article on how large, authoritarian governments caused the greatest evil such as Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany, the Ottoman's terrible treatment of the Armenians.
 

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OK what about BMW and Mercedes? Shouldn't they be bashed more since they directly contributed to wartime production of weapons?
 

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I remember this same, goofy discussion on caranddriver.com a couple years back. It ensued after I posted a thread there about how Toyota treats their employees like burger flippers compared to how GM treats their comfortable, well-paid employees.

I started doing the same thing at toyotanation.com, suggesting to the members there that Toyota is a slave driver compared to GM. Looks like history is repeating itself with this thread...
 

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OK what about BMW and Mercedes? Shouldn't they be bashed more since they directly contributed to wartime production of weapons?
And lets not forget that the whole reason Toyota got into light vehicle manufacturing in the first place was to build trucks for fascist Japan's brutal exploitation of Manchuria and certain parts of China (1930s) or the other war material production they engaged in from that point forward.

Funny thing, that. Anything to do with aircraft engines they managed to FUBB in ways similar to where they've sometimes gone wrong much later in car and truck engines.
 

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I don't see what is disagreeable about this article. It is well known that most international corporations received military contracts on both sides of WWII. And Sloan and other industrialists hating Roosevelt isn't exactly news either.
 

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The timeline is incorrect and some of the information is wrong.
 

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I understand if you really hate GM...but this is just retarded...
Is it 'really'?
Nazi Germany did not get their capital, materials, products from out of no where.
It had to come from somewhere.
To think that American Business did not do business with Nazi Germany are fooling themselves.

Same for the Russian Revolution. Who do you think bankrolled that?
 

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Is it 'really'?
Nazi Germany did not get their capital, materials, products from out of no where.
It had to come from somewhere.
To think that American Business did not do business with Nazi Germany are fooling themselves.

Same for the Russian Revolution. Who do you think bankrolled that?
I'm pretty sure Nazi Germany actually seized control of GM's Opel factories. Are we also to believe that GM is conspiring with al Qaeda because suicide bombers pack a GMC full of explosives?

Shall we delve into Toyota/Honda/Mitsubishi/etc.'s involvement in the attack on Pearl Harbor? Mitsubishi's badge doesn't look like a propeller for nothing.
 

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I'm pretty sure Nazi Germany actually seized control of GM's Opel factories. Are we also to believe that GM is conspiring with al Qaeda because suicide bombers pack a GMC full of explosives?

Shall we delve into Toyota/Honda/Mitsubishi/etc.'s involvement in the attack on Pearl Harbor? Mitsubishi's badge doesn't look like a propeller for nothing.
Delve all you want. I am sure they were quite involved.
However, to sit back and think that American Business is some squeaky clean enterprise is just plain foolish.
To think that American Business did not do business with 'our enemies' over the years is just as foolish.
I also think to say someone hates GM because they do not like to read what that person has to say is also just as foolish.

I do know for a fact that it was GM that dismantled and made sure that public transit in this country was GONE!
All replaced by cars & buses.
We could use that infanstructure now.
More then ever before...
 

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Delve all you want. I am sure they were quite involved.
However, to sit back and think that American Business is some squeaky clean enterprise is just plain foolish.
To think that American Business did not do business with 'our enemies' over the years is just as foolish.

I do know for a fact that it was GM that dismantled and made sure that public transit in this country was GONE!
All replaced by cars & buses.
We could use that infanstructure now.
More then ever before...
Are buses not "public transit" anymore? If you'd like to go back to a trolley system, good luck. I'll take cars and buses instead.

Can you blame GM for not wanting that? Their business is personal transportation. Electric companies want to displace gas companies. Burger King wants to displace Taco Bell. It's business!
 

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Study a little history first before you tell me that.
Yes, Tolleys, Trains, would be a far greater Public Transit then effin buses anyday.

Our cities could have grown a whole different way if we have kept the Public Transit intact and improved on it.
Where there would be very few vehicles allowed in cities and people having to park then take public transit into the cities.
Or better yet never having to use their vehicles in the first place and simply take a train into town.
By this day and age we could have had all major cities connected with efficent train systems.

I am all for that....

Link: http://www.culturechange.org/issue10/taken-for-a-ride.htm
 

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GM is a global corporation. It doesn't mean that they supported what Hitler did. It's just business, if there's an opportunity to make money, then of course they'd go ahead and do it.
Like someone said, if you're going to think about this in that way, then mitsubishi should be vilified as well. The Japanese Zero was built by mitsubishi and killed thousands of American pilots. Toyota built plenty of vehicles for the Japanese military that contributed to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers.
All just business.
 

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All just business.
Fair enough. All Just Business!
I believe: 'You reep what you sow'.
That not only applies to individuals but groups of people as well.
ie: Corporations, Governments, etc.
So with American business not doing as well as they wish then maybe it is because of what they are 'sowing' now.

No more crying foul about other corporations doing better then GM then.
Because: It is All Just Business. Correct? :)
 

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Fair enough. All Just Business!
I believe: 'You reep what you sow'.
That not only applies to individuals but groups of people as well.
ie: Corporations, Governments, etc.
So with American business not doing as well as they wish then maybe it is because of what they are 'sowing' now.

No more crying foul about other corporations doing better then GM then.
Because: It is All Just Business. Correct? :)
It really is. We're biased because we all like GM, but it really is just business, and GM seriously did screw up in the past. We may moan and bitch about how toyota is stupid and stuff, and while I truly don't see why people like their cars, I can understand that people are still scared of how massively GM screwed up in the past. What I don't like is that A) People are unwilling to even consider a GM, and B) That toyota covers up so much of its own problems. If toyota had the balls to come out every time they screwed up and say, "We screwed up," people would be just as wary of their cars as GM's. But no, instead, they use the "service campaign" bull****. It's a good business strategy in the short term, but in the long run, toyota is just screwing itself over. Eventually people are going to sit up and wonder, "why the hell am I bringing this car in so much for these goddamned "service campaigns?" People really aren't that stupid (at least I hope), and eventually they'll see through toyota's bull**** and figure out that "service campaign" is just a nice term for "recall."
All GM needs to do is offer more fuel efficient vehicle choices, change its public perception (which IMO, GM has done a pretty good job at doing, now it's up to the public to go through with it), and wait for people to get fed up with toyota.
 
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