trolled 70 percent of the German auto market at the outbreak of the war in 1939, and they quickly retooled to supply most of the military trucks used by the Nazis to invade Poland, France, and the Soviet Union. Also, some of the most effective bombers in the German air force were equipped with engines and parts built by a GM plant in Russelsheim. This, of course, was done with the full knowledge and encouragement of their headquarters in America. After the Nazis conquered Czechoslovakia in 1939, GM’s chairman, Alfred P. Sloan, was so overjoyed by the high profits at his German factories that he vowed to keep control of them as long as possible. Ford was similarly enthusiastic about Hitler’s successes, andwith strong encouragement from company executives back in Dearbornit continued to cooperate with the Nazis for eight months after the United States declared war on Germany. Some of the booming profits they were so enthusiastic about were the result of using slave labor. Like IBM’s Watson, GM’s James Mooney and Henry Ford received the highest medal Nazi Germany could give to a foreigner, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle. And with it came Hitler’s personal thanks for “distinguished service to the Reich.” It seems fair to interpret the medal as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy,” which, let us remember, is part of the Constitution’s definition of treason, and is a capital crime. Federal Judge Charles Clark said that because Standard Oil continued to work with I.G. Farben even after the United States declared war on Germany, it could be considered a national enemy. And Senator Harry Truman used the word “treason” to describe Standard Oil’s activities. But this was just talk. None of the corporations, or their executives, were punished. In fact, our government paid Ford Motor Company and GM millions of dollars for damages done by our bombers to their plants in Germany and France, and they were permitted to retain the same managers who had operated their factories under the Nazis. \(For brief, but excellent reports on the collaboration of the automakers, see “Ford and the Fuhrer,” by Ken Silverstein, in the January 24, 2000 Nation magazine, and “Whose Side Were They On,” by Michael Doggs in the Washington Post National Weekly, p erhaps one can justifiably conclude from these historical low points that immunity from punishment depends almost solely on whether the traitor is important to the business world. I don’t mean our govern ment is ready to forgive only powerful U.S. businessmen and corporations. Foreign powerhouses are also eligible. Even the most savage war criminals?Yes, if they are still potentially useful to world business. U.S. military judges presided at the postwar trial of twentyfour I.G. Farben executives. Remember, we are talking about the men who built labor camps like the Fuerstengrube mine and the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in Poland where an estimated four million prisoners diedeither worked and starved to death or simply executed for such garbage pail” and “warming hands.” U.S. military judges presided at their trial. Apparently because these criminals still had close ties with U.S. corporations, the judges decided it would be wise to consider them not as disgusting, homicidal ideologues but simply as businessmen who were obliged to kill for the corporate bottom line. In any event, the toughest sentence handed down for carrying out “slavery and mass murder” was eight years. Some got six years for that crime. Executives convicted of “plunder and spoliation” got as little as 18 months. Most of the sentences were later commuted. Fritz der Meer, the only executive convicted of all the crimes in the book, was out of prison so fast that within a decade he was chairman of the supervisory board of Bayer, one of the largest I.G. Farben companies. Bouncing back also was the entire I.G. Farben empire. Because it played such an important role in helping the Nazi army, General Eisenhower had recommended dynamiting some of its factories, scattering stock control of other I.G. industries to the four winds, and squeezing the last dollar of reparations from the giant. None of this was done. Joseph Borkin, an historian of German cartels, says that American businessmen pressed our government with “a new point of view”namely, go easy. And so it did. Today, because of those forgiving capitalist hands across the sea, each of I.G. Farben’s successor companies is larger than the original I.G. Farben was in its heyday. War pays. The most impressive gift of commercial justice for Germany’s corporate murderers was given by John J. McCloy, often identified as “The Chairman” of the American Establishment. He had been a key member of various Wall Street firms; for a while he was chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, and also for a while boss of the Ford Foundation. In those roles he assisted railroad management in swindling thousands of small shareholders; he helped Chase into a merger that launched a flood of other mergers and damaged many smaller banks; and he turned the nation’s then-wealthiest foundation into a piggy-bank for the CIA. So it was only natural that the Wall Street-Washington Establishment had him appointed high commissioner of postwar Germany. It knew he would not let justice interfere with business. Explaining that he wanted to help Germany “get back on its feet:’ McCloy commuted two-thirds of the death sentences of mass murderers \(such as the SS officer who persentences of doctors who had experimented on death-camp prisoners. Many high-ranking judges who had administered Gestapo justice were soon freed. As for the industrialists who had built and maintained the Nazi war machine, McCloy freed some immediately. Among continued on page 19 3/29/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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