America and a New World Order



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GM and WWII

General Motors produced vast quantities of armaments, vehicles and even aircraft during World War II. During the war, the U.S. auto companies were concerned that Nazi Germany would nationalize American owned factories. By the spring of 1939, the the German Government had assumed day-to-day control of American owned factories in Germany, but decided against nationalizing them.

GM's William P. Knudson served as head of U.S. wartime production for President Franklin Roosevelt who had referred to Detroit as the Arsenal of Democracy. Today, Detroit is the headquarters for the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, known as TACOM. The General Motors UK division, Vauxhall Motors, manufactured the Churchill tank series for the Allies. The Vauxhall Churchill tanks were instrumental in the UK campaigns in North Africa (ironically often being used to attack German logistics units of Opel trucks). Bedford Vehicles manufactured logistics vehicles for the UK military, all important in the UK's land campaigns.

Nevertheless, while General Motors has claimed that its German operations (Opel) were outside its control during World War II, this assertion appears to be contradicted by available evidence. General Motors was not just a car company that happened to have factories in Germany; GM management from the top down had extensive connections with the NSDAP, both on a business and personal level.

American GM Vice President Graeme K. Howard (later colonel Graeme K. Howard) was a committed Nazi, and expressed such views in his book, America and a New World Order. Adolf Hitler awarded GM boss James D. Mooney the Order of Merit of the Golden Eagle for his services to Nazi Germany. General Motors’ internal documents show a clear strategy to profit from their German military contracts even after Germany had declared war against America.

Defending the German investment strategy as “highly profitable”, GM’s Alfred P. Sloan told shareholders in 1939 that GM’s continued industrial production for the Nazi government was merely sound business practice. In a letter to a concerned shareholder, Sloan said that the manner in which the Nazi government ran Germany "should not be considered the business of the management of General Motors...We must conduct ourselves as a German organization. . . We have no right to shut down the plant."

After 20 years of researching General Motors, Bradford Snell stated that: "General Motors was far more important to the Nazi war machine than Switzerland ... Switzerland was just a repository of looted funds. GM-Opel was an integral part of the German war effort. The Nazis could have invaded Poland and Russia without Switzerland. They could not have done so without GM.”


GM and WWII Worksheet

  1. Why were US auto companies initially concerned about the Nazis?

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  1. Did the fear turn out to be accurate?



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  1. What is the relationship between GM and the US military (both past and present)?


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  1. While GM certainly aided the Allied (US and UK) war cause, and profited greatly in doing so, what role did their subsidiary Opel play in Germany during WWII?


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  1. Who was Graeme K. Howard?


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  1. What plans did the management of GM have concerning German actions at the outset of war?



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  1. How did Alfred P. Sloan defend GM’s practices in Europe?



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  1. Ultimately, according to Bradford Snell, how important was GM’s collusion with the Nazis to their efforts?

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Knowledge: /10




IBM's role in WWII and the Holocaust
In 2001, author Edwin Black published IBM and the Holocaust (ISBN 0-609-80899-0), a book that documented how IBM's New York headquarters and CEO Thomas J. Watson acted through its overseas subsidiaries to provide the Third Reich with punch card machines that could help the Nazis to track down the European Jewry (especially in newly conquered territory). The book quotes extensively from numerous IBM and government memos and letters that describe how IBM in New York, IBM's Geneva office and Dehomag, its German subsidiary, were intimately involved in supporting Nazi oppression. The book also includes IBM's internal reports that admit that these machines made the Nazis much more efficient in their efforts. A 2003 documentary film The Corporation showed close-ups of several documents including IBM code sheets for concentration camps taken from the files of the National Archives. Prisoner Code 8 was Jew, Code 11 was Gypsy. Camp Code 001 was Auschwitz, Code 002 was Buchenwald. Status Code 5 was executed by order, code 6 was gas chamber. One extensively quoted IBM report written by the company's European manager during WWII declared “in Germany a campaign started for, what has been termed … ‘organization of the second front.’” The memo added, “In military literature and in newspapers, the importance and necessity of having in all phases of life, behind the front, an organization which would remain intact and would function with ‘Blitzkrieg’ efficiency … was brought out. What we had been preaching in vain for years all at once began to be realized.”
IBM has never contradicted any of the evidence or facts in the books or the many documentaries, but claimed it has no real information on the period. Although, IBM actively worked with the Hitler regime from its inception in 1933 to its demise in 1945, IBM has asserted that since their German subsidiary came under temporary receivership by the Nazi authorities from 1941 to 1945, the main company was not responsible for their role in the latter years of the holocaust. Shortly after the war, the company worked aggressively to recover the profits made from the many Hollerith departments in the concentration camps, the printing of millions of punchcards used to keep track of the prisoners, the custom-built punchcard systems, etc. The company also paid its employees special bonuses based on high sales volume to the Nazis and collaborator regimes. As in many corporate cases, when the US entered the war, the Third Reich left in place the original IBM managers who continued their contacts via Geneva. IBM has consistently refused calls by Jewish, Gypsy, survivor, and veterans groups to apologize for its involvement with the Nazi regime

IBM and WWII Worksheet

  1. What was Edwin Black book IBM and the Holocaust about?



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  1. From where did Black get his information?



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  1. How did IBM help the Nazi cause?



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  1. How did the American Corporate Head office encourage their sales officials to work with the Nazis?



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  1. Has IBM ever denied or apologized for their collusion with the Nazis?

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Knowledge: /5



Corporate Collusion and Contemporary Lawsuits
Should people be able to sue companies like GM and IBM for their support and profiteering off of Nazi Germany?
Using the fishbone chart make a list of arguments for and against the lawsuits. Your points may be from the article or of your own creation. At the completion, based on which side has more points in its favour you will make a statement of support or of refute for the lawsuits to go forward.

Corporation:

Arguments for the Lawsuit:

Arguments against the Lawsuit:


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