From Fourth International, Vol.14 No.4, July-August 1953, pp.94-96.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Josiah E. DuBois, Jr.
THE DEVIL’S CHEMISTS
The Beacon Press, Boston, 1952. 374 + x pages.
In this book, the chief prosecutor of the I.G. Faibenindustrie war-crime trial has condensed 150 large volumes of testimony to tell the astounding story of a gigantic cartel. I.G. Farben profitably powered the Nazi war-machine, plundered and spoliated its competitors as this machine conquered Europe, enslaved hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions under the worst of Nazi concentration-camp conditions. Thanks to United States imperialism, it is today as powerful as ever, under the same owners and directors.
The author speaks as a liberal astonished and dismayed by the release of mass-murderers and their restoration to power as part of a reactionary American foreign policy. This is not the way to fight “the vicious Communist evangelism,” he laments. “Instead of deliberately favoring democratic industrialists, we have spent most of our billions in backing ipredatory institutions ...”
The record he himself presents, however, shows that the Farben defendants were not merely industrialists who happened to be robbers and murderers but the blood-brothers of their American counterparts, many of whom were closely associated with them in international cartels; they were the representatives of a decadent monopoly capitalism that everywhere today seeks to discard democratic forms.
The Farben and other big capitalists who backed Hitler knew very well that their rule was incompatible with the continuance of bourgeois democracy. Two weeks before the March 1933 election, just prior to coming to power, Hitler spoke before a secret meeting of twenty leading industrialists and bankers. The notes taken by Gustav Krupp von Bohlen of the Krupp munitions works have been preserved.
“Private enterprise,” said Hitler, “cannot be maintained in the age of democracy ... It is not enough to say we do not want Communism in our economy. If we continue on our old political course, then we shall perish.”
Following the speech, Goering asked for money, and Schacht stated: “On this table we must raise a fund of 3,000,000 marks.” The largest contribution, 400,000 marks, was made by I.G. Farben.
Hitler’s coming to power gave I.G. Farben a field of investment in armaments which the rundown economic system could not otherwise supply. As one of the Farben defendants admitted:
“Before Hitler, Germany was in an economic crisis illustrated by an unemployment of six million people, and our investments were abnormally low. As soon as Hitler came into power, things began to change and our investments grew. In 1936, they started to jump rapidly, and in 1938 they grew to an extent of approximately RM 50,000,000. It was absolutely clear that our new investments were tied up directly and indirectly with the armament program.”
Clear indeed, as clear as it is today that the investments of American big business are tied up with its armament program. And in Eisenhower’s big business cabinet we see the same tendency toward the direct fusion between the state and monopoly capital, which DuBois charged – and proved – took place in Germany:
“It [Farben] was an enterprise which asserted influence of such importance that the government used it for its own ends (political and military) and Farben in turn used the government for its own ends. In some respects it was an organization more powerful than the German government.”
Farben supplied the Nazi war-machine with its synthetic rubber, its gasoline, its aluminum and nickel, most of its magnesium and high explosives and a good part of its textiles and plastics. At the same time it used the threat of Nazi arms to take over the Austrian chemical industries before the formal annexation of Austria, and part of the Czechoslovakian chemical industry before the Munich pact, as well as picking up plants in Poland and in France after the conquest of these countries. To continue its feverish war production it was supplied with slaves from the conquered countries by Himmler, worked them at such a rate that they were worn-out wrecks in three months and then sent them to the state gas-chambers to be killed by Farben gas. At Monowitz, which it built at the cost of two million dollars and ran on its own authority, and where conditions were even worse than at Buchenwald, its records, kept with business-like accuracy, show that more than 100,000 passed through to death.
These facts are so appalling that the mind staggers in contemplating them. DuBois can account for such monstrosities only by referring to “totalitarian-minded Germany.” In them, however, we can see the ugly features of capitalism present from the very beginning of its existence, but now hideously swollen in its period of decay. Farben’s rapacious seizure of foreign industry is reminiscent of the years of America’s robber barons. The defense of Farben’s chief of personnel for having employed kidnapped eight-year-old children – “I assigned them to keep them off the streets” – is reminiscent of the sickening hypocrisy of the early English child-labor employers. German capitalism, breaking through the restrictions imposed on it by the victors of the First World War and seeking desperately for new markets and fields of investment, acted with the frenzy of a maniac bursting from his straitjacket, its madness the violently lunatic stage of an irrational system geared to the making of profits without regard to humanity. American capitalism is taking the same road today seeking world conquest in the wake of the loss of Eastern Europe and China and in the face of colonial revolt.
The Farben capitalists worked cheek by jowl with American capitalists in their American branch, General Aniline and Film Corporation, which, through its five subsidiaries, sold such well-known (products as Bayer aspirin, Prestone anti-freeze and Agfa cameras, besides dyes, plastics and fabrics used in every American home. Among the American capitalists on the board of directors of this corporation were Walter Teagle, president of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), Chaules Mitchell, president of the National City Bank of New York, and Edsel Ford. Also, relatives of the Farben magnates, such as the son of Carl Duisberg, the first chairman of Farben’s board of directors, the son of Walter von Rath, the first vice-chairman of the Farben board, and the brother of Max Ilgner, one of the war-crime trial defendants, became American citizens and directors and prominent stockholders of the American subsidiaries.
When Ilgner, the founder of General Aniline, became worried about Nazi Germany’s falling exports, he consulted Mitchell, who advised him to ask Teagle for help. Teagle introduced Ilgner to Ivy Lee, the publicity agent who had built up the image of Standard Oil’s John D. Rockefeller as a kindly old gentleman dispensing dimes to make the people forget his perpetration of the Ludlow massacre. Ilgner arranged for Lee to see Hitler, Goebbels, von Papen, von Neurath and Schacht and worked with him to “see to it that the American public is better informed by fair publicity.”
As president of Standard Oil of New Jersey, Teagle conferred with Hermann Schmitz and Baron yon Schnitzler, two of the Farben defendants, and entered into an agreement with them. Farben had discovered how to make gasoline from coal, and Standard Oil was afraid of losing its worldwide petroleum dominance. The two great trusts set up “Jasco,” the Joint American Study Corporation:
“According to the Jasco agreement. Farben agreed to let Standard continue its oil business everywhere, without Farben competition, except in Germany. In Germany, Farben was free to take over the market if it could. So long as Farben didn’t try to compete in oil, Standard would stay out of the existing market in all other chemical fields. Standard also promised to help Farben beat out its other chemical competitors.”
When, with the outbreak of the European war, the United States Treasury blocked the payment of dollars to Germany, both trusts stood to lose money:
“Farben was about to lose its half of the profits from the Jasco sales of non-strategic products. And Standard Oil would go on getting its share of the profits only if the United States were kept in the dark about the clandestine ‘engagement’ between the two firms. As the United States drew nearer to war, there was danger that the Farben patents would be seized, and Jasco would be sunk.”
A meeting was held in the Hague between two other of the Farben defendants and a representative of Standard Oil.
“Within twenty-four hours, all the Jasco patents were transferred to Standard Oil. Farben agreed also to put in Standard’s custody the ‘experience’ for making goods with no wartime use ... Standard Oil even agreed to hold Farben’s profits until after the war.”
Edsel Ford’s friendship with the Farben directors also made possible a war-time deal which paid dividends for him, while it strengthened the Nazi war-machine. Carl Krauch, another of the Farben defendants and the director of the Ford Motor Company of Germany, kept Ford’s German plants working for Ford throughout the war. His testimony reads:
“I myself knew Henry Ford and admired him. I went to see Goering personally about that. I told Goering that I myself knew his son Edsel, too, and I told Goering that if we took the Ford independence away from them in Germany, it would aggrieve friendly relations with American industry in the future. I counted on a lot of success for the adaptation of American methods in Germany’s industries, but that could be done only in friendly cooperation. Goering listened to me and then he said: 1 agree. I shall see to it that the Deutsche Fordwerke will not be incorporated in the Hermann Goering Werke.’ So I participated regularly in the supervisory-board meetings to inform myself about the business processes of Henry Ford and, if possible, to take a stand for the Henry Ford works after the war had begun. Thus, we succeeded in keeping the Fordwerke working and operating independently.”
Ford’s French subsidiary also continued to operate under German occupation throughout the war at a profit to Ford. A year after the war began, Maurice Dollfus, the chairman of the board of this subsidiary, wrote to Edsel Ford: “Our trucks are in very large demand by the German authorities and I believe that as long as the war goes on and at least for some period of time, all that we shall produce will be taken by the German authorities.” He was right. The Ford Company supplanted its competitors, making a net profit of 58,000,000 francs in 1941, and Ford congratulated his French chairman on this “remarkable achievement.”
Correspondence between the two continued through courier after the United States entered the war. When the RAF bombed the Ford plant, Ford wrote in May 1942, five months after the United States was in the war, “Photographs of the plant on fire were published in American newspapers but fortunately no reference was made to the Ford Motor Company.” Dollfus replied with the good news that production had been restored to the previous rate and that the Vichy government had paid French Ford 38,000,000 francs for the damage.
That Ford had plants in France working for Germany was known to the United States State Department from at least July 1942, when it was informed of it by the Consul General in Algeria, where Dollfus had come to establish a new headquarters in North Africa. It did not, however, take any action in the matter. In fact, at least one message from Dollfus to Ford, the one informing him about the payment for damage by Vichy, was transmitted through the State Department.
This messenger service by the State Department stands in striking contrast to its action in another matter, of which DuBois learned as Chief Counsel of the US Treasury’s Foreign Funds Control. The United States Minister to Switzerland had in January 1943 sent to the State Department for transmission to private Jewish agencies and for action by the United States reports of the mass executions of Jew! The State Department in reply cabled him to stop sending reports for transmittal to “private persons,” as this circumvented “the censorship of neutral countries.” For three months, during which over 200,000 Jewish and other victims were gassed, the cries of the dying were stifled by the curtain of officially imposed silence.
Eventually, after strong pressure from Morgenthau and others and after months of negotiations between the Treasury, the State Department and the British Foreign Office, a plan was worked out by which private individuals could finance the escape of Jews through bribing officials and using sympathizers with the money being blocked in United States banks until after the war so that the dollars would not be sold by the foreign-currency dealers to the Nazis. The British Foreign Office at first opposed the plan because of the “difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews,” that is, it was ready to acquiesce in their murder since it didn’t know what to do with them after they had been saved. The State Department proceeded with the utmost reluctance. It was a year after the receipt of the information about the slaughter of the Jews that a pitifully small number was saved.
In view of such official attitudes the outcome of the Farben war-crime trial is not surprising. The British and French surrendered for trial Farben scientists working for them only after resolute opposition. One of the defendants is stated to have said, “They will not dare to go on with this. Our American friends will come.” The presiding judge of the trial (and apparently also the other two judges and the alternate judge, although DuBois doesn’t say so) was appointed by General Lucius Clay, then military governor of Germany and now head of Continental Can Company and a close friend and advisor of Eisenhower.
Clay was against having any German general put on trial. “If we lose the next war,” he told DuBois, “that would be a precedent for trying our American generals.” His political advisor, Robert Murphy, refused to provide incriminating evidence in his possession against German diplomats. Clay’s economic advisor, General Draper, was a top executive of Dillon Read Company, the same international banking firm which has given John Foster Dulles to the State Department and which had made large investments in German industry before the war. “Most generals,” comments DuiBois, “didn’t want the generals tried; the diplomats didn’t want the diplomats tried; our industrialists didn’t want the industrialists tried.”
More important than class sympathies for determining the outcome of the trial, however, was its political background. The policy of brutally “pastoralizing” Germany, gutting it of its industry, regardless of the effect on the living conditions of the people, had soon been superseded by the policy of building it up under its big capitalists. DuBois, an adherent of the former plan, gives some useful inside information about the genesis of the “strong Germany” policy: “As a member of the American delegation to the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, I saw this government formally endorse a program designed to insure that Germany would no longer be the dominant power in Europe. That was the program the world heard. But there was secretly circulated among the top leaders of the British and American delegations a memorandum prepared by certain top officials in the United States government, saying in effect that this whole approach was wrong and that our real interest lay in rebuilding Germany as quickly as possible ‘as a bulwark against Communism.’ As early as September 1944, while American boys were still being killed by Nazi soldiers, this same group of officials had circulated a similar memorandum within the United States . government, contending that as soon as the war was over we should rebuild Germany as quickly as possible.” It was, incidentally, a policy on which Hitler, facing defeat, was correctly speculating at the time. In a speech on November 12, 1944, he said: “Today, too, many foreign statesmen, parliamentarians, and party politicians, as well as economists, have realized the necessity of saving Europe from the Bolshevik monster. Practical results, however, can be achieved only if a strong European power succeeds in organizing this common struggle for life or death, overruling all theoretical hopes, and in waging it to a successful conclusion. This can be done, and will be done, only by Germany.”
The shadow of the cold war dominated the trial. Judge Morris often complained about the “lengthy documents, the large number of documents” introduced by the prosecution, saying that the trial should be speeded up. He told DuBois at luncheon one day, “We have to worry about the Russians now; it wouldn’t surprise me if they overran the courtroom before we get through.” When a Polish industrialist was being questioned about Farben’s forcible acquisition of his firm, the court permitted the defense to make the point at length that his estate was subsequently nationalized by the new Polish government, although this was totally irrelevant. In the final defense plea it was stated that Farben had been misled by Hitler’s argument that Germany must arm against “danger in the East.”
The majority verdict of two of the three judges dismissed the charge of preparing and waging aggressive war. Thirteen out of twenty-three defendants were convicted of employing slave-labor and of plundering and were sentenced to from one and a half to eight years, giving them credit for time spent in jail during the trial and releasing some of those sentenced on the day of judgment. The avowed basis for leniency was that these men were ignorant of the conditions at their slave factories, in one of which alone they had invested a quarter of a billion dollars. It was further held, in extenuation, that these men who had openly flouted government orders, including those signed by Hitler, were under the power of the Nazis and not responsible for their policy. One judge and the alternate judge dissented from this preposterous opinion and read the manuscript of DuBois’s book before publication, offering suggestions to him.
Today, DuBois reports, all of the defendants are free, those in jail having been pardoned by 1951. Most of them are in power again, some acting as advisors to the Bonn government:
“In June 1950, it was reported that the control of the ‘Western German chemical industry’ had been turned back to its old masters. Today, Farben stock is again in demand on the stock markets of several countries. As early as February 1950, the New York Times reported that Allied officials ‘deplore the fact that [Farben] subsidiaries, notably in Spain and South America, are operating for the benefit of the old German proprietors.’ Farben still has a hold on General Aniline and Film. Though unable so far to get it back, in 1951 powerful interests in this country were able to get a US Senator to put a rider on the bill which was supposed to end the state of war with Germany. This rider was designed as the first step to restore Farben’s control over General Aniline. The attempt failed. It will be tried again.”
DuBois might also have added that the profits that Ford made in his wartime agreement with Farben have been invested by him in the tax-exempt Ford Foundation, which has given him a reputation as a public benefactor, but whose activity, whatever the worth of many of its projects, is mainly devoted to the prosecution of the cold war.
Last updated on: 29 March 2009