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Labor Action, 12 September 1949


U.S. Occupation Puts Hitler’s Business
Tycoons Back in Power in Germany


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 37, 12 September 1949, p. 4.


The Western powers in Germany as occupation authorities are busy denouncing “revived German nationalism,” and they dismantle factories necessary for the economy, when it suits the interests of their home capitalists. At the same time German industry has been put back into the hands of the men who ran it for Hitler, whose interests made the rise of Nazism possible, and whose social system found a champion in fascist totalitarianism.

The election victory of the Christian Democratic Union was hailed in the West. This party, together with its Free Democratic Party ally, are for the maintenance of this social system.

In the July 29 issue of U.S. News & World Report, names are named and the men who have come back into economic power are spotlighted. Stinnes, Thyssen, Krupp’s men, Schacht’s underlings – their continued power is the price of the maintenance of capitalism.

The following detailed fingerpointing is from the above-mentioned issue of U.S. News & World Report, a conservative businessmen’s weekly. – Ed.


Control of the Ruhr now rests in the hands of a few hundred men, as it did during and before the war. Most of the Ruhr’s present bosses are men who reached their peak of power during the Hitler period. Of the top industrialists who emerged between 1919 and 1933, only a few are still around in person, and their future roles are not yet clear.

Hugo Stinnes, 52, one of Germany’s most powerful steel, coal and shipping magnates in the period between the two world wars, is regaining part of his industrial stature. He has reclaimed his shipping and textile. companies from the Allies. Stinnes is free to resume his business activities and is trying to line up capital to regain his prewar position as the Ruhr’s most energetic organizer of industry.

His partner, Fritz Thyssen, is generally considered to be too old to make much of a comeback. He is 75. Thyssen, one of the original organizers of the giant Thyssen-Stinnes United Steel cartel, is living in Belgium, managing what remains of his widespread interests from there.

Same Men Back

The Krupp family is out of business. But some Krupp executives are running sections of the Krupp works under Allied trusteeship. A Krupp-trained executive, for example, is managing Germany’s largest tank plant in Essen, now converted to a repair plant for locomotives.

The steel mills and coal mines of the Ruhr have been separated from the wartime trusts by order of occupation officials. Ownership is held by the Allies while the plants are being reorganized into competitive companies. The plants, meanwhile, are being run by German trustees and directors.

In many cases the present executives are the same men who operated the plants during the war. The old owners, meanwhile, have reclaimed their ventures that were not tied directly to the steel or coal industries, and they are back in business.

The Ruhr’s business combines, such as the Thyssen-Stinnes United Steel cartel and the Mannesmann and Kloeckner trusts, still control big holdings in such fields as chemistry, machinery, metal working, shipping and other industries that tend to compete directly with the British. Inside the Ruhr, the old combines operate gas and water works. They are deeply involved in banking and commerce, and even own textile plants, theaters and hotels. The prewar owners are confident that eventually, as the build-up of Western Germany takes hold, they will be able to get back their steel and coal interests.


Steel industry is, under the direction of Heinrich Dinkelbach, 58, who was a director of United Steel from 1929 through the war. Dinkelbach, for many years a top executive of the Thyssen-Stinnes trust, is head of the Steel Trustees Association that runs the Ruhr steel industry.

He was appointed to that job by the British, who decided that his financial aid to the Nazi Party was small when compared with the extent of his industrial holdings in Germany.

Dinkelbach is one of the few Ruhr industrialists who worked his way up from humble beginnings as the son of a laborer.

Many of the men he has appointed to operate steel plants are the men who ran them before and during the war. United Steel, which controlled 47 per cent of Germany’s pre-war production, has directors in 10 of the industry’s 25 plants. Directors of the Mannesmann combine are running three plants. Men from the Kloeckner trust run three other plants and share in the management of a fourth.

Schacht’s Man In

The chairman of the board of United Steel operates two Ruhr steel plants and has extensive interests in coal and other, industries. He is Herman Wenzel, a wartime executive who was director of 21 firms, and, chairman or deputy chairman of eight of them during the Hitler days.

A former Mannesmann, executive, Karl Bugeroth, is running two steel plants at Düsseldorf and Duisberg. Gerhard Bruns, a former steel-plant manager and a director of 15 other firms, is the commercial director of the Ruhr’s second largest steel plant. During the war he directed arms production in most of Eastern Germany.

Coal production, although officially separated from the steel industry, is being handled by German industrialists who are equally at home in coal, steel and a host of other industries that dominated much of industrial Europe before the war.

Head of the coal industry, for example, is Hans Joachim von Loebell, who has charge of coal distribution for all of Western Germany. He was hired in 1934 by Hjalmar Schacht, then Hitler’s financial wizard, to boss the Nazi take-over of the Saar coal mines. He now holds directorships in a number of important coal, shipping and synthetic-oil industries.

Working with him is Heinrich Kost, a general director of one of Germany’s biggest coal. companies and also connected with chemical, gas and oil firms. Kost was appointed by the Allies to head the German Coal Mine Management board.

Hitler’s Bankers

Helping him are Herman Reusch, chief representative of one of the biggest old-line steel cartels, and Wilhelm Roelen, for years a Thyssen executive. Roelen is now director of one of the Thyssen sequestered steel plants.

In finance, men who were powers of German banking and investment operations before and during the war are back in positions of influence. Herman J. Abs, a Berlin banker who was highly regarded by Hjalmar Schacht during the Nazi rise, often is called “the most powerful man in Germany” now.

As head of the Deutsche Bank, Abs was Germany’s biggest financier under Hitler. Before the war, he held as many as 75 corporation directorships and was a financial backer of the giant Mannesmann steel combine. Now he is the head of a German corporation, set up to finance the growth of industry. In his new job he dominates industrial investment in reviving Germany.

German recovery, under U.S. guidance, is to be in the hands of such men. Top power is being taken over directly and indirectly by the same men who held it during the war. These men with the know-how will be on hand as Germans go back into the markets of the world to try to regain a big share of the business done by the German industrialists in the years between the wars.

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