Most Americans know enough about the Nazi holocaust to thoroughly despise the horrible events that occurred-the torture, executions, concentration camps, forced starvation, gas chambers and the attempted extermination of the Jews. I wonder what Americans would think if they knew that the part of this Nazi terror apparatus which operated on the Russian front was incorporated into the CIA after World War 2. The Nazi SS officer was Reinhard Gehlen, and he and his group were employed by the CIA for their knowledge of the Soviet Union. The SS death squads called Einsatzgruppen that followed the German advance into the Soviet Union were very brutal, killing any communists and Jews they found and conducting mass executions. The CIA used Nazi war criminals like Klaus Barbie, Walter Rauff, Otto Skorzeny and others in South America to impart their knowledge of torture techniques and concentration camps to the police and military forces there. Klaus Barbie was involved in the 1980 Bolivian coup known as the “cocaine coup” that is described in former DEA agent Michael Levine’s book The Big White Lie.
There is a close and often ignored relationship between fascism and capitalism. German corporations financed Hitler’s rise to power and were rewarded by slave labor. Krupp, I.G. Farben and other corporations used Jewish and Slavic slave labor. Along with the SS, Alfried Krupp considered children born to his slaves to be “useless feeders” because they needed food, but could not do productive work. Children were often gassed during the selection process for slaves. Alfried Krupp maintained a concentration camp for children at Buschmannshof, when some of his women slaves gave birth. The conditions there were awful and most of the babies died of malnutrition and disease. Krupp’s adult slaves were also very badly treated, often being subjected to beatings and torture. Some slaves were housed in dog kennels. Little protection was provided against Allied bombing raids and many slaves died. Jewish slaves were put in the most dangerous locations. Alfried Krupp was tried as a war criminal, but served only thirty months and was kept under such good conditions that he considered his time in prison a “vacation.” When released, he resumed control of his industrial empire.
American corporations invested heavily in Nazi Germany, and many like General Motors and Ford had factories there, which also used slave labor and produced war materials like trucks and tanks for the Nazis. ITT produced the Focke-Wulf bombers that killed American soldiers in the war. Standard Oil of New Jersey and I.G. Farben had such close patent and other relationships that they were practically the same corporation. American banks like Chase and J.P. Morgan stayed open in occupied Paris all during the war. The US members of the Nazi-controlled Bank for International Settlements helped smuggle Nazi gold stolen from conquered countries’s bank vaults and even from the teeth and jewelry of concentration camp victims. US corporate investment in Germany accelerated rapidly after Hitler came to power. Investment increased 48.5% between 1929 and 1940, while declining in the rest of continental Europe. American bombers deliberately avoided hitting these US factories, and they received compensation from the American taxpayer for any damage after the war. US oil companies sold oil to the Nazis and oil on credit to the fascists in Spain.
Many American capitalists were openly sympathetic to the Nazis. Henry Ford wrote a book called The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, and he is mentioned in Mein Kampf. James Mooney, the General Motors executive in charge of European operations, was awarded the Order of Merit of the Golden Eagle by Adolph Hitler. There were op-ed pieces by Nazis like Hermann Goering in Hearst newspapers in the United States.
The Nazis broke unions, lowered wages, abolished overtime pay, decreased business taxes and increased business subsidies. Their program bears a strong resemblance to the Republican agenda in this country.
The CIA was very concerned about the survival of capitalism in Europe after World War 2 because the anti-Nazi resistance movements in many countries like France, Italy and Greece were led by communists and socialists. Therefore, many bankers, industrialists, judges, lawyers, educators, etc., who were fascists, were put back in power because they were the most virulently anti-Communist. Britain even invaded Greece to fight the Greek communists, who had driven the Nazis from their country, and the United States later took over with massive military aid to Greek fascists and former Nazi collaborators. The Italian Communist Party was poised to win postwar elections in Italy. Consequently, the CIA mounted a huge disinformation campaign there and gave millions of dollars to opposition parties.
I have a theory that World War 2 in Europe was, at least in part, the second attempt to destroy socialism in the Soviet Union. After the Bolshevik revolution, every capitalist nation on Earth invaded Russia in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy this alternative to capitalism. Then, there was a wave of repression against leftists in the capitalist countries. In the United States the IWW was destroyed, socialists like Eugene Debs were imprisoned, and anarchists like Emma Goldman were arrested and deported. Other anarchists like Sacco and Vanzetti were framed and executed.
Although the Nazis attacked other capitalist countries, the focus of their military onslaught was the Soviet Union. Over 80% of German casualties took place on the Russian front, and the vast majority of their military forces were located there, some 5 million soldiers. The Nazis lost 300,000 men at Stalingrad alone. The United States stayed out of the war for three long years as Russia bore the brunt of the fascist attack and only entered as Russian forces were driving the Germans rapidly back toward Berlin. American policy makers had to be worried that all of Europe would go communist.
Mussolini said that fascism is corporatism, but I think that is much too mild a description. Fascism is essentially corporate power coming down with a vengeance on the heads of working people, although fascists often mask their real agenda with some populist rhetoric and even call their parties things like National Socialist, etc. I maintain that what we have in most countries of the world today is really fascism, but fascism cloaked in a facade of democracy and supported by an extremely efficient propaganda system. Bertram Gross wrote a book called Friendly Fascism, but I think that when President George W. Bush was in power, it was getting less friendly by the minute.
The ideas I have expressed in this article are so startling to most Americans that I need to give references: The Arms of Krupp by William Manchester, Understanding the F-Word by David McGowan, The Splendid Blond Beast by Christopher Simpson, and Trading With The Enemy by Charles Higham.