10 Famous Companies That Collaborated With Nazi Germany

10 Famous Companies That Collaborated With Nazi Germany

Khalid Elhassan - July 16, 2018

10 Famous Companies That Collaborated With Nazi Germany
Associated Press logo. The Verge

The Associated Press Engaged in Self-Censorship and Fired its German Jewish Staff to Placate the Nazis

The Associated Press (AP) was formed in May of 1846 by five New York City newspapers, to pool their resources and share the costs of covering the Mexican-American War. The cooperative venture proved a success, and the AP grew and expanded over the years, as other media outlets joined. Today, the AP is owned by its member newspapers and TV and radio stations, who contribute stories to the AP pool and use material written by AP’s staff journalists. It has generally been a paragon of good journalism, earning 52 Pulitzer Prizes since the award was established in 1917. However, a significant deviation from good journalism occurred during the Hitler years, when the AP collaborated with Nazi authorities to facilitate its reporting from Germany.

When Hitler & Co. came to power in 1933, they began exerting pressure on international news organizations operating in the Third Reich to conform to Nazi standards. One such standard was the Editor’s Law, enacted by the new regime to strictly limit what newspapers were allowed to publish. It also restricted the profession of journalism to Aryans, and mandated that Jews be removed from newsrooms.

Foreign journalists working in Germany thus found themselves being called upon to collect and send out news while being hosted by a government that wanted nothing to do with independent and objective journalism. Most international news organization refused to comply with such conditions, and withdrew from Germany rather than sacrifice their journalistic integrity and common decency.

The AP opted to stick around, and to placate the Nazi authorities, it fired all of its local Jewish staff. It also engaged in self-censorship and started adjusting its news reporting in order to keep the Nazis sweet. Among those adjustments was the downplaying of the daily discrimination endured by Jews in the Third Reich, and by the end of 1933, the AP was refusing to publish images depicting such discrimination. It worked. By 1935, most international news organizations of the day, such as Wide World Photos and Keystone, had been kicked out of Germany by the Nazi authorities, but the AP was one of the few still allowed to operate in the country.

After America joined the war in December of 1941, AP’s Berlin office was closed, and its American staffers were arrested and interned, before getting swapped in a prisoner exchange. However, in order to continue to obtain photographs from Nazi-occupied Europe, the AP made arrangements with news agencies in neutral countries to receive photos for the Third Reich, in exchange for furnishing the Germans with AP photos. The AP images provided to Germany appeared in Nazi propaganda, some were altered, and nearly all their captions were changed to conform to the official Nazi viewpoint.

10 Famous Companies That Collaborated With Nazi Germany
Henry Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from German officials in 1938. Rare Historical Photos

In Addition to its Founder Being a Notorious Anti-Semite, Ford Collaborated With the Third Reich

Henry Ford (1863 – 1947), founder of Ford Motor Company, was a complex man – although not the good kind of complex – when it came to race, and particularly to Jews. On the one hand, for his era, he was relatively progressive in some racial aspects: Ford was one of the few major corporations that actively hired black workers and did not discriminate against Jewish workers or suppliers. On the other hand, Henry Ford had strongly held anti-Semitic views – so anti-Semitic that Hitler praised him in Mein Kampf, and he was decorated by Nazi Germany. So it is unsurprising that his company collaborated with the Third Reich.

Henry Ford probably had no problem with Jews as individuals or at least no problem with some Jews as individuals. However, he had some serious problems when it came to Jews in the aggregate, and was an out-and-out anti-Semite who believed that Jews were conspiring to take over the world. To that end, he purchased and published a weekly newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, that had a decidedly anti-Jewish bent. Ford required all of his car dealers to stock his newspaper, and through that and other measures, got its circulation up to 900,000 by 1925, second only to The New York Times.

With that kind of outlook and anti-Semitic track record, it is unsurprising that Adolf Hitler was a great admirer of Henry Ford. The Nazi leader lauded the American industrialist in Mein Kampf, referred to him as “my inspiration”, and kept a photo of him on his desk. In 1938, on Ford’s 75th birthday, he was awarded The Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal that Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner.

Henry Ford had no problem whatsoever doing business with Nazi Germany. When the war began in 1939, Ford professed himself neutral, but his and his company’s actions belie that claim. Before America joined the war, Ford had no problem supplying Germany with war materials but declined to supply the British RAF with aircraft engines.

In the early 2000s, evidence was unearthed from newly declassified government governments, which showed that the Nazi links with Ford Motor Company went well beyond its founder. Among other things, declassified intelligence documents indicate that Henry Ford’s secretary, Ernest Liebold, might have been a Nazi agent who helped fuel his boss’ paranoia about Jews. Indeed, the documents indicate that Ford’s own son and the company then-president, Edsel, could have been prosecuted for trading with the Nazi enemy had he not died in 1943.

Letters between Edsel Ford and the head of Ford’s French subsidiary in 1942 – after America had joined the war – indicate that Ford knew and approved of the subsidiary’s manufacturing efforts on behalf of the German military. The declassified documents reveal that the US Department of Justice concluded that there was a basis for a criminal case against Edsel Ford.

In addition, Ford’s plants in Germany used slave workers in order to meet the demands of the German war effort. Not only after America joined the war and the plants were seized, but also during the interval between the war’s outbreak in September of 1939, and America’s entry into the conflict in December of 1941. During that period, Ford still controlled its German subsidiary, and knew what was going on in its factories. When the US Army liberated Ford’s plants in Nazi Germany, they found emaciated slave laborers behind barbed wires. A US Army investigator’s report, dated September 5th, 1945, accused Ford’s German subsidiary of serving as “an arsenal of Nazism, at least for military vehicles“, with the parent company’s knowledge and consent.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources & Further Reading

All that is Interesting – 7 Brands With Nazi Ties That We All Use

History Answers – How Coca-Cola Became Hitler’s Drink Of Choice

Retro Planet – Fanta: The Humble Beginnings of a Worldwide Phenomenon

Associated Press – Covering Tyranny, the Associated Press and Nazi Germany: 1933 – 1945

World Socialist Website – The Silence Of The Quandts: The History Of A Wealthy German Family

Spiegel – BMW’s Quandt Family to Investigate Wealth Amassed in Third Reich

BBC – Hugo Boss Apology For Nazi Past as Book is Published

BBC – Siemens Retreats Over Nazi Name

The Times Of Israel – A Holocaust Survivor Stonewalled By Siemens

Black, Edwin – IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation (2001)

Chicago Tribune – A Dark History: Did IBM Help The Nazis Tally Their Victims?

Jalopnik – The Real Story Behind the Nazis and Volkswagen

Nation, The, March 8th, 2001 – Kodak’s Nazi Connections

New York Post, March 7th, 2016 – BMW Admits ‘Regret’ Over Using Nazi Slave Labor During WWII

New York Times, August 15th, 1997 – Hugo Boss Acknowledges Link to Nazi Regime

PBS, American Experience – Ford’s Anti-Semitism

Ranker – Companies Associated With Nazi Germany

Business Insider – How the Associated Press cooperated with the Nazis

DW – How The Nazis Used Poster Art As Propaganda

Telegraph, The, November 3rd, 2003 – Ford ‘Used Slave Labour’ in Nazi German Plants

Telegraph, The, September 29th, 2011 – BMW Dynasty Breaks Silence Over Nazi Past

Medium – How the Founder of Ford Motor Company Promoted Anti-Semitism in America

The Detroit Jewish News – It’s Time to Truly Face the Hatred of Henry Ford