Corporations and Cooperation with the Nazis

Question

Dear Mr./Mrs.I'm working right know on an History essay with the topic "German Industry and organisations (Daimler Benz, Siemens, Deutsche Bank, Krupps, Volkswagen...)and their cooperation with, their working for, and their influence on the Nazi party, or the other way around. I have great difficulty finding information about this issue. Thank you very much for your time and help.

Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:

I am one of the persons that responds to questions sent to our project. It is possible that other colleagues of mine will also respond.

Your question is very complex. Most of the large corporations in Germany assisted the Nazis in their quest for power, and many more collaborated with them once the Nazis had gained full control of Germany.

Starting with Krupp:

Visit the following pages on our web-page:

and you will obtain some of the information relevant to the Krupp influence in Nazi Germany.

Daimler Benz:

A book has been published that describes their role in the Nazi regime:

Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich
Neil Gregor
c. 1998, Yale University Press (New Haven and London)
ISBN 0-300-07243-0

The following was taken from the dust-jacket:

[...] Gregor first traces the history of the Daimler-Benz company from its formation in 1926 through the crisis years of the depression, and examines how the opportunities offered by Nazi rearmament in the 1930's led to rapid expansion and a surge in its profits. His main focus, however, is on the war itself. Here he demonstrates that the company succeeded in exploiting the demands of the war economy while at the same time situating its operations most advantageously for the resumption of commercial activity in peacetime. Indeed a central argument of the book is that , despite Allied bombing, Daimler-Benz AG emerged from the war in good shape and with a clear operating strategy, its inventory largely intact and its core production lines geared for the peacetime market.

The book reveals that self-interest and self-preservation were the prime motives behind the company's acquiescence in the brutal exploitation of forced labour -- of civilians, prisoners of war, Jews and other victims of the concentration camps. Gregor argues that the ability of the company to protect its interests during the war and manage the transition to peace was predicated upon collusion in the racial barbarism of the Nazi regime, and that the company self-interest actively intensified the suffering of the Reich's victims.

Volkswagen:

There are several books on the role of Volkswagen in the Third Reich. I will be quoting brief excerpts from:

Volkswagen Beetle: The Rise from the Ashes of War
Simon Parkinson,
c. 1996, Veloce Publishing PLC (Dorchester)
ISBN 1-874105-47-2

The Volkswagen Beetle came into being as part of the Nazi party economic policy known as *Motoriserung*, although its origin predates Hitler's rise to power in Germany: the car was the brainchild of the versatile Austrian designer Ferdinand Porsche.

[...]

Support and nurture for the embrionic Volkswagen came next, not from an industrialist but a politician. Adolf Hitler had come to power as German Chancellor on January 30th, 1933...

[...]

Porsche was instructed to come to Berlin in May 1934 to meet with Hitler and discuss the volksauto project. This now famous meeting took place at the Kaiserhof Hotel.

[...]

The new company with DAF [Deutsche Arbeits Front - a Nazi organization run by Dr. Robert Ley] support decided to build a completely new factory ... near the village of Fallersleben... On Ascension Day (May 26th) 1938 at a grand ceremony, the cornerstone of the new factory was laid by Adolf Hitler.

[...]

(During the war)...(t)he number of foreign workers of other nationalities rose steadily. These foreign workers were in three categories as follows:

1. *Auslandische Ziviarbeiter*: Foreign workers who came to work in response to advertiesments placed in occupied countries. Later, many of these workers, who came of their own free will, were forced to stay. ...

2. *Kriegsgefangene*: Prisoners of war, mostly Russians and Poles.

3. *KZ Haftlinge*: Forced labor from concentration camp inmates. There was a satellite camp from Neuengamme near Fallersleben. Some inmates were kept in the cellar of Hall No. 1 in the factory.

The foreign workers arrived at KdF Stadt in the following numbers:
1938 - 3000 Italian construction workers many of whom were later not allowed to leave.
1940: 1500 deported Poles
1941: 850 Russian POW's
1942: 4000 workers deported from the east. So-called *Ostarbeiter* who wore an 'O' badge.
1943 1000 Italian military internees, 1500 French forced laborers ... and 650 women from the concentration camp Neuengamme who were kept in the cellar under Hall 1 of the factory.
1944: 300 Belgians, 200 Dutch.

The mixture of German and foreign workers changed as the war went on:

1940: 80% German/20% foreign
1941: 60% German/40% foreign
1942: 31% German/69% foreign
1943 27% German/73% foreign
1944 29% German/71% foreign.

I hope that this information starts you off on your research project. As you were able to observe from reading the above, there is an enormous amount of information on the subject available in any good library.

Yours sincerely, back to the list of questions