By John Donovan
From time to time we like to highlight events from the long often-dark history of Royal Dutch Shell.
We have previously published evidence that Shell conspired directly with Hitler, financed the Nazi Party, was anti-Semitic and sold out its own Dutch Jewish employees to the Nazis.
This article reveals how Shell collaborated in the Nazi annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia in the run up years to World War 2.
Royal Dutch Shell and its long-term leader, Sir Henri Deterding, who became an ardent Nazi, had a close relationship with Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. Deterding was the subject of gushing praise by Hitler.
As one of the two biggest German oil companies and the main lube oil manufacturer, Rhenania-Ossag was an industry leader in Nazi Germany. Many of its workers and directors were Nazis.
The Nazi regime did not take control of Rhenania-Ossag until January 1940.
Following Hitler’s annexation of Austria on 12 March 1938 and the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Royal Dutch Shell Group managing directors sanctioned Rhenania-Ossag taking over the Shell operating companies in those countries. This meant that a company dominated by the Nazis gained control over Shell companies in Austria and Czechoslovakia.
This clearly fell in with the Nazis plans, or otherwise it would not have been permitted.
This all took place before the outbreak of World War2 and while Royal Dutch Shell was still in control of all subsidiary companies, including Rhenania-Ossag.
Most of the above information comes directly from Volume 2 of â€œA History of Royal Dutch Shellâ€ (page 78) and the remainder from Wikipedia.
We have already noted the Nazi government’s appointment of a Verwalterfor Rhenania-Ossag in January 1940; the Bataafsche Verwalter subsequently assumed formal control over the companies in countries under German occupation or in the German sphere of influence, such as Hungary.
Of the Group’s companies under Nazi control only Astra, Rhenania-Ossag, and Nafta Italiana continued operating at their former levels. As we have already seen, Astra was drawn into the German war effort. As one of the two biggest German oil companies and the main lube oil manufacturer, Rhenania-Ossag was an industry leader in the country. Following Hitler’s annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, Group managing directors sanctioned Rhenania-Ossag taking over the Shell companies in those countries.142 With the rupture of overseas supplies, Rhenania-Ossag turnover plummeted, but the company formed part of the official oil cartel and thus had a share in the processing and distribution of any oil coming in, which assured a steady, if meagre, flow of revenues. In December 1940 the Verwalterâ€¨ activated the hidden financial reserves built up during the 1930â€™sâ€¨to raise the company’s capital from 75 million to 120 million Reichsmarks. A year later Rhenania-Ossag floated a bond loan of RM 60 million to payoff an old loan from Bataafsche and finance some new installations.143 Meanwhile, the relationship between parent company and subsidiary had to some extent been reversed by the appointment of Rhenania-Ossag’s research director as Verwalter over Bataafsche’s Amsterdam laboratory, to ensure that it would contribute to the German war effort.
Astra was the operating company of Royal Dutch Shell in Romania.
Nafta Italiana was the operating company of Royal Dutch Shell in Italy.
Austria was annexed into the German Third Reich on 12 March 1938.
Following the Anschluss of Nazi Germany and Austria, in March 1938, the conquest of Czechoslovakia became Hitler’s next ambition. The incorporation of the Sudetenland into Nazi Germany left the rest of Czechoslovakia weak and it became powerless to resist subsequent occupation. On 16 March 1939, the German Wehrmacht moved into the remainder of Czechoslovakia