Royal Dutch Shell and the Nazi Part 6: I.G. Farben, Royal Dutch Shell and Nazi slave labor
For the years in the run up to WW2, Royal Dutch Shell had been a business partner both Internationally and in Germany with IG Farben, the notorious German chemical firm, supplier of Zyklon-B gas to the Nazi death camps.
Extracts from Time Magazine article: “Without I.G… Germany could not have waged the war at all.” “As armorer for the Nazis, I.G. made all of Germany’s synthetic rubber and lubricating oil; 95% of its poison gases (Farben tested them on concentration camp inmates); 90% of the nickel; 88% of the magnesium, most of the gasoline and explosives for the buzz-bombs and V-2s.”(1)
Extract from The Times newspaper 6 May 1947: War Record of I.G. Farben
The indictment precisely describes Farben’s major contribution to German rearmament as the synthetic production of nitrates, oil, and rubber, without which Germany, having no natural resources, was incapable of preparing or waging aggressive war. Farben was the core of military mobilization not only by virtue of its own production but because all other German chemical companies and many other war industries were almost totally dependent upon its products. German tanks, artillery, and armoured vehicles rolled on Farben electron metal wheels, were shod with Farben buna rubber, and propelled by Farben synthetic petrol. Nazi bombers were armoured with Farben aluminum and magnesium alloys, carried death loads of Farben incendiary bombs and explosives, and were fuelled by Farben high-octane aviation petrol.(2)
IG Farben shared patent rights to synthetic oil and other products with many companies. Shell however had a much closer relationship, being a major partner with Farben in jointly owned companies, including Deutsche Gasolin A.G. which operated a refinery and gasoline service station network in Germany. Basically, Royal Dutch Shell was in bed with an evil company controlled by Hitler and his henchmen, which was an indispensable part of the Nazi war machine.
Extract from Daily Telegraph article Slave labourers given flowers and £3,000 each published 23 June 2001: The ceremony was held at Goethe University, Frankfurt, in a sprawling building that was the wartime headquarters of the German chemical firm IG Farben, supplier of Zyklon-B gas to the Nazi death camps.(3)
Extract from class action statement by U.S. law Firm COHEN, MILSTEIN, HAUSFIELD & TOLL P.L.L.C: 10 May 2004: Shell additionally held the dubious distinction not only of having collaborated with the Nazi Regime to bring Deutsche Gasoline into fruition, but also of sharing control over the company with I.G. Farben Industrie – the infamous producer of Zyklon B poison gas.(4)
Extract from page 345 of “The Prize”: Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi mass murder factories; upwards of two million people, mostly Jews, were put to death there with gas manufactured by an 1. G. Farben subsidiary. The stench of the crematoriums at Auschwitz and Birkenau suffused the air at Monowitz. To Levi, it was “world of death and phantoms. The last trace of civilization had vanished.” By 1944, according to one estimate, a third of the total work force in the German synthetic fuels industry, throughout the Reich, was slave labor. I. G. Farben had become a deeply involved and enthusiastic partner in its joint venture with the SS at Auschwitz.(5)
Extract from Time Magazine article 24 Dec 1945: As armorer for the Nazis, I.G. made all of Germany’s synthetic rubber and lubricating oil; 95% of its poison gases (Farben tested them on concentration camp inmates); 90% of the nickel; 88% of the magnesium, most of the gasoline and explosives for the buzz-bombs and V-2s.(6)
Extract from Time Magazine article 12 May 1947: Most damning charge was that Farben experimented on slave labor and concentration camp inmates with “deadly gases, vaccines and related products.” To supply slave labor for its synthetic rubber plant at Oswiecim, Farben allegedly constructed a concentration camp and worked the men, women & children so hard that an estimated 100 a day died from exhaustion. The U.S. would have no trouble proving that the Nazis could not have made war without Farben.(7)
Extract from page 346 of “The Prize” By Daniel Yergin: By 1944, according to one estimate, a third of the total work force in the German synthetic fuels industry, throughout the Reich, was slave labor. I. G. Farben had become a deeply involved and enthusiastic partner in its joint venture with the SS at Auschwitz.(8)
IG Farben directors were later convicted of war crimes in the Nuremberg trials, crimes including enslavement, murder of civilians, prisoners of war, and concentration camp inmates. Farben manufactured explosives and other vital war materials, including the oil and gasoline, which fueled Nazi tanks and planes used in the blitzkrieg.
There is evidence that Royal Dutch Shell’s German subsidiary company also used slave labor.
Extract from a Boston Globe article “Cloaked Business” 19 November 2001: Newly declassified United States intelligence records reveal in unprecedented detail how US and Allied firms systematically used backwater countries to conduct backroom business with Axis enterprises. The files peel away a whole new layer of collaboration, describing scores of so-called “shadow agreements” in which corporations disguised their ties with the enemy through the cover of other companies in neutral countries, from Spain to Sweden to much of Latin America. The report said the two men also ran a steamship company that chartered tankers for Royal Dutch Shell, a Nazi collaborator that used Hitler’s slave laborers.(9)
Similar report in the Los Angeles Times 22 September 2000: The Secret (Insurance) Agent Men: A WWII unit gathered underwriters’ data, such as bomb plant blueprints, from warring nations, declassified U.S. files show. The documents also said that two New York insurance executives, Cecil Stewart and Stewart Hopps, also came under scrutiny for selling war insurance to strategic U.S. industries and reselling some of the risk to Latin American affiliates linked to Nazi insurers. The men also ran a steamship company that chartered tankers for Royal Dutch Shell, a Nazi collaborator that used Hitler’s slave laborers.(10)
Class Action Statement by U.S. law Firm COHEN, MILSTEIN, HAUSFIELD & TOLL P.L.L.C: 10 May 2004:(11)
Approximately 1,385 forced laborers worked at oil refineries and petrochemical plants owned and operated by the Royal/Dutch Shell Group during the Second World War. These workers, largely civilians from Eastern Europe and the Low Countries of Western Europe, were compelled to work on the grounds of Shell’s German and Austrian subsidiaries, Rhenania GmbH and Shell Austria AG, respectively. At these locations, the forced laborers toiled long hours under the watchful (and often brutal) guard of Hitler’s S.S. men. Deported from their home countries by force, these workers were housed in filthy barracks, and were denied freedom of movement and proper nutrition. For their work, which was contracted from the S.S., the laborers received no pay from Shell or the German Government.
Shell’s ties with the Third Reich, however, were not limited to the use of forced labor. It was also a founding partner in Deutsche Gasoline (25%), the national German petroleum company explicitly crafted to give the Reich greater control over domestic gasoline production – for both military and civilian purposes. Shell additionally held the dubious distinction not only of having collaborated with the Nazi Regime to bring Deutsche Gasoline into fruition, but also of sharing control over the company with I.G. Farben Industrie – the infamous producer of Zyklon B poison gas.
Despite its enormous wealth – as quantified by annual sales in excess of $93 billion – Shell has failed to compensate any of the men and women who worked on its grounds between 1943 and 1945.
Detailed information follows on the history of Shell’s German and Austrian subsidiaries, which aided the Nazi effort during WWII, and of the forced labor that was utilized in their operations.:
Benzinwerke Rhenania, G.m.b.H
In 1902, the Royal Dutch Oil Company established the Benzinwerke Rhenania, G.m.b.H (Rhenania), as its “daughter company.” Rhenania, which operated oil refineries in and around Hamburg, produced gasoline for consumption in Germany and the Netherlands. In 1924, it entered the gas station business and by 1929 it operated 149 such stations. During WWII, Rhenania produced fuel for the German army, for the air force, and for civilian consumption – until much of its production capacity was destroyed by Allied bombing. Following WWII, the firm’s name was changed to Deutsche-Shell, which is now one of Germany’s largest oil refining corporations (in addition to its interests in chemical synthesis).
Slave Labor Information:
Approximately 1135 men and women labored on the grounds of Rhenania’s oil refineries and petrochemical factories in northwestern Germany. 150 forced laborers worked at the Hamburg refinery between 1944 and 1945. They were housed at the nearby Concentration Camp Hamburg-Hafen and worked under S.S. guard cleaning debris from air raids, shoveling snow, felling trees, and performing maintenance work. Ms. Zach, a claimant in our registry, was one of the forced laborers who worked for Rhenania in Hamburg. She has attested to the long hours, poor diet, and physical strain she endured during her time with Rhenania.
Additional locations which housed Rhenania forced laborers: Civilian Work Camp, Homberg, 420 persons; Civilian Work Camp, Hamburg, 175 persons; Concentration Camp, Schwelm, 380 persons.
Das Nationalsozialistische Lagersystem, pp. 78-9, 410, 434, 482.
Shell Austria, AG
Shell Austria has been a full subsidiary of the Royal Dutch/Shell group since its inception in 1923. Its business has consisted chiefly of refining crude oil to produce gasoline, petrochemical products and fuel oil. It also runs a chain of retail gasoline stations.
Slave Labor Information:
Between June 1944 and April 1945 approximately 250 forced laborers worked at the Shell oil refinery in Vienna, Austria. The nature of work performed was maintenance and construction. The laborers, exclusively civilians of East European extraction, were interned at the Civilian Work Camp Florisdorf, which was run by Hitler’s Reichsfuehrer-S.S.
Verzeichnis der Haftstatten unter dem Reichsfuhrer-S.S., p. 374.
Aggregate Shell Statistics:
Extract from page 46 of “George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography”:Farish was the principal manager of a worldwide cartel between Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey and the I.G. Farben concern. The merged enterprise had opened the Auschwitz slave labor camp on June 14, 1940, to produce artificial rubber and gasoline from coal. The Hitler government supplied political opponents and Jews as the slaves, who were worked to near death and then murdered.(12)
The Times: Inspired Poetic View of a Ghastly Crime: 20 October 1965
The willfully planned and demoniacally organized extermination of five million human lives in the infamous wartime concentration camp in Auschwitz was so monstrous an undertaking that the ordinary human mind is quite incapable of grasping its enormity.
Secondly, there is the perfectly well-established point that the able-bodied were sent to Auschwitz to be financially exploited as slave-labour for large German industrial concerns (they are named in the trial report and in the play, so let us not be squeamish about naming them here), concerns like I.G. Farben…(13)
Shell was a major partner along with Standard Oil and I.G. Farben in a number of ventures, including a synthetic oil company in Germany as evidenced by this photograph and related information.
Full page photograph between pages 108 & 109 of DOING BUSINESS WITH THE NAZIS (14)
Related extract starting on page 153
Standard Oil entered into a contract with IG (the exclusive purchasing agent in Germany for a number of vital products including oil and rubber) to sell the rising outputs of the Leuna plant.(15) Shell reached a similar agreement in 1935. As a reinsurance against future competition from synthetic fuel, both these majors took a 25 per cent share holding in IG’s Deutsche Gasolin AG. In strictly commercial terms this decision made sense. By 1939 IG’s synthetics factories produced no less than one-half of the petroleum consumed in the Third Reich.(16)
From 1933 to 1938 I worked as economist for the Deutsche Gasolin A.G. in Berlin. We sold the Leuna gasoline the Aug. 26 letter: Gasoline from Coal” referred to through a network of service stations that covered Germany. Whatever amount we could not dispose of was taken over by Shell and Standard Oil, who owned 24.5 per cent each of the shares of the company; I. G. Farben owned the rest. Leuna gasoline was the product of a hydrogenation process.(17)
During WW2 the IG Farben(18) Leuna works covered three square miles of land with 250 buildings, including decoy buildings outside the main plant, and employed 35,000 workers (including 10,000 prisoners and slave laborers).(19)
Staff meeting of the Shell oil factory in Hamburg Curio-Haus, 8 April 1935.(20)
March of Rhenania-Ossag employees on 1 May 1938 (on the accompanying sign says: “Operating-cell Rhenania Ossag”)(21)
I have already mentioned the Politz project in Germany in which Royal Dutch Shell’s German operating company, Rhenania-Ossag, was a partner.
During the war, Politz came to rely on large numbers of forced laborers housed in nine camps, which included a separate barracks from the Stutthof concentration camp. Thirteen thousand prisoners are said to have died there. (22)
According to the above information, Shell’s German and Austrian subsidiary companies used slave labor. Royal Dutch Shell was an owner of the companies before, during, and after WW2. The question is whether Royal Dutch Shell was in control of the relevant Shell companies at the time when slave labor was used.
Hauptmann Eichardt von Klass, the former research director of Rhenania-Ossag, was appointed in January 1940 as Verwalter to manage Royal Dutch and Bataafsche and had full powers to act on behalf of the concern in occupied Europe. (23)
In response to the German invasion of Holland in May 1940, the head offices of Royal Dutch, Bataafsche, and a string of other Group companies officially moved on 10 May 1940 from The Hague to the Dutch West Indies colony of Curacao. (24)
So the question that arises is whether the use of slave labor by Royal Dutch Shell German companies or German companies in which Royal Dutch Shell was a joint owner, took place while Royal Dutch Shell was still in control of the companies i.e. before the Verwalter was appointed.
Bearing in mind that German preparations for war had been proceeding at feverish pace before Hitler launched the first invasions and that Royal Dutch Shell companies in Germany were engaged in activities vital to fueling the Nazi war machine, and that Germany used forced slave labour in that period,(25) it seems possible that it was used in the relevant companies while Royal Dutch Shell was still in control. However, there is no evidence of which we are ware, that this was the case.
For the majority of the time period referred to above, in which slave labor was used by German or Austrian companies wholly or partly owned by Royal Dutch Shell, the Nazis had control of those companies, not Royal Dutch Shell.
However, there arepublished allegations in Germany supported by a volume of documentary evidence that Robert Finn, a senior employee of Rhenania-Ossag involved in the forced labor as a member of the Nazi party, became a director of a Shell Chemical company in Germany after the war.(26)
It is also difficult to believe that Royal Dutch Shell was unaware of IG Farben’s extensive use of slave labor.
This is what Shell’s paid historians had to say about Rhenania-Ossag:
Nor did the Groups principles, so evident in the cases of communism or state monopolies, enable managers to perceive the diabolical nature of the Nazi regime. In line with the general development of German business, Rhenania- Ossag quickly adapted to the New Order and grew luxuriantly until it was too late for a fundamental stand. When push came to shove, general considerations such as market position, coupled with a technocratic conception of the business as providing fungible services to governments, clearly won the day.(27)
Royal Dutch Shell adopted anti-Semitic policies against Jewish Shell directors and employees and apparently turned a blind eye to the evil conduct of its Nazi business partner, IG Farben. Based on the evidence relating to Robert Finn, Royal Dutch Shell rehired former Shell employees who had been involved as Nazi party members in forced labor programs.(28)
1. Extracts from Time Magazine article “CARTELS: Gulliver, Bound but Sturdy” published 24 December 1945.
2. Extracts from The Times “War Record of I.G. Farben” published 6 May 1947.
3. Extract from Daily Telegraph article “Slave labourers given flowers and £3,000 each” published 23 June 2001.
4. Extract from class action statement by U.S. law Firm COHEN, MILSTEIN, HAUSFIELD & TOLL P.L.L.C: 10 May 2004.
5. Extract from page 345 of The Prize by Daniel Yergin published 1992 by FREE PRESS ISBN 0-671-79932-0.
6. Extract from Time Magazine article “CARTELS: Gulliver, Bound but Sturdy” published 24 December 1945.
7. Extract from Time Magazine article “GOVERNMENT: Criminals All?“ published 12 May 1947.
8. Extract from page 346 The Prizeby Daniel Yergin published 1992 by FREE PRESS ISBN 0-671-79932-0.
9. Extract from an article “CLOAKED BUSINESS” published by The Boston Globe 19 November 2001.
10. Extract from Los Angeles Times article “The Secret (Insurance) Agent Men” published 22 September 2000.
11. Extract from class action statement by U.S. law Firm COHEN, MILSTEIN, HAUSFIELD & TOLL P.L.L.C: 10 May 2004.
13. Extracts from an article in The Times “Inspired Poetic View of a Ghastly Crime” published 20 October 1965.
14. Full page photograph between pages 108 & 109 of DOING BUSINESS WITH THE NAZIS: Author Neil Forbes: First published in 2000 in Great Britain by Frank Cass Publishers: ISBN 978-0-7146-8168-9.
15. Wikipedia article about “Leuna” a town in eastern Germany.
16. Extract from page 153 of DOING BUSINESS WITH THE NAZIS: Author Neil Forbes: First published in 2000 in Great Britain by Frank Cass Publishers: ISBN 978-0-7146-8168-9.
17. Extract from a letter published within the “Letters to the Editor” page of The New York Times 8 September 1973
18. Wikipedia article “IG Farben“.
19. Extract from Wikipedia article about “Leuna“.
20. Photograph allegedly of a staff meeting of the Shell oil factory in Hamburg Curio-Haus, 8 April 1935 displayed on a website providing evidence relating to Robert Finn a senior employee of Rhenania-Ossag.
21. Photograph allegedly of a march of Rhenania-Ossag employees on 1 May 1938 as displayed on a website providing evidence relating to Robert Finn a senior employee of Rhenania-Ossag.
22. Information from page 474 A History of Royal Dutch Shell Vol 1: From Challenger to Joint Industry Leader 1890 -1939 by Joost Jonker & Luiten van Zanden published in the UK in 2007 by Oxford University Press.
23. Information from pages 31 & 32 of A History of Royal Dutch Shell Vol 2: Powering the Hydrocarbon Revolution 1939 -1973? by Stephen Howarth and Joost Jonker published in the UK in 2007 by Oxford University Press.
24. Information from page 29 A History of Royal Dutch Shell Vol 2: Powering the Hydrocarbon Revolution 1939 -1973? by Stephen Howarth and Joost Jonker published in the UK in 2007 by Oxford University Press.
25. Information from the Wikipedia article “Forced labor in Germany during World War II“.
26. From information displayed on a website providing evidence relating to Robert Finn a senior employee of Rhenania-Ossag.
27. Extract from page 493 A History of Royal Dutch Shell Vol 1 : From Challenger to Joint Industry Leader 1890 -1939 by Joost Jonker & Luiten van Zanden published in the UK in 2007 by Oxford University Press.
28. From information displayed on a website providing evidence relating to Robert Finn a senior employee of Rhenania-Ossag.
LINKS TO OTHER PARTS OF ROYAL DUTCH SHELL NAZI SECRETS
Royal Dutch Shell Nazi Secrets: Authors relationship with Shell (Alfred Donovan and John Donovan)
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