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Tainted history of the iconic Shell scallop logo

The iconic corporate logo used by Shell and the Nazis

By John Donovan

In 1904, the scallop shell or pecten replaced Shell Transport’s first marketing logo. In various forms it has remained in use ever since, becoming one of the best known corporate symbols in the world.

The above information is taken from the: “The beginnings“, which forms part of a online feature – “Our history” – covering Shell from its inception to the new millennium. A whole page is devoted to “The History of the Shell logo and there is more information on a downloadable document: “The History behind the Shell emblem,” in which this slogan appears:

“The Shell emblem – or Pecten – remains one of the greatest brand symbols of the 20th Century”

The authors of this judiciously selected online history have unsurprisingly neglected to mention the Nazi association with the pecten.

It was used by the German subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, Rhenania-Ossage, in the years before and during World War 2, when the company was in partnership with the notorious IG Farben, the German chemical company which produced synthetic gasoline by hydrogenation. IG Farben had championed the hydrogenation process since the 1920’s.

By 1939, synthetic gasoline covered nearly a third of oil consumption in Germany. Shell had a one-third stake in the Politz hydrogenation works.

Hermann Goering, a close friend of the Nazi leader of Royal Dutch Shell, Sir Henri Deterding, was commander of the German air force and in charge of the four-year plan to raise synthetic gasoline output to fuel Nazi military ambitions.

Following Hitler’s annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, Shell Group managing directors sanctioned Rhenania-Ossag taking over the Shell companies in those countries.

The Nazis continued to use the Shell pecten logo in Germany after the appointment of a Verwalter (administrator) for Rhenania-Ossag in January 1940. The Verwalter appointed a Shell Dutch Nazi general manager, J. H. W. Rost van Tonningen to a new pro-German board. He had previously held the post of Shell Group technical inspector visiting installations in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania. Rost had developed a keen interest in fascism, joining the Dutch Nazi party. He was on one occasion suspended from work because of his political allegiance, before being reinstated, probably due to the influence of his brother, a prominent leader of the Dutch Nazi movement. Many employees of Royal Dutch Shell in Germany and the Netherlands were Nazis.

Hauptmann Eichardt von Klass, the former research director of Rhenania-Ossag, was appointed in January 1940 as Verwalter to manage Royal Dutch and had full powers to act on behalf of the concern in occupied Europe.

After the end of World War 2, Royal Dutch Shell regained control of Rhenania-Ossag and retained some of the same management who had helped to fuel the Nazi war machine.

Shell rehired former Shell employees who had been involved as Nazi party members in forced labor programs. Robert Finn, a senior employee of Rhenania-Ossag involved in the forced labor programme as a member of the Nazi party, became a director of a Shell Chemical company in Germany after the war.

Directors of IG Farben, which had used slave labor and supplied Zyklon-B gas to the Nazi death camps, were found guilty of war crimes.

The Shell pecten was used by the German Shell operating company Rhenania-Ossag, before, during, and after World War 2. No other global brand logo is as closely associated with the Nazis.

Image from an archive website of Shell and BP motoring maps

Above Shell logo images and text from 1926 and 1935, appear in Wikipedia article Rhenania-Ossag.

Items below off of E-bay website 2 November 2012

For more information see:

I.G. Farben, Royal Dutch Shell and Nazi slave labor

A History of Royal Dutch Shell Volume 2 (29 pages). From which some of the above information is taken.

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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