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Media coverage of Sir Henri Deterding’s Death


Chapter 4: Media coverage of Sir Henri Deterding’s Death


Sir Henri Deterding died in St. Moritz, Switzerland on 4 February 1939 several months before the outbreak of the 2nd World War. As could be expected given his global fame as an oil mogul and a man of wealth, mystery and intrigue, there were numerous newspaper obituaries from around the world. Many mentioned his financial support for Hitler and the Nazi movement in Germany.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-14-55-06It might seem odd to focus at this early stage on the death of Sir Henri Deterding, but the global news coverage of his death and even more significantly, the location – Nazi Germany – of his extraordinary funeral, speak volumes.

Sir Henri Deterding died in St. Moritz, Switzerland on 4 February 1939.

At the time of his death, he was still a director of several Royal Dutch Shell Group companies and held preference shares giving him a measure of control over the Group.

A selection of contemporaneous news reports:

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS Dutch Shell Head Dies In Holland: Sunday 5 February 1939:


Sir Henri Wilhelm August Deterding was an outstanding figure in world financial affairs because of his role as guiding genius of the great Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, of which he remained a director after retiring from the post of director-general.

He was known as a bitter foe of Soviet Russia and was named at a Moscow trial as having aided in a plot against the Soviet government.

Daily Mirror: 9s.-a-Week to Millions: 6 February 1939 Page 7:

Oil King Sir Henri Deterding, seventy two, who died at St. Moritz, Switzerland, began as a nine-shillings-a-week bank clerk and rose to riches so great that eventually he matched dollar for dollar with Rockefeller.

Sir Henri was a Dutchman. He was knighted by the British Government “for services rendered.”

Hitler is said to have received his financial support. He hated the Soviet Government, admired Mussolini and aided France.

He was thrice married. His third bride was thirty-one years his junior.

Daily Express: Deterding millions in Germany: 6 February 1939. Front page:

THE personal fortune of Sir Henri Deterding, multi-millionaire oil king, who died after a heart attack on Saturday, is believed to be in Germany, where he went to live after his divorce in 1936.

The Times: “Sir Henri Deterding Obituary”: 6 February 1939:


In the last few years he had spent much of his time in Germany, where he showed himself to be in sympathy with the German government’s attitude towards the Communists, whose main object, he wrote, was to permit as little cooperation between the nations as possible “because only then will their destructive principles succeed.” Three years ago he attracted some attention with a scheme for marketing the entire surplus of Dutch agricultural production in Germany and giving the proceeds to the Winter Help Organization. Although his first donation to the latter is believed to have amounted to more than £1,000,000, the scheme seems to have met with a rather mixed reception from the German authorities and little has since been heard of it.


Daily Express: OIL KING MOVED HIS MILLIONS: 6 Feb 1939 Page 11:


Divorced, went to live in Germany

Daily Express Staff Reporter

SIR HENRI DETERDING, the oil king, once estimated to have a personal fortune of £25,000,000, has left practically nothing in England.

The Montreal Gazette: SIR H. DETERDING, 72 DIES IN SWISS HOME: Monday 6 February 1939 Page 14:


Netherlands – born Magnate Built Up Royal Dutch Petroleum Company

Was Ardent Hitler Supporter and Foe of Soviet

Sir Henri, who possesses a personal fortune estimated at between $150,000,000 and $200,000,000, retired from the direction of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company.

He became an ardent Nazi after Adolf Hitler attained power in Germany.

A practical token of his admiration for the anti-Communist regime of Hitler was given in 1937. He gave $5,000,000 with which to purchase Holland’s surplus food products. He stipulated that the proceeds should go to Germany’s “Winter Help Fund.”

THE OSHKOSH NORTHWESTERN: Rockefeller of Europe, Sir Henry Deterding, Dies: MONDAY FEBRUARY 6, 1939 Page 7:


Son of Sea Captain Rises in Meteoric Career in Fashion Comparable to Horatio Alger Tales – Strong Pro-Nazi and Bitter Russia Opponent Carves Way to Success.

He became an ardent nazi after Adolf Hitler attained power in Germany.

Deterding immediately saw the possibilities and set out to tie Royal Dutch and Shell together, the better to compete with Standard Oil.

A practical token of his admiration for the anticommunist regime of Hitler was given in 1937. He gave $5,000,000 with which to purchase Holland’s surplus food products. He stipulated that the proceeds should go to Germany’s “Winter Help Fund.”

THE CALGARY DAILY HERALD: An Oil Napoleon: 7 February 1939 Page 4:


FEW careers in modern times have been more strange and eventful than that of Sir Henri Deterding.

An inveterate enemy of Soviet rule in Russia because of confiscation of the rich Caucasus oil fields, he later swung over to the support of the Hitler movement in Germany and helped to finance it.

Daily Express: Oil King will be buried in Germany: 7 February 1939:

Oil king will be buried in Germany

Daily Express Correspondent

GENEVA. Monday.- The two sons of Sit Henri Deterding, the oil magnate, who died on Saturday, were expected to fly to St. Moritz yesterday, but arrived tonight by train with other relatives.

After meeting Lady Deterding, they decided that their father should be buried on his estate at Dobbin, Mecklenburg, North Germany. The family will leave tomorrow morning.


New York Times: DETERDING BURIAL PLANS: 7 February 1939


Oil Operators Body to Be Taken to His German Estate

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland, Feb. 6 (AP).–The family of Sir Henri Deterding gathered at the Swiss villa where he died unexpectedly Saturday to take the body of the 72-year-old Netherlands-born oil operator back to his estate at Dobbin, Mecklenburg, Germany, for burial.

The press coverage of his death was just the prelude to the astonishing quasi-state funeral held in Nazis Germany, which is the subject of the next chapter.


John Donovan, Royal Dutch Shell

John Donovan, Royal Dutch Shell

The ebook by John Donovan (right) can be purchased via Amazon websites around the world. Chapter headings are listed below. The introduction and some sample Chapters are accessible via the hyperlinks provided.



  1. The best historians Shell could buy (above)
  2. News story February 2015: Shell ship named after a Nazi SS Officer
  3. Royal Dutch Shell and the Nazis
  4. Media coverage of Sir Henri Deterding’s Death (above chapter)
  5. The Nazi Funeral of Royal Dutch Shell leader Sir Henri Deterding
  6. Great friend of the Germans
  7. You Can Be Sure of Shell
  8. Royal Dutch Shell Anti-Semitism
  9. Deterding’s support for Nazi Stormtroopers
  10. Shell support for the Nazis continued after the retirement of Sir Henri as leader
  11. Shell collaborated in the Nazi annexation of Austria and occupation of Czechoslovakia
  12. Shell’s notorious business partner: IG Farben
  13. Royal Dutch Shell and Nazi slave labor
  14. Control of Royal Dutch Shell companies in Nazi-occupied Europe
  15. Nazi connections relating to Shell
  16. Shell historians attempt to distance Deterding from Hitler
  17. Why does it still matter?
  18. Time for a rare public apology from Shell?
  19. Key Dates
  20. Shell cloak and dagger activities
  21. Wikipedia: The sanitization of Shell’s history
  22. Authors unique connection with Shell

Index of Shell leadership financial support for the Nazis

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

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