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Robert Finn, another Nazi Director of Shell

Robert Finn, the Shell Director who was a vitally important functionary of the Nazi WW2 economy

Finn worked for Shell’s Nazi-infested German subsidiary Rhenania Ossag in the years before WW2. More significantly, during WW2, Finn directed the vitally important German lubricants supply. After WW2 Finn returned to Shell as a director of a Shell chemical company in Hamburg. Shell was apparently happy to reward him with a promotion. 

By John Donovan

A spotlight was shone on the Nazi past of the German Robert Finn after a Hamburg Sports Club Hall was to be named in his honour. Finn was a former chairman of the sports club.

Following a renovation of the hall in 2006, a major re-inauguration ceremony in honour of Finn was organised – with numerous prominent guests from sports and politics (who were informed about Finn’s role in the Nazi war economy) with his sons as guests of honour. 

There was also controversy about clubhouse design elements, including symbols of the Nazi regime, such as swastikas, to be on open public display.

Opponents of the proposal commissioned a historian to investigate Finn’s Nazi history. The historian G Jacob found a considerable amount of evidence. It confirmed that Finn worked for Shell’s Nazi-infested German subsidiary Rhenania Ossag in the years before WW2. More significantly, during WW2, Finn directed the vitally important German lubricants supply. After WW2 Finn returned to Shell as a director of a Shell chemical company in Hamburg. Shell was apparently happy to reward him with a promotion. 

The renaming of the hall was cancelled in 2007 as a result of the revelations.

Some translated extracts in italics from evidence uncovered:

1. In 1929, Finn joined Deutsche Shell AG.
2. During World War II he headed the German lubricating oil supply.
3. Later he became director of Shell Chemie in Hamburg.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ROBERT FINN AS HEAD OF NAZI GERMANY LUBRICATING OIL SUPPLY

No truck and tank could drive without lubricating oil and other lubricant products, no submarine could dive and no dive bomber could fly. Not even a machine gun can be put on automatic fire without lubricating oil. Lubricating oil was, along with ammunition and gasoline, practically the most important item on the supply lists of the Wehrmacht. Around 100,000 armoured vehicles, 1200 submarines and perhaps 100,000 aircraft, countless bucket cars, swimming-pool vehicles, trucks, passenger cars, motorcycles, cannons, etc., had to be “supplied” if the war of aggression and annihilation was to flourish.

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL SUBSIDIARY RHENANIA OSSAG: RAMPANT ANTISEMITISM

Royal Dutch Shell has been waiting for an opportunity to take over Ossag. Shell finally succeeded in 1925. Rhenania AG took advantage of the capital weakness of Ossag and bought the traditional operation for 8.8 million RM. Both companies merged to form “Rhenania-Ossag Mineralölwerke AG“. Only eight years later, in the spring of 1933, even before the Nazis explicitly demanded it, all of the Jewish partners and employees were dismissed from the Rhenania Ossag. First of all, the founders of Ossag, Leopold Stern and Jacques Sonneborn, had to resign from their supervisory boards! This “Aryanization” of the leadership was pursued by the Rhenania-Ossag director Walter Kruspig, the former syndic of the oil works Stern-Sonneborn, who came to Rhenania with his Jewish chiefs in 1925 and then became a member of the NSDAP in the 1930s [to Kruspig’s death on a business trip see below]. The Jewish supervisory board members Richard Stern, Karl Friedrich Kunreuther and Ludwig Hogrewe were also dismissed. Not only members of the Supervisory Board were dismissed, but also Jewish employees and workers. 

In the Shell publications of the 1950s, the Jewish background of the Ossag was concealed as well as the NSDAP membership of the Wehrwirtschaftsführer Kruspig.

The dismissal of all Jewish superiors and co-workers was a sensational event at that time.

Otto Stern, then director of lubricants and superiors, was dismissed as a Jew by Robert Finn. It was no coincidence that after Finn’s role as Shell lubricating oil director he became “head of the German lubricating oil supply” (ETV).

Shell and the Nazis before and after 1933

The Shell corporation was then headed by the fanatical anti-communist and dedicated Nazi supporter Sir Henry Deterding (1866-1939). The Dutch industrialist was the founder and principal shareholder of the Shell Group. After the Russian revolution of October, the Shell group, which owned 60% of the Caucasian oil reserves, was expropriated there. Deterding then unleashed a huge campaign against the purchase of “stolen oil”. In 1926 and 1927 conferences were held in London under his aegis, at which the plans of the industrialist Arnold Rechberg and General Max Hoffmann to conduct an anti-Soviet campaign were discussed. In 1937 he donated 10 million Dutch guilders to Adolf Hitler. Deterding was buried in Dobbin-Linstow in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in February 1939, where he lived with his German wife. At that time, the entire Nazi leadership found itself at his grave. Walter Kruspig, who joined Ossag 1925 and from 1927 was personnel manager of Rhenania Ossag and since 1930 general director, at the beginning of 1933 an NSDAP member, can be seen in the photos of the funeral with an extended arm in a Hitler salute arm.

The right-wing orientation of Shell management had an impact on corporate policy towards the Nazis in the first months of 1933. With the consent of the Dutch headquarters, efforts were made to stand by as being loyal to the regime. 

Shell’s ties with the Third Reich, however, were not limited to the use of forced labor. It was also a founding partner in German Gasoline (25%), the national German petroleum company crafted to give the Empire a greater degree of control over domestic gasoline production – for both military and civilian purposes. 

Shell in addition to the Nazi regime to bring German Gasoline Into fruition, but also sharing control of the company with IG Farben Industrie – the infamous producer of Zyklon B poison gas. Shell and IG Farben supplied synthetic rubber, lubricating oil and synthetic gasoline.

The photographs are from Shell staff meetings in 1935 at the Shell oil factory in Hamburg Curio-Haus, in halls decked with swastika flags. They were contained in a Rhenania-Ossag magazine published in 1043. 

Works meeting of the Shell lubricating oil factory in the Curio house in Hamburg, 1935. Since 1929 in a leading position: Robert Finn.

Translation of the text:

On Monday, the 8th of April at 5:30 pm, the affiliates of the Central, ZN Hamburg, Wgr and GTL NPH, who are composed of those in the local DAF branch Rhenania-Ossag, met at the Curiohaus in Hamburg for a joint works meeting. The event was very well-attended, however, some of our workmates from Wgr and GTL NPH were not able to be present at this time due to work commitments such as alternating shifts and late shifts.

The representative District Leader of Hamburg and State Councillor Pg. Harry Henningsen spoke to our affiliates about the forthcoming secret council vote. He spoke very impressively, in his traditional manner, and earned a great round of applause. The event was enriched by spirited [illegible] music played by the marching band of the Hamburger SA Site 45.

Works meeting of the Shell lubricating oil factory in the Curio house in Hamburg, 1935. Since 1929 in a leading position: Robert Finn.

The photograph shows military uniforms worn by several hundred marching employees of the Shell German subsidiary, Rhenania-Ossag on May 1st, 1938 (the accompanying sign reads: “Rhenania Ossag operating cell”).

The historical material was researched for us by the historian G. Jacob

In the 1930s, Germany had a great need to become self-sufficient and one of their biggest imports was fuel. The large chemical company IG Fabre had a solution to the problem: by using large amounts of coal they could produce synthetic fuel.

The synthetic fuel plant Hydrierwerke Pölitz AG was founded by IG Farben, Rhenania-Ossag, and Deutsch-Amerikanische Petroleum Gesellschaft in 1937. Synthetic fuels were vitally important to every aspect of the Nazi war machine including fuelling tanks, aircraft, battleships, submarines etc. The consortium built a mega factory that would eventually produce 15% of Germany’s total consumption of synthetic fuel.

NSDAP: The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers’ Party, existed from 1919 to 1920.

For more information visit ShellNaziHistory.com

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