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Sir Henri Deterding: Hitlers Paymaster

Sir Henri Deterding: Hitlers Paymaster

By John Donovan

EXTRACT FROM PAGE 07/483 from volume 1 of a four-volume work published in 2007 “A History of Royal Dutch Shell” – authored by eminent historians associated with Utrecht University. 

From 1937 Deterding, now influenced by a personal secretary with outspoken Fascist sympathies, helped to finance the paper of a Fascist splinter group in the Netherlands, just as the Group sponsored a Russian anti-Soviet press service in London. Finally, if Deterding or the Group indeed supported the Nazis during their wilderness years with any substantial sums, then one would have expected the Reichskanzlei to have acknowledged the fact in the minute considering whether or not to grant him an audience with Hitler in March 1933. However, the document mentions nothing of the kind; Deterding was turned down without further ado.

In fact, there was further ado. Although not mentioned by Shell’s paid historians, Deterding was later honoured with an audience with Hitler; a four-day meeting at Hitlers Mountain top retreat as reported by Reuters in The New York Times and other newspapers. Deterding represented the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Hitler subsequently publicly saluted him as being a great friend of Nazi Germany.


From September 1935, the German Foreign Office seconded one of its staff to Deterding as a personal assistant for political matters. Deterding also met Goering, whose Karinhall estate was not far from his own, and went shooting with him. To facilitate proper entertaining, he exchanged his retreat for another and much grander one, obtaining tax advantages by threatening the authorities with the withdrawal of capital.

Deterding clearly liked the New Order represented by the Nazis. He considered the notorious Night of the Long Knives in June 1934, when Hitler had a large number of his suspected party opponents brutally murdered, as a necessary step, confessing that it had increased his respect and veneration for the Nazi leader, if such were possible.


The financial relationship between Deterding and Hitler was parodied in two Dutch cartoons published in the 1930s. Deterding’s name is visible on his cartoon image on enlarged copies of each cartoon below – A and B.



Deterding, Hitler and Johannes Bell – were all depicted as being accomplices in the Reichstag fire. This conclusion is arrived at from the above information in red text authored by Shell’s historians and on a translation of the text at the foot of the cartoon.

Their connection with the fire, via a joint agent of Deterding/Hitler,  George Bell, is indicated on page 313 of the biography of Sir Henri by Glyn Roberts. According to information on page 316, the Manchester Guardian reported that Georg Bell had actually helped to carry the inflammable material that set the Reichstag ablaze. Credible evidence on page 317 links the fire, Hitler, Dr. Bell and Deterding.

In the cartoon depiction above, Deterding is shown handing over a bag full of money (1000 000 00) of unspecified currency, to an unidentifiable uniformed Nazi.


Cartoon with the caption: TEGEN OORLOG EN FASCISME (AGAINST WAR AND FASCISM – Mobilize for the first of August):

Adolf Hitler is depicted astride a Swastika, with Deterding shown below, sitting on top of what may be a Soviet soldier wearing a gas mask. Deterding is holding aloft what appears to be a money list with various sums ticked off.

The cartoon implies that Hitler and Deterding were in league together against the Soviets.

The cartoon relating to Marinus van der Lubbe made it plain that Deterding was a Nazi paymaster. The cartoon (right) showing him in an apparent tag-team partnership with Hitler against the Soviets followed the same theme.

Deterding’s name is visible on his cartoon image on an enlarged copy 

There is no evidence that Sir Henri, the then Director-General of Royal Dutch Shell, took issue with the content, which would have been grossly defamatory if untrue.

Deterding’s personal secretary from 1937 onwards had outspoken fascist sympathies. See page 483 RDSH V1. A previous secretary working for Deterding, Dr. F.C. (Frederik Carel) Gerretson, another Dutchman, was also a fascist. He acted as Shell’s historian and became a Professor of Constitutional History at the University of Utrecht. Sir Henry described himself as a fascist. See item 173 on page 535 of RDSH V1 notes.

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