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Royal Dutch Shell founders massive funding for Hitlers Winterhilfswerk

BRITISH PATHE NEWS film footage has come to light which shows the huge importance Hitler attached to his fundraising vehicle for the Nazi regime. Royal Dutch Shell founder Sir Henri Deterding was by far the largest single donor, sending 7,000 railway wagons full of Dutch food produce. Despite criticism in the news media, specifically linking the money saved on food to Nazi rearmament, Deterding continued to donate Dutch food to Nazi Germany.

By John Donovan

In December 1936, there were global news reports about Royal Dutch Shell founder Sir Henri Deterding’s massive food donations to Hitlers Winter Relief Charity fundraising project in Nazi Germany. Numerous examples can be found in an Index of Shell leadership financial support for the Nazis.

The scheme was run directly by the notorious Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels, known by his detractors as the poison dwarf.

BRITISH PATHE NEWS film footage has come to light which shows the huge importance Hitler attached to his fundraising vehicle for the Nazi regime. Royal Dutch Shell founder Sir Henri Deterding was by far the largest single donor, sending 7,000 railway wagons full of Dutch food produce. Despite criticism in the news media, specifically linking the money saved on food to Nazi rearmament, Deterding continued to finance Nazi Germany.

The film is of a spectacular Nazi rally with a massive mesmerised audience of perhaps a million Germans addressed by Hitler under a giant sign: Winterhilfswerk 1936-37. As can be seen from a screenshot below, Dr Goebbels, along with Deterding’s personal friend Reichsmarschall Göring, were also present.

The “Winterhilfswerk” speech is basically to the German people encouraging them to donate. Hitler says in his speech that there are always some people poorer than others. So everybody has to donate. The people are everything in whole, the single doesn’t count. To maintain the people of Germany has the highest priority. He expects from every German “with decency and character” to be part of the gang marching together. The translation is challenging because it is old-style German delivered with typical Hitler emotionalism.

All of Deterding’s financial support for Hitler and the Nazi party took place while he was a director of multiple companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group and retained a measure of control via preference shares. This included the period after he had retired as Director-General.

According to Shell’s records, Deterding donated 10 million guilders in surplus Dutch food to the annual Nazi-run Winterhilfswerk (Winter Relief) organization in Germany. See page 483 from A History of Royal Dutch Shell  Volume 1.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and  Reichsmarschall Göring were also present at the Winterhilfswerk rally addressed by Hitler.

The above screenshot and the following two give some idea of the mega-size of the spectacular Winterhilfswerk rally. More than a million Germans attended one such rally.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and  Reichsmarschall Göring

(Screenshot immediately above from a second related British Pathe news report)

The text under a brief second Britsh Pathe news film reads: “GERMANY’S SCHEME FOR WINTER RELIEF- Dr Goebbels directs operations in Berlin on Collection Day.”  The narration during the film says that Dr. Goebbels had the huge task of organising the Winter Help scheme. Believe I also spotted Reichsmarschall Göring in the film.

The two screenshots displayed above are from the TV series The World At War. Goebbels, Göring and the Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess were all shown in the first episode A New Germany (1933–1939) holding Winter Help collection tins.

Above Logo for the Winter Relief Origination in Germany run by the Nazi Party

The last two screenshots are also both from Episode 1 of the TV series The World At War: A New Germany (1933–1939).  Hitler is shown photographed at his mountain top retreat in Berchtesgaden where he had a four-day meeting with Sir Henri Deterding in October 1934.

According to a news report quoted on page 324 of the Sir Henri Deterding biography ‘THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD’, 7,000 railway wagons were needed to transport the donated food. Exact extract: “Seven thousand railway wagons were used in the first immense delivery.”

Many such articles about the donations can be found here.

Despite criticism in the news media, specifically linking the money saved on food to Nazi rearmament, Deterding continued to donate Dutch food for Nazi Germany, where he now lived after marrying his secretary, a young German woman. The food donations allowed the Nazis to divert funds to building up the military might of the Third Riech.

Section “A” on page 14 of a Military Tribunal document arising from the War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg (dated 6 December 1947), had the heading: Financial Support of Hitler and Nazi Party.” It mainly covered the funding given to the Nazi Party at a critical time by IG Farben. It states on page 14: “The financial support thus given by Farben along with other industrialists contributed to Hitler’s seizure and consolidation of power.” On the same page, it makes direct reference to “…contributions to the winter aid scheme (Winterhilfswerk)…” as part of the “important contributions.”

That provides official recognition of the importance of food donations to the Nazi Winter Aid Fund in supporting Hitler and his regime.

His Shell colleagues must have been well aware of all of the international publicity about the massive financial aid, yet Sir Henri remained as a director. Perhaps it also suited the Group because of its continuing relationship with the leadership of Nazi Germany, which had such high regard for Deterding and his money.  

Sir Henri never retired from being a Shell director. Shell records prove that he was a Shell director until the day he died: 4 February 1939. 

A wreath sent on behalf of Hitler to Deterding’s spectacular Nazi funeral held near Berlin stated:

“In the name and by order of the Fuehrer, I greet in you, Heinrich Deterding, a great friend of the Germans.”

Hitler’s special envoy, Erich Hilgenfeld of the SS, laid the wreath on Hitler’s behalf (See page 478, A History of Royal Dutch Shell Volume 1.)

ARTICLE ENDS

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