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Sir Henri Deterding’s admiration and support for another fascist dictator, Mussolini

Sir Henri Deterding’s admiration and support for another fascist dictator, Mussolini

By John Donovan

I have already published an ebook and website focussed on Royal Dutch Shell leader Sir Henri Deterding and his admiration and support for the Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler, who he met a number of times on behalf of Shell.

Hitler was not the only fascist dictator admired and supported by Deterding.

In his autobiography “AN INTERNATIONAL OILMAN” (pages 13 and 14) Sir Henri made plain his high regard for the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini.

In Italy, not long ago, it fell to my lot to talk with Mussolini, a man who, regard him as you may, has shown a driving force almost unparalleled in running a country-though from such outward manifestations as are seen in the present-day world, I wouldn’t say that the running of a country was at all the same thing as the running of a business. Too often, the men who run countries have never run businesses, as the results of their government so painfully show. But that is by the way.

My talk with Mussolini proved that there were several points on which we saw eye to eye. We both agreed that the coping-stone of Education is a sense of discipline and respect for prestige, lacking which no youth can be considered to have been properly educated at all. Speaking as the father of a family, myself, I told the Duce of my conviction that the right and only way to bring up young people is to teach them the difference between seeing and observing. A child should be taught not merely to see a thing but to realise the nature of the thing he has seen, and if he doesn’t understand it, to ask himself, and seek to know, just why that thing should be. On subjects of this kind, Mussolini showed that he had thought deeply. To people unacquainted with the Italian character his manner in public may seem at times to be a trifle theatrical, but what chiefly interested me at our meeting was that he seemed so direct. One felt that, if faced with a difficulty, he would get out his sledge-hammer and strike straight at its root. Shortly after this meeting with Mussolini, I had the privilege of an audience with Pope Pius XI. 

The Glyn Roberts biography of Sir Henri – “THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD” – also contains references to his regard for Benito Mussolini (and the fascist Spanish dictator, General Franco).

Some extracts:

In Italy he was active;  he met Mussolini, and he did not spend all his time discussing educational theories and the need for inculcating a sense of respect in the young. (From page 293)

Thus we see Sir Henri Deterding, who publicizes himself systematically as the plain-spoken, direct business man, “just an oil man trying to get along,” definitely putting his political prejudices above the possibilities of greater immediate profits by backing Mussolini and Hitler. (From page 365)

Well, Sir Henri has the greatest admiration for the first and floweriest of the Fascist dictators, Benito Mussolini of Italy. (From page 399)

Mussolini has shown driving power, and Sir Henri sees eye to eye with him on many things. (From page 400)

It was no accident that Sir Henri admired Mussolini… (From page 428)

The sympathies of Sir Henri Deterding were of course with General Franco, the Fascist disciplinarian who believed in all the things that he too believed in. (From page 380)

Sir Henri is not merely a Fascist, he is the cause of Fascism in others, the paymaster. (From page 428)

The biography also contains countless references to Deterding’s admiration and support for Hitler and Nazi Germany.

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