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Evidence confirms that Shell fuelled the Nazi war machine

Another hammer blow for Shell. Evidence confirms that Shell fuelled the Nazi war machine

By John Donovan: 31 May 2021 (updated JULY 2021)

A new book by James Marriott and Terry Macalister reveals the extent to which the oil company Royal Dutch Shell played a key role in Hitler’s war effort.

James Marriott is a writer and activist with three decades of knowledge of the oil sector. Terry Macalister is a freelance journalist and former energy editor of the Guardian

As the author of the Kindle book published in 2016 –  Sir Henri Deterding and the Nazi History of Royal Dutch Shell – I welcome the fact that other parties have reached the same basic conclusions as I did after studying much of the same evidence.

Based on that evidence I lunched a petition several years ago demanding that Royal Dutch Shell should apologise for antisemitic conduct and Nazi support

Shell will find it more difficult to dismiss the independent findings in the new book, including from an award-winning journalist.

The following extracts are from a related article by headlined: Calls for Shell to apologise for ‘fuelling Nazi war machine’

According to ‘Crude Britannia’, by James Marriott and Terry Macalister, at the outbreak of World War Two the Anglo-Dutch company “effectively divided into an Allied corporation and an Axis corporation”. The Nazi-supporting branch of Shell, called Rhenania-Ossag, “swung in behind the [German] government as the Nazi state began to invade other countries”.

Or as Shell’s official history states ‘Following Hilter’s annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, (Shell) Group managing directors sanctioned Rhenania-Ossag taking over Shell companies in those countries.’ The same process took place in Hungary, Yugoslavia and Greece after Germany took control of those states.

Shell’s German subsidiary, Rhenania-Ossag, fired all the Jewish members on its board in May and June 1933. The appointments to replace them included a member of the Nazi party. The official history states, “the far reaching changes to the Rhenania-Ossag board could not have taken place without the full consent of [Shell Central Offices… No questions of principle or moral judgements about the Hitler regime appear to have arisen.” Shell’s historians were not able to establish what happened next to these Jewish staff members.

Seven years later, after Germany invaded Holland, the Swastika flew outside Shell’s HQ in The Hague.


I was originally tipped off about Shell’s concern over its past toxic history by Shell internal communications never meant for my eyes.

Shell had advance sight of my book and my website Despite aggressive threats, bluster and a global spying operation, Shell took no legal action. No multinational giant would want to draw attention to its past association with Hitler and the Nazis.

NEW BOOK: Crude Britannia: How Oil Shaped a Nation

Product details

  • ASIN: B095CND46T

  • Publisher: Pluto Press; 1st edition (20 May 2021)

Some of the information about Shell’s collaboration with the Nazis covered on pages 19, 20, 21, 22 of the main book, and pages 352, 353 and 354 from the Notes section of the book:

  • The nature of the Nazi regime was well understood by Shell during the period when concentration camps were already in operation, and the rule of the dreaded Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, was absolute.
  • In 1934, the head of Royal Dutch Shell Sir Henri Deterding had a 4 day stay with Hitler at Hitler’s retreat in Berchtesgaden.
  • Shell was aiming to obtain a petrol distribution monopoly in Germany and with this objective, Deterding offered a large loan to the Nazi regime.
  • Shell’s German subsidiary Rhenania-Ossag which had 10,000 employees adopted anti-Semitic policies. Jewish board members of the company were forced to resign.
  • Rhenania-Ossag supported and collaborated with the Nazi regime during the invasion and annexations of other countries.
  • A Swastika flag flew outside the HQ of Royal Dutch Shell located on Carel van Bylandtlaann in The Hague. See the above photo.
  • In referring to the 4 volume official history of Royal Dutch Shell published in 2007, Crude Britannia concludes on page 22, “There is an embarrassment about Shell’s role in the Nazi state.”
  • Shell was “deeply engaged with the European fascist states” before WW2.
  • Deterding was hopeful about the possibility of Mussolini and Hitler coming to power and personally helped finance the Nazi Party. Deterding is described as “an outspoken advocate for Hitler, writing several pieces in the German press declaring his support.”
  • Deterding passed away in February 1939. His funeral was attended by senior Nazis. Hitler sent a wreath bearing an inscription saluting Deterding as being a true friend of the German People.
  • Shell director Sir Andrew Agnew is described in the book as one of the British executives in the 1930s who saw much that they admired in fascism.
  • Forty Shell staff working in the Netherlands were dismissed because they were Jewish and at least half of them did not survive the war.
  • FRom item 23 of Notes, Page 354: As the official company history states: ‘The far-reaching changes to the Rhenania-Ossag board could not have taken place without the full consent of central offices … Moving managers and employees to other jobs was probably seen as a cosmetic exercise of the kind occasionally required to placate particular regimes, and no more. No questions of principle or moral judgements about the Hitler regime appear to have arisen and it bears pointing out that, whereas correspondence shows Group managers quick to identify and condemn Bolshevism, they appear not to have had the .same sensitivity to Fascism or Nazism. We do not know the Group’s treatment of the staff members concerned, nor their fates.’
  • Note 34 on page 354 mentions the existence of substantial evidence that the Shell German subsidiary Rhenania-Ossage used forced labour.
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