From Nazi collaborator to Fortune 500 - companies that got rich on the Reich

Discuss

75 Responses to “From Nazi collaborator to Fortune 500 - companies that got rich on the Reich”

  1. Cory Doctorow says:

    Carsten: I’m sorry that you hallucinated a set of editorial guidelines for Boing Boing that says that we only carry new information.

    However, this is *not* editorial policy on Boing Boing.

    See, for example, yesterday’s story about a hands-free phone invented in 1948.

  2. ethan says:

    It feels weird for me to be saying this about a country other than my own US of A, but guys: Germany is not the world. Things that are common knowledge there are not common knowledge everywhere.

    As long as I’m talking about things that feel weird, it always feels weird to me when people comment on blurgs and say “And you’re surprised why?” Who said anyone was surprised? Does everything have to be surprising to be worth mentioning? I guess we should keep our mouths shut about war and atrocities and torture and America’s quick slide into fascism, because all that has ceased to be surprising.

  3. Antinous says:

    The fasces were carried by lictors, who were ceremonial bodyguards or, alternatively, hired thugs of Roman office holders. The bundle served as the handle of an axe and represented the power to execute people. Apparently, the fasces were sometimes used to whap the citizenry if they got in the way. In other words, a pretty good physical metaphor for social controls that can get out of hand and abuse human rights.

  4. cr0m says:

    As an aside, can someone explain this relatively new reader why some folks eschew vowels in their posts?

  5. herald says:

    “f y cn shw m n plc whr mpld ths — mch lss sd t — ‘ll snd y tstcl.”

    m, n thnks Cry, thnk tht ‘ll stck wth th pr tht hv nw. cld g n t stt tht by yr glb nd ffhnd wy f dsmssng my pnts cld hv mpd tht, bt wh knws f tht ws yr rsnng. Fr ll knw yr jst hvng bd dy.

    “Mntm, f y’r gng t hllcnt thngs fr m t sy, y clrly dn’t nd m t hld p my nd f th cnvrstn. prsm y’r cpbl f hllcntng ntr blcks f mgnry (nd qlly mprbbl) dlg fr m.”

    Hv fn wth tht.”

    nd n th thrhnd f y cn prv tht m hllcntng thngs ‘ll b gld t snd y n f my tstcls n th sprt f fr ply.

    ‘d sy tht ws tt fr tt, bt t dsn’t rlly snd qt rght.

    Hv s mch fn s y wnt wth tht.

  6. Ryan Waddell says:

    So, as I understand it, the problem here is that Germany didn’t dismantle all its companies that helped in the war effort, right? No? What, exactly, IS the point then?

  7. Cory Doctorow says:

    Ryan, the point is to know more about the world than you did before. I didn’t know that Hugo Boss designed the Nazi uniforms. Neither did many of the other posters here. I didn’t know that Siemens made gas chambers. Neither did many of the readers. Do facts need especial justification? What is the point of knowing about an Australian who invented a steel desk-mounted hands-free phone in 1948? What’s the point of knowing what individual tracks off Sgt Pepper’s sound like?

    Here’s a more interesting question (to me at least): if you don’t see the point of the information on this website, why are you reading it?

  8. Jeff says:

    Ethan said, “I guess we should keep our mouths shut about war and atrocities and torture and America’s quick slide into fascism, because all that has ceased to be surprising.”

    I’m not sure if we are sliding into fascism. We’ll have to see after the elections. And I don’t think anyone here thinks keeping quiet is the best way to change things. Just say what you think.

  9. jungle says:

    This is really interesting. Did information regarding these companies have any effect on them immediately after the war?

    My guess is that it was best for everybody to just forget about it. Which is a shame too, since we shouldnt give a free pass for companies aiding in genocide for any reason.

    Unfortunally it will probably also be very hard to let the skeletons out of the closet in this day and age, with all mainstream media simply not wanting to report old and embarrasing news.

    Again, another more interesting thought is, will we as consumers stay away from these brands in the future, based on this knowledge?

  10. gravedigger_jones says:

    really interesting post, i definitely learned something !

    also, thanks to various posters for the enlightenment about German 6th grade curriculum. contrary to popular belief, not everyone on the planet attends middle school in Germany.

  11. Certhas says:

    “…the point is to know more about the world than you did before.”

    With Kitten pictures on top, to compensate the evil?

    This is not exactly an informative or thought provoking article. It’s clearly written to induce a bit of disgust and a few giggles. At best its a form of infotainment. (Fair enough it’s on cracked.com a humor site, but don’t pretend that you are informing your readership, or increasing knowledge in meaningful ways by linking this! This is merely great smalltalk knowledge ala “Did you know…” “No shit!”)

    It makes you feel a bit of indignation and a bit of outrage and most of all makes you feel good about yourself for feeling the indignation and outrage.

    This is NOT a matter of something we should put behind us, or forget. But this article is merely thoroughly trivializing the issue. “Look how incredibly evil Siemens is!”

  12. Antinous says:

    It’s pretty normal to hang a few egregious offenders and let everybody else off in the interest of national reconciliation or reconstruction. The idea is that you can’t rebuild the country without the existing business infrastructure. Of course, that idea comes from the owners of the existing business infrastructure. And Germany has developed a pretty schizophrenic culture of self-flagellation/pretend that it never happened. Oddly, people don’t like to be reminded that they actively supported genocide.

  13. robcat says:

    The Volkswagen article is very misleading. VW Bugs only got to the prototype stage before WWII and were not produced by the “thousands” until after the war, when the British had control of the factory and rehabilitated it as an economic reconstruction project.

    During the war the factory made small military vehicles and no civilian autos.

  14. TheWillow says:

    “This is merely great smalltalk knowledge ala ‘Did you know…’ ‘No shit!’”

    What’s wrong with that? That’s the whole reason I learn things.

  15. pepsi_max2k says:

    I’ve heard the hugo boss thing before and I’m not entirely sure but it may be a misunderstanding… According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Boss_AG only the SS uniform “was designed by SS-Oberführer Prof. Dr. Karl Diebitsch and Walter Heck (graphic designer) and made by the Hugo Boss company”. I don’t know if the two individuals are related to HB or not.

  16. herald says:

    So what you are saying Cory is that ther Riech was evil, but the Axis wasn’t? The Germans have to have this thrown in thier face but we can give the Japanese and the Italians get a pass?

    If we are going to talk about the companies that supplied our enemies in World War 2, we should do them all.

    But fine lets stay with in the scope of the article, where is the mention of Ford? (or for that matter GM) If slave labor is a crime then both companies are guilty of it. Ford was sued in 1998 over it.

    The fact of the matter is that the article way to narrow in scope.

  17. Anonymous says:

    even “smaller” companies try to hide the fact that they made a hell of a living producing for the Nazis – two big names jump to my mind – one: SWAROVSKI Crystals – seen with bored clerks in empty stores produces all the binoculars and HILTI (owing a lot of other companies) made tools and is still the biggest employer in Liechtenstein – SWAROVSKI by the way pays its taxes in Liechtenstein as well – and kicked around 3K factory workers out which got replaced by some unknown chinese manufacturer – everything well kept under wrap from the media thanks to both of them still being family owned.

  18. Cory Doctorow says:

    “So what you are saying Cory is that ther Riech was evil, but the Axis wasn’t?”

    If you can show me one place where I implied this — much less said it — I’ll send you a testicle.

    Meantime, if you’re going to hallucinate things for me to say, you clearly don’t need me to hold up my end of the conversation. I presume you’re capable of hallucinating entire blocks of imaginary (and equally improbable) dialog for me.

    Have fun with that.

  19. AGF says:

    @ 40 – If I say – “my cat is white” and you say – “What about dogs? My dog is white.” I might say, “Yes. Very nice but I’m talking about cats right now.” Does that mean you dog isn’t white? No!!! It simply means I’m not talking about your dog. We could get into a discussion about all the white animals in the world – but we’re not.
    re – german grade school – I think it is really interesting what is ‘common knowledge’ in different countries and what is white washed over. From what I know, Germany is quite good at looking critically and honestly at their past.

  20. Antinous says:

    @#67,

    The moderatrix has a ‘disemvowel’ button. If you’re uncivil, you’re gutted.

    @#62,

    Germany also has a thriving neo-Nazi movement. Clearly the issue remains unresolved. And your tone is unsupportable.

  21. davvee says:

    In response to post #34 (JEFF). America has always utilized the methods of fascism because it worked so well for Rome. Fascism, as you probably already know, is from the word fasces. Fasces are bundles of rods tied together by ribbons, the rods are the citizens and the ribbons are the authority. I hate posting wiki articles but I feel what is important in this link is the US House of Reps floor and the Seal of the Senate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces

  22. cr0m says:

    Much obliged, Antinous. Now I don’t feel bad for ignoring those posts.

  23. Warren Camishen says:

    DV MRY vr t WFM knws ll bt ths pclr nd prncs S / Nz cnnctns nd hs bn dlntng thr xstnc fr bt 30 yrs – n vry clr nd cncs mnnr, mght dd!

    < hrf="http://www.wfm.rg/plylsts/DX">Dv mry t WFM

  24. elNico says:

    Cory, I wasn’t referring to BB as the blog, but the original source, “cracked.com”.

    I find BB a great antidote to American mainstream media – especially because there are a lot of diverse American opinions expressed here – whether you’re Canadian or not doesn’t really change that.

    I guess I should have pointed that out, but hence the comment that it was filed under “More funny stuff” (again, on cracked.com), which in itself is pretty tasteless, especially in the light of the “sun blotting” outrage comment.

  25. Sam says:

    ehem, *cough* whats the significance of “zyklon”? And also, thats gas burning ovens, right?

  26. Sam says:

    Oh, ouch, dang, nevermind, thats ufka’d up. Wikipedia’d.

  27. Agent 86 says:

    Zyklon was one of the main cyanide gases used in death camps.

  28. elNico says:

    @ #31 ethan

    Fair enough and yes, I agree with you that posts shouldn’t be required to amaze everyone.

    I was genuinely stumped…perhaps in the same way that you would be if you’d read somewhere that the stories behind JFK’s assassination were controversial.

    However, after seeing that this was indeed news to people, I’m sort of glad it got posted – won’t become a cracked.com reader, though…

  29. Takuan says:

    imagine that

    “The delousing operations provoked fury and resistance among Mexicans still boiling with indignation after a lethal 1916 gasoline blaze in the El Paso City jail. As part of Mayor Lea’s citywide disinfection campaign, prisoners in the jail were ordered to strip naked. Their clothes were dumped in one bath filled with a mixture of gasoline, creosote and formaldehyde. Then they were forced to step into a second bath filled with “a bucket of gasoline, a bucket of coal oil and a bucket of vinegar.” At around 3:30 p.m., March 5, 1916, someone struck a match. The jail went up like a torch. The El Paso Herald reported that about 50 “naked prisoners from whose bodies the fumes of gasoline were arising”, many of them locked in their cells, caught fire. 27 prisoners died. In late January 1917, 200 Mexican women rebelled at the border and prompted a major riot, putting to flight both police and troops on both sides of the border.

    The use of Zyklon B became habitual. Health officers would spray the immigrants’ clothes. Now, Zyklon B, in gaseous form, is fatal when absorbed through the skin in concentrations of over 50 parts ppm. How many Mexicans suffered agonies or died, when they put on those garments? As Romo recently told the El Paso-based journalist Paul Spike, writing for the online UK daily The First Post: “This is a huge black hole in history. Unfortunately, I only have oral histories and other anecdotal evidence about the harmful effects of the noxious chemicals used to disinfect and delouse the Mexican border crossers–including deaths, birth defects, cancer, etc. It may well go into the tens of thousands. It’s incredible that absolutely no one, after all these years, has ever attempted to document this.”

  30. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    BlackAndy (49), thanks for sorting out the different uses of fasces for Davvee, and doing it so well.

    Herald (40), I can’t improve on AGF’s explanation (see #42). I can give it to you in clearer and more vivid terms; but I can’t improve on it.

  31. sonny p fontaine says:

    This doesn’t mention (Grandpappy) Prescot Bush
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush

  32. fltndboat says:

    Studying the concept of War since the dawn of history is a prelude to preventing it. Profiteers and hypocrites come out of the woodwork to feed off of the human suffering. I encourage anyone to look deeper into history with the question ; Has anyone,ever, won a War???

  33. elNico says:

    I’m surprised that this gets presented as some big revelation…it’s common grade 6 history in Germany.

    Duh – how else would Germany have ramped up a war and death machinery of that scale within a few years? Enterprising Hitler Youth enthusiasts?

    While Zyklon is a pretty dumb choice, by itself it means cyclone, the gas, as has been pointed out, is Zyklon B.

    The marketing department clearly f*cked up on that one, but is the post suggesting that it was deliberate? Seems more like a case of trying to sell a car name Pajero or Pinto to Spaniards – just plain dumb.

    And from an American blog that files this under “More funny stuff”…Americans complaining about the relations between industry, military and killing people in general in other countries is very funny, indeed.

  34. elNico says:

    @ #53 Antinous

    And Germany has developed a pretty schizophrenic culture of self-flagellation/pretend that it never happened

    Uhm, denying the Holocaust is actually a crime in Germany and there’s about 2 years of history education dealing solely with the third Reich in high school.

    I’d agree that Germans can appear a bit strange on the subject, but isn’t that to be expected with a subject as weird as the 3rd Reich and you genuinely care about it?

    The “pretend it’s never happened” can at most be translated to that people also have a desire to move on. Succumbing to it would at least get rid of that “schizophrenia” and put them in line with most of our Western friends…

    Oddly, people don’t like to be reminded that they actively supported genocide.

    No, what I don’t like is getting some throwaway comment from somebody who clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  35. EH says:

    It’s supremely ironic that in response to a story denigrating companies who colluded with an oppressive regime, the argument is made that more businesses should be held to political interpretations of their motivations. The irony is that the company would not be bad if they had adopted or acted in concert with more agreeable politics.

    It’s bad to associate business and politics at all, even if I agree with the politics (though this sentiment is itself a microfascism). In some places, this problem is referred to as “corporatism.”

  36. Squashy says:

    To use the brand name Zyklon might be a little bit insensitive and foolish. For the company that actually built the gas chambers to use it is staggering.

  37. yazoo says:

    Flks, flks!, pls!

    Cry hs spkn. Nw f y ll wll jst drnk th bng bng Kl d nd pssvly rd th stl nws bt ndn ntrsctns nd whtvr th hpstr cntngnt (BB stff) nssts s th tpc f th mmnt w wll ll b bttr ff. N nd t bckr bt dtls wth rgrd t ny thr gncdl ctvty tht hs ccrrd n ths sd plnt bt wht *Cry* wnts t dtl.

    Y cn lwys rvrt bck t n-cmmnt md nd rn yr blly plpt nfttrd by th prltrns.

  38. Cory Doctorow says:

    Elnico? American blog? I’m a Canadian, I live in England, the server is in Toronto.

  39. Georgia Tills says:

    Um, you guys, neutral has always been Switzerland, those people don’t like war, their whole country is an army…but they have never taken advantage of that fact.

    During the war, Switzerland’s official position was neutral, but they allowed Allied spies to get information through them on Germany.

  40. Simon Greenwood says:

    Safeway in the UK used the name Zyklon for their own brand laundry and dishwashing products for a while. Presumably someone pointed it out and they renamed them Cyclon.

  41. Pencilandpaper says:

    …kinda funny that bbtv is sometimes sponsored by IBM (createsimplicity.com)…

  42. Toestubber says:

    Yazoo:

    It costs almost nothing to create your own website.

    Helpful hint!

  43. Sue Grant says:

    Cory, you may be Canadian but the rest of the Boing Boing group are Americans, and the focus of many of the posts are American, whether it’s talking about gadgets or politics. I’m not saying all the posts are, that’s certainly not true, as I’ve seen many international topics, but the United States has big presence in the world and Boing Boing just reflects that. I have noticed over the years that things like events tend towards California for example, where many of the contributors are from. That’s understable since many of their contacts would be in their own town. I would love to see a calendar of events as a feature of Boing Boing, where the readers could contribute unique happenings from their own area.

    Thanks for doing a great job guys, I love all the fascinating stuff I find here.

  44. This Yossarian Life says:

    It is worth noting that while the gas chambers were built by Siemens, Zyklon B was manufactured by IG Farben (later split up into companies Bayer, BASF, and Hoechst (now Aventis) respectively) and Schering, with patents licensed from Degussa – the company that was later, in another staggering publicity snafu, hired to weather-proof the Berlin Holocaust memorial.

    Another, unrelated example of mind-blowing insensitivity is this ad which energy company e.on took out in some local newspaper two years ago. Underneath an article covering an exhibition about the Gypsy victims of Auschwitz, e.on promise “tomorrow’s gas today!”

  45. Kyle Armbruster says:

    Damn, I have always said, “Well, the Nazis may have been evil genocidal monsters, but god damn did their uniforms look hot.” And now I know why!

    There’s that gray officer’s wool longcoat (don’t know what rank–only seen it in movies) that has the red-lined lapels that fold out. Just awesome. I’d wear a coat like that today, if I thought I could do so without upsetting Jewish and/or gay friends. Just wonderful.

    Great colors. Great lines. Useful, but classy. Damn. Oddly enough, this may serve as a recommendation of Boss stuff for me, as opposed to a discouragement! I need a new really nice suit sometime this year…

  46. Takuan says:

    a-yup

    “LORD EDWARD THURLOW (1), 1ST BARON THURLOW
    English jurist and statesman
    (1731 – 1806
    Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no
    soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?”

  47. Æ’low says:

    No pun, but hasn’t this been done to death.

    You mean to say that German firms had links with Nazis? Like they had much choice. It’s like saying that soldiers of the German army _chose_ to fight, and “supported” the Nazi party. On the surface they did. They had to. The other choice was being shot.

    How many American companies have aided the war in Iraq? You’re all tarred with the same brush.

  48. elNico says:

    @#68

    I find it pretty unsupportable to imply that people in this threat who clarified a few things about a mostly ignorant article are declared to be just defensive, since they “have actively supported genocide”.

    And for the “thriving neo-Nazi movement”…

    There have always been peaks, where dumb and/or disadvantaged youth have chosen “being a neo-Nazi” as the most effective way to provoke in Germany. It’s not a rising trend, but something that comes and goes over the years in different parts of the country.

    You may or may not choose to see a 3rd Reich in the making…

  49. Teapunk says:

    I have to agree with ElNico (#8). That stuff is really common knowledge in Germany, it’s not forgotten but hardly newsworthy.

  50. danegeld says:

    Hey guys, Godwin’s law.

    http://xkcd.com/261

  51. Antinous says:

    1) It was news to me. If it’s old to you, read the next post.
    2) A lot of people seem to want to forgive Hugo Boss because he’s a great designer. That’s convenient. While we’re at it, let’s forgive Stalin cuz he had such a great moustache.
    3) Stop accusing Cory of being American. It’s annoying both him and me.

  52. Eduardo Padoan says:

    @15: (almost) everybody has a choice. I’m not saying every single Nazi soldier was a genocide monster, but what about IBM?

  53. AGF says:

    @63 and everyone else who doesn’t see the relevance of this.
    Oh, of course – yes. That was all 70 years ago. There aren’t any companies profiting at others expense now! The past never has any relevance to the present. I guess we should all drop it.

  54. Certhas says:

    Following up on what 8# and 16# said, this is common knowledge in Germany, as a matter of fact in the past decade or two the companies themself have (often following some public pressure and lawsuits) started to scientifically investigate their own past.

    The latest example would be the Quandts: http://www.zeit.de/2007/47/Quandt

    Basically the entirety of the German economy was of course collaborating with the Nazis. They were, after all, a totalitarian regime. Forced labor was ubiquitous.

    The linked article is a joke.

  55. RHB says:

    50 + years later… Tempered with the passage of time, hard for me to get upset over someones grandfather running a bussiness in Nazi Germany.
    It’s not like they are present day Nazis.
    If you want to point fingers look at Switzerland, “neutral” during the war, they profited off everyone including the Prisoners of concentration camps, and wealth stolen from them. It was a bad chapter in history, maybe we learned something from that era.
    Then we have Joe Ratzinger…

  56. Certhas says:

    What’s Ratzinger got to do with this?

    A bigger and more pervasive story is that through time we rarely hold companies morally responsible. The allies ignored many of the economy/nazi involvements in order to get Germany on its feet economically as soon as possible.
    Nevermind that the US and all the allies benefited from technology developed by the Nazis after the war as well, the rocket program, during which more forced laborers died then it killed soldiers on the battle field, being probably the best known example.

  57. historyman68 says:

    re: Nazis vs. the rest of the Axis:

    What distinguished the Nazis from every other aggressive country that starts wars and takes over territories is the full-scale genocide they took part in. This is why people consider them evil.

    To put it in context, however, many Americans had no problem with their racist politics, and eugenics didn’t become a dirty word until Germany lost the war. Germany wasn’t considered evil in America because of its racism, but simply because of the propaganda and xenophobia, much of it left over from WWI, against Germans. Allied soldiers fighting to free the Jews is as anachronistic as Union soldiers in the American Civil War fighting to end slavery. In both cases, it was pretty much “to defend my homeland”… which was also why the majority of the Axis probably fought. And the draft.

    Outside of people whom it directly affected, people pretty much forgot about the Holocaust until Israel’s trial of Adolf Eichmann in the 60s. Only then did the Nazis become evil for the reason we consider them evil today.

    (incidentally, also one of the reasons I object to people labeling Bush, or any other American politician, a Nazi: he may employ fascist tactics, but they are not put to genocidal ends. The Iraq War may be corrupt, ill-managed, ill-conceived, and completely wrong, but it is not genocide carried out with racist policies.)

    So the question becomes: is it possible to distinguish between “war effort” – what every country does to gear up for war, including building factories, drafting soldiers, research, and propaganda – and genocide? What made the Nazis so evil was how seamlessly genocide and racism were integrated with the war effort.

  58. gravedigger_jones says:

    wow, this article has really brought out the hate. unless Yazoo is being sarcastic, that might be the most petulant comment i’ve seen on this website.

    i enjoyed reading the article, i learned a few things, and that’s pretty much it. i’m not sure how this became an argument about some secret agenda Cory has to embarrass the German people and conceal the multitude of mistakes made by all the other countries of the world throughout recorded history.

    let’s take a deep breath …

  59. herald says:

    I notice that Ford and Mercedes were left out of this discussion again.

    And since were going after some companies how about the Japanese?

    Mitsubishi made some pretty good fighter planes out of American scrap.

    Or maybe just maybe we can just put this all behind us. Who am I kidding.

  60. Takuan says:

    I think many outside America will indeed see racist and genocidal intent in American foreign “policy”.

    How many Vietnamese died to the approximate 50,000 American troops in that little war?

  61. manuelmartensen.com says:

    Damnit, that ad is really unfortunately placed there.

    Is placing the ads automated at big newspapers and magazines? I mean, who can be that stupid?

    Thanks for that, THIS YOSSARIAN LIFE.

  62. Jeff says:

    I did not know that Hugo Boss helped out with the uniforms. Really nice design, Nazi-nasty aside. I’ve always liked the strong lines and boots. The SS uniform is very impressive, especially with the lightening bolt SS.

  63. Cory Doctorow says:

    Sorry, Herald, are you asking why Japanese companies were omitted from a list of companies that supplied the Reich?

    At a guess: because Japanese companies didn’t supply the Reich. They supplied Japan’s military.

    Likewise, one assumes that the reason that none of the companies that supply the Iraq invasion are on this list is that Iraq is not the Third Reich, and this is a list of companies that supplied the Third Reich.

    Also missing from this list: companies implicated in the Bhopal disaster (India is not Nazi Germany), companies that created Alaskan oil slicks (Alaska is not Nazi Germany), companies that murdered Australian aborigines (Australia: also not Nazi Germany), and many other companies.

    Some of the commenters in this thread seem to think that a list of companies that supplied Nazi Germany should also include every other reprehensible company in the history of the world.

    By this reasoning, a list of all the known carcinogens should also contain a list of all chemicals known to cause prenatal defects, because prenatal defects are bad.

  64. mannakiosk says:

    Corporations must make money for their shareholders. If a corporation does something that is good, it’s because doing good happens to be the most profitable thing to do according to their calculations.

  65. metapede says:

    My ancestors prospered at the expense of Native Americans. I guess I should disown my parents.

  66. wolfwitch says:

    Didn’t the Pope support Hitler at that time too?

    In any war- industries in warring countries are naturally going to support the war effort. We don’t like to admit it- but war is big business. Some may choose not to support it, and I feel that is admirable, but almost all large corporations do- it is too profitable to pass up. This is really old news.

  67. BlackAndy says:

    @#43 (davvee):

    You are right that the word “fascism” does derive from the Latin word “fasces”, which was a bundle of reeds that Roman consuls (if I remember right) carried around to symbolize the principle that that which is weak individually becomes much stronger in a group. (See Akira Kurosawa’s amazing movie “Ran” for a demonstration of this, as well as its limitations.)

    This symbol has been adopted in many places by the US government, largely to symbolize that although one individual (US) state may be weak, by joining together they become much stronger, which no doubt seemed to the classically-educated Constitutional framers a fitting symbol of the US Congress in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly because the Roman Republic was in many, many ways a model for the form of government they were looking to establish.

    The political doctrine of fascism, however, arose much later, in the early 20th century. Mussolini named the doctrine after the fasces as one of many attempts to invoke the periods of the Roman Republic and Empire, which comparatively must have looked extremely attractive to many in post-First World War Italy. However, to say that these earlier periods were fascisms in any way is not true, fascism being in many ways a political doctrine that could only have arisen after the Industrial Revolution and the societal transformations that were induced by it.

    In other words, although the two have the symbol in common, it is used somewhat differently and different aspects of it are emphasized. One could say that the olive branch, also common in US governmant symbology, is meant to symbolize God’s mercy after the Flood of Noah, but in fact it is a very generic symbol of peace. Poor example, but I hope you get my idea.

    For those saying, “Why not corporations from (some other place and/or time) that was just as bad?”, well, let’s face it, Nazi Germany is widely held (at least in Western civilization) as the #1 Worst Bad Government of all time, and as such is going to have a certain attraction to someone looking to assemble a list of this kind. The immense amount of documentation of this time and place that exists for Western scholars and commentators to examine also assists with this.

    Personally, I would love to see some other lists, such as still-existing corporations that were complicit with the genocide of American Indian tribes, corporations that were involved in slave trades, corporations that propped up South African aparteid, etc. Like people and governments, corporations are capable of very evil acts. I applaud any corporation that willingly investigates its own past, admits to wrongdoings, and promulgates this information to prevent similar actions, just as I applaud the German people for not hiding their recent history from their children but instead using it as a teaching moment. (I wish the US would do the same, it might have avoided several recent errors that have been made.) However, Siemens adopting the name “Zyklon” for a line of products indicates that this was not the case with that company, although the information that I have doesn’t indicate how long ago this occurred, and perhaps things have changed there.

  68. GrymRpr says:

    Surprised KRUPP was not listed.
    Tho… Through mergers they are now ThyssenKrupp AG it still is strange they were not included.

    “In our eyes, the German boy of the future must be slim and slender, as fast as a greyhound, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel.”
    Adolf Hitler: Addressing Hitler youth

  69. carsten says:

    nothing else happening in 2008?

    first of all this is old news (as some one else mentioned this is 6th grade stuff in germany), plus can we ever move on? it is really getting boring.

  70. Jeff says:

    You are a car manufacturer in Germany. Hitler tells you that you will build cars and trucks for the war. You say no and your family ends up dead.
    Then you agree.
    Some times we just do what we are told because we have to. How many of us make a big fat fuss at the airport when we are being told what to do? How many of us argue with the cops? Making a stand against what we think of as Evil is not always so easy. And, as we have seen, Evil isn’t alway dressed in Hugo Boss. Sometimes it wears Brooks Brothers. Evil is so effective because people are too quick to ignore it, embrace it, then forget it every happened.

  71. Takuan says:

    nah, just never move out

  72. TylerHinck says:

    There have been many times in history when companies have taken a ‘side’ and produced goods/services for what is termed ‘evil’. Porsche designed Hitler’s staff car and yet the wonderful ‘car of the people’s’ Beatle was produced arguably because of the notoriety he received in building a quality car.

    There will always be companies doing what companies do. The decisions to profit at others expense during those days were made by corporate executives THEN. Again people, let’s remember, this was now 70 years ago! It was grim, we get it; let’s move on.

  73. Dave X says:

    “I’m a Canadian, I live in England, the server is in Toronto.”

    Sounds like a recipe for American to me!

    But seriously, with as much San Francisco-area stuff as BB has, it’s not a difficult mistake to make.

  74. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Mannakiosk (65), corporations are forever taking actions that aren’t maximally profitable at that moment, and the profitability of many of their actions isn’t precisely calculable. Moreover, they have legal responsibilities beyond being profitable.

    Numbers don’t constrain their every action. They’re still subject to considerations of good and evil.

    TylerHinck, when you say that “it was 70 years ago” is reason enough to forget something and move on, it makes me think you’re a lot younger than I am.

    1919 was even further back, but you’d be wrong to think events from that year aren’t still relevant.

    FltndBoat, Caesar was pretty sure he’d won the Gallic Wars. What you’re saying is that what gets called victory isn’t worth it.

    EH (56), of course politics and business are associated. Or were you saying something different?

Leave a Reply