The Car Connection
from the book
Trading with the Enemy
The Nazi - American Money Plot 1933-1949
by Charles Higham
Delacorte Press, 1983
Henry Ford was once ranked in popular polls as the third greatest
man in history: just below Napoleon and Jesus Christ. His wealth
may be gauged by the fact that when young Edsel turned twenty-one,
the father took the boy into a private vault and gave him $1 million
in gold. Henry Ford controlled more than half of the American
automobile market by 1940: in the early years of the century,
his famous Model T, the chariot of the common man, revolutionized
Lean and hard as a Grant Wood farmer, Henry Ford was a knotty
puritan, dedicated to the simple ideals of early-to-bed, early-to-rise,
plain food, and no adultery. He didn't drink and fought a lifetime
against the demon tobacco.
He admired Hitler from the beginning, when the future Fuhrer
was a struggling and obscure fanatic. He shared with Hitler a
fanatical hatred of Jews. He first announced his anti-Semitism
in 1919, in the
New York World, when he expressed a pure fascist philosophy.
He said, "International financiers are behind all war. They
are what is called the international Jew: German-Jews, French-Jews,
EnglishJews, American-Jews . . . the Jew is a threat."
In Germany, Hitler was uttering identical sentiments. In 1920,
Ford arranged for his Dearborn Independent, first published in
1918, to become a platform for his hatred of the Jews. Week after
week the newspaper set out to expose some horror of Jewish misbehavior.
The first anti-Semitic issue on May 22 carried the headline THE
INTERNATIONAL JEW: THE WORLD S PROBLEM. The leading article opened
with the words "There is a race, a part of humanity, which
has never been received as a welcome part . . .'' and continued
in the same vein to the end. A frequent contributor was a fanatical
White Russian, Boris Brasol, who boasted in one piece: ''I have
done the Jews more injury than would have been done to them by
Brasol was successively an agent of the Czar and of the U.S.
Army Intelligence; later he became a Nazi spy.
Ford's book The International Jew was issued in 1927. A virulent
anti-Semitic tract, it was still being widely distributed in Latin
America and the Arab countries as late as 1945. Hitler admired
the book and it influenced him deeply. Visitors to Hitler's headquarters
at the Brown House in Munich noticed a large photograph of Henry
Ford hanging in his office. Stacked high on the table outside
were copies of Ford's book. As early as 1923, Hitler told an interviewer
from the Chicago Tribune, ''I wish that I could send some of my
shock troops to Chicago and other big American cities to help."
He was referring to stories that Ford was planning to run for
Ford was one of the few people singled out for praise in Mein
Kampf. At Hitler's trial in 1924, Erhard Auer of the Bavarian
Diet testified that Ford had given Hitler mone~lFord formed crucial
link in The Fraternity at an early stage. He appointed Gerhardt
Westrick's partner Dr. Heinrich Albert as chairman of the Ford
Company. Other prominent figures in that company were fanatically
pro-Nazi. They included a grandson of the Kaiser and Carl Bosch,
Schmitz's forerunner as head of I.G. Farben. Later, Carl Krauch
of I.G. Farben became a director and Kurt von Schroder, as one
might have predicted, handled the banking.
Carl Krauch testified in an interrogation in 1946:
"I myself knew Henry Ford and admired him. I went to
see Goring personally about that. I told Goring that I myself
knew his son Edsel, too, and I told Goring that if we took the
Ford independence away from them in Germany, it would aggrieve
friendly relations with American industry in the future. I counted
on a lot of success for the adaptation of American methods in
Germany's industries, but that could be done only in friendly
cooperation. Goring listened to me and then he said: "I agree.
I shall see to it that the German Ford Company will not be incorporated
in the Hermann Goring Company." So I participated regularly
in the supervisory board meetings to inform myself about the business
processes of Henry Ford and, if possible, to take a stand for
the Henry Ford Works after the war had begun. Thus, we succeeded
in keeping the Ford Works working and operating independently
of our government's seizure."
Edsel Ford had a great deal to do with the European companies.
He was different in character from his father. He was a nervous,
high-strung man who tried to work off his extreme tensions and
guilts over inherited wealth in a furious addiction to tennis
and other sports. Darkly handsome, with a whipcord physique, he
was miserable at heart. He could not relate to his father, who
despised him, and his inner distress caused him severe stomach
ulcers that developed into gastric cancer by the early 1940s.
Nevertheless, he and his father had one thing in common. True
figures of The Fraternity, they believed in Business as Usual
in time of war.
Edsel was on the board of American I.G. and General Aniline
and Film throughout the 1930s. He and his father, following their
meetings with Gerhardt Westrick at Dearborn in 1940, refused to
build aircraft engines for England and instead built supplies
of the 5-ton military trucks that were the backbone of German
army transportation. They arranged to ship tires to Germany despite
the shortages; 30 percent of the shipments went to Nazi-controlled
territories abroad. German Ford employee publications included
such editorial statements as, "At the beginning of this year
we vowed to give our best and utmost for final victory, in unshakable
faithfulness to our Fuehrer." Invariably, Ford remembered
Hitler's birthday and sent him 50,000 Reichsmarks a year. His
Ford chief in Germany was responsible for selling military documents
to Hitler. Westrick's partner Dr. Albert continued to work in
Hitler's cause when that chief came to the United States to continue
his espionage. In 1941, Henry Ford delivered a bitter attack on
the Jews to The Manchester Guardian (February 16, 1941) saying
inter alia, that the United States should make England and Germany
fight until they both collapsed and that after that there would
be a coalition of the powers.
And in 1941 he hired Charles Lindbergh as a member of his
executive staff. Lindbergh had been one of the most vocal supporters
of Hitler. Indeed, the advent of Pearl Harbor made no difference
to Lindbergh's attitude. On December 17, 1941, ten days after
the Japanese attack, Lindbergh said to a group of America Firsters
at the home of prominent businessman Edwin S. Webster in New York,
There is only one danger in the world-that is the yellow danger.
China and Japan are really bound together against the white race.
There could only have been one efficient weapon against this alliance....
Germany.... the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany
take over Poland and Russia, in collaboration with the British,
as a bloc against the yellow people and Bolshevism. But instead,
the British and the fools in Washington had to interfere. The
British envied the Germans and wanted to rule the world forever.
Britain is the real cause of all the trouble in the world today.
While Lindbergh took over as consultant, Edsel Ford began
to concentrate on insuring that his interests in France would
not be affected following the German invasion. Management of the
Ford interests was in the hands of the impressively handsome and
elegant Paris financier Maurice Dollfus, who had useful contacts
with the Worms Bank and the Bank for International Settlements.
Although he had little knowledge of manufacturing processes, Dollfus
supplied much of the financing for the new sixty-acre Ford automobile
factory at Poissy, eleven miles from Paris in the Occupied Zone.
Under Dollfus the Poissy plant began making airplane engines in
1940, supplying them to the German government. It also built trucks
for the German army, as well as automobiles. Carl Krauch and Hermann
Schmitz were in charge of the operation from their headquarters
in Berlin along with Edsel Ford at Dearborn.
After Pearl Harbor, Edsel Ford moved to protect the company's
interest in Occupied France, even though this would mean collaboration
with the Nazi government |Edsel and Dollfus decided to consolidate
their operation in conjunction with Carl Krauch, Heinrich Albert,
and Gerhardt Westrick in Gemmany. The problem they had was how
to keep in touch, since their two countries were at war. In order
to overcome this difficulty, Edsel traveled to Washington at the
beginning of 1942 and entered into an arrangement with Assistant
Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who simultaneously was blocking
financial aid to German-Jewish refugees by citing the Trading
with the Enemy Act. Long agreed that it should be possible for
letters to travel to and from Occupied France via Lisbon and Vichy.
Since it would be too dangerous to risk the letters falling into
the hands of the press or foreign agents, they would have to be
carried by a Portuguese courier named George Lesto who, with clearance
from the Nazi government, was permitted to travel in and out of
On January 28, 1942, Dollfus sent the first letter after Pearl
Harbor to Edsel Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, via the Portuguese
courier Lesto. Dollfus wrote that, "Since the state of war
between U.S.A. and Germany I arn not able to correspond with you
very easily. I have asked Lesto to go to Vichy and mail to you
the following information." He added that production was
continuing as before, that trucks were being manufactured for
the occupying Germans and the French, and that Ford was ahead
of the French automobile manufacturers in supplying the enemy.
Dollfus said he was getting support from the Vichy government
to preserve the interests of the American shareholders and that
a company in North Africa was being founded for the Nazis with
ground plots in Oran. Amazingly, the letter concluded by saying,
''I propose to send again Mr. Lesto to the States as soon as all
formalities and authorizations are accomplished."
Edsel replied at length on May 13: ''It is interesting to
note that you have started your African company and are laying
plans for a more peaceful future." He went on, "I have
received a request from the State Department to make a recommendation
for issuance of a visa to Mr. Lesto.'' However, the letter went
on, Ford was uneasy about making the request; it was clear that
he was nervous about the matter being disclosed.
The Royal Air Force, apparently not briefed on the world connections
of The Fraternity, had just bombed the Poissy plant. Ford wrote
on May 15 that photographs of the plant on fire were published
in our newspapers here but fortunately no reference was made to
the Ford Motor Company. In other words, Edsel was relieved that
it was not made clear to the American public that he was operating
the plant for the Nazis.
On February 11, 1942, Dollfus wrote again-that the results
of the year up to December 31, 1941, showed a net profit for Ford's
French branch of 58 million francs including payment for dealings
with the Nazis.
On June 6, Dollfus wrote Edsel enclosing a memorandum prepared
by George Lesto. The memo stated that the RAF had now bombed the
plant four times, and that all machinery and equipment had been
taken from the plant and scattered all over the country. Lesto
was pleased to state that the Vichy government "agreed to
pay for all damages." The reparation was "approved by
the German government." Ford replied to this letter on July
17, 1942, expressing pleasure with this arrangement, congratulating
Lesto on organizing the repayment, and saying that he had shown
the letter to his father and to Charles E. Sorenson, and that
they both joined him in sending best wishes to Dollfus and the
staff, in the hope that they would continue to carry on the good
work that they were doing.
Meanwhile, Dollfus and Heinrich Albert set up another branch
of Ford in North Africa, headquartered in Vichy Algiers with the
approval of I.G. Farben. It was to build trucks and armored cars
for Rommel's army. In a lengthy report to the State Department
dated July 11, 1942, Felix Cole, American Consul in Algiers, sent
a detailed account of the planned operation, not complaining that
the headquarters was located in the Occupied Zone of France or
that Dollfus was prominent in the Pucheu* group of bankers that
financed the factory through the Worms Bank, the Schroder Bank,
and BIS correspondent in Paris. Cole remarked en passant, ''The
[Worms] firm is greatly interested in the efforts now being made
to effect a compromise peace on behalf of Germany." Cole
had put his finger on something: Dollfus was more than a mere
Nazi collaborator working with Edsel Ford. He was a key link in
The Fraternity's operation in Europe, scheming with Pucheu, the
Worms Bank, the Bank of France, the Chase, and the Bank for International
The letter from Cole went on: "It is alleged that the
main outlets for the new works [in Oran] will be southwards, but
the population which is already getting plenty of propaganda about
the collaboration of French-German-American capital and the questionable
(?) sincerity of the American war effort * is already pointing
an accusing finger at a transaction which has been for long a
subject of discussion in commercial circles.''
Dollfus wrote again on August 15, 1942; the letter reached
Edsel Ford two weeks later. Dollfus stated that following the
RAF bombing, production had been resumed in France at the same
rate; that he was not permitted to say where the new plants were
to which production had been disbursed but that they were four
of the principal plants. He went on, "Machinery has been
overhauled and repaired and some new machinery purchased so that
the capital in machinery and equipment is completely restored
to its pre-bombing status. I have named a manager in each plant
and the methods and standards are the same as they were in Poissy.
Essential repairs have been started at Poissy but work is slow
because of the difficulty in obtaining materials.''
In the rest of a very long letter, Dollfus pointed out that
at this stage the Poissy and other works came directly under Dr.
Heinrich Albert and a German officer named Tannen, in trust, "Mr.
Tannen has in turn given me back most of the powers that I used
to have previously to run our business, with the exception of
certain ones that he does not hold himself, and some others which
I believe should have been given me but anyhow they are not indispensable
for me to continue to run the business normally.'' Dollfus added
that Dr. Albert was clearly anxious to play a part "so as
to appear a Good Samaritan after the war in the eyes of the Allies."
On September 29, 1942, Breckinridge Long wrote to Edsel enclosing
a letter from Dollfus saying that Vichy's compensation payment
to Ford to the tune of 38 million francs had been received. On
October 8, Ford sent a letter of thanks.
In April 1943, Morgenthau and Lauchlin Currie conducted a
lengthy investigation into the Ford subsidiaries in France, concluding
"their production is solely for the benefit of Germany
and the countries under its occupation" and that the Germans
have "shown clearly their wish to protect the Ford interests"
because of the "attitude of strict neutrality" maintained
by Henry and Edsel Ford in time of war. And finally, "the
increased activity of the French Ford subsidiaries on behalf of
Germans receives the commendation of the Ford family in America."
Despite a report running to hundreds of thousands of words
and crammed with exhaustive documentation including all the relevant
letters, nothing whatsoever was done about the matter.
Meanwhile, Ford had gone on making special deals. On May 29,
1942, the Ford Motor Company in Edgewater, New Jersey, had shipped
six cargoes of cars to blacklisted Jose O. Moll of Chile. Another
consignee was a blacklisted enemy corporation, Lilienfeld, in
Bolivia. On October 20, 1942, John G. Winant, U.S. Ambassador
to London, coolly reported to Dean Acheson that two thousand German
army trucks were authorized for repair by the Ford motor works
in Berne. On the same day, Winant reported that the British Legation
and the U.S. authorities recommended the Ford Motor Company of
Belgium be blacklisted because its Zurich branch, on U.S. orders,
was repairing trucks and converting the use of gasoline for trucks
and cars of the German army in Switzerland.
In December 1943 a further report from Minister Leland Harrison
in Berne said, "The Ford Motor Company in Zurich, acting
for Cologne, supplies spare parts for the repair of Ford trucks
and passenger cars to U.S. Ford Motor Company agents in Switzerland.
Some of these parts are imported, which provides the enemy with
clearing funds.'' Thus, one year after these matters were reported
in Washington, trading with the enemy was continuing. All Swiss
operations functioned under the guidance of Ford's Charles E.
Edsel died of cancer in 1943, but Sorenson went on with the
dealings. On November 6, 1945, Maurice Dollfus, enemy collaborator,
traveled to New York (by U.S. Army Air Transport Command) and
gave an interview to The New York Times at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
He discussed his operation during the war, but apparently nobody
on the New York Times staff thought to question him on the nature
of that operation, which remained a complete secret to the American
General Motors, under the control of the Du Pont family of
Delaware, played a part in collaboration comparable with Ford's.
General Aniline and Film had heavy investments in the company.
Irenee du Pont was the most imposing and powerful member of
the clan. He was obsessed with Hitler's principles. He keenly
followed the career of the future Fuhrer in the 1920s, and on
September 7, 1926, in a speech to the American Chemical Society,
he advocated a race of supermen, to be achieved by injecting special
drugs into them in boyhood to make their characters to order.
He insisted his men reach physical standards equivalent to that
of a Marine and have blood as pure as that in the veins of the
Vikings. Despite the fact that he had Jewish blood in his own
veins, his anti-Semitism matched that of Hitler.
Between 1932 and 1939, bosses of General Motors poured $30
million into I.G. Farben plants with the excuse that the money
could not be exported. On several visits with Hermann Schmitz
and Carl Krauch of Farben in Berlin in 1933, Wendell R. Swint,
Du Pont's foreign relations director, discovered that I.G. and
the gigantic Krupp industrial empire had arranged for all Nazi
industry to contribute one half percent of its entire wage and
salary roll to the Nazis even before they rose to power. Thus,
Swint (who testified to this effect at the 1934 Munitions Hearings)
admitted under oath that Du Pont was fully aware it was financing
the Nazi Party through one half percent of its Opel wages and
salaries as well as through its deals with I.G. and its building
of armored cars and trucks.
Simultaneously with the rise of Hitler, the Du Ponts in 1933
began financing native fascist groups in America, including the
anti-Semitic and antiblack American Liberty League and the organization
known as Clark's Crusaders, which had 1,250,000 members in 1933.
Pierre, Irenee, and Lammot du Pont and John Jacob Raskob funded
the Liberty League, along with Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors.
The League smeared Roosevelt as a communist, clairned the President
was surrounded by Jews; and despite the fact that they were Jewish,
the Du Ponts smeared Semitic organizations.
The connections between General Motors and the Nazi government
began at the moment of Hitler's rise to power. Goring declined
to annex General Motors and indeed received with pleasure Williarn
S. Knudsen, General Motors' president, who returned on October
6, 1933, to New York telling reporters that Germany was ''the
miracle of the twentieth century."
Early in 1934, Irenee du Pont and Knudsen reached their explosion
point over President Roosevelt. Along with friends of the Morgan
Bank and General Motors, certain Du Pont backers financed a coup
d'etat that would overthrow the President with the aid of a $3
million-funded army of terrorists, modeled on the fascist movement
in Paris known as the Croix de Feu. Who was to be the figurehead
for this ill-advised scheme, which would result in Roosevelt being
forced to take orders from businessmen as part of a fascist government
or face the alternative of imprisonment and execution? Du Pont
men allegedly held an urgent series of meetings with the Morgans.
They finally settled on one of the most popular soldiers in America,
General Smedley Butler of Pennsylvania. Butler, a brave hero,
had been awarded two Congressional Medals of Honor and his brilliant
career as commandant of the Marine Corps had made him a legend.
He would, the conspiratorial group felt, make an ideal replacement
for Roosevelt if the latter proved difficult. These business chiefs
found great support for their plan in Hermann Schmitz, Baron von
Schroder, and the other German members of The Fraternity.
The backers of the bizarre conspiracy selected a smooth attorney,
Gerald MacGuire, to bring word of the plan to General Butler.
MacGuire agreed Butler would be the perfect choice. Butler had
attacked the New Deal in public speeches.
MacGuire met with Butler at the latter's house in Newton Square,
Pennsylvania, and in a hotel suite nearby. With great intensity
the fascist attorney delivered the scheme to the general. Butler
was horrified. Although there were many things about Roosevelt
he disliked, a coup d'etat amounted to treason, and Butler was
nothing if not loyal to the Constitution. However, he disclosed
nothing of his feelings. With masterful composure he pretended
interest and waited to hear more.
When MacGuire returned, it was with news of more millions
and more extravagant plans, which included turning America into
a dictatorship with Butler as a kind of Hider. Once more Butler
was infuriated but kept quiet. After MacGuire left on the second
occasion, the general got in touch with the White House. He told
Roosevelt of the entire plan.
Roosevelt's state of mind can scarcely be imagined. He knew
that in view of the backing from high banking sources, this matter
could not be dismissed as some crackpot enterprise that had no
chance of success. He was well aware of the powerful forces of
fascism that could easily make America an ally of Nazism even
that early, only one year after Hitler had risen to power.
On the other hand, Roosevelt also knew that if he were to
arrest the leaders of the houses of Morgan and Du Pont, it would
create an unthinkable national crisis in the midst of a depression
and perhaps another Wall Street crash. Not for the first or last
time in his career, he was aware that there were powers greater
than he in the United States.
Nevertheless, the plan had to be deactivated immediately.
The answer was to leak it to the press. The newspapers ran the
story of the attempted coup on the front page, but generally ridiculed
it as absurd and preposterous. When Thomas Larnont of the Morgan
Bank arrived from Europe by steamer, he was asked by a crowd of
reporters to comment. "Perfect moonshine! Too utterly ridiculous
to comment upon!" was the reply.
Roosevelt couldn't quite let the matter rest. Under pressure
from liberal Democrats he set up a special House committee to
investigate. Butler begged the committee to summon the Du Ponts
but the committee declined. Nor would it consent to call anyone
from the house of Morgan. Then Butler dropped a bombshell. He
gave interviews to the press announcing that none other than General
Douglas MacArthur was a party to the plot. This again was dismissed
by the press, and MacArthur laughed it off.
The committee hearings were a farce. MacGuire was allowed
to get away with saying that Butler had "misunderstood"
his intentions. Other witnesses lamely made excuses, and there
the matter rested.
It was four years before the committee dared to publish its
report in a white paper that was marked for "restricted circulation."
They were forced to admit that "certain persons made an attempt
to establish a fascist organization in this country . . . [The]
committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made
by General Butler.''
This admission that the entire plan was deadly in intent was
not accompanied by the imprisonment of anybody. Further investigations
disclosed that over a million people had been guaranteeed to join
the scheme and that the arms and munitions necessary would have
been supplied by Remington, a Du Pont subsidiary.
The Du Ponts' fascistic behavior was seen in 1936, when Irenee
du Pont used General Motors money to finance the notorious Black
Legion. This terrorist organization had as its purpose the prevention
of automobile workers from unionizing. The members wore hoods
and black robes, with skull and crossbones. They fire-bombed union
meetings, murdered union organizers, often by beating them to
death, and dedicated their lives to destroying Jews and communists.
They linked to the Ku Klux Klan. Irenee du Pont encouraged General
Motors foremen to join the Legion. In one episode a Detroit worker,
Charles Poole, was brutally murdered by a gang of Black Legionists,
several of whom belonged to the sinister Wolverine Republican
League of Detroit. This organization had as its members several
in big business. However, their names were kept out of the papers
during the Poole case trial. It was brought out that at least
fifty people, many of them blacks, had been butchered by the Legion,
which swept through General Motors factories and had 75,000 members.
At the same time, the Du Ponts developed the American Liberty
League, a Nazi organization whipping up hatred of blacks and Jews,
love of Hitler, and loathing of the Roosevelts. Financed by Lammot
and Irenee to the tune of close to $500,000 the first year, the
Liberty League had a lavish thirty-one-room office in New York,
branches in twenty-six colleges, and fifteen subsidiary organizations
nationwide that distributed fifty million copies of its Nazi pamphlets.
In September 1936, while Hitler at Nuremberg expressed his grand
design for the Four-Year Plan, the Du Ponts and the American Liberty
League poured thousands into backing Republican Alf Landon against
Roosevelt in the election. Other backers were the American Nazi
party and the German-American Bund.
The attempt to launch Landon failed, which made the Du Ponts
hate Roosevelt even more. In outright defiance of Roosevelt's
desire to improve working conditions for the average man, Knudsen
of General Motors along with the Du Ponts instituted the speedup
systems created by another prominent figure of The Fraternity,
Charles Bedaux. These forced men to work at terrifying speeds
on the assembly lines. Many died of the heat and the pressure,
increased by fear of losing their jobs at a time when there were
very few available. Irenee personally paid almost $1 million from
his own pocket for armed and gas-equipped storm troops modeled
on the Gestapo to sweep through the plants and beat up anyone
who proved rebellious. He hired the Pinkerton Agency to send its
swarms of detectives through the whole chemicals, munitions, and
automobile empire to spy on left-wingers or other malcontents.
By the mid-1930s, General Motors was committed to full-scale
production of trucks, armored cars, and tanks in Nazi Germany.
The GM board could be guaranteed to preserve political, personal,
and commercial links to Hitler. Alfred P. Sloan, who rose from
president of GM to chairman in 1937, paid for the National Council
of Clergymen and Laymen at Asheville, North Carolina, on August
12, 1936, at which John Henry Kirby, millionaire fascist lumbemman
of Texas, was prominent in the delivery of speeches in favor of
Hitler. Others present, delivering equally Hitlerian addresses,
were Govemor Eugene D. Talmadge of Georgia and the Nazi Reverend
Gerald L. K. Smith. Sloan frequently visited Berlin, where he
hobnobbed with Goring and Hitler.
Graeme K. Howard was a vice-president of General Motors. Under
FBI surveillance throughout his whole career with the company,
he was an outright fascist who wrote a poisonous book, America
and a New World Order, that peddled the line of appeasement, and
a virtually identical doctrine to that of Hitler in terms of free
trade and the restoration of the gold standard for the United
States of Fascism in which General Motors would no doubt play
a prominent part.
Another frequent visitor to Germany was the rugged, cheerful,
hearty James D. Mooney, head of the European end of the business,
directly in charge of the Adam-Opel production. On December 22,
1936, in Vienna, Mooney told U.S. diplomat George Messersmith,
who despite his German family origin hated Hitler, ''We ought
to make some arrangement with Germany for the future. There is
no reason why we should let our moral indignation over what happens
in that country stand in the way." In other words, although
the mass of Americans despised the Nazis, business must continue
as usual. Messersmith was furious. He snapped back, "We can
hardly be expected to trade with a country only so that it can
get those articles which it intends to use against the peace of
In a report of December 23 to the Acting Secretary of State
in Washington, Messersmith wrote, "It is curious that Mooney
and Col. Sosthenes Behn . . . both give this opinion. The factories
owned by ITT in Germany are running full time and in double shifts
and increasing their capacity for the simple reason that they
are working almost entirely on government orders and for military
equipment. The Opel works, owned by General Motors, are [also]
working very well [in the same way]."
That Christmas, Mooney was in Berlin for talks with Hjalmar
Horace Greeley Schacht to discuss Germany's and America's joint
future in the world of commerce. He attracted the hatred of the
liberal U.S. Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd, who returned
from Berlin to New York in 1937 and referred to The Fraternity
in a shipboard press conference in New York harbor. Dodd was quoted
in The New York Times as saying:
"A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring
a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working
closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had
plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close
some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime. On
[the ship] a fellow passenger, who is a prominent executive of
one of the largest financial corporations, told me point blank
that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism
into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive
Dodd's words were ignored.
On November 23, 1937, representatives of General Motors held
a secret meeting in Boston with Baron Manfred von Killinger, who
was Fritz Wiedemann's predecessor in charge of West Coast espionage,
and Baron von Tippleskirsch, Nazi consul general and Gestapo leader
in Boston. This group signed a joint agreement showing total commitment
to the Nazi cause for the indefinite future. The agreement stated
that in view of Roosevelt's attitude toward Germany, every effort
must be made to remove him by defeat at the next election. Jewish
influence in the political, cultural, and public life of America
must be stamped out. Press and radio must be subsidized to smear
the administration, and there must be a fuhrer, preferably Senator
Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, in the White House. This agreement
was carefully hidden. But a secretary who was loyal to the American
cause managed to obtain a copy and give it to George Seldes, liberal
journalist, who published it in his newsletter, In Fact. The patriotic
liberal Representative John M. Coffee of Washington State entered
the full agreement, running to several pages, in the Congressional
Record on August 20, 1942, demanding that the Du Ponts and the
heads of General Motors be appropriately treated. Needless to
say, the resolution was tabled permanently.
In 1938, Mooney, like Henry Ford, received the Order of the
Golden Eagle from Hitler. On March 27,1939, he arrived in England
to confer with the heads of his British company. He learned that
three of the Adam-Opel staff had been seized by the Gestapo and
charged with leaking secrets of the new Volkswagen to the United
States. Mooney rushed to Berlin and arranged meetings with one
Dr. Meissner, who was in charge of foreign VIPs. Meissner said
that even the Fuhrer could not interfere with Himmler and the
SS. Mooney reminded Meissner of his commitment to the Fuhrer.
Meissner agreed that this trivial matter must not be allowed
to interfere with German-American relations but that the men would
be punished if found guilty. Mooney offered to testify on their
behalf; on April 6 he went to see one of Himmler's lieutenants
and on the same day he visited Ribbentrop. But he was powerless
to affect the fate of his employees.
On April 19, Mooney met with the invaluable Emil Puhl of the
BIS and the Reichsbank, and Helmuth Wohlthat, Goring's Americaneducated
right-hand man in the Four-Year Plan. Mooney conferred with these
men on Hitler's basic plan of the massive American gold loan that
would provide the basis for the New Order. Mooney enthusiastically
endorsed the scheme and promised to bring it about.
In a state of excitement he traveled to London on April 25
to see Ambassador Joseph Kennedy. Kennedy agreed to meet with
Puhl and Wohlthat in Paris. Mooney talked with Francis Rodd of
Morgan, Grenfell, the British representatives of the Morgan Bank.
They agreed that the loan should be made to Germany through the
Bank for International Settlements. Rodd said significantly that
the BIS provided a flexible medium for avoiding conflict with
some of the internal legal limitations on international loans-a
complicated way of saying that the BIS could dodge the law whenever
it felt like it.
Mooney went to Berlin on April 29. On May 1 he urged Puhl
to meet with Kennedy in Paris. He promised to arrange the meeting
secretly at Mooney's apartment in the Ritz Hotel. Puhl was interested.
But on the following day he said he dared not make the trip because
it would attract too much attention in Germany and that Wohlthat
should go instead. Wohlthat agreed to go.
On May 3, Mooney called Kennedy in London. Kennedy replied
that he would be willing to come on the weekend of May 5-6. But
he hesitated and asked if Mooney didn't think it was advisable
that he put the matter up to the White House first. Mooney said
he would only do that in Kennedy's place if he thought he was
a good enough salesman to get approval. Otherwise it would be
taking a long chance. He added that the arrangements had been
accepted in Berlin and it would not be wise to withdraw at this
After this conversation, Kennedy panicked. He called Roosevelt,
who told him immediately not to make the trip. Roosevelt knew
the nature of the arrangements in which Mooney was involved. There
was no way he would sanction Kennedy's involvement.
Kennedy tried to reach Mooney several times. When he finally
got through, Mooney chartered a plane in Brussels and flew to
London. The idea of peace was clearly such an obsession he couldn't
wait. On the plane, he scribbled out his notes on what was needed:
a half to one billion gold loan through the BIS, a restoration
of Germany's colonies, a removal of embargo on German goods, participation
in Chinese markets. On Germany's side there would be armaments
limitations, nonaggression pacts, and free exchange. Whatever
Mooney's motives, these were pure Nazi objectives, nothing else.
Mooney went straight to the embassy from his plane and laid
out the points of the peace agreement on Kennedy's desk. He begged
him to see Wohlthat. Kennedy promised to put pressure on Roosevelt
once more. Next morning, Mooney found Kennedy deeply depressed.
Kennedy had tried to reach Roosevelt for hours, and when he had
done so, Roosevelt had once again refused him.
Mooney now suggested Wohlthat should come to London. Kennedy
agreed at once. Mooney called Wohlthat in Berlin and asked him
to come to London. Wohlthat obtained permission from Hitler and
Goring and arrived at the Berkeley Hotel on May 8. The meeting
was held on May 9, apparently without Roosevelt's knowledge or
approval. The Nazi economist got along well with Kennedy. Mooney
noted that the two men saw eye-to-eye on everything. Wohlthat
returned to Berlin, promising his help. The press discovered Wohlthat
was in London and played the visit up tremendously with headlines
like "Goering's mystery man is here." This greatly annoyed
Mooney, who had assumed the visit was secret.
Roosevelt stepped in as soon as the news was announced and
forbade Kennedy to have anything further to do with the arrangement.
Mooney was greatly disappointed by this lack of rapport between
the President and Nazi Germany. It was this series of meetings
with Kennedy and Wohlthat that helped to spawn ITT's Gerhardt
Westrick's visit to New York the following year, and it is significant
that Mooney was high on the list of people who received and encouraged
Westrick. Roosevelt was greatly aggravated by Mooney but played
along with him in order to see what he was up to.
In the Mooney diaries at Georgetown University in Washington,
there is an eighteen-page document signed by Wohlthat that lays
out Germany's economic plans. It is quite clear that Mooney was
in total accord with these.
On September 22, 1939, Mooney had a meeting with Roosevelt.
His notes after the meeting, quoting as nearly as possible the
President's actual words, suggest that Roosevelt was using Mooney
to see what Hitler was up to. Roosevelt pretended he was not interested
in telling the Germans what they should do about Hitler. That
Mooney should remind the Germans that Roosevelt had gone to school
in Germany and had a great many personal friends there. He said
he wished Germany would pipe down about domination of the world.
He discussed the question of broader distribution of goods in
time of peace and that it ought to be reasonably simple to get
around a table with the proper will and settle problems like Silesia,
Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the general attitude toward Russia.
Roosevelt said he would be glad to offer himself as moderator,
that the Pope could serve a useful purpose in negotiations, and
that practical suggestions must be made satisfactory to Berlin,
London, and Paris. He encouraged Mooney to see Hitler but to be
careful in communicating the results to the White House by telephone.
Armed with this artificial, carefully calculated authorization,
Mooney traveled to Europe at the same time as Roosevelt's official
emissary, Sumner Welles, in March 1940. He was only one day later
than Welles in audience with Hitler on March 4.
Because of the importance of Adam-Opel and the Du Ponts to
the Nazi war machine, Hitler was extremely cordial. Mooney said
that Roosevelt's early days in Germany had remained a nostalgic
recollection; that the President's attitude to Germany was more
sanguine and warm than was generally believed in Berlin; that
Roosevelt would help toward a negotiated peace; that the German
reporters ought to emphasize what Germany and America shared together.
Hitler smiled broadly at these sentiments. He did not want
war with America: he had his hands full enough already. He wanted
America to remain inactive until it either entered the Axis or
was conquered. Hitler said he was delighted to hear Roosevelt's
viewpoint and that Roosevelt had constructively undertaken the
tasks of the Presidency. He suggested that Roosevelt would be
well placed to negotiate peace. These statements were as calculated
to deceive Mooney as Roosevelt's.
From the Chancellery, Mooney proceeded to the Air Ministry
to see Goring, who later had him to dinner at Karin Hall. Goring
played out a similar line of lies, denying among other things
that Germany had any desire to affect the British colonial empire
when in fact one of Hitler's burning obsessions was to retrieve
his lost colonies. Wohlthat also attended the meeting at Goring's
house, and everyone concurred that the gold loan must once again
be pushed by Mooney with the President.
From a warship off the Italian coast in March, Mooney beseeched
Roosevelt with a stream of messages calling for peace and unison
with Hitler. On April 2, Roosevelt wrote to Mooney that public
opinion in America was all for peace and disarmament.
Back in New York, Mooney met with Gerhardt Westrick, and joined
that party at the Waldorf-Astoria in which some American leaders
of The Fraternity, including Sosthenes Behn and Torkild Rieber,
celebrated the Nazi conquest of France. On June 27 the Nazi consul
general in New York and local Gestapo chief, Heinrich Borchers,
sent a report prepared by Westrick to Ribbentrop. It read:
"A group of prominent businessmen and politicians whom
I personally regard as reliable in every way, and whose influence
I consider to be very great, but who, in the interest of our operation,
do not want to be mentioned in any circumstances at this time,
suggested that I convey to the Foreign Ministry the following:
the aforesaid group, which has the approval and support of a substantial
number of leading personalities, will shortly urge upon President
Roosevelt the following recommendations: 1. Immediate sending
of an American Ambassador to Berlin. 2. A change of Ambassadors
in London. 3. Suspension of armament shipments to Great Britain
until the new Ambassador to Berlin has had an opportunity to discuss
matters with the German government."
On July 18, Hans Thomsen, charge d'affaires in Washington,
wrote to Berlin that this group was headed by James D. Mooney.
Thomsen went on to report that Henry Ford had conveyed the same
idea to him two days earlier.
In December 1940, Mooney set off on a journey to South America
to contact some of the General Motors managers. Secretary of the
Interior Harold Ickes, in an urgent meeting with Roosevelt and
Cordell Hull on December 20, asked, "Wouldn't it be a good
thing if we refuse Mooney a passport and told him why?" Roosevelt
said, "That is a good idea. Cordell, how about it?'' Hull
said, "Passports to South America have never been refused."
Ickes commented, ''South America is a critical zone. We shouldn't
let Mooney in." But Hull did.
The FBI apparently traced Mooney to further meetings with
representatives of the German government. In a letter dated February
5, 1941, marked Strictly Confidential, James B. Stewart, U.S.
consul in Zurich, wrote to Fletcher Warren of the State Department
that he had heard from a French journalist connected to Charles
de Gaulle that Eduard Winter, GM distributor in Berlin now in
Paris, acted as a courier for Mooney, carrying secret messages
to the Nazi high officials in Paris. Stewart said that Winter
had a special passport that allowed him to travel between occupied
and unoccupied France. The letter continued, "Mr. Mooney
is known to be in sympathy with the German government."
However, Stewart wondered if there was anything in the story,
since he believed Mooney to be a fine person. Would Warren comment?
Warren forwarded the letter to Messersmith, who was ambassador
to Cuba. In his letter to Messersmith, dated March 1, 1941, Warren
said: ''I may say that I, personally, am rather unhappy about
Mr. Mooney, and I am not sure that there is not truth in Mr. Stewart's
information. There are too many rumors.
Messersmith replied to Warren on March 5, saying that in his
mind there was no doubt that Mooney was transmitting messages
of a confidential character to the Nazi government. He added,
''Mooney is fundamentally fascist in his sympathies. Of course
he is quite unbalanced . . . he is obsessed by this strange notion
that a few businessmen, including himself, can take care of the
war and the peace. I am absolutely sure that Mooney is keeping
up this contact with the Germans because he believes, or at least
still hopes, that they will win the war, and he thinks if they
do that he will be our Quisling.''
Messersmith sent a further letter to Warren on March 7, adding,
"The attitude of Jim Mooney has a great deal to do with the
attitude of some of the people of the GM Overseas Corp. who are
making this difficulty about getting rid of Barletta and other
anti-American representatives of GM." Barletta was GM's Cuban
Questioned about these activities by Hoover's men, Mooney
insisted he was a patriotic American, a lieutenant commander in
the Reserves in the United States Navy, with a son on active duty
with the Navy. Asked by the FBI's L. L. Tyler in mid-October 1940
if he would return the Hitler medal he said he would, "but
it might jeopardize General Motors getting part of the $100,000,000
of stockholders' money invested in Nazi Germany." Clearly,
along with other Fraternity members, Mooney was working for a
quick negotiated peace to release those funds; but even in this
time of European war, they were gathering interest toward the
time when the war would be over and America would stand next to
Hitler in the scheme of things. He added, "Besides, Hitler
is in the right and I'm not going to do anything to make him mad.
I know Hitler has all the cards." He said he was sure Hitler
would win the war; that there was justice in Hitler's general
position; that Germany needed more room; and that if we tried
to prevent the expansion of the German people under Hitler, it
would be ''just too bad for us."
Soon after making these remarks, Mooney was promoted to assistant
to Sloan in charge of defense liaison work in Detroit! In a special
report to J. Edgar Hoover, FBI agent Tyler stated (July 23, 1941):
"Men of Mr. Mooney's prominence, holding the views he holds,
are potentially dangerous to national security.''
Tyler was convinced, he went on, that Mooney ''was threatening
to the National Defense Program" that Mooney purportedly
was aiding. Tyler also felt that Graeme K. Howard was a danger.
He had been given a secret report from the State Department, which
made clear that Sumner Welles, the Under Secretary of State, had
had to threaten Howard with public exposure before Howard would
agree to fire nine hundred Nazi spies working for the General
Motors Export Corporation in South America.
On May 1, J. Edgar Hoover reported to Adolf Berle that he
had evidence that Eduard Winter was a Nazi agent, who moved freely
around Europe and had been given his position by Mooney in Antwerp
just after Hitler occupied the Low Countries. Adding that Winter
"hopes to be on the winning side whichever is victorious
in the present conflict," Hoover stated that Winter was the
son-in-law of a German Foreign Office official. He had good party
connections in Germany. In a comment on this note, John Riddleberger
of the State Department said, "I can easily understand how
Mr. Mooney's and Mr. Winter's minds would run along the same channel
with respect to the war.''
Further reports on Mooney state that he had aided the Germans
as director and financial contributor to the Gerrnan-American
Board of Trade for Commerce, which greatly aided certain Nazis.
The German-American Commerce Association Bulletin contained pictures
of Mooney standing in front of a swastika; it named him as a GACA
On March 21, 1942, representatives of Du Pont were reported
by the U.S. Consulate in Basle to be meeting with representatives
of Hermann Goring's industries at Montreux and St. Moritz. The
subject of the discussions was not disclosed, but the meeting
caused grave concern in Switzerland. It was alleged in reports
after the war that substantial Du Pont funds were retained from
1942 on in Occupied France, gathering interest for Du Pont/General
On April 15, 1942, a curious item appeared in Gestapo reports
in Berlin. Eduard Winter, it seemed, had been arrested on suspicion
of American espionage. He was now running the General Motors AdamOpel
unit in Nazi Germany and had fallen foul of Wilhelm Ohnesorge,
the postminister who had similarly denounced Westrick. As in the
ITT matter, Himmler stepped in and Winter was released. It was
clear that, like Ford, General Motors was protected from seizure
in time of war. Winter continued as usual.
On July 3, 1942, the U.S. Embassy in Panama sent a lengthy
report to the Secretary of State, giving particulars of Nazi activities
in the area. A paragraph read: "General Motors gives orders
for molds to the Nazi firm, Erca, or via, the firm Alpa, San Martin.
Both firms should be on the blacklist because they employ Nazis
and work together with Nazi firms.'' The companies were not blacklisted.
On November 25, the Nazi alien property custodian appointed
Carl Luer, an official of the government and the Dresdnerbank
as manager of the General Motors Adam-Opel establishment at Russelsheim.
This establishment manufactured military aircraft for the German
government throughout World War II. It manufactured 50 percent
of all Junkers Ju 88 propulsion systems; the Junkers was the deadliest
bomber of the Nazi air force. It was decided by a special court
at Darmstadt shortly after November 25 that the directorial board
under Eduard Winter would remain unaltered.
Charles Levinson, formerly deputy director of the European
office of the CIO, alleged in his book Vodka-Cola,
"Alfred Sloan, James D. Mooney, John T. Smith and Graeme
K. Howard remained on the General Motors-Opel board . . . in flagrant
violation of existing legislation, information, contacts, transfers
and trade continued [throughout the war] to flow between the firrn's
Detroit headquarters and its subsidiaries both in Allied countries
and in territories controlled by the Axis powers. The financial
records of Opel Russelsheim revealed that between 1942 and 1945
production and sales strategy were planned in close coordination
with General Motors factories throughout the world.... In 1943,
while its American manufacturers were equipping the United States
Air Force, the German group were developing, manufacturing and
assembling motors for the Messerschmitt 262, the first jet fighter
in the world. This innovation gave the Nazis a basic technological
advantage. With speeds up to 540 miles per hour, this aircraft
could fly 100 miles per hour faster than its American rival, the
piston-powered Mustang P150."
As late as April 1943, General Motors in Stockholm was reported
as trading with the enemy. Henry Morgenthau, in an instruction
given in special code, instructed W. B. Wachtler, regional manager
of GM in New York, to order his Stockholm chief to discontinue
Further documents show that, as with Ford, repairs on German
army trucks and conversion from gasoline to wood-gasoline production
were being handled by GM in Switzerland.
In April 1944 various letters between the U.S. Embassy in
Stockholm and the State Department indicate that GM in Sweden
was importing products of Nazi origin, including Freon, with permission
from State. One letter, dated April 11, 1944, from John G. Winant
said, "We are . . . of the opinion that local manufacture
of a suitable refrigerant in Sweden should be encouraged, but
if it proves impossible for Svenska Nordiska to obtain a suitable
local product, we agree that there would be no objection to the
supply of [German] refrigerant [similar to that from] I.G. Farben."
The refrigerant was imported.
On April 3, 1943, State Department officials reported to Leland
Harrison of the American Legation in Berne that censorship had
intercepted cabled reports from Swiss General Motors to the parent
company in New York showing that Balkan sales were made from stock
held by General Motors dealers in Axis areas. The report continued,
"It is understood that the parent company recently instructed
the Swiss company to cease reporting on sales in enemy territory."
A GM overseas operations man in New York cabled Swiss GM that
"We have been placed in an extremely embarrassing position
by your action." However, there was no indication that the
action ceased. Only that it must be authorized by the American
Legation! "It is our desire," the cable continued, "that
you keep the Legation completely informed of your operations and
engage in no transaction to which trading with the enemy regulations
of the U.S. government apply without clearing with the Legation.''*
A copy of this telegram was forwarded by State officials to Cordell
Hull with the understandable proviso: "This cable has been
sent in confidential code. It should be carefully paraphrased
before being communicated to anyone."
In June 1943, when he was in the Navy, James D. Mooney's activities
were still under surveillance by the FBI. He became a prime reason
for a contretemps between the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and
the State Department that month. Lord Halifax, the British ambassador
in Washington, had written to Cordell Hull requesting that the
Duchess of Windsor, who was now in Nassau with her husband, the
governor of the Bahamas, should be freed from the censorship of
her correspondence. This request immediately heightened grave
suspicions in Adolf A. Berle. He sent a memorandum to Cordell
Hull urging him to deny the request. Dated June 18, 1943, it read:
"I believe that the Duchess of Windsor should emphatically
be denied exemption from censorship."
Quite aside from the more shadowy reports about the activities
of this family, it is to be recalled that both the Duke and Duchess
of Windsor were in contact with Mr. James Mooney, of General Motors,
who attempted to act as mediator of a negotiated peace in the
early winter of 1940; that they have maintained correspondence
with Charles Bedaux, now in prison in North Africa and under charges
of trading with the enemy, and possibly of treasonable correspondence
with the enemy; that they have been in constant contact with Axel
Wenner-Gren, presently on our Blacklist for suspicious activity;
etc. The Duke of Windsor has been finding many excuses to attend
to ``private business" in the United States, which he is
doing at present.
There are positive reasons, therefore, why this imrnunity
should not be granted-as well as the negative reason that we are
not according this privilege to the wife of an American official.
Hull called Halifax and told him the Duchess's request was
denied. General Motors went unpunished after the war. According
to Charles Levinson, in 1967, after a prolonged series of detailed
requests, the United States awarded the corporation a total of
$33 million tax exemption on profits for the "troubles and
destruction occasioned to its airplane and motorized vehicle factories
in Germany and Austria in World War II.
with the Enemy