Archive for the ‘Hitler’ Category

“Amerika Über Alles” — Our Nazi Nation

October 3, 2007

“Amerika Über Alles” — Our Nazi Nation

Peter Guenther’s Prologue

The most persuasive anti-Nazi I ever knew was my mentor, Dr. Peter W. Guenther, who believed that Nazism was monstrous at every level. As a professor of humanities, he thought it was both inhumane and inhuman. As a professor of art history he thought its aesthetics were artless histrionics. He readily granted that his intellectual opinions were molded by his personal experiences. As a German veteran of World War II, he regretted the loss of his youth, the waste of his friends’ lives and the devastation that they had inflicted on others. He held Hitler accountable for all of this — after all, it was Hitler who had drafted them into the war. He had served from 1939 to 1945, from Poland to Norway to France to Russia. He once quipped that before every one of their invasions their leaders said they were fighting for national defense, but after the shooting started every soldier on every side believed that he was fighting for his own self-defense.

By the time of the Iraq war he was retired from academe, and I was writing military analysis for media. As US forces began storming up the Euphrates Valley in the spring of 2003, hell-bent on Baghdad, we began to discuss the limited American mobilized manpower and materiel, and the overall limitations of blitz tactics. Guided by his insights, I published a then-radical op-ed in the Houston Chronicle that predicted a quicksand war in Iraq, and maybe a world war as a result of it.

As the easy war promised us by the Bush administration wore on into the summer of 2003, Dr. Guenther and I began to note that there were more similarities between Post-9/11 America and Third Reich Germany than just over-reliance on Blitzkrieg tactics. We finally determined that the two nations were following parallel political courses. Most disturbing for my mentor, who had become a patriotic American citizen after World War II, was the painful conclusion that our American president, with his global war for a New American Century, was just another German fuhrer, with a world war for a Thousand Year Reich. “This is a bad copy of a bad original,” he said.

“Drang Nach Ost” — The Eastern Offensive

George W. Bush came into office with a secret war plan and no excuse to implement it — just as Hitler had come into office in 1933 with the same predicament. Both of them wanted the prize of Middle Eastern oil. In Hitler’s case that meant going through “Judeo-Bolshevik” Russia on the way, while in Bush’s case that meant going through “Islamo-Fascist” Iraq. In Hitler’s case the guiding document was Mein Kampf, while in Bush’s case there were two. A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm was presented to the Israeli government in 1996 by American neocons Douglas Feith, Richard Perle and David Wurmser, among others. Restructuring America’s Defenses was presented to the American government in 2000. Its arguments mirrored the Israeli document, and had been drawn up by the neocons as well. In 2001 Feith, Perle and Wurmser became key Bush administration members.

Neither Hitler’s nor Bush’s plans for world dominance could have been pursued without some good luck, though. Both leaders entered office with over half their nations opposing them, and an avid opposition that wanted to pull them down. Hitler’s good luck came with the Reichstag fire, blamed on Jewish Communists, which mobilized his fatherland to rally behind him. Bush’s good luck happened on 9/11, blamed on Muslim Fundamentalists, which mobilized his homeland to rally behind him.

In both cases, their followers smiled at their good luck, and began their new order of things. Hitler quickly instituted an Enabling Act for the protection of the German people, slated for expiration in five years, which was quietly continued. Bush quickly instituted a Patriot Act for the protection of the American people, slated for expiration in five years, which was quietly continued. Hitler created the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) to further protect the German people, while Bush created the Homeland Security Agency (Homeseca) to do the same for the American people.

“Führer Prinzip” — The Unitary Executive

Both leaders were believers in the authoritarian concept. A few weeks before assuming office, Bush said outright that he thought dictatorship would be a fine form of government, if he could be the dictator. They both believed that power should come from above and obedience should come from below, and they offered protection in exchange for loyalty. Thus no one was surprised when Hermann Goering made a fortune helping to run Germany, just as no one was surprised when Irving “Scooter” Libby received a pardon for his pro-Bush political crimes in America.

Both leaders supplemented their new security police and security acts with concentration camps such as Dachau and Gitmo, initially designed for only a small percentage of national enemies. Both dispensed with international rules and regulations in their treatment of enemies in those installations, and applied a wide variety of innovative persuasive techniques to extract information and obtain confessions. The lessons learned in these proto-type camps proved to be invaluable in later establishments such as Auschwitz and Abu Ghraib.

Both leaders relied on agreeable legislatures. In Germany the Reichstag cheered enthusiastically as it endorsed the increase in police powers, the reduction in civil rights and the national march to world war. In America Congress did the same things, but in more subdued fashion, even with a show of dissent. In Germany, Hitler declared a dictatorship under Article 48, provided by the old Weimar Constitution for the event of a national emergency. In America Bush recently created National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD 51), thereby legalizing a dictatorship in the event of a national emergency.

“Gott Mit Uns” — God’s on Our Side

Neither Hitler nor Bush could have effected their radical plans without a party full of functionaries and a compliant national media, of course. Hitler relied on his “Nazi” party, a word derived from the name of his National Socialist organization. He had a brilliant individual named Joseph Goebbels to control the Reich Propaganda Ministry and rally the public behind Nazi policies. Bush relied on his “Nozi” party, a word derived from “Zionism,” with the first four letters Z-i-o-n remixed into N-o-z-i. He had a brilliant cartel of Zionists to control the American Mainstream Media and rally the public behind Nozi policies.

The greatest accomplishment of both the Nazi and Nozi parties was convincing themselves and their citizens that they were not conspirators of any sort, but rather the victims of an international conspiracy. The Nazi party never tired of saying that Judeo-Communism was the hidden enemy, against which all the powers of a determined fatherland had to be directed, and that they were the targets of anti-German propaganda. The Nozi party never tires of saying that Islamo-Fascism is the hidden enemy, against which all the powers of a determined homeland have to be directed, and that they are the targets of anti-Semitic propaganda.

The rest of the world didn’t buy the pro-war propaganda from Germany’s Nazis three generations ago, and they don’t buy it from America’s Nozis three generations later. The way the rest of the world sees it, what we have been taught to call the axis of evil is not so dangerous to the world as the axis of America and Israel. They see American naval forces massing in the name of national defense against Iran, and they remember Iraq. They see Israeli air forces attacking Syria, and they remember Lebanon. The rest of the world knows who we have become, even if we don’t.

Peter Guenther’s Epilogue: He died in 2005, and was followed by his wife Andrea six months later. They had been married for 58 years, and had been American citizens for more than 50. For more about my friendship with them, refer to the first and fourth volumes of my 2003 Iraq war correspondence here.

Captain May is a former Army military intelligence and public affairs officer, as well as a former NBC editorial writer. His political and military analyses have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Houston Chronicle and Military Intelligence Magazine. Read other articles by Captain Eric, or visit Captain Eric’s website.

How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power

July 25, 2007

How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power

Rumours of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today’s president

Ben Aris in Berlin and Duncan Campbell in Washington
Saturday September 25, 2004
The Guardian

George Bush’s grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.


The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator’s action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.The debate over Prescott Bush’s behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the “Bush/Nazi” connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis’ plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler’s rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush’s dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush’s business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen’s US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.

Tantalising
Bush was also on the board of at least one of the companies that formed part of a multinational network of front companies to allow Thyssen to move assets around the world.

Thyssen owned the largest steel and coal company in Germany and grew rich from Hitler’s efforts to re-arm between the two world wars. One of the pillars in Thyssen’s international corporate web, UBC, worked exclusively for, and was owned by, a Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands. More tantalising are Bush’s links to the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border. During the war, the company made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The ownership of CSSC changed hands several times in the 1930s, but documents from the US National Archive declassified last year link Bush to CSSC, although it is not clear if he and UBC were still involved in the company when Thyssen’s American assets were seized in 1942.

Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush’s involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library of Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University of Maryland.

The first set of files, the Harriman papers in the Library of Congress, show that Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of a number of companies involved with Thyssen.

The second set of papers, which are in the National Archives, are contained in vesting order number 248 which records the seizure of the company assets. What these files show is that on October 20 1942 the alien property custodian seized the assets of the UBC, of which Prescott Bush was a director. Having gone through the books of the bank, further seizures were made against two affiliates, the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. By November, the Silesian-American Company, another of Prescott Bush’s ventures, had also been seized.

The third set of documents, also at the National Archives, are contained in the files on IG Farben, who was prosecuted for war crimes.

A report issued by the Office of Alien Property Custodian in 1942 stated of the companies that “since 1939, these (steel and mining) properties have been in possession of and have been operated by the German government and have undoubtedly been of considerable assistance to that country’s war effort”.

Prescott Bush, a 6ft 4in charmer with a rich singing voice, was the founder of the Bush political dynasty and was once considered a potential presidential candidate himself. Like his son, George, and grandson, George W, he went to Yale where he was, again like his descendants, a member of the secretive and influential Skull and Bones student society. He was an artillery captain in the first world war and married Dorothy Walker, the daughter of George Herbert Walker, in 1921.

In 1924, his father-in-law, a well-known St Louis investment banker, helped set him up in business in New York with Averill Harriman, the wealthy son of railroad magnate E H Harriman in New York, who had gone into banking.

One of the first jobs Walker gave Bush was to manage UBC. Bush was a founding member of the bank and the incorporation documents, which list him as one of seven directors, show he owned one share in UBC worth $125.

The bank was set up by Harriman and Bush’s father-in-law to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany’s most powerful industrial family.

August Thyssen, the founder of the dynasty had been a major contributor to Germany’s first world war effort and in the 1920s, he and his sons Fritz and Heinrich established a network of overseas banks and companies so their assets and money could be whisked offshore if threatened again.

By the time Fritz Thyssen inherited the business empire in 1926, Germany’s economic recovery was faltering. After hearing Adolf Hitler speak, Thyssen became mesmerised by the young firebrand. He joined the Nazi party in December 1931 and admits backing Hitler in his autobiography, I Paid Hitler, when the National Socialists were still a radical fringe party. He stepped in several times to bail out the struggling party: in 1928 Thyssen had bought the Barlow Palace on Briennerstrasse, in Munich, which Hitler converted into the Brown House, the headquarters of the Nazi party. The money came from another Thyssen overseas institution, the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvarrt in Rotterdam.

By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world’s largest private investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing Hitler’s build-up to war.

Between 1931 and 1933 UBC bought more than $8m worth of gold, of which $3m was shipped abroad. According to documents seen by the Guardian, after UBC was set up it transferred $2m to BBH accounts and between 1924 and 1940 the assets of UBC hovered around $3m, dropping to $1m only on a few occasions.

In 1941, Thyssen fled Germany after falling out with Hitler but he was captured in France and detained for the remainder of the war.

There was nothing illegal in doing business with the Thyssens throughout the 1930s and many of America’s best-known business names invested heavily in the German economic recovery. However, everything changed after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Even then it could be argued that BBH was within its rights continuing business relations with the Thyssens until the end of 1941 as the US was still technically neutral until the attack on Pearl Harbor. The trouble started on July 30 1942 when the New York Herald-Tribune ran an article entitled “Hitler’s Angel Has $3m in US Bank”. UBC’s huge gold purchases had raised suspicions that the bank was in fact a “secret nest egg” hidden in New York for Thyssen and other Nazi bigwigs. The Alien Property Commission (APC) launched an investigation.

There is no dispute over the fact that the US government seized a string of assets controlled by BBH – including UBC and SAC – in the autumn of 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy act. What is in dispute is if Harriman, Walker and Bush did more than own these companies on paper.

Erwin May, a treasury attache and officer for the department of investigation in the APC, was assigned to look into UBC’s business. The first fact to emerge was that Roland Harriman, Prescott Bush and the other directors didn’t actually own their shares in UBC but merely held them on behalf of Bank voor Handel. Strangely, no one seemed to know who owned the Rotterdam-based bank, including UBC’s president.

May wrote in his report of August 16 1941: “Union Banking Corporation, incorporated August 4 1924, is wholly owned by the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. My investigation has produced no evidence as to the ownership of the Dutch bank. Mr Cornelis [sic] Lievense, president of UBC, claims no knowledge as to the ownership of the Bank voor Handel but believes it possible that Baron Heinrich Thyssen, brother of Fritz Thyssen, may own a substantial interest.”

May cleared the bank of holding a golden nest egg for the Nazi leaders but went on to describe a network of companies spreading out from UBC across Europe, America and Canada, and how money from voor Handel travelled to these companies through UBC.

By September May had traced the origins of the non-American board members and found that Dutchman HJ Kouwenhoven – who met with Harriman in 1924 to set up UBC – had several other jobs: in addition to being the managing director of voor Handel he was also the director of the August Thyssen bank in Berlin and a director of Fritz Thyssen’s Union Steel Works, the holding company that controlled Thyssen’s steel and coal mine empire in Germany.

Within a few weeks, Homer Jones, the chief of the APC investigation and research division sent a memo to the executive committee of APC recommending the US government vest UBC and its assets. Jones named the directors of the bank in the memo, including Prescott Bush’s name, and wrote: “Said stock is held by the above named individuals, however, solely as nominees for the Bank voor Handel, Rotterdam, Holland, which is owned by one or more of the Thyssen family, nationals of Germany and Hungary. The 4,000 shares hereinbefore set out are therefore beneficially owned and help for the interests of enemy nationals, and are vestible by the APC,” according to the memo from the National Archives seen by the Guardian.

Red-handed
Jones recommended that the assets be liquidated for the benefit of the government, but instead UBC was maintained intact and eventually returned to the American shareholders after the war. Some claim that Bush sold his share in UBC after the war for $1.5m – a huge amount of money at the time – but there is no documentary evidence to support this claim. No further action was ever taken nor was the investigation continued, despite the fact UBC was caught red-handed operating a American shell company for the Thyssen family eight months after America had entered the war and that this was the bank that had partly financed Hitler’s rise to power.

The most tantalising part of the story remains shrouded in mystery: the connection, if any, between Prescott Bush, Thyssen, Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC) and Auschwitz.

Thyssen’s partner in United Steel Works, which had coal mines and steel plants across the region, was Friedrich Flick, another steel magnate who also owned part of IG Farben, the powerful German chemical company.

Flick’s plants in Poland made heavy use of slave labour from the concentration camps in Poland. According to a New York Times article published in March 18 1934 Flick owned two-thirds of CSSC while “American interests” held the rest.

The US National Archive documents show that BBH’s involvement with CSSC was more than simply holding the shares in the mid-1930s. Bush’s friend and fellow “bonesman” Knight Woolley, another partner at BBH, wrote to Averill Harriman in January 1933 warning of problems with CSSC after the Poles started their drive to nationalise the plant. “The Consolidated Silesian Steel Company situation has become increasingly complicated, and I have accordingly brought in Sullivan and Cromwell, in order to be sure that our interests are protected,” wrote Knight. “After studying the situation Foster Dulles is insisting that their man in Berlin get into the picture and obtain the information which the directors here should have. You will recall that Foster is a director and he is particularly anxious to be certain that there is no liability attaching to the American directors.”

But the ownership of the CSSC between 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and 1942 when the US government vested UBC and SAC is not clear.

“SAC held coal mines and definitely owned CSSC between 1934 and 1935, but when SAC was vested there was no trace of CSSC. All concrete evidence of its ownership disappears after 1935 and there are only a few traces in 1938 and 1939,” says Eva Schweitzer, the journalist and author whose book, America and the Holocaust, is published next month.

Silesia was quickly made part of the German Reich after the invasion, but while Polish factories were seized by the Nazis, those belonging to the still neutral Americans (and some other nationals) were treated more carefully as Hitler was still hoping to persuade the US to at least sit out the war as a neutral country. Schweitzer says American interests were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Nazis bought some out, but not others.

The two Holocaust survivors suing the US government and the Bush family for a total of $40bn in compensation claim both materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labour during the second world war.

Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, began a class action in America in 2001, but the case was thrown out by Judge Rosemary Collier on the grounds that the government cannot be held liable under the principle of “state sovereignty”.

Jan Lissmann, one of the lawyers for the survivors, said: “President Bush withdrew President Bill Clinton’s signature from the treaty [that founded the court] not only to protect Americans, but also to protect himself and his family.”

Lissmann argues that genocide-related cases are covered by international law, which does hold governments accountable for their actions. He claims the ruling was invalid as no hearing took place.

In their claims, Mr Goldstein and Mr Gingold, honorary chairman of the League of Anti-fascists, suggest the Americans were aware of what was happening at Auschwitz and should have bombed the camp.

The lawyers also filed a motion in The Hague asking for an opinion on whether state sovereignty is a valid reason for refusing to hear their case. A ruling is expected within a month.

The petition to The Hague states: “From April 1944 on, the American Air Force could have destroyed the camp with air raids, as well as the railway bridges and railway lines from Hungary to Auschwitz. The murder of about 400,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims could have been prevented.”

The case is built around a January 22 1944 executive order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt calling on the government to take all measures to rescue the European Jews. The lawyers claim the order was ignored because of pressure brought by a group of big American companies, including BBH, where Prescott Bush was a director.

Lissmann said: “If we have a positive ruling from the court it will cause [president] Bush huge problems and make him personally liable to pay compensation.”

The US government and the Bush family deny all the claims against them.

In addition to Eva Schweitzer’s book, two other books are about to be published that raise the subject of Prescott Bush’s business history. The author of the second book, to be published next year, John Loftus, is a former US attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the 70s. Now living in St Petersburg, Florida and earning his living as a security commentator for Fox News and ABC radio, Loftus is working on a novel which uses some of the material he has uncovered on Bush. Loftus stressed that what Prescott Bush was involved in was just what many other American and British businessmen were doing at the time.

“You can’t blame Bush for what his grandfather did any more than you can blame Jack Kennedy for what his father did – bought Nazi stocks – but what is important is the cover-up, how it could have gone on so successfully for half a century, and does that have implications for us today?” he said.

“This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich’s defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted,” said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St Petersburg.

“The Union Banking Corporation was a holding company for the Nazis, for Fritz Thyssen,” said Loftus. “At various times, the Bush family has tried to spin it, saying they were owned by a Dutch bank and it wasn’t until the Nazis took over Holland that they realised that now the Nazis controlled the apparent company and that is why the Bush supporters claim when the war was over they got their money back. Both the American treasury investigations and the intelligence investigations in Europe completely bely that, it’s absolute horseshit. They always knew who the ultimate beneficiaries were.”

“There is no one left alive who could be prosecuted but they did get away with it,” said Loftus. “As a former federal prosecutor, I would make a case for Prescott Bush, his father-in-law (George Walker) and Averill Harriman [to be prosecuted] for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They remained on the boards of these companies knowing that they were of financial benefit to the nation of Germany.”

Loftus said Prescott Bush must have been aware of what was happening in Germany at the time. “My take on him was that he was a not terribly successful in-law who did what Herbert Walker told him to. Walker and Harriman were the two evil geniuses, they didn’t care about the Nazis any more than they cared about their investments with the Bolsheviks.”

What is also at issue is how much money Bush made from his involvement. His supporters suggest that he had one token share. Loftus disputes this, citing sources in “the banking and intelligence communities” and suggesting that the Bush family, through George Herbert Walker and Prescott, got $1.5m out of the involvement. There is, however, no paper trail to this sum.

The third person going into print on the subject is John Buchanan, 54, a Miami-based magazine journalist who started examining the files while working on a screenplay. Last year, Buchanan published his findings in the venerable but small-circulation New Hampshire Gazette under the headline “Documents in National Archives Prove George Bush’s Grandfather Traded With the Nazis – Even After Pearl Harbor”. He expands on this in his book to be published next month – Fixing America: Breaking the Stranglehold of Corporate Rule, Big Media and the Religious Right.

In the article, Buchanan, who has worked mainly in the trade and music press with a spell as a muckraking reporter in Miami, claimed that “the essential facts have appeared on the internet and in relatively obscure books but were dismissed by the media and Bush family as undocumented diatribes”.

Buchanan suffers from hypermania, a form of manic depression, and when he found himself rebuffed in his initial efforts to interest the media, he responded with a series of threats against the journalists and media outlets that had spurned him. The threats, contained in e-mails, suggested that he would expose the journalists as “traitors to the truth”.

Unsurprisingly, he soon had difficulty getting his calls returned. Most seriously, he faced aggravated stalking charges in Miami, in connection with a man with whom he had fallen out over the best way to publicise his findings. The charges were dropped last month.

Biography
Buchanan said he regretted his behaviour had damaged his credibility but his main aim was to secure publicity for the story. Both Loftus and Schweitzer say Buchanan has come up with previously undisclosed documentation.

The Bush family have largely responded with no comment to any reference to Prescott Bush. Brown Brothers Harriman also declined to comment.

The Bush family recently approved a flattering biography of Prescott Bush entitled Duty, Honour, Country by Mickey Herskowitz. The publishers, Rutledge Hill Press, promised the book would “deal honestly with Prescott Bush’s alleged business relationships with Nazi industrialists and other accusations”.

In fact, the allegations are dealt with in less than two pages. The book refers to the Herald-Tribune story by saying that “a person of less established ethics would have panicked … Bush and his partners at Brown Brothers Harriman informed the government regulators that the account, opened in the late 1930s, was ‘an unpaid courtesy for a client’ … Prescott Bush acted quickly and openly on behalf of the firm, served well by a reputation that had never been compromised. He made available all records and all documents. Viewed six decades later in the era of serial corporate scandals and shattered careers, he received what can be viewed as the ultimate clean bill.”

The Prescott Bush story has been condemned by both conservatives and some liberals as having nothing to do with the current president. It has also been suggested that Prescott Bush had little to do with Averill Harriman and that the two men opposed each other politically.

However, documents from the Harriman papers include a flattering wartime profile of Harriman in the New York Journal American and next to it in the files is a letter to the financial editor of that paper from Prescott Bush congratulating the paper for running the profile. He added that Harriman’s “performance and his whole attitude has been a source of inspiration and pride to his partners and his friends”.

The Anti-Defamation League in the US is supportive of Prescott Bush and the Bush family. In a statement last year they said that “rumours about the alleged Nazi ‘ties’ of the late Prescott Bush … have circulated widely through the internet in recent years. These charges are untenable and politically motivated … Prescott Bush was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathiser.”

However, one of the country’s oldest Jewish publications, the Jewish Advocate, has aired the controversy in detail.

More than 60 years after Prescott Bush came briefly under scrutiny at the time of a faraway war, his grandson is facing a different kind of scrutiny but one underpinned by the same perception that, for some people, war can be a profitable business.

Man of the Year (1938)

July 20, 2007

Monday, Jan. 02, 1939

Man of the Year

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,760539-1,00.html

Greatest single news event of 1938 took place on September 29, when four statesmen met at the Führerhaus, in Munich, to redraw the map of Europe. The three visiting statesmen at that historic conference were Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain, Premier Edouard Daladier of France, and Dictator Benito Mussolini of Italy. But by all odds the dominating figure at Munich was the German host, Adolf Hitler.

Führer of the German people, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, Navy & Air Force, Chancellor of the Third Reich, Herr Hitler reaped on that day at Munich the harvest of an audacious, defiant, ruthless foreign policy he had pursued for five and a half years. He had torn the Treaty of Versailles to shreds. He had rearmed Germany to the teeth— or as close to the teeth as he was able. He had stolen Austria before the eyes of a horrified and apparently impotent world.

All these events were shocking to nations which had defeated Germany on the battlefield only 20 years before, but nothing so terrified the world as the ruthless, methodical, Nazi-directed events which during late summer and early autumn threatened a world war over Czechoslovakia. When without loss of blood he reduced Czechoslovakia to a German puppet state, forced a drastic revision of Europe’s defensive alliances, and won a free hand for himself in Eastern Europe by getting a “hands-off” promise from powerful Britain (and later France), Adolf Hitler without doubt became 1938’s Man of the Year.

Most other world figures of 1938 faded in importance as the year drew to a close. Prime Minister Chamberlain’s “peace with honor” seemed more than ever to have achieved neither. An increasing number of Britons ridiculed his appease-the-dictators policy, believed that nothing save abject surrender could satisfy the dictators’ ambitions.

Among many Frenchmen there rose a feeling that Premier Daladier, by a few strokes of the pen at Munich, had turned France into a second-rate power. Aping Mussolini in his gestures and copying triumphant Hitler’s shouting complex, the once liberal Daladier at year’s end was reduced to using parliamentary tricks to keep his job.

During 1938 Dictator Mussolini was only a decidedly junior partner in the firm of Hitler & Mussolini, Inc. His noisy agitation to get Corsica and Tunis from France was rated as a weak bluff whose immediate objectives were no more than cheaper tolls for Italian ships in the Suez Canal and control of the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railroad.

Gone from the international scene was Eduard Benes, for 20 years Europe’s “Smartest Little Statesman.” Last President of free Czechoslovakia, he was now a sick exile from the country he helped found. Pious Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek, Man of 1937, was forced to retreat to a “New” West China, where he faced the possibility of becoming only a respectable figurehead in an enveloping Communist movement. If Francisco Franco had won the Spanish Civil War after his great spring drive, he might well have been Man-of-the-Year timber. But victory still eluded the Generalissimo and war weariness and disaffection on the Rightist side made his future precarious.

On the American scene, 1938 was no one man’s year. Certainly it was not Franklin Roosevelt’s: his Purge was beaten and his party lost much of its bulge in the Congress. Secretary Hull will remember Good Neighborly 1938 as the year he crowned his trade treaty efforts with the British agreement, but history will not specially identify Mr. Hull with 1938. At year’s end in Lima, his plan of Continental Solidarity for the two Americas had a few of its teeth pulled (see p. 10).

But the figure of Adolf Hitler strode over a cringing Europe with all the swagger of a conqueror. Not the mere fact that the Führer brought 10,500,000 more people (7,000,000 Austrians, 3,500,000 Sudetens) under his absolute rule made him the Man of 1938. Japan during the same time added tens of millions of Chinese to her empire. More significant was the fact Hitler became in 1938 the greatest threatening force that the democratic, freedom-loving world faces today.

His shadow fell far beyond Germany’s frontiers. Small, neighboring States (Denmark, Norway, Czecho-Slovakia, Lithuania, the Balkans, Luxembourg, The Netherlands) feared to offend him. In France Nazi pressure was in part responsible for some of the post-Munich anti-democratic decrees. Fascism had intervened openly in Spain, had fostered a revolt in Brazil, was covertly aiding revolutionary movements in Rumania, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania. In Finland a foreign minister had to resign under Nazi pressure. Throughout eastern Europe after Munich the trend was toward less freedom, more dictatorship. In the U. S. alone did democracy feel itself strong enough at year’s end to give Hitler his come-uppance (see p. 5).

The Fascintern, with Hitler in the driver’s seat, with Mussolini, Franco and the Japanese military cabal riding behind, emerged in 1938 as an international, revolutionary movement. Rant as he might against the machinations of international Communism and international Jewry, or rave as he would that he was just a Pan-German trying to get all the Germans back in one nation, Führer Hitler had himself become the world’s No. 1 International Revolutionist—so much so that if the oft-predicted struggle between Fascism and Communism now takes place it will be only because two revolutionist dictators. Hitler and Stalin, are too big to let each other live in the same world.

But Führer Hitler does not regard himself as a revolutionary; he has become so only by force of circumstances. Fascism has discovered that freedom—of press, speech, assembly—is a potential danger to its own security. In Fascist phraseology democracy is often coupled with Communism. The Fascist battle against freedom is often carried forward under the false slogan of “Down with Communism!” One of the chief German complaints against democratic Czechoslovakia last summer was that it was an “outpost of Communism.”

A generation ago western civilization had apparently outgrown the major evils of barbarism except for war between nations. The Russian Communist Revolution promoted the evil of class war. Hitler topped it by another, race war. Fascism and Communism both resurrected religious war. These multiple forms of barbarism gave shape in 1938 to an issue over which men may again, perhaps soon, shed blood: the issue of civilized liberty v. barbaric authoritarianism.

Lesser men of the year seemed small indeed beside the Führer. Undoubted Crook of the Year was the late Frank Donald Coster (né Musica), with Richard Whitney, now in Sing Sing Prison, as runner-up. Sportsman of the Year was Tennist Donald Budge, champion of the U. S., England, France, Australia. Aviator of the Year was 33-year-old Howard Robard Hughes, diffident millionaire, who flew a sober, precise, foolproof course 14,716 miles round the top of the world in three days, 19 hours, eight minutes.

Radio’s Man of the Year was youthful Orson Welles who, in his famous The War of the Worlds broadcast, scared fewer people than Hitler, but more than had ever been frightened by radio before, demonstrating that radio can be a tremendous force in whipping up mass emotion. Playwright of the Year was Thornton Wilder, previously a precious litterateur, whose first play on Broadway, Our Town, was not only ingenious and moving, but a big hit. To Gabriel Pascal, producer of Pygmalion, first full-length picture based on the wordy dramas of George Bernard Shaw, went the title of Cineman of the Year for having discovered a rich mine of dramatic material when other famed producers had given up all hope of ever tapping it. Men of the Year, outstanding in comprehensive science, were three medical researchers who discovered that nicotinic acid was a cure for human pellagra: Drs. Tom Douglas Spies of Cincinnati General Hospital, Marion Arthur Blankenhorn of the University of Cincinnati, Clark Niel Cooper of Waterloo, Iowa.

In religion, the two outstanding figures of 1938 were in sharp contrast save for their opposition to Adolf Hitler. One of them, Pope Pius XI, 81, spoke with “bitter sadness” of Italy’s anti-Semitic laws, the harrying of Italian Catholic Action groups, the reception Mussolini gave Hitler last May, declared sadly: “We have offered our now old life for the peace and prosperity of peoples. We offer it anew.” By spending most of the year in a concentration camp, Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller gave courageous witness to his faith.

It was noteworthy that few of these other men of the year would have been free to achieve their accomplishments in Nazi Germany. The genius of free wills has been so stifled by the oppression of dictatorship that Germany’s output of poetry, prose, music, philosophy, art has been meagre indeed.

The man most responsible for this world tragedy is a moody, brooding, unprepossessing, 49-year-old Austrian-born ascetic with a Charlie Chaplin mustache. The son of an Austrian petty customs official, Adolf Hitler was raised as a spoiled child by a doting mother. Consistently failing to pass even the most elementary studies, he grew up a half-educated young man, untrained for any trade or profession, seemingly doomed to failure. Brilliant, charming, cosmopolitan Vienna he learned to loathe for what he called its Semitism; more to his liking was homogeneous Munich, his real home after 1912. To this man of no trade and few interests the Great War was a welcome event which gave him some purpose in life. Corporal Hitler took part in 48 engagements, won the German Iron Cross (first class), was wounded once and gassed once, was in a hospital when the Armistice of November 11, 1918 was declared.

His political career began in 1919 when he became Member No. 7 of the midget German Labor Party. Discovering his powers of oratory, Hitler soon became the party’s leader, changed its name to the National Socialist German Labor Party, wrote its antiSemitic, antidemocratic, authoritarian program. The party’s first mass meeting took place in Munich in February 1920. The leader intended to participate in a monarchist attempt to seize power a month later; but for this abortive Putsch Führer Hitler arrived too late. An even less successful National Socialist attempt—the famed Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923—provided the party with dead martyrs, landed Herr Hitler in jail. His incarceration at Landsberg Fortress gave him time to write the first volume of Mein Kampf, now a “must” on every German bookshelf.*

Outlawed in many German districts, the National Socialist Party nevertheless climbed steadily in membership. Time-honored Tammany Hall methods of handing out many small favors were combined with rowdy terrorism and lurid, patriotic propaganda. The picture of a mystic, abstemious, charismatic Führer was assiduously cultivated.

Not until 1929 did National Socialism win its first absolute majority in a city election (at Coburg) and make its first significant showing in a provincial election (in Thuringia). But from 1928 on the party almost continually gained in electoral strength. In the Reichstag elections of 1928 it polled 809,000 votes. Two years later 6,401,016 Germans voted for National Socialist deputies, while in 1932 the vote was 13,732,779. While still short of a majority, the vote was nevertheless impressive proof of the power of the man and his movement.

The situation which gave rise to this demagogic, ignorant, desperate movement was inherent in the German Republic’s birth and in the craving of large sections of the politically immature German people for strong, masterful leadership. Democracy in Germany was conceived in the womb of military defeat. It was the Republic which put its signature (unwillingly) to the humiliating Versailles Treaty, a brand of shame which it never lived down in German minds.

That the German people love uniforms, parades, military formations, and submit easily to authority is no secret. Führer Hitler’s own hero is Frederick the Great. That admiration stems undoubtedly from Frederick’s military prowess and autocratic rule rather than from Frederick’s love of French culture and his hatred of Prussian boorishness. But unlike the polished Frederick, Führer Hitler, whose reading has always been very limited, invites few great minds to visit him, nor would Führer Hitler agree with Frederick’s contention that he was “tired of ruling over slaves.”*

In bad straits even in fair weather, the German Republic collapsed under the weight of the 1929-34 depression in which German unemployment soared to 7,000,000 above a nationwide wind drift of bankruptcies and failures. Called to power as Chancellor of the Third Reich on January 30, 1933 by aged, senile President Paul von Hindenburg, Chancellor Hitler began to turn the Reich inside out. Unemployment was solved by: 1) a far-reaching program of public works; 2) an intense rearmament program, including a huge standing army; 3) enforced labor in the service of the State (the German Labor Corps); 4) putting political enemies and Jewish, Communist and Socialist jobholders in concentration camps.

What Adolf Hitler & Co. did to Germany in less than six years was applauded wildly and ecstatically by most Germans. He lifted the nation from post-War defeatism. Under the swastika Germany was unified. His was no ordinary dictatorship, but rather one of great energy and magnificent planning. The “socialist” part of National Socialism might be scoffed at by hard-&-fast Marxists, but the Nazi movement nevertheless had a mass basis. The 1,500 miles of magnificent highways built, schemes for cheap cars and simple workers’ benefits, grandiose plans for rebuilding German cities made Germans burst with pride. Germans might eat many substitute foods or wear ersatz clothes but they did eat. What Adolf Hitler & Co. did to the German people in that time left civilized men and women aghast. Civil rights and liberties have disappeared. Opposition to the Nazi regime has become tantamount to suicide or worse. Free speech and free assembly are anachronisms. The reputations of the once-vaunted German centres of learning have vanished. Education has been reduced to a National Socialist catechism.

Pace Quickened. Germany’s 700,000 Jews have been tortured physically, robbed of homes and properties, denied a chance to earn a living, chased off the streets. Now they are being held for “ransom,” a gangster trick through the ages. But not only Jews have suffered. Out of Germany has come a steady, ever-swelling stream of refugees, Jews and Gentiles, liberals and conservatives, Catholics as well as Protestants, who could stand Naziism no longer. TIME’S cover, showing Organist Adolf Hitler playing his hymn of hate in a desecrated cathedral while victims dangle on a St. Catherine’s wheel and the Nazi hierarchy looks on, was drawn by Baron Rudolph Charles von Ripper (see p. 20), a Catholic who found Germany intolerable. Meanwhile, Germany has become a nation of uniforms, goose-stepping to Hitler’s tune, where boys of ten are taught to throw hand grenades, where women are regarded as breeding machines. Most cruel joke of all, however, has been played by Hitler & Co. on those German capitalists and small businessmen who once backed National Socialism as a means of saving Germany’s bourgeois economic structure from radicalism. The Nazi credo that the individual belongs to the state also applies to business. Some businesses have been confiscated outright, on others what amounts to a capital tax has been levied. Profits have been strictly controlled. Some idea of the increasing Governmental control and interference in business could be deduced from the fact that 80% of all building and 50% of all industrial orders in Germany originated last year with the Government. Hard-pressed for foodstuffs as well as funds, the Nazi regime has taken over large estates and in many instances collectivized agriculture, a procedure fundamentally similar to Russian Communism.

When Germany took over Austria she took upon herself the care and feeding of 7,000,000 poor relations. When 3,500,000 Sudetens were absorbed, there were that many more mouths to feed. As 1938 drew to a close many were the signs that the Nazi economy of exchange control, barter trade, lowered standard of living, “self-sufficiency,” was cracking. Nor were signs lacking that many Germans disliked the cruelties of their Government, but were afraid to protest them. Having a hard time to provide enough bread to go round, Führer Hitler was being driven to give the German people another diverting circus. The Nazi controlled press, jumping the rope at the count of Propaganda Minister Paul Joseph Goebbels, shrieked insults at real and imagined enemies. And the pace of the German dictatorship quickened as more & more guns rolled from factories and little more butter was produced.

In five years under the Man of 1938, regimented Germany had made itself one of the great military powers of the world today. The British Navy remains supreme on the seas. Most military men regard the French Army as incomparable. Biggest question mark is air strength, which changes from day to day, but most observers believe Germany superior in warplanes. Despite a shortage of trained officers and a lack of materials, the Germany Army has become a formidable machine which could probably be beaten only by a combination of opposing armies. As testimony to his nation’s puissance, Führer Hitler could look back over the year and remember that besides receiving countless large-bore statesmen (Mr. Chamberlain three times, for instance), he paid his personal respects to three kings (Sweden’s Gustaf, Denmark’s Christian, Italy’s Vittorio Emanuele) and was visited by two (Bulgaria’s Boris, Rumania’s Carol—not counting Hungary’s Regent, Horthy).

Meanwhile an estimated 1,133 streets and squares, notably Rathaus Platz in Vienna, acquired the name of Adolf Hitler. He delivered 96 public speeches, attended eleven opera performances (way below par), vanquished two rivals (Benes and Kurt von Schuschnigg, Austria’s last Chancellor), sold 900,000 new copies of Mein Kampf in Germany besides selling it widely in Italy and Insurgent Spain. His only loss was in eyesight: he had to begin wearing spectacles for work. Last week Herr Hitler entertained at a Christmas party 7,000 workmen now building Berlin’s new mammoth Chancellery, told them: “The next decade will show those countries with their patent democracy where true culture is to be found.”

But other nations have emphatically joined the armaments race and among military men the poser is: “Will Hitler fight when it becomes definitely certain that he is losing that race?” The dynamics of dictatorship are such that few who have studied Fascism and its leaders can envision sexless, restless, instinctive Adolf Hitler rounding out a mellow middle age in his mountain chalet at Berchtesgaden while a satisfied German people drink beer and sing folk songs. There is no guarantee that the have-not nations will go to sleep when they have taken what they now want from the haves. To those who watched the closing events of the year it seemed more than probable that the Man of 1938 may make 1939 a year to be remembered.

*Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess helped write it. Imprisonment also gave Hitler time to perfect his tactics. Even before that time he got from his Communist opponents the idea of gangsterlike party storm troopers; after this the principle of the small cell groups of devoted party workers.

*Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor, also complained of the submissiveness of German character.