Nazi billionaires

Byadmin

Dated

March 5, 2022

Nazi billionaires

Book Review

The book Nazi billionaires is an unflattering investigative history of German big business over the past century. The author reminds the readers that many of today’s super-wealthy Germans are heirs of entrepreneurs whose companies prospered under the Third Reich through use of slave labour and seizure of companies. This is old news, but the author explores how all walked free after the war and their heirs do little to acknowledge their ancestors’ crimes. Few entrepreneurs paid attention to Hitler until he grew powerful after 1930.

Some became ardent Nazis but most approved of his hatred of socialism, worker activism and democracy. Once Hitler began rearming, they scrambled for contracts, which involved currying favor with Nazi leaders. An enormous source of profit was Jewish businesses often acquired for a pittance. Readers searching for an industrialist who disapproved will come up empty.

As the author shows, nearly everyone approved of the methods of the business community. Though most employees were treated horribly, few employers objected. During the final year of the war, companies continued to sell their products and overwork their labourers even as the Allies overran Germany. Then they made themselves scarce. Their activities were no secret to Allied intelligence but the first Nuremberg trial involved major political figures rather than business owners. Later, the trials of businessmen received little publicity and largely flopped, handing out a few short prison sentences and fines.

The author brings many of these events back into the historical spotlight. The defendants mostly kept their businesses, handing them on to heirs, who were not inclined to discuss the wartime years. As decades passed a good deal of dirt turned up, persuading some to apologize and make modest gestures of restitution but others stonewalled. The author recounts perhaps more details on German business dealings than American readers may seek but there is enough chicanery to maintain interest. TW

You can also check Europe on the path to self-destruction

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