Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
Lagami
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Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Lagami » 09 Jan 2016 04:51

Topic subject already states my question;

Recently I have heard a lot about the US having supported Nazi-Germany on a financial base in the early years of world war 2. I couldn't find any information about this.
Is this true (to a certain amount)? Is ther any notable evidence for this?

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stg 44
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by stg 44 » 09 Jan 2016 15:19

I don't think you could say the USA as a country did, but there were certainly some financial and corporation institutions that did business with Germany in the run up to the war and in the early years:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IG_Farben ... I_overview

IG Farben and Standard Oil operated in a cartel together. I've seen evidence of a bunch of other businesses working with Germany or German businesses, but I can't find the info right now.

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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by OpanaPointer » 09 Jan 2016 15:44

FDR was strongly pro-British/anti-Axis, so officially the US didn't support Germany at any point. There will always be people who put profit above rationality, of course, so some private concerns will have completed pre-existing contracts from before Sept. 1, 1939, and some would have entered into new ones.

Any business done would have had to follow limitations set forth in the US Neutrality Acts after the government had confirmed the belligerent status of the parties. (This was why China and Japan never declared war on each other until Dec. 8th, 1941, Tokyo Time. If they had been in a declared war major military supplies would have stopped coming from the US.)
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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Jan 2016 17:43

Hi Lagami,

The answer is no.

From the first months of the war the Neutrality Act, although couched in even-handed, neutralist terms, effectively favoured the British, who controlled the sea.

There was no legal or moral reason why US companies shouldn't trade with Britain and Germany equally in 1939-41, but in practice only the former was accessible. Roosevelt knew this when the legislation was enacted and he warped it further when Britain was isolated in 1940-41. For example, while US-flagged merchant vessels couldn't legally enter the warzone to trade with either the UK or Germany, if reflagged as Panamanian they could.

Cheers,

Sid,

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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Chepicoro » 09 Jan 2016 18:16

No, the US never supported Nazi Germany, only US private companies

One example. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_t ... y_response

Also I read somewhere (I do not remember where) than some american and british citizens made business with the nazis through third neutral countries like Spain.

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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by trekker » 11 Jan 2016 09:29

I have heard positive answers to the title question but I haven't had time to research it myself. I would appreciate opinions about the following:

It has become a common practice of the USA to impose trade and financial sanctions on adversary states which are binding for the US companies. Couldn't the USA do that in 1939-41? The war was on and the nature of the nazi regime was known even if not in every detail.

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stg 44
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by stg 44 » 11 Jan 2016 13:22

trekker wrote:I have heard positive answers to the title question but I haven't had time to research it myself. I would appreciate opinions about the following:

It has become a common practice of the USA to impose trade and financial sanctions on adversary states which are binding for the US companies. Couldn't the USA do that in 1939-41? The war was on and the nature of the nazi regime was known even if not in every detail.
Theoretically they could have passed that legislation, but why when the economy was still fragile and you needed to make money.

trekker
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by trekker » 11 Jan 2016 14:13

stg 44 wrote:Theoretically they could have passed that legislation, but why when the economy was still fragile and you needed to make money.
Exactly. That's what I think without having gone deeper into the matter. Following their own interests the USA didn't want to act economically against Germany in that time. Their mutual trade was beneficial for both of the two countries. But when one re-phrases that fact into „the USA supported nazi Germany“ it creates an embarrassment … and denial.

Hoist40
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Hoist40 » 11 Jan 2016 16:29

How much trade could there have been with Britain blockading Germany?

The only way around it would be to send shipments to neutral countries like Spain or Sweden and then diverting it and that could only be a small percentage of what of US and neutral country's trade or it would be noticed. Especially since the US government was on the side of Britain and probably notified them of any shipments.

Does anyone have any records of this trade to Germany? The type and amount of material?

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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by paulrward » 12 Jan 2016 02:04

Hello All ;

Mr. Chepicoro stated ; " Also I read somewhere (I do not remember where) than some american and british citizens made business with the nazis through third neutral countries like Spain. "

As a point of historical fact, the United States allowed Franco's Fascist Spain to purchase oil from Royal Dutch Shell, which was shipped from Venezuala to Spain in U.S. flagged tankers via the southern convoy route. These tankers were never attacked by the U-Boats, and the oil was subsequently sold to Germany ( at a considerable mark-up ) and was trans-shipped from Spain to Germany via rail. It was then refined and used to fuel Bf109s, Tigers, and U-Boats, some of which doubtless killed Americans .

This was done in order to ' bribe ' Franco into staying out of the war on the side of the Axis, and, in return, at the end of the war, he was allowed to stay in power, the only Fascist Dictator to survive the war.

So, it could be said that the U.S. did business with Nazi Germany, but only as a matter of geo-political convenience.

Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
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Hoist40
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Hoist40 » 12 Jan 2016 03:10

Here is a link I found to a PDF paper on Spain and oil and WW2

http://www.nber.org/papers/w12228


Here is a short summery of the paper

http://www.nber.org/digest/oct06/w12228.html

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Jan 2016 11:47

Hi Paul,

There is no evidence that US/Venezuelan/Spanish oil was sold on to Germany.

Spain had no oil of its own and food rationing there in 1940 was more severe than in any of the belligerent powers.

It was the British who administered the Navicert system under which neutral Spanish ships traded.

They tightly controlled Spanish oil imports from Venezuela and grain from Argentina to levels well below those prevailing before the Spanish civil war in order to keep Spain on a tight leash.

The USA was a secondary player in this.

Furthermore, in order not to divert tonnage from Allied needs, from 1941 all oil had to be carried in Spanish tankers and these sometimes could not carry even the restricted ration allowed.

In fact Spanish tankers were sunk by both German and US submarines. However, in both cases these were errors and not deliberate.

Cheers,

Sid.

trekker
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by trekker » 12 Jan 2016 15:39

I was intrigued by the information on oil supplies and have found the following:

»The Standard Oil Trust was dissolved under court order in 1911 creating many smaller regional companies, including Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon), Standard Oil of New York (Mobil), Standard Oil of California (Chevron), Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio), Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco), Continental Oil (Conoco), and Atlantic Oil (ARCO). By 1941 Standard Oil of New Jersey was the largest oil company in the world, controlling 84 percent of the U.S. petroleum market. Its bank was Chase and its owners were the Rockefellers.
/.../
After the Rockefellers, the next largest stockholder in Standard Oil was I.G. Farben, the giant German chemical company. This investment was part of a pattern of reciprocal investments between the U.S. and Germany during the Nazi years. During the Great Depression, Germany was viewed as a hot area in which to invest.
/.../
The depth of I.G. Farben’s connection to Nazi policy was finally realized at Auschwitz /.../ I.G. Farben eventually built its own concentration camp, known as Monowitz
/.../
This was the company enthusiastically embraced by Standard Oil as well as other major American corporations like Du Pont and General Motors. I do not, however, state that Standard Oil collaborated with the Nazis simply because I.G. Farben was its second largest shareholder. In fact, without the explicit help of Standard Oil, the Nazi air force would never have gotten off the ground in the first place. The planes that made up the Luftwaffe needed tetraethyl lead gasoline in order to fly. At the time, only Standard Oil, Du Pont, and General Motors had the ability to produce this vital substance. In 1938, Walter C. Teagle, then president of Standard Oil, helped Hermann Schmitz of I.G. Farben to acquire 500 tons of tetraethyl lead from Ethyl, a British Standard subsidiary. A year later, Schmitz returned to London and obtained an additional 15 million dollars worth of tetraethyl lead which was to be turned into aviation gasoline back in Germany.

After the war began in Europe, the English became angry about U.S. shipments of strategic materials to Nazi Germany. Standard Oil immediately changed the registration of their entire fleet to Panamanian to avoid British search or seizure. These ships continued to carry oil to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where they refueled and siphoned oil to German tankers for shipment to Hamburg. This deception was exposed on March 31, 1941 when the U.S. State Department issued a detailed report on refueling stations in Mexico and Central and South America that were suspected of furnishing oil to Italian and German merchant vessels. «

Source:
The Thistle, Volume 13, Number 2: Dec., 2000/Jan., 2001.
http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/3/oil.html

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Ironmachine
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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Ironmachine » 12 Jan 2016 18:04

Mr. Ward remarks that Franco was the only Fascist Dictator to survive the war, and that this happened as a "reward" for staying out of the war. Well, one may ask in which way Franco's Spain was more "Fascist" than the Portuguese "Estado Novo", where Salazar was also allowed to stay in power after the war. Anyway, plenty of dictators survived the war, and more were created after it. Should they were more worried by Franco than by other dictators for any particular reason? And why, with the end of the war, did the Allies had any reason to left Franco in power just for having stayed out of the war? Mr. Ward's reasoning just does not make sense. And worse, it is of no use for determining whether Spain sold the oil received from "Venezuela-US" to Germany.
Let's take a look at Mr. Ward's arguments:
was shipped from Venezuala to Spain in U.S. flagged tankers
No, the oil was shipped to Spain in Spanish ships.
These tankers were never attacked by the U-Boats,

IIRC only one Spanish tanker was sunk in WWII, the Badalona in December 1941. It was sunk by a submarine of unknown nationality, so it could have been a German submarine (off the top of my head, another tanker was attacked by an unknown submarine, but was not sunk). However, even if that was not the case and the tankers really were never attacked by U-boats, there are more rational reasons: there were very few Spanish tankers, they were clearly marked as neutral ships (with big Spanish flags painted on the sides) and their routes were communicated to the belligerents' embassies, so there was little margin for error. Even if the oil was not going to be sold to Germany, there was no reason for a German submarine to attack a Spanish tanker.
and the oil was subsequently sold to Germany

So far no evidence has been provided. It would have been really strange for Spain to sell a commodity that was sorely lacking in Spain (to the point that some oil derivatives had to be purchased in Axis countries). On the other hand, the US established limits for oil exports to Spain and oil reserves in Spain and had rights of inspection in Spain proper (ports, unloading operations, reserve stocks). It would have been extremely difficult for that kind of operation to remain undetected.
(at a considerable mark-up)
Why? The trade balance was generally favorable to Spain. Under these conditions, there was no reason for Spain to sold a product of which she had great need and scarce supply.
was trans-shipped from Spain to Germany via rail
Considering the state of the Spanish railways, the volumen of other goods already being sent by rail, and the need to do an unload-load operation at the border, the quantities sent, if any, would have been minimal.
This was done in order to ' bribe ' Franco into staying out of the war on the side of the Axis,
Then it is quite surprising that the "First Embargo" was carried out when the perceived risk of Spain entering the war was higher...
and, in return, at the end of the war, he was allowed to stay in power,
So in fact they were rewarding Franco twice for not entering the war, first by supplying oil during the war and then by letting him in power after the war! But again, even if true, it in no way proves that Spain supplied Germany with oil during the war. In fact, quite the opposite, if Spain would have supplied Germany with oil during the war, even if they would have remained cautious for the duration of it, the Allies would have had another reason to expel Franco from power.

So no, it couldn't be said that the U.S. did business with Nazi Germany based on a supposed trans-shippment of US-provided oil from Spain to Germany. Fist, because AFAIK there is no evidence of such operation; certainly, you have provided none. Second, because even if that operation took place, as long as the US remained ignorant of it no claim of US-Nazy Germany business can be made; in other words, such an operation would have been a Spanish-Germany business unless you can prove that the US knew about it. Strictly speaking, you would have to prove that the operation took place, that the US knew about it, and that the US benefitted in some way (preferably in an economic sense) from that operation.

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Re: Did the US support Nazi-Germany?

Post by Hoist40 » 12 Jan 2016 18:05

tandard Oil immediately changed the registration of their entire fleet to Panamanian to avoid British search or seizure.
Being a neutral ship does not prevent a blockading navy from stopping, searching, confiscating, and even sinking if it can be shown that the shipment is for a warring power.
hese ships continued to carry oil to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where they refueled and siphoned oil to German tankers for shipment to Hamburg.
How did the German tankers avoid being caught by the British, they were fair game all the way from Canary Islands to Hamburg
acquire 500 tons of tetraethyl lead from Ethyl, a British Standard subsidiary. A year later, Schmitz returned to London and obtained an additional 15 million dollars worth of tetraethyl lead which was to be turned into aviation gasoline back in Germany.
So it was a British company supplying the tetraethl lead, do we need a new topic (Did the British Support Nazi Germany) along with all the other countries mentioned

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