Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Concentration Camps issued orders that “The death rate in the concentration camps must be reduced at all costs” (Reitlinger, “The Final Solution”). The camps had been hit with a deadly typhus epidemic that spread by fleas and body lice. Stomach pain, high fever, emaciation and death can quickly follow. All […]
After 60 years of inattention and even denial by the U.S. media, 2003 FOIA-uncovered government documents in The National Archives and Library of Congress revealed that Prescott Bush, the grandfather of former President George W. Bush and father of President George HW Bush, served as a business partner of and U.S. banking operative for the financial architect of the Nazi war machine from 1926 until 1942, when Congress took aggressive action against Bush and his “enemy national” partners.
The documents also show that Bush and his colleagues, according to reports from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and FBI, tried to conceal their financial alliance with German industrialist Fritz Thyssen, a steel and coal baron who, beginning in the mid-1920s, personally funded Adolf Hitler’s rise to power by the subversion of democratic principle and German law.
Furthermore, the declassified records demonstrate that Bush and his associates, who included E. Roland Harriman, younger brother of American icon W. Averell Harriman, and George Herbert Walker, President Bush’s maternal great-grandfather, continued their dealings with the German industrial baron for nearly eight months after the U.S. entered the war.
For six decades these historical facts have gone unreported by the mainstream U.S. media. 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. This story has also escaped the attention of “official” Bush biographers, Presidential historians and publishers of U.S. history books covering World War II and its aftermath.
The White House did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
The Summer of ’42
The unraveling of the web of Bush-Harriman-Thyssen U.S. enterprises, all of which operated out of the same suite of offices at 39 Broadway under the supervision of Prescott Bush, began with a story that ran in the New York Herald-Tribune on July 30, 1942. By then, the U.S. had been at war with Germany for nearly eight months.
“Hitler’s Angel Has $3 Million in U.S. Bank,” declared the headline. The lead paragraph characterized Fritz Thyssen as “Adolf Hitler’s original patron a decade ago.” In fact, the steel and coal magnate had aggressively supported and funded Hitler since October 1923, according to Thyssen’s autobiography, I Paid Hitler. In that book, Thyssen also acknowledges his direct personal relationships with Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Rudolf Hess.
The Herald-Tribune also cited unnamed sources who suggested Thyssen’s U.S. “nest egg” in fact belonged to “Nazi bigwigs” including Goebbels, Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, or even Hitler himself.
Business is Business
The “bank,” founded in 1924 by W. Averell Harriman on behalf of Thyssen and his Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V. of Holland, was Union Banking Corporation (UBC) of New York City. According to government documents, it was in reality a clearing house for a number of Thyssen-controlled enterprises and assets, including as many as a dozen individual businesses. UBC also bought and shipped overseas gold, steel, coal, and U.S. Treasury and war bonds. The company’s activities were administered for Thyssen by a Netherlands-born, naturalized U.S. citizen named Cornelis Lievense, who served as president of UBC. Roland Harriman was chairman and Prescott Bush a managing director.
The Herald-Tribune article did not identify Bush or Harriman as executives of UBC, or Brown Brothers Harriman, in which they were partners, as UBC’s private banker. A confidential FBI memo from that period suggested, without naming the Bush and Harriman families, that politically prominent individuals were about to come under official U.S. government scrutiny as Hitler’s plunder of Europe continued unabated.
After the “Hitler’s Angel” article was published Bush and Harriman made no attempts to divest themselves of the controversial Thyssen financial alliance, nor did they challenge the newspaper report that UBC was, in fact, a de facto Nazi front organization in the U.S.
Instead, the government documents show, Bush and his partners increased their subterfuge to try to conceal the true nature and ownership of their various businesses, particularly after the U.S. entered the war. The documents also disclose that Cornelis Lievense, Thyssen’s personal appointee to oversee U.S. matters for his Rotterdam-based Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V., via UBC for nearly two decades, repeatedly denied to U.S. government investigators any knowledge of the ownership of the Netherlands bank or the role of Thyssen in it.
UBC’s original group of business associates included George Herbert Walker, who had a relationship with the Harriman family that began in 1919. In 1922, Walker and W. Averell Harriman traveled to Berlin to set up the German branch of their banking and investment operations, which were largely based on critical war resources such as steel and coal.
The Walker-Harriman-created German industrial alliance also included partnership with another German titan who supported Hitler’s rise, Friedrich Flick, who partnered with Thyssen in the German Steel Trust that forged the Nazi war machine. For his role in using slave labor and his own steel, coal and arms resources to build Hitler’s war effort, Flick was convicted at the Nuremberg trials and sentenced to seven years in prison.
The Family Business
In 1926, after Prescott Bush had married Walker’s daughter, Dorothy, Walker brought Bush in as a vice president of the private banking and investment firm of W.A. Harriman & Co., also located in New York. Bush became a partner in the firm that later became Brown Brothers Harriman and the largest private investment bank in the world. Eventually, Bush became a director of and stockholder in UBC.
However, the government documents note that Bush, Harriman, Lievense and the other UBC stockholders were in fact “nominees,” or phantom shareholders, for Thyssen and his Holland bank, meaning that they acted at the direct behest of their German client.
On October 20, 1942, under authority of the Trading with the Enemy Act, the U.S. Congress seized UBC and liquidated its assets after the war. The seizure is confirmed by Vesting Order No. 248 in the U.S. Office of the Alien Property Custodian and signed by U.S. Alien Property Custodian Leo T. Crowley.
In August, under the same authority, Congress had seized the first of the Bush-Harriman-managed Thyssen entities, Hamburg-American Line, under Vesting Order No. 126, also signed by Crowley. Eight days after the seizure of UBC, Congress invoked the Trading with the Enemy Act again to take control of two more Bush-Harriman-Thyssen businesses – Holland-American Trading Corp. (Vesting Order No. 261) and Seamless Steel Equipment Corp (Vesting Order No. 259). In November, Congress seized the Nazi interests in Silesian-American Corporation, which allegedly profited from slave labor at Auschwitz via a partnership with I.G. Farben, Hitler’s third major industrial patron and partner in the infrastructure of the Third Reich.
The documents from the Archives also show that the Bushes and Harrimans shipped valuable U.S. assets, including gold, coal, steel and U.S. Treasury and war bonds, to their foreign clients overseas as Hitler geared up for his 1939 invasion of Poland, the event that sparked World War II.
That’s One Way to Put It
Following the Congressional seizures of UBC and the other four Bush-Harriman-Thyssen enterprises, The New York Times reported on December 16, 1944, in a brief story on page 25, that UBC had “received authority to change its principal place of business to 120 Broadway.” The Times story did not report that UBC had been seized by the U.S. government or that the new address was the U.S. Office of the Alien Property Custodian. The story also neglected to mention that the other UBC-related businesses had also been seized by Congress.
Still No Story?
Since then, the information has not appeared in any U.S. news coverage of any Bush political campaign, nor has it been included in any of the major Bush family biographies. It was, however, covered extensively in George H.W. Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin. Chaitkin’s father served as an attorney in the 1940s for some of the victims of the Bush-Harriman-Thyssen businesses.
The book gave a detailed, accurate accounting of the Bush family’s long Nazi affiliation, but no mainstream U.S. media entity reported on or even investigated the allegations, despite careful documentation by the authors. Major booksellers declined to distribute the book, which was dismissed by Bush supporters as biased and untrue. Its authors struggled even to be reviewed in reputable newspapers. That the book was published by a Lyndon LaRouche’s organization undoubtedly made it easier to dismiss, but does not change the facts.
The essence of the story been posted for years on various Internet sites, including BuzzFlash.com and TakeBackTheMedia.com, but no online media seem to have independently confirmed it.
Likewise, the mainstream media have apparently made no attempt since World War II to either verify or disprove the allegations of Nazi collaboration against the Bush family. Instead, they have attempted to dismiss or discredit such Internet sites or “unauthorized” books without any journalistic inquiry or research into their veracity.
The National Review ran an essay on September 1 by their White House correspondent Byron York, entitled “Annals of Bush-Hating.” It begins mockingly: “Are you aware of the murderous history of George W. Bush – indeed, of the entire Bush family? Are you aware of the president’s Nazi sympathies? His crimes against humanity? And do you know, by the way, that George W. Bush is a certifiable moron?” York goes on to discredit the “Bush is a moron” IQ hoax, but fails to disprove the Nazi connection.
The more liberal Boston Globe ran a column September 29 by Reason magazine’s Cathy Young in which she referred to “Bush-o-phobes on the Internet” who “repeat preposterous claims about the Bush family’s alleged Nazi connections.”
Poles Tackle the Topic
Newsweek Polska, the magazine’s Polish edition, published a short piece on the “Bush Nazi past” in its March 5, 2003 edition. The item reported that “the Bush family reaped rewards from the forced-labor prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp,” according to a copyrighted English-language translation from Scoop Media (www.scoop.co.nz). The story also reported the seizure of the various Bush-Harriman-Thyssen businesses.
Still Not Interested
Major U.S. media outlets, including ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times and Miami Herald, have repeatedly declined to investigate the story when information regarding discovery of the documents was presented to them beginning Friday, August 29. Newsweek U.S. correspondent Michael Isikoff, famous for his reporting of big scoops during the Clinton-Lewinsky sexual affair of the 1990s, declined twice to accept an exclusive story based on the documents from the archives.
After the seizures of the various businesses they oversaw with Cornelis Lievense and his German partners, the U.S. government quietly settled with Bush, Harriman and others after the war. Bush and Harriman each received $1.5 million in cash as compensation for their seized business assets.
In 1952, Prescott Bush was elected to the U.S. Senate, with no press accounts about his well-concealed Nazi past. There is no record of any U.S. press coverage of the Bush-Nazi connection during any political campaigns conducted by George Herbert Walker Bush, Jeb Bush, or George W. Bush, with the exception of a brief mention in an unrelated story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune in November 2000 and a brief but inaccurate account in The Boston Globe in 2001.
John Buchanan is a journalist and investigative reporter with 33 years of experience in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Miami. His work has appeared in more than 50 newspapers, magazines and books. He can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Book of Frank: The Truth about the Anne Frank Diary and the New Religion was published in 1996 and is long out of print. This was the first publication I wrote and published myself, and it received criticism at the time for being “unfocused.” Considering that it encompassed the Anne Frank Diary, World […]
Just six months after the catastrophic Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. crushed the Imperial Japanese Navy off Midway Island (about 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu and roughly halfway between North America and Asia), sinking four of its aircraft carriers. An overwhelming armada of Japanese ships made their way across the Pacific to attack this tiny Atoll with the purpose of using the small island as a base for a possible invasion of The United States mainland. “Midway” became a barometer of military progress as the U.S. Navy had already destroyed almost half of Japan’s existing carrier strength (after achieving a standoff at the Battle of the Coral Sea a month earlier).
The odds at the June 1942 battle favored the Japanese as the United States Pacific fleet was still badly crippled as a result of Pearl Harbor and with only three carriers standing between the Japanese fleet boasting six carriers and hundreds of support ships, facing seemingly insurmountable odds, America forces soundly defeated the Japanese armada sending all six enemy carriers to the bottom of the Pacific and changing the course of the Pacific war from one of loss to continuous victory which would lead to the eventual surrender of Japanese forces on board the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.
The imperial fleet had four carriers to the Americans’ three, backed up by scores of battleships, cruisers and light carriers as part of the largest armada that had ever steamed from Japan. No military had ever won more territory in six months than had Japan. Its Pacific Empire ranged from the Indian Ocean to the coast of the Aleutian Islands, and from the Russian-Manchurian border to Wake Island in the Pacific. Yet the Japanese Navy was roundly defeated by an outnumbered and inexperienced American fleet at Midway. Why and how?
American intelligence officers — often eccentric and free to follow their intuitions — had cracked the Japanese naval codes, giving the Americans some idea of the Japanese plan of attack at Midway.
American commanders were far more open to improvising and risk-taking than their Japanese counterparts. In contrast, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto created an elaborate but rigid plan of attack that included an invasion of the Aleutian Islands as well as Midway.
But such impractical agendas dispersed the much larger Japanese fleet all over the central and northern Pacific, ensuring that the Japanese could never focus their overwhelming numerical advantages on the modest three-carrier American fleet.
The U.S. Navy was also far more resilient than its Japanese counterpart.
A month earlier at the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese suffered damage to one of their carriers and serious aircraft losses on another. The American carrier Lexington was sunk, and the Yorktown was severely damaged.
But whereas the Japanese took months repairing the bombed carrier Shokaku and replenishing the lost planes of the Zuikaku, the crippled Yorktown was made seaworthy again at Pearl Harbor just 72 hours after limping into port.
The result of such incredible adaptability was that at Midway the Americans had three carriers (rather than two), against four for the Japanese (instead of a possible six).
Midway was probably the best chance for Japan to destroy U.S. naval power in the Pacific before America’s enormous war industry created another new fleet entirely.
Just months after Midway, new American Essex-class carriers — the most lethal afloat — would be launched. Before the war ended, 17 of the planned 24 carriers would see action.
In contrast, Japan launched only four more fleet carriers to replace its growing losses. Japanese naval aircraft — the best in the world in 1941 — were becoming obsolete by mid-1942.
In contrast, in the months after Midway, tens of thousands of new and superior Hellcat fighters, Avenger torpedo bombers and Helldiver dive bombers rolled off American assembly lines in numbers unmatched by the Japanese.
During the Battle of Midway itself, Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo fatally hesitated in launching his air fleet. He was wedded to rigid doctrine about prepping his planes with the proper munitions.
In contrast, American Admirals Raymond Spruance and Frank Jack Fletcher gambled and sent most of the planes they had at the first inkling of the approaching Japanese fleet.
Japan could not equal American industrial strength, but American aviators and seamen could certainly match the Samurai courage of their Japanese counterparts.
At Midway, 37 of the 41 slow-flying and obsolete American Devastator torpedo bombers lumbered to their deaths, as they were easily picked off by Japanese air cover.
But such heroic sacrificial pawns drew off critical Japanese fighter protection from the fleet. In its absence, scores of high-flying Dauntless dive bombers descended unnoticed to blast the Japanese carriers with near impunity.
Americans took chances to win an incredible victory. The Japanese command chose to play it safe, trying not to lose advantages accrued over the prior six months.
Midway was not the beginning of the end for Japan. Just five months later off the island of Guadalcanal, only one American fleet carrier was left undamaged in the Pacific after a series of brutal sea battles. Instead, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the victory at Midway was the end of the American beginning.
Before Midway, the Americans had rarely won a Pacific battle; afterwards, they seldom lost. America’s culture of spontaneity, flexibility and improvisation helped win the battle; Japanese reliance on rote probably lost it.
Winston Churchill said of the Battle of Midway, “The annals of war at sea present no more intense, heart-shaking shock than this battle, in which the qualities of the United States Navy and Air Force and the American race shone forth in splendour. The bravery and self-devotion of the American airmen and sailors and the nerve and skill of their leaders was the foundation of all.”
The Battle of Midway, a battle that was won against odds that should have seen the defeat of the America Navy but because of the bravery of our forces, the savvy of Naval Intelligence that broke the secret code of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto and the ability of the Commanding Admirals of the America fleet to direct this amazing battle The United States reversed the direction of the Pacific war and began the march to ultimate victory.
On Wednesday, April 1, 1942, Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt issued “Instructions to all persons of Japanese ancestry” that they “will be evacuated from the above designated area [north San Francisco] by 12 o’clock noon Tuesday, April 7th … The Civil Control Station at 1701 Van Ness Avenue will provide temporary resi,dence elsewhere …[and] transport persons … to their new residence….” Some 120,000 persons were deported from California and sent to internment camps in Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas.
This was the expected result of President Roosevelt’s declaration of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, issued 10 weeks after Pearl Harbor, authorizing the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, to “prescribe” certain areas of the United States as military zones. This cleared the way for the inevitable deportation of these Americans of Japanese descent to those internment camps, called relocation centers, for the duration of the war.
This followed DeWitt’s Public Proclamation No. 1 that declared that “such persons or classes of person as the situation may require” be “excluded” from “Military Area No. 1” — a 100-mile swath of land from the Pacific Coast inland from Washington to Mexico. Having less than five days to prepare for evacuation still gave time for some shop owners to hang protest signs of “I Am An American!” in their front windows, and others to post letters of appreciation on their front doors to their customers. One letter, from T. Z. Shiota, an owner of an antique store on Grant Avenue for 43 years, said:
Dear San Franciscans and Friend Customers:
Time has come for us to say “au revoir” after faithfully created the world renown Chinatown by service with quality merchandise for 43 years.
To you, San Franciscans and friend customers, the members of the firm T. Z. Shiota wish to acknowledge each and every one of you for your past patronage and cooperation.
At this hour of evacuation when the innocents suffer with the bad, we bid you, dear friends of ours, with the words of beloved Shakespeare, “PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW.”
Till we meet again,
T. Z. Shiota
However, Fred Korematsu decided to defy DeWitt’s order and stayed past the deadline. He was arrested and sued the U.S. Government, claiming that Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional and violated his Fifth Amendment rights, specifically that “no person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” He was convicted in lower court, the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Supreme Court, upon appeal, upheld the lower courts in a 6-3 decision. Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion in which he stated:
Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and, finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this.
In short, the court ruled that the federal government in wartime had essentially unlimited power over its citizens, all in the interest of prosecuting the war successfully, regardless of the individual rights of those citizens. Justice Felix Frankfurter confirmed, noting that the war power granted by the Constitution to the Congress gave the executive “the power to wage war successfully” and the “validity of action [against Korematsu] must be judged wholly in the context of war.” He explained:
Being an exercise of the war power explicitly granted by the Constitution for safeguarding the national life by prosecuting war effectively, I find nothing in the Constitution which denies to Congress the power to enforce such a valid military order….
Justice Robert Jackson, one of the justices not appointed by Roosevelt, dissented strongly:
Korematsu was born on our soil, of parents born in Japan. The Constitution makes him a citizen of the United States by nativity and a citizen of California by residence. No claim is made that he is not loyal to this country. There is no suggestion that apart from the matter involved here he is not law abiding and well disposed. Korematsu, however, has been convicted of an act not commonly a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter created the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) to look into whether Roosevelt had overstepped his bounds and that the Supreme Court had ruled improperly in Korematsu. The commission’s report, Personal Justice Denied, issued in December 1982, concluded that “there is no excuse for inflicting injury on American citizens or resident aliens for acts for which they bear no responsibility.” Was the deportation justified as a precautionary measure? The commission said no, quoting Congress itself which said in 1948 that “there was recorded during the recent war not one act of sabotage or espionage attributable to those who were victims of the forced relocation.”
The commission concluded:
The promulgation of Executive Order 9066 was not justified by military necessity, and the decisions which followed from it … were not driven by analysis of military conditions. The broad historical causes which shaped these decisions were race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership….
A grave injustice was done to American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry who, without individual review or any probative evidence against them, were excluded, removed and detained by the United States during World War II.
Long after the fact, those who participated in it and supported it vociferously had second thoughts. Stimson, Roosevelt’s secretary of war, said “this forced evacuation was a personal injustice,” while Francis Biddle, Roosevelt’s attorney general, said later that “the program was ill-advised, unnecessary and unnecessarily cruel.” Earl Warren, serving at the time as California’s attorney general, also expressed regrets: “I have since deeply regretted the removal order and my own testimony advocating it, because it was not in keeping with our American concept of freedom and the rights of citizens.”
Every February 19 a Day of Remembrance is held in California which commemorates the Japanese American internment which flowed inevitably from the Executive Order 9066 issued on that date and implemented beginning on April 1, 1942. Without that remembrance, as George Santayana wrote, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”