Info about WWII American business links to Germany
February 6, 2014 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Are there any books or other resources about the links American businesses had with Germany leading up to and during WWII?

I was recently reading about U-Boats during WWII, and read a remarkable passage about the fact that American shipping underwriters were sharing risk information--including cargoes, destinations, and sailing dates--with underwriters in Zurich, who then shared it with underwriters in Germany. Even after this became known, it continued until it was made illegal in 1943!

I'm also aware that Coca-Cola and Ford (I think) had some problems because of their extensive investment and expansion in Germany in the years leading up to the war.

All in all, I'm finding myself fascinated by the picture of business being business during the war, which is of course in direct contrast to the popular image of business subordinating the profit motive to the patriotic war effort. I'd really like to learn more about the reality.
posted by Ickster to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Trading With the Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money-Plot 1933-1949 - Charles Higham;

The Coca Cola Company under the Nazis - Eleanor Jones
posted by edgeways at 8:38 AM on February 6, 2014

The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle by Bernhard Rieger touches on some of the links between Ford and the German manufacturing plant that would become Volkswagen. But it's really mostly about the Beetle. The Nazis LOVED Ford. Henry Ford, not Rob Ford.
posted by GuyZero at 8:48 AM on February 6, 2014

Ben Urwand's The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler is an absolutely fascinating look at how Hitler got MGM to allow Germany to demand changes to films and to invest in German munitions.
posted by Bromius at 8:52 AM on February 6, 2014

Thanks for the answers. I'll be checking some of these out soon.

Any chance anyone is aware of any resources that deal with the subject in general rather than with specific companies?
posted by Ickster at 9:14 AM on February 6, 2014

Ah. It looks like the first title edgeways listed fits the bill.
posted by Ickster at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2014

The New Yorker's David Denby wrote an extremely scathing review of Urwand's book, which I'd encourage you to read.

You might also be interested in this passage from the excellent book "The Disappearing Spoon" about the conflicts between Allied businesses and Germany in the trade for the important metals molybdenum and tungsten in World War I and World War II, respectively.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:50 PM on February 6, 2014

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