The role that corporate America (the likes of IBM, General Motors, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Motor Company and the Carnegie Institute of Science) played on Hitler’s Holocaust cut across corporate, academic and financial relations. This was evident in the 1920s and 1930s leading up to the Second World War.
The relations were also seen during the war. However, a question still lingers on whether the German genocidal desires would have taken place without this “help” from corporate America. Black states that “the holocaust would always have occurred with or without assistance from America, however, the assistance the Hitler regime did receive, enormously magnified the astronomical dimensions and statistics of that genocide” (45).
Black outlines the role of Carnegie Institute of Science, and Eugenics, in the plot to create a master race. According to Black, “Hitler’s war against humanity was always wrapped in pseudo-academics, falsely medicalized, coated with fallacious race science and twisted intellectualism” (39).
Hitler’s desire to create a race that represented him and his interests according to Black was “postulated that heredity not only transmitted physical features, such as hair color and height, but mental, emotional and creative qualities as well” (15, 459). Eugenics refers to “the study of all agencies under social control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations” (18).
The holocaust was carried out by Hitler and his cohorts. He victimized a whole continent and turned Germans against a whole race and finally exterminated millions of Jews in his pursuit in creation of a master race. But this cannot be said to have started with him. The notion of a “white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn’t originate with Hitler.
The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. Californian eugenicists, played an important, although little known role in the American eugenics movement’s campaign for ethnic cleansing” (27).
These corporate firms knowingly committed themselves to supporting Hitler’s barbaric action in Europe. From Ford’s, Jew hatred and political racism-Hitler was especially, personal had a high regard for the anti-Semitism of Henry Ford-; to the Carnegie’s involvement in creation of a Master Race; the relationship between Rockefeller and Joseph Mengele; and GM’s Motorization of the Reich.
“Ironically, most of these corporations have admitted their crimes and apologized. This includes Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller and even General Motors. Only IBM has remained silent a decade after the revelations of its genocidal conduct first became known” (Black 180).
“IBM Germany, known in those days as Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft, or Dehomag, did not simply sell the Reich machines and then walk away. IBM’s German subsidiary in full knowledge of its New York headquarters, enthusiastically custom-designed complex devices and specialized applications as an official corporate undertaking for the Reich.
Dehomag’s top management was comprised of openly rabid Nazis who were arrested after the war for their Party affiliation. IBM NY always understood-from the outset in 1933- that it was courting and doing business with the upper echelon of the Nazi Party. The company leveraged its Nazi Party connections to continuously enhance its business relationship with Hitler’s Reich, in Germany and throughout Nazi-dominated Europe” (Black 59).
Corporate America was mainly driven by realizing profits for their organizations. Black stated that “each of these corporations had a direct involvement in the actual genocide perpetrated by Hitler against the Jews” (423).
COINTELPRO or better known as Counter Intelligence Program was widely used by the FBI-Federal Bureau of Investigation- especially during the 1960s and 1970s. It is characterized by a series of covert and in most cases illegal ventures being carried out by the United States of America’s FBI in opposition to domestic groups.
These ventures were aimed at providing surveillance, infiltration, discrediting, and disruption of domestic political organizations (Friedman 237). Among the strategies the FBI used by utilizing COINTELPRO were, discrediting of targets through psychological warfare; smearing reputations through forged letters; harassment and aggravation; use of extralegal violence and assassinations; planting false reports in the media; and unlawful imprisonment/detention (Zinn and Arnove, 507).
These covert operations mainly took place between the period after the Second World War and the beginning of the cold war. They became widespread between 1956 and 1971 even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation has made use of clandestine operations to counter domestic political groupings since it was set up (Friedman 271).
Friedman stated that the main purpose of COINTELPRO was to “neutralize political dissidents, and that the formal COINTELPRO’s rationales of 1956-1971 were broadly targeted against radical political organizations; for instance, in the early 50s, the Communist Party was declared illegal in the United States” (236). COINTELPRO was mainly driven by the urge to “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order” (Zinn and Arnove, 507).
During the period between 1960 and 1970, the role of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program was involved in neutralizing individual leaders such as; Black Liberators such as; Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, H. “Rap” Brown, Elijah Muhammad, Maxwell Stanford, Dick Gregory, Huey Newton, David Hilliard; and Key Activists such as, Tom Hayden, David Dellinger, Jane Fonda, John Lennon, Jean Seberg, David Herreshoff, David Simpson among others (Zinn and Arnove, 507).
The techniques were adopted wholesale from wartime counterintelligence, and ranged from the trivial (mailing reprints of Reader’s Digest articles to college administrators) to the degrading (sending anonymous poison-pen letters intended to break up marriages) and the dangerous (encouraging gang warfare and falsely labeling members of a violent group as police informers).
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a target of the bureau all through his life from December 1963 until his death in 1968 due to his alleged subversive activities (Friedman 157). The bureau stage an intense campaign to investigate and “neutralize” Martin Luther King, Jr. as an effective civil rights leader (Zinn and Arnove, 507). There were also deep feelings among the bureau that he had communist leanings or influences.
The targeting of Martin Luther King Jr. and john Lennon came on the backdrop of effects of the just concluded Second World War. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover directed that any groups, or individuals that were considered “subversive,” “including communist and socialist organizations; organizations and individuals associated with the civil rights movement” were to be stooped and reports indicate that more than 85% of COINTELPRO resources were used for this (Friedman 157).
Friedman states that those specifically targeted were Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and any persons associated with civil rights movements within the United States; the Congress of Racial Equality and other civil rights organizations and black nationalist groups, to name but a few.
The targeting on Martin Luther King Jr. and john Lennon was meant to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” them especially due to their being vocal on issues to do with civil rights and against the war in Vietnam for the later (Zinn and Arnove, 507).
The FBI tried to justify the use of COINTELPRO and covert/illegal missions as protecting national security by preventing violence. Friedman states that the only explanation that offers insight into COINTELPRO’s main purpose is that “the Bureau has a role in maintaining the existing social order, and that its efforts should be aimed toward combating those who threaten that order”, this somehow sheds light on the use of actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation “which had no conceivable rational relationship to either national security or violent activity” (275)
Noam Chomsky in his book, media control: the spectacular achievements of propaganda, looks into the possibility of being able to live in a free society or whether individuals are satisfied with living in what amounts to a self imposed totalitarianism.
Democracies the world over have utilized propaganda to create a general feeling that serves the interests of a few. As a result of “media control”, people have long lived devoid of awareness of how media has been diverting the bewildered herd. The question therefore is what extent does media control exist today and why does it? (Jowett, O’Donnell and Jowett 64).
To understand the extent to which media control exists in today’s present world one has to first grasp the relationship between the role of the media in contemporary politics. Chomsky extensively explains this by stating that the question on having a free society or not is wholly dependent on the type of democracy one wants to be (Chomsky, 7).
There are two conception types of democracies according to Chomsky. One states that democratic societies are places where the public has a right of participation in administration of their own personal affairs and that information is free and open to each individual (Jowett, O’Donnell and Jowett, 256).
On the other hand, the second alternative notion of what democracy is, states that the public have got to be excluded from administering their own affairs, and that information should be narrowly and firmly controlled. This is where media control comes into play. The later conception though it may seem odd but is the most prevalent in today’s society (Chomsky, 8).
Propaganda has been widely used and is still in use today as a tool of media control. From the First World War to the conflicts affecting the world today, there are strong inclinations of the use of propaganda. The Nazis used propaganda, America’s election of president Woodrow Wilson in 1916 on a platform of “Peace without Victory” in the middle of World War 1 necessitated the use of propaganda to win the war (Jowett, O’Donnell and Jowett, 44).
Chomsky states that “each divergence in opinion is at any rate fought on two grounds: on the battleground and in people’s minds and aided by propaganda” (26). It’s always a question of who is misleading the public, but both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are guilty of controlling the masses actions and thinking by use of distortion of information, exaggerations, subjectivity, inaccuracies, fabrications and misleading in order to serve their interests and gain legitimacy (Jowett, O’Donnell and Jowett, 15).
Media control/propaganda use was also evident when Germany was preparing for the Second World War. There were various forms of this and it was necessitated by two primary reasons (Nazi agendas): 1) to be able to persuade the public to join in the war and fight; and 2) that it was necessary to go to war.
Woodrow Wilson’s administration committed itself to going to war and had to convince the public of why they had to engage Germany in war. “The Creel Commission (a propaganda commission) established to undertake convincing of the public, managed within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war and save the world” (Chomsky, 8).
Jowett, O’Donnell and Jowett state that this was a major achievement for the commission and the government and was also utilized during the red scare. The hysterics whipped up during this time “succeeded pretty much in destroying unions and eliminating such dangerous problems as freedom of the press and freedom of political thought” (44).
Promoting or fabrication of information with an intention of misleading mainly by providing a negative aspect/image of what one deems as his “enemy” is usually reinforced by a “rhetoric about the righteousness of those promoting propaganda” (Chomsky, 32). Media control in most cases tries to make the public be afraid of the government but in real sense it is the government that should be afraid of the public.
Chomsky touches on how the modern public relations industry has been influenced by Walter Lippmann’s theory of “spectator democracy,” in which the public is seen as a “bewildered herd” that needs to be directed, not empowered; and how the public relations industry in the United States focuses on “controlling the public mind,” and not on informing it.
Media controls are usually an attempt to gather together support for government and nurture belief in people that the actions intended by the government are necessary and positive and will be beneficial to the interest of everyone (Jowett, O’Donnell and Jowett, 44). Chomsky states that over and over again, the main ideologies put into use to demonize perceived “enemies”, are not used to “judge the self, leading to accusations of double standards and hypocrisy” (47).
Black, Edwin. IBM and the Holocaust: the strategic alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s most powerful corporation. Crown Publishers: New York, 2001. Print.
Black, Edwin. Nazi nexus: America’s corporate connections to Hitler’s Holocaust. Dialog Press: Hesse, Germany, 2009. Print.
Black, Edwin. War against the weak: eugenics and America’s campaign to create a master race. Four Walls Eight Windows: Arundel, 2003. Print.
Friedman, John. The secret histories: hidden truths that challenged the past and changed the world. Picador: Iowa City, 2005. Print.
Jowett, Garth, O’Donnell, Victoria and Jowett Garth. Propaganda and persuasion. Sage: New York, 2006. Print.
Zinn, Howard and Arnove Anthony. Voices of a people’s history of the United States. Seven Stories Press: New York, 2004. Print.