The Ascent of American Fascism

As historians may recall when they mull our descent into tyranny, the roots of our constitutional crisis are directly traceable to the days of Adolph Hitler when a powerful American elite financed a political vision far different from the one we learned in school. That elite included such names as George Herbert Walker (G.W. Bush’s great grandfather) and son-in-law, Prescott S. Bush (Bush’s grandfather). It included such Nazi collaborators as W. Averill Harriman, the presidential adviser who paved our way into Vietnam, and John Foster Dulles, the former Secretary of State who ratcheted the Cold War after sneaking his Nazi loot out of Berlin. It included Allen Dulles who, with his brother, backed the Nazi Party for a pledge that Hitler would break the unions. And when the war was over, and our servicemen returned to forget the horrors they’d witnessed overseas, many of these same players became instrumental in driving their Nazi vision into the American political mainstream, using fear and the fortunes they’d amassed to waylay our populist traditions.

None of this is new. It’s well documented, almost hackneyed, and could well have been accessed at any time by those curious enough to delve into the backgrounds of our government and its officials. Nevertheless, in light of our waning constitutional grip (and at the risk of flogging a dead horse) we think it timely to review the Bush family’s complicity in international fascism, if only to reconcile our collective niaveté.

So, here goes.

Prescott Bush

In 1918, following the U.S. entry into World War I, Samuel Prescott Bush (W’s grandfather) was given a sinecure on the U.S. War Industries Board as Director of the Facilities Division under Bernard Baruch (adviser to Woodrow Wilson) and Clarence Dillon, a Wall Street private banker. Bush’s principal mission was to direct arms sales to Remington Arms, owned by Percy Rockefeller (John D Rockefeller’s brother) and run by Rockefeller’s man, Samuel Pryor. The following year, George Herbert Walker (W’s great-grandfather), a mid-west power broker renowned for his international contacts, formed a private bank with Averill and “Bunny” Harriman, and Percy Rockefeller. That bank was called W.A. Harriman & Co.

Meanwhile, a young Prescott Bush was back from the war and going nowhere―that is, until he met Bert Walker’s daughter. Their union skyrocketed Prescott from a minor executive at a railroad equipment supply house to vice president of W.A. Harriman & Co., the largest private bank in the world.

Small wonder the Bushes embrace the sanctity of marriage.

In 1920, Walker and Harriman gained control of the German shipping line Hamburg-Amerika whose assets had been confiscated by the U.S. after WW I. The deal was made through a William Cuno, who later contributed heavily to the Nazi Party, and Max Warburg of the line’s banking firm, M.M.Warburg. Also involved (not surprisingly) was Rockefeller’s representative, Samuel Pryor. The shipping line was deceptively renamed the American Ship & Commerce Corp. and Pryor was placed on its board of directors. Harriman and Walker now controlled half of the largest shipping line in the world and dominated the other half through the auspices of the Anglo-American occupation of Germany.

Now to foment hostilities.

Fritz Thyssen

In 1922, Germany was looking like a pretty good investment. Harriman established a branch of the W.A. Harriman Bank in Berlin under Walker’s presidency. It was then that he met the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, a multibillionaire whose sprawling steel empire would soon fuel the Third Reich. Thyssen’s father had taken a large hit with the Versailles Treaty and was determined to avoid a similar debacle. He set up network of seemingly unconnected banks for his children. The first was the August Thyssen Bank in Berlin. The second was the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart, N.V. in Rotterdam. One son ran the bank in Holland, changing his name to Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and feigning hatred for Hitler. The other son, Fritz, ran the bank in Berlin, joined the Nazi Party and avidly sang the praises of Mein Fuhrer. Now Fritz needed a third bank in the U.S. to ensure that whatever outcome his shenanigans produced the family empire would remain intact.

Enter Harriman.

Averill Harriman

According to government records, Harriman agreed to set up a bank for Thyssen in New York that would link Thyssen’s bank in Holland and provide clandestine funds for Hitler’s insurgency (and ultimately, profits for all). That bank, the Union Banking Corp, was established in 1924 with George Herbert Walker (Bush’s granddaddy) at the helm. Webster Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin in their book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, describe the bank as Hitler’s “de facto bank in New York.” And it was. Funds started pouring back and forth immediately between New York and Rotterdam and into the ready coffers of Hitler’s growing militia. But what isn’t mentioned is the fact that the bank was completely owned by Fritz Thyssen. The importance of this fact cannot be overstated. It means that Bush, Harriman and the entire crew at Union Bank were employees of Thyssen. In other words, they were giving aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war, a clear-cut act of treason. This deduction is corroborated by a passage from a family history penned by Fritz Thyssen’s nephew, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, in 1979:

“…at the beginning of World War II the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart had become the holding of my father’s companies – a Dutch firm whose only shareholder was a Hungarian citizen. Prior to 1929, it held the shares of .the August Thyssen Bank, and also American subsidiaries and the Union Banking Corporation, New York. The shares of all the affiliates were [in 1945] with the August Thyssen Bank in the East Sector of Berlin, from where I was able to have them transferred into the West at the last moment”

This clearly states that from 1924 to 1929, Thyssen’s bank in Holland was far from a neutral Dutch institution. It was the holding company for Thyssen’s entire financial empire, the spigot through which Hitler’s military machine was funded. It flatly rebukes government records that cast Bush and Walker as unrestrained, almost unwitting, capitalists rather than out and out traitors.

Fritz Thyssen was no run-of-the-mill industrialist. He was the single most important financier for Adolph Hitler as confessed in his book, I Paid Hitler. Without Thyssen’s massive financial backing, which he provided from 1923 on, Hitler would never have come to power. And without Hitler, there would never have been a Second World War.

Not good for the arms business.

Friedrick Flick

By 1926, business at W.A. Harriman was so good, Walker made his son-in-law, Prescott Bush, vice president. That same year Bush, Harriman and Dillon established the German Steel Trust (GST) with Thyssen and his partner, Friederich Flick. The GST later provided the Third Reich with much of the explosives, steel plate, wire, pig iron, pipes, tubing and other materials they needed to construct projects like the Atlantic Wall and the 155mm cannons that rained death on our servicemen as they hit the beaches at Normandy. The GST was directly linked to George Bush’s grandfather’s bank in New York and was presided over by Albert Voegler, another German industrialist who paved the way for Hitler’s ascent. Voegler, incidentally, held a directorship on the Hamburg-Amerika Line. Allen Dulles was also on his way up in 1926. That was the year he joined Sullivan and Cromwell, the world’s largest law firm, and became the lawyer for Thyssen’s Rotterdam bank.

Funny how it all links together.

Through Thyssen, Bush, Walker and Harriman were in direct partnership with Flick’s zinc, steel, and coal conglomerate in Germany and Poland. Together they owned one third of Flick’s sprawling empire and renamed it the Consolidated Silesian Holding Co. Between 1930 and 1931, as admitted at Nuremburg, Thyssen arranged with Rudolph Hess for the transfer of 250,000 to 300,000 Deutsche Marks to the Nazi Party through his bank in Holland. During that same period, W.A. Harriman merged with the Anglo-American investment house, Brown Brothers, to create Brown Brothers Harriman. Prescott and two Harriman brothers were made senior partners along with Thatcher Brown and Montagu Norman, the notorious Nazi sympathizer. Brown ran the London office while Prescott ran the New York office. Montagu Norman, who often stayed with Prescott when he came to New York, was not only an ex-Brown partner; his grandfather led the firm during the American Civil War at a time when they were shipping three quarters of the slave cotton to British mills!

Clearly the group had a lot in common.

By 1932, Hitler’s SA and SS troops numbered nearly 400,000 and questions began to surface as to how this madman could have obtained his financing. Yet even as the German government battled Hitler’s brown shirts in the streets, the Hamburg-Amerika Line was funneling propaganda to thwart their efforts, acting as a front for I.G. Farben spies, propaganda and bribery on behalf of the Nazis. When this potentially embarrassing link surfaced in a congressional investigation in 1934, Bush hired Allen Dulles to obscure the trail.

Montagu Norman

In 1933, the concerted efforts of the Nazi financiers paid off and Hitler came to power. That year, Prescott Bush sent Max Warburg to represent the American Ship & Commerce Line on the Hamburg-Amerika’s board of directors. Prescott and Max were old buddies and Warburg was a close friend of Montagu Norman. He was also an executive at Hitler’s Reichsbank. His brothers had run the Kuhn Loeb investment bank that brokered Harriman’s buyout of the bankrupt Union Pacific Railroad back in 1890 when Sam Bush was still head of the Buckeye Steel Casings Co. Warburg was also a close adviser to Hitler’s Economics Minister, Hjalmar Schacht. Schacht and John Foster Dulles (the man for whom Dulles Airport was named), worked closely to arrange an agreement whereby all trade between the United States and Hitler’s Germany would be funneled through the Harriman International Co. under Oliver Harriman.

It’s nice work if you can get it.

Allen and John Dulles’ ties to Nazi Germany are almost too numerous to list. As legal counsel to the U.S. delegation to the Versaille Peace Conference, Allen Dulles argued vehemently against reparations against Germany. He fought for a loophole to allow the powerful DuPonts to continue selling arms to Germany after the Armistice. He was a vocal supporter of Adolph Hitler until 1934 when he was basically told to tone it down. He acted for I.G. Farben, the company that performed ghastly medical experiments on concentration camp victims and developed Tabun, the nerve gas used by the Nazis. He assisted SKF, a company that supplied 60% of the bearings used by the Third Reich. He and brother John acted for the Shroeder Bank in bankrolling Hitler before he assumed power on condition he break the trade unions. He was the OSS Inteligence Chief in Berlin in 1945, the first civilian director of the CIA in 1953 and a member of LBJ’s whitewashing Warren Commission. From 1937 onward the Dulles brothers served Bush, Harriman and Rockefeller in all their business dealings with the Third Reich. He sat on the boards of both Standard Oil (Rockefeller) and I.G. Farben. He set up the notorious BND, Germany’s intelligence-gathering apparatus after the war, with spymaster Reinhardt Gehlen, Hitler’s intelligence chief on the Eastern Front. He recruited Nazi butchers like Gehlen for what soon would become the CIA. It’s widely suspected he played a role in JFK’s assassination or at least had inside knowledge of the conspiracy.

If the Nazification of America could be laid at a single man’s feet, that man would be Allen Dulles.

Of course, Prescott Bush would be a close second. In 1933, Herr Bush, in an act of treason rivaled only by his offspring, approached a Marine Corps general, Major General Smedley Butler, to lead a 500,000-man army of rogue veterans in a military coup against President Roosevelt on behalf of a wealthy group of industrialists and bankers. The group, operating under the sardonic moniker, American Liberty League, included such household names as Heinz, Colgate and General Motors. Their plan was to seize the White House by force and impose a fascist state in America. And by all appearances, Butler was their man. He was revered across America. He was a two-time Medal of Honor recipient. He earned a reputation for protecting business interests overseas by quelling nationalist rebellions, instituting regime changes and leading invasions. By all appearances, he was Their Man. But it turned out Major General Butler was also patriotic. He gathered as much information as he could about the cabalists and promptly reported the ringleaders to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. What Butler didn’t realize, of course, was that the House Un-American Activities Committee was only interested in left-leaning patsies. To his amazement, the committee refused to even question any of the people he implicated and went so far as to strike his testimony completely from the record. Today he’s remembered mostly for his book, War Is A Racket.

Three years later U.S. Ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, wrote a chilling letter to President Roosevelt:

“A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent [on bringing] a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime…. A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare. We should be aware of the symptoms. When industrialists ignore laws designed for social and economic progress they will seek recourse to a fascist state when the institutions of our government compel them to comply with the provisions.”

That letter could have easily been penned today.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Trading With The Enemy Act was enacted and Hapag-Lloyd’s property was confiscated by the U.S. government. Stock shares of Union Banking Corp were also seized and the list of shareholders read like a Who’s Who of Nazi financiers:

  • Prescott S. Bush, (director and largest shareholder)
  • “Bunny” Harriman
  • Cornelis Lievense (president; responsible for all NY banking finances for the Nazis)
  • H.J. Kouwenhoven (director; helped establish UBC as a conduit to Fritz Thyssen; managed the Holland office during the Nazi occupation in 1940; served as the director of the German Steel Trust)
  • and two other associates of Bush

Other UBC companies were also seized, including the Seamless Steel Equipment Co., long managed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law Bert Walker, Nazi interests in the Silesian-American Corp and the Holland-American Trading Corp.

The importance of the Holland-American Trading Corp was only recently appreciated, nearly fifty years after the Bush family reclaimed Union Bank from the U.S. Alien Property Custodian (who coincidentally was on the payroll of J Schroeder Bank whose board members included Allen and John Foster Dulles). Its importance was linked by an former U.S. Intelligence officer, William Gowen, who noticed a paragraph from  Thyssen’s investigation files recorded by Paul Manning, an Edward R. Murrow associate.

“Thyssen’s first step in a long dance of tax and currency frauds began [in the late 1930’s] when he disposed of his shares in the Dutch Hollandische-Amerikanische Investment Corporation to be credited to the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart, N.V., Rotterdam, the bank founded in 1916 by August Thyssen Senior.”

That passage clearly demonstrated that the bank in Holland was founded by Thyssen Sr. (and therefore not neutral) and that the shares of the Holland-America Trading Corp, dumped by Thyssen as part of a money laundering scheme, ended up in the hands of Union Bank and ultimately in the Bush family.

Yet with all the evidence piled against Bush, Roosevelt still pardoned him. Unlike the millions he condemned to death in Europe, Prescott Bush and his Nazi financiers escaped with their lives and fortunes. Yet American voters have elected his children three times.

The fact is, the Bush family has consistently demonstrated contempt for human liberty whenever that liberty comes at the cost of a profit, their sense of entitlement or the financial interests of their wealthy friends.

And liberty, by its very nature, always comes at a cost to the wealthy.