By S. Jonathan Wiesen
Within the aftermath of worldwide struggle II and the Holocaust, West German industrialists confronted a huge problem of their public picture. With mounting revelations concerning the use of compelled and slave exertions, the "Aryanization" of Jewish estate, and company profiteering less than nationwide Socialism, industrialists emerged from the conflict with their nationwide and overseas reputations in tatters. during this groundbreaking examine, Jonathan Wiesen explores how West German enterprise leaders remade and advertised their public photo among 1945 and 1955. He demanding situations assumptions that West Germans--and industrialists in particular--were silent in regards to the fresh earlier through the years of denazification and reconstruction. Drawing on resources that come with inner most correspondence, well known literature, and a wealth of unpublished fabrics from company files, Wiesen unearths how German enterprise leaders tried to absolve themselves of accountability for Nazi crimes whereas recasting themselves as socially and culturally engaged public figures. via case stories of person businesses corresponding to Siemens and Krupp, Wiesen depicts company exposure as a telling instance of postwar selective reminiscence. In his advent and end, Wiesen considers the hot institution of a multibillion greenback fund to supply monetary repayment to the sufferers of commercial exploitation in the course of global battle II. This acknowledgment through German of its ongoing accountability for its earlier crimes underscores the modern relevance of Wiesen's examine.
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Extra info for West German Industry and the Challenge of the Nazi Past, 1945-1955
In addition, German industry is being attacked for its use and treatment of foreign workers, Jews, prisoners of war, and concentration camp inmates. In Germany these claims are being repeated in part, with the additional one that the Siemens firm is a war-profiteer of the worst kind. We cannot let these claims remain unanswered. 63 With this direct appeal in the name of company loyalty, the manuscript appeared eager to launch straight into a discussion of industry and National Socialism. But instead it quickly shifted from the Nazi theme in favor of a discussion of the company’s indispensability to Germany’s reconstruction process.
54 More troubling for businessmen than the rounding up of individual directors was the dark shadow these arrests cast on their companies. Germany’s industrialists were being pursued not simply as individuals but as representatives of their businesses. The pursuit of individual company directors was accompanied not only by published details of the Nazis’ forced and slave labor program, but by a host of other claims, including willfully embracing Hitler’s rearmament aims, cooperating with the DAF (Deutsche Arbeitsfront) (German Labor Front), promoting the Nazi ideology in company newsletters, and financing the NSDAP before and after .
At its mid-July meeting the board decided that ‘‘for the benefit of the Allies’’ 61 it would prepare as quickly as possible a multipaged document disavowing any link to the ‘‘Hitler regime’’ and highlighting the contributions Siemens had made to Germany throughout its almost -year history. It would then attach to this glowing company profile two enclosures addressing the most incriminating issues relating to the Third Reich. S. owner from his directorial post. The second addendum was to deal with the most sensitive issue that had been the ostensible purpose of the July meeting: the ‘‘Jewish Question’’ and the company’s general position on forced and slave labor.