So How Evil Were They?
January 8, 2008 11:29 AM   Subscribe

"Third Reich to Fortune 500: Five Popular Brands the Nazis Gave Us." There are pictures and videos of kittens to soften the blow.
posted by beaucoupkevin (57 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
The blow is not soften, as those kittens are members of the Schutzstaffel.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:31 AM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, a few years ago, in an act of insensitive fuckery so colossal it could blot out the sun, Siemens tried to trademark the name "Zyklon" with the intent of marketing a series of products under the name. Including gas ovens.

Is there even an amount of sarcastic approval that would signal how mindblowingly non-awesome that is?
posted by DU at 11:36 AM on January 8, 2008


Also: A kitten would be a soft blow indeed. Except for the teeth. And tongue. Now that I think about it, forget the whole thing.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2008


In this space 25 years from now: Haliburton, Blackwater...
posted by DreamerFi at 11:39 AM on January 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


those kittens are members of the Schutzstaffel.

Rudolf Hiss?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:40 AM on January 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


Nazis playing with kittens.
posted by item at 11:46 AM on January 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


I read this the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see Cracked doing some actual research & reporting. Good, albeit scary article.

The Siemens stuff was hard to believe until reading up on it elsewhere, but I don't know what I expected from a company whose name is synonymous with male ejaculate.
posted by revmitcz at 11:46 AM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, a few years ago, in an act of insensitive fuckery so colossal it could blot out the sun, Siemens tried to trademark the name "Zyklon" with the intent of marketing a series of products under the name. Including gas ovens.

WHAT THE--

The word Zyklon means "Cyclone" in German

Oh.

That makes a little bit more sense then.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:48 AM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was actually funny. Kudos, Cracked.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2008


Hoover has an unfortunately named V2 vacuum. I'm afraid to buy one; the instructions might talk about its second-generation zyklon-b bagless technology.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:50 AM on January 8, 2008


So Seimens and Bayer. Nope, not buying anything from them again.

First off, Aspirin was invented by a Jewish man, Arthur Eichengrun, whose name Bayer still refuses to acknowledge. To this day, the "official" history of the company denies Eichengrun's involvement in the invention of aspirin, and states that an Aryan invented the drug, because as we all know, Aryans are better at everything.
posted by shmegegge at 11:55 AM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Come to think of it, when I'd go to the state fair as a kid, I'd ride something called the Zyklon. All I really knew about it for a long time is that's how Germans say "cyclone."
posted by pax digita at 11:55 AM on January 8, 2008


You know who else was in cahoots with the Nazis?
posted by sour cream at 12:06 PM on January 8, 2008


Hitler cat silently disapproves from teh corner... for now.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:06 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


So Seimens and Bayer. Nope, not buying anything from them again.

Is anyone who was involved with any of those companies still with them today? Because it seems to me that refusing to buy anything from these companies now would make just as much sense as refusing to ever visit Germany for the same reason.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:14 PM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Great article, but to soften what blow? Some of us around here hate capitalists already.
posted by history is a weapon at 12:16 PM on January 8, 2008


Germany has acknowledged what they've done. Bayer insists that aspirin wasn't invented by a Jew.
posted by shmegegge at 12:16 PM on January 8, 2008


Create subject, pity it's a crappy Cracked article.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on January 8, 2008


Also, Coca-Cola's Fanta was invented by a German Coke bottler when the Allies embargoed, among other things, Coca-Cola syrup. The original Fanta was made of pressed apple fibers and whey. Yum!
posted by infinitewindow at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2008


shmeggege: Germany has acknowledged what they've done. Bayer insists that aspirin wasn't invented by a Jew.

And because it's written on the Internets, it must be true.
According to this, the issue is a lot murkier, though.

This is getting trite, but you know who else blindly followed unsubstantiated propaganda?
posted by sour cream at 12:28 PM on January 8, 2008


I'm surprised that they didn't mention that Henry Ford was Hitler's idol and his portrait was the only non-German one to hang in Hitler's office (they didn't, did they?). So Ford was pretty involved too. As was Mercedes. And GE. And others. I've heard pretty strong evidence that Prescott Bush & George Herbert Walker did some business too, I guess. Unfortunately, the glow of business opportunity and potential money is hard for business people to resist sometimes... greed blinds.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


item: that kitten looks like he's going to bite the middle guy's finger off.
posted by desjardins at 12:32 PM on January 8, 2008


CitrusFreak12: Is anyone who was involved with any of those companies still with them today? Because it seems to me that refusing to buy anything from these companies now would make just as much sense as refusing to ever visit Germany for the same reason.

Well, maybe it makes a little more sense than that.

Consider that under law, corporations are persons. Immortal persons. Psychopathic persons. They never really change what they're about -- namely, the acquisition of wealth. Morality, where they have a consciousness of it, tends to be just another minor means to that end.

Nations are something different. Corporations are like permanently codified fascist states. Nations have the capacity to change from fascist to a less psychopathic form. I'd like to think Germany has done that. I'm getting the idea that Siemens and IBM and Bayer have not.

Which is not to say they're EEEVil. I'm just saying that it's not quite as crazy as it seems to boycott a company because of something they did 60 years ago. (Or didn't do.) OTOH, you could make the argument that we ought to just boycott all of them since corporations clearly do not have our interests at heart...
posted by lodurr at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2008


And because it's written on the Internets, it must be true.
According to this, the issue is a lot murkier, though.


Actually, according to that there's no question that Eichengrun was involved, and Bayer still insist on crediting the goyim alone. But since you really really want to pursue this to the point of being juvenile about it, let me say that I choose to make some of my purchasing decisions on whether or not the company exists based on profits made from directly contributing to genocide and you're perfectly free not to. You are, furthermore, perfectly free to think I'm an idiot for basing my purchasing decisions on such, or to think I'm an idiot for paying attention to a cracked article. I really don't care.
posted by shmegegge at 12:50 PM on January 8, 2008


wow, the IBM thing is scary...
posted by shabadew at 12:53 PM on January 8, 2008


The part about Bayer and Zyklon B is plain wrong. The company that developed and sold it during WWII was Degussa, the product being manufactured by another company that Degussa controlled with IG Farben. The modern Degussa even commissioned a historian to sort out the facts about their own history. In fact, it looks that Cracked misinterpreted the Wikipedia article about Bayer, which is a little too vague: the WP article is not wrong, but forgets to mention Degussa and a fast reader may think that Bayer was the manufacturer.
posted by elgilito at 12:53 PM on January 8, 2008


One of the brothers who made the gas ovens for Auschwitz carried on the family business in West Germany after the war. Yes, really.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:55 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


A previous post on the IBM thing, from when the book first came out in 2001.
posted by smackfu at 12:59 PM on January 8, 2008


They were SO evil that they, uh .... damn, writers strike.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2008


US gun manufacturers supplied a lot of Nazi pistols at least, I'm not sure about their bigger arms. For instance, I've seen someone's Nazi-issue Browning, complete with stamped swastika on it.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:25 PM on January 8, 2008


Shocking. National industries supply national government with war material.

Thank God this would never happen in America.
posted by three blind mice at 1:27 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


The company that developed and sold it during WWII was Degussa, the product being manufactured by another company that Degussa controlled with IG Farben.

although the article linked failed to mention Degussa (thanks for the info, btw) it did say that IG Farben were merely part owners of the company that manufactured it. Is this wrong?
posted by shmegegge at 1:33 PM on January 8, 2008


I learned that kittens attacking things are cute, and that the next time someone asks metafilter to name their cat, I should suggest Robot.
posted by agentofselection at 1:47 PM on January 8, 2008


Don't forget BASF and Mercedes-Benz, General Electric, Eastman Kodak, Chase Manhattan, and IKEA's founder.

I've heard pretty strong evidence that Prescott Bush & George Herbert Walker did some business too, I guess.

True enough: see Brown Brothers Harriman.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:51 PM on January 8, 2008


US gun manufacturers supplied a lot of Nazi pistols at least, I'm not sure about their bigger arms. For instance, I've seen someone's Nazi-issue Browning, complete with stamped swastika on it.

No, they didn't. Your friend probably has a Browning Hi-Power, manufactured by Fabrique-Nationale in Belgium. Their manufacturing facilities were seized by the Nazis very early in the war.
posted by Tenuki at 2:02 PM on January 8, 2008


small_ruminant: Are you sure you didn't see a Browning Hi-Power ? The Fabrique Nationale de Herstal, who actually made the original Hi-Powers, is based in Belgium. During the occupation of Belgium during WWII many Nazi-stamped Hi-Powers were made at the plant, and have subsequently become collectors items.

On preview, what Tenuki said.
posted by roquetuen at 2:07 PM on January 8, 2008


shmegegge: although the article linked failed to mention Degussa (thanks for the info, btw) it did say that IG Farben were merely part owners of the company that manufactured it.

The Wikipedia article is right, just poorly written where it talks about the IG Farben ownership. I had to read it twice to understand that the (unamed) company it was talking about was not Bayer.
posted by elgilito at 2:21 PM on January 8, 2008


Did Krups, Braun, and Mercedes-Benz make Nazi concentration camp ovens? Did Hitler name the Volkswagen?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on January 8, 2008


I was about to give people a pointer to some of these examples, as well as United Fruit, in this thread, as an example of what might be marginally more "evil" behavior than Microsoft's monopoly abuses and lack of standards support. But that thread is already lost... It does however, serve to reinforce my point that people get all foamy at the mouth when MS is mentioned.
posted by Cathedral at 3:37 PM on January 8, 2008


Did Hitler name the Volkswagen?

He might as well have. Volk has a lot of Nazi connotations, given the heavy use of the word in Nazi Propaganda. A german friend once remarked that he was surprised that VW continued to use the name after the war, given it's association with the Third Reich.
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:43 PM on January 8, 2008


oops. You're probably right about the Browning, then. sorry.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:20 PM on January 8, 2008


Aspirin was first produced by boiling willow bark. The active ingredient (salicin) was isolated in 1827 and salicylic acid produced in 1838. Salicylic acid was synthesized in 1860; acetylsalicylic acid was synthesized in an impure form 7 years before that. In 1897, Bayer stuck their oar in and produced pure acetylsalicylic acid. Fifty-two years later (41 years after he left Bayer to form his own pharmaceutical company), Eichengrun published a paper claiming he had invented aspirin. Despite the fame and fortune that could have been had by linking his name to aspirin, this was the first time Eichengrun made the claim. OTOH, he was Jewish and needed to keep a very low profile about that time. Fifty years after that, Sneader claims that Eichengrun was correct; Bayer claims the opposite. There are no corroborating second sources for either story. (Patents, lab journals, etc. support Bayer's claim; everything I've found supporting Sneader quote him as a source. Sneader's claims were not revelations -- there were at least two previous sources noting Eichengrun's claim.)

Eichengrun claims that Hoffman synthesized aspirin under his direction or as a result of his suggestion. Unfortunately, the documentation during the critical period is lacking. Hoffman does not note aspirin in his lab journal until August of 1897. In his own journals, Heinrich Dresser of Bayer mentions working on aspirin in April of 1897. Sneader himself acknowledges Dresser, but claims Dresser put aspirin aside until 1898 while he worked on other acids. Bottom line is that Hoffman was adding acetyl to just about anything that crossed his path. Bayer's first two medicines were created by adding acetyl to a byproduct of blue dye and to tannic acid, so it seemed like a good thing to try. Eleven days after coming up with aspirin, Hoffman added acetyl to morphine and produced heroin. (This is what gets me about this whole story -- Hoffman is credited with coming up with both aspirin and heroin in less than two weeks...and then he became a marketing droid.)

Neither Eichengrun's nor Bayer's claim can be substantiated beyond doubt and there is some evidence that someone else actually beat them to the punch. (Also keep in mind that aspirin has been around ever since someone chewed on that first piece of willow bark -- Bayer's patents on aspirin were rejected in both Germany and England on the basis of prior art. Predictably, the US patent was upheld.)
posted by forrest at 4:50 PM on January 8, 2008 [8 favorites]


From the article: ...and be snuffed out in a Siemens-made gas chamber in the afternoon
I've never seen any reports that Siemens manufactured gas chambers or constructed any parts of the concentration camps that were used in the actual killing. Friederich Siemens is known for his innovations in crematoria, but the crematoria at Auschwitz and other camps were designed and manufactured by either Topf & Sons, Kori and/or Didier-Werke. Siemens ovens were designed for mortuary use; the others designed ovens specifically for the Holocaust.
posted by forrest at 5:14 PM on January 8, 2008


In 1897, Bayer stuck their oar in and produced pure acetylsalicylic acid. Fifty-two years later (41 years after he left Bayer to form his own pharmaceutical company), Eichengrun published a paper claiming he had invented aspirin. Despite the fame and fortune that could have been had by linking his name to aspirin, this was the first time Eichengrun made the claim. OTOH, he was Jewish and needed to keep a very low profile about that time.

Hm. If he left Bayer in 1908, then he had a window of opportunity of 25 years to make his claim before Hitler came to power, so keeping a low profile isn't really plausible as a motivation for silence. Interestingly, it doesn't appear as if his own company manufactured aspirin, though I can see why the reich wanted the stuff they did make.

Always curious about new history, so the thread, if not the article, has been enlightening.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:23 PM on January 8, 2008


Aw, man.. Those are some really cute nazi kittens.
posted by Balisong at 5:27 PM on January 8, 2008


In this space 25 years from now: Haliburton, Blackwater...

Look, as a Canadian, I am no fan of the current American government, or its wars, or its planned wars, but the invasion of Iraq, despite its horrific human toll, pales in comparison to the Holocaust and the planned liquidation of Gypsies, and religions and cultural minorities by Nazi Germany during World War II.

For all its faults, the US is nothing like Nazi Germany.

And the attempt to link the American business unit of IBM with the death camps in 'the Corporation' is nothing short of slanderous.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:28 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


item: Are you quite sure that's not a picture of Nazis about to explode a kitten?
posted by pompomtom at 7:58 PM on January 8, 2008


ugh ... badly written and low on facts ... on the volkswagen passage alone there are errors which one does not need go further than wikipedia to establish.

I am going to take the opportunity to label this style of "investigative writing" "Written for Digg (TM)"
posted by jannw at 4:34 AM on January 9, 2008


KokuRyu: And the attempt to link the American business unit of IBM with the death camps in 'the Corporation' is nothing short of slanderous.

Under American law, it would be slanderous if it had no basis in fact. Is that what you're saying -- that there was no business relationship? That IBM didn't make any money off the deal? Because I'd personally find that pretty hard to swallow. IBM makes money off every deal. IBM makes money off losing money. The only (not primarily financial) company that's better at making money off it's money is GE.
posted by lodurr at 6:28 AM on January 9, 2008


During the 'Corporation' YouTube clip, the speaker does not illustrate how IBM International made money off the use of IBM technologies by the Nazis during the war. There is one sentence (half a sentence) where he says 'they collected profits/revenues after the war." But he does not elaborate.

Furthermore, the speaker says that the founding CEO of IBM originally did business with Hitler et al in the 1930s, but broke off this relationship, not because of any moral concerns (or so says the documentary) but because it was bad PR. Yet the speaker does not elaborate these claims. And since we're on teh Internets here, I can say that this is fucking bullshit insincere pseudo leftwing reporting. Make an argument first, and cobble together some facts to support it.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:28 AM on January 9, 2008


Hm. It doesn't look to me as though the Cracked piece is claiming that The Corporation constitutes documentation of their claims. So why are you bothering to mention it?

So, are you arguing that it's not the case that "IBM sent internal memos in their New York offices acknowledging that their machines were making the Nazis more efficient, and they made no efforts to end the relationship with the German branch"?

YOu can certainly say whatever you want on the internets, KokuRyu. But what you're saying sounds like knee-jerk defense of Big Blue, for no obvious reason.
posted by lodurr at 12:03 PM on January 9, 2008


It's a knee-jerk defense of truth and an attack on an attempt to make dubious assertions that are in fact lies. The point is, if you want to win (that is, if you want to affect change, and in this case curtail the power of corporations), you must be virtuous.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2008


But you're also making a knee-jerk response.
posted by lodurr at 4:04 PM on January 9, 2008


If you see someone throwing a chair through a McDonald's window during an anti-coporate demonstration and your first reaction is to stop them, is that a 'knee-jerk response'?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:07 PM on January 9, 2008


Kind of not even in the same ball park, analogy-wise.
posted by lodurr at 4:29 AM on January 10, 2008


Well, I still say the argument that IBM went in there and benefited from the Holocaust is a cheap falsehood perpetuated by cranks with a serious axe to grind.

And all right, I'll say it: corporations are not intrinsically evil. I suppose we could all go live on our syndicates and communes and grow fruit or whatever while we practice serious anarchy, and if it worked, why not? At the same time, corporations create wealth and prosperity. Jobs. Hell, you and I could form a corporation if we liked for tax purposes. It's a very useful tool. That's not to say economic prosperity trumps everything else, because as our society has evolved and become more economically prosperous, our natural, world, the world that sustains our very life has become degraded at the very same pace.

I suppose the only answer is to grow our own fruit without relying on the marketplace, but if some says I have to wear a flannel sweater and Birkenstocks and live like a dirty hippy then I won't wait to be excommunicated, I'll go back to my nice office in my nice corporation.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:33 PM on January 10, 2008


And all right, I'll say it: corporations are not intrinsically evil.

Of course not. Evil doesn't exist.

And I'm not being facetious. Tell me what the word means, and I'll entertain the idea that there's something called "evil."

However, it is true that most corporations are anti-humanistic, at least in the modern capitalist model. Even the ones that seem humanistic are generally paternalistic, which is a different thing. (Participation by the workers in decision making, employee ownership -- humanistic. Great health care, great professional development -- paternalistic.) Paternalistic isn't necessarily bad, eithr, but it is necessarily about what the company thinks is good for you, not what you think is good for you.
posted by lodurr at 4:23 AM on January 11, 2008


« Older Prisoner 547 is a Rabbit in prison. He shares a ce...  |  Books that heal: bibliotherapy... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments