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ROYAL DUTCH SHELL FOUNDER SIR HENRI DETERDING, NAZI FINANCIER
NAZI HISTORY OF ROYAL DUTCH SHELL
Royal Dutch Shell conspired directly with Hitler, financed the Nazi Party, was anti-Semitic and sold out its own Dutch Jewish employees to the Nazis. Shell had a close relationship with the Nazis during and after the reign of Sir Henri Deterding, an ardent Nazi, and the founder and decades-long leader of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. His burial ceremony, which had all the trappings of a state funeral, was held at his private estate in Mecklenburg, Germany. The spectacle (photographs below) included a funeral procession led by a horse-drawn funeral hearse with senior Nazis officials and senior Royal Dutch Shell directors in attendance, Nazi salutes at the graveside, swastika banners on display and wreaths and personal tributes from Adolf Hitler and Reichsmarschall, Hermann Goring. Deterding was an honoured associate and supporter of Hitler and a personal friend of Goring.
Deterding was the guest of Hitler during a four-day summit meeting at Berchtesgaden. Sir Henri and Hitler both had ambitions on Russian oil fields. Only an honoured personal guest would be rewarded with a private four-day meeting at Hitler’s mountain top retreat.
Shell appeased and collaborated with the Nazis. The oil giant instructed its employees in the Netherlands to complete a form giving particulars about their descent, which for some, amounted to a self-declared death warrant. Shell used slave labour and was a close business partner in Germany of I.G. Farben, the notorious Nazi run chemical giant that also used slave labour and supplied the Zyklon-B gas used during the Holocaust to exterminate millions of people, including children. Shell continued the partnership with the Nazis in the years after the retirement of Sir Henri and even after his death. It was money generated on Shell forecourts around the world, profiteering from cartel oil prices, that funded the Nazi party and saved it from financial collapse. Evidence about Shell’s Nazi connections can be found in extracts from “A History of Royal Dutch Shell” Volumes 1 and 2 authored by historians paid by Shell, who had unrestricted access to Shell archives. There are 67 pages in total, so takes some time to download.
Photograph (full size here) shows a Swastika flag flying at the head office of Royal Dutch Petroleum, 30 Carel van Bylandtlaan, The Hague, during the Nazi occupation of the in World War II (From Image Database Hague Municipal)
Sir Henri Deterding (photograph above and oil painting below), the founder of the Royal Dutch Shell Group – known as “The Most Powerful Man in the World” – who became an ardent Nazi and financial supporter of Hitler and the Nazi party on behalf of his beloved company, Shell.
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HITLER & THE THIRD REICH
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Category Archives: Royal Dutch Petroleum Company
SUMMARY OF FEATURED CONTENT FROM THE EBOOK “SIR HENRI DETERDING AND THE NAZI HISTORY OF ROYAL DUTCH SHELL”
- In the years leading up to WW2, the Dutch founder of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Sir Henri Deterding became an ardent Nazi. He financially backed the Third Reich and met directly with Hitler on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell.
- As a major financial contributor to Nazi Germany in pre-WW2 years, the Royal Dutch Shell Group, under Dutch leadership, arguably had some indirect responsibility for the death toll in the subsequent war, in which over 50 million people perished.
- Shell publicly boasted at the time about the importance of its financial contribution to the German economy. The claims were made by Shell in Germany while the country was under Nazi control.
- In years leading up to WW2, Shell conspired with partners, Standard Oil, and German chemical giant I.G. Farben, to covertly import oil products, including airplane fuel, from the US into Nazi Germany. The US government was kept in the dark.
- I.G. Farben supplied the Zyklon-B gas used in the Holocaust to kill millions of people.
- The portrayal in 2007 by Shell’s paid historians of a distant relationship between Deterding and Hitler, in which all attempts by Deterding to meet with Hitler were rebuffed is simply untrue.
- In fact, their meetings included a four-day one-on-one summit held at Hitler’s mountain retreat, as reported by Reuters in 1934.
- Deterding has been described by independent authors as “a hardline Nazi revered and ultimately mourned by Hitler.” That description is confirmed by the evidence within this book and evidence accessible via links.
- There are credible allegations that the Royal Dutch Shell Group, under the control of Dutch directors, used forced labor at its German subsidiary, Rhenania-Ossag. Many of its directors and staff were fanatical Nazis.
- Royal Dutch Shell collaborated in the annexation and occupation of sovereign countries by the Nazis – Austria and Czechoslovakia – before the outbreak of WW2.
- The donations and financial contributions to the Third Reich were all carried out under the control of Dutch directors of companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group.
- In 1936, while still a director of multiple Royal Dutch Shell group companies, Sir Henri purchased the Castle Dobbin estate North of Berlin for 1,050,000 Reich marks from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
- Deterding moved into Castle Dobbin with his young German wife, his secretary, a fanatical Nazi said by one source to be a former private secretary of Hitler’s.
- Sir Henri’s friend Hermann Göring, the founder of the Gestapo, regularly visited Castle Dobbin to go hunting with him. Deterding generously gave Göring the Rominten Hunting Lodge in East Prussia as a spectacular gift. Kaiser Wilhelm II once owned it.
- In 1936 and 1937, Sir Henri – while still a director of multiple companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group, in which he held a controlling interest – made huge donations of food (“millions of tonnes”) to Nazi Germany as part of the “Winter Help” scheme. A New York Times report in June 1937 (“Deterding to Distribute More Food in Germany”) specifically linked the food donations to Germany’s rearmament policy.
- The massive donations enabled significant funds to be diverted at a time when the Nazi regime was engaged in urgent rearmament of its military might.
- Seven thousand railway wagons were used in the first immense delivery.
- Deterding died just before the outbreak of WW2. He was honored by a Nazi ceremonial funeral at Castle Dobbin in February 1939. It was attended by a full contingent of Royal Dutch Shell Group directors mingling with Nazi military officers.
- A glowing tribute to Sir Henri on behalf of the German nation was inscribed on a wreath sent by Adolf Hitler.
- The Bishop who conducted the funeral service was a supporter of Hitler and a rabid anti-Semite.
- Film footage of the Nazi funeral spectacular exists.
- Fears that the Nazis intended to exploit the death of Sir Henri, just before the start of WW2, to seize control of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, were well founded. The UK National Archives has kindly given permission for related documents and correspondence to be featured within this book.
- Dutch directors of the Royal Dutch Shell Group engaged in anti-Semitic policies against Shell employees and were also guilty of collaboration and appeasement.
- Royal Dutch Shell employees in the Netherlands were instructed to complete a form that for some amounted to a self-declared death warrant. Many did not survive the war.
- The Nazis did succeed in gaining control over Dobbin Castle.
- In the latter part of WW2, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, SS leader Heinrich Himmler and General Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command, were all stationed at Dobbin Castle.
- Hitler’s final despairing message from his Berlin bunker, a day before he committed suicide, was sent to Field Marshal Keitel at Dobbin Castle, whilst it was still owned by the Deterding family. Strangely, that somehow seems appropriate.
- Evidence was on display at Castle Dobbin, signed by Hitler, confirming Deterding’s financial support for the Nazis. Also a personal testimony by Herman Göring acknowledging the generosity of his friend and benefactor, Sir Henri Deterding.
- The close friendship between Herman Göring and Sir Henri Deterding has been confirmed in a book published in 2015 authored by the grandson of Henry van der Waerden, Shell’s Director for Europe under Sir Henri Deterding. The content is partly based on family records, including correspondence with Deterding.
- Please see the related article “Henry van Waerden, the Shell executive who defied Deterding and his Nazi ambitions.”
- Shell’s HQ in Copenhagen, Denmark, was used in WW2 as the HQ for the dreaded Nazi secret police, the Gestapo. “Shellhus” was bombed and destroyed by the RAF on 21 March 1945. It had been used for the torture of Danish citizens.
- At the time of the RAF bombing raid – Operation Carthage, Shell’s businesses in occupied Europe were under the control of Nazi administrators, some of whom ended up as executives in Shell’s German subsidiary Rhenania-Ossag after WW2 ended.
DETERDING’S PALATIAL UK RESIDENCES
Kelling Hall, in Holt, Norfolk, shown above, was one of Deterding’s palatial UK residences. It is located near the Sandringham estate of the British royal family. Built for Sir Henri in 1913, in grounds of 1,600 acres, the property was sold in 2008 by his grandson James Deterding for £25 million (over $37 million USD).
Deterding at various times owned a Dutch estate in Wassenaar near the Hague, a grand country home in Buckhurst Park in Winkfield, near Ascot in Berkshire, a fashionable apartment in Park Lane, London, and a villa at St. Moritz in Switzerland.
Sir Henri Deterding died in St. Moritz, Switzerland on 4 February 1939 several months before the outbreak of the 2nd World War. As could be expected given his global fame as an oil mogul and a man of wealth, mystery and intrigue, there were numerous newspaper obituaries from around the world. Many mentioned his financial support for Hitler and the Nazi movement in Germany.
It may seem odd to focus on the death of Sir Henri Deterding in this early chapter, but the global news coverage of his sudden demise and even more significantly, the location – Nazi Germany – of his spectacular funeral, speak volumes.
On 10 February 1939, a burial ceremony with many of the trappings of a state funeral was held at a private estate near Berlin. The spectacle included a funeral procession led by a horse-drawn funeral hearse with senior Nazis officials and Shell directors in attendance. An indication of the high esteem in which Sir Henri Deterding was held by his Shell colleagues and by Adolf Hitler, who sent a wreath.
Sir Henri Deterding, a foreign national, was honored with what amounted to a state funeral in Germany, where he was buried.
This chapter deals with the role of Royal Dutch Shell as a contributor to the economy of Nazi Germany and financier of the Third Reich via its long-time Director General, Sir Henri Deterding. The funding was of a scale that led to Hitler paying homage to him as a great friend of the Germans. Sir Henri actively supported the rearmament of Nazi Germany. He was a generous friend that the Nazis tried to exploit even after his death.
Any major company in existence for over 100 years is bound to have some skeletons in the closet. In the case of Royal Dutch Shell, it arguably includes indirect responsibility for millions of deaths.
The Nazis presented considerable challenges to Royal Dutch Shell over control of its subsidiaries in occupied countries. The above caricature (and seated Nazi officer in the photograph) is a former Shell director, Hauptmann Eckhardt von Klass. He was the Verwalter (administrator) appointed by the Nazis to “exercise supervision over Group companies in occupied Europe.” See pages 80 and 81 from RDSH V2.
Before, during, and after World War 2, Royal Dutch Shell was the owner of companies located in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe, including Rhenania-Ossag.
Index of key dates:
Henri Deterding served as chairman of the combined Royal Dutch/Shell oil company between 1900 and 1936.
In or around 1931, Deterding bought a hunting estate in rural Mecklenburg, Germany. See page 477 RDSH V1.
The Reichstag fire, a pivotal event in the rise of Hitler, took place in January 1933.
Deterding welcomed Hitler’s appointment and by November 1933, Deterding said that he had met Hitler. See page 477 RDSH V1.