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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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- A History of Royal Dutch Shell
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Category Archives: World War 2
Operation Carthage, on 21 March 1945, was a British air raid on Copenhagen, Denmark during the Second World War which caused significant collateral damage. The target of the raid was the Shellhus, used as Gestapo headquarters in the city centre. It was used for the storage of dossiers and the torture of Danish citizens during interrogations. The Danish Resistance had long asked the British to conduct a raid against the site. The building was destroyed, 18 prisoners were freed and anti-resistance Nazi activities were disrupted.
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.
By John Donovan
Shell commissioned a group of eminent “independent” historians (above) mostly Dutch, to author a history of Royal Dutch Shell to mark the Group’s centenary in 2007. The introduction in Volume 1 pledged independent research and “a proper and even-handed assessment of Deterding.” Something went amiss because the “history,” as published in regard to his dealings with Hitler, is simply untrue.
On 24 May 2015, a light-hearted story in the Prufrock column of The Sunday Times posed the question: “ARE corporate histories the new harbingers of doom?” It cited the release of corporate histories of two multinational banks that proved embarrassing to the banks due to unforeseen developments.
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 above photograph is of Sir Henri Deterding around the time of his retirement as absolute leader of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, standing alongside his third wife, a thirty-eight-year-old German-born ardent Nazi, Charlotte Knaack. Her admiration for the Nazis probably strengthened his views, and no doubt played a part in the decision to move their home to Germany.
German forces entered Vienna on 17 March 1938 (above). The Nazis annexed Austria in what became known as the Anschluss and occupied Czechoslovakia a year later. Royal Dutch Shell authorized its German subsidiary Rhenania-Ossag, to take over Shell operating companies in both countries.
Being one of the two biggest German oil concerns and the main lube oil manufacturer, Shell subsidiary Rhenania-Ossag was an industry leader in Nazi Germany. Many of its directors and staff were Nazis.
Following Hitler’s annexation of Austria on 12 March 1938 (photo) and the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Dutch directors of Royal Dutch gave approval to Rhenania-Ossag taking over the Shell operating companies in those countries.
Several IG Farben directors were found guilty of war crimes arising from their actions during WW2. The firm manufactured large quantities of Zyklon-B gas used by the Nazis to kill millions of Jews at extermination camps during the Holocaust. Royal Dutch Shell was a business partner of I.G. Farben both in Germany and globally.
Prior to WW2, Royal Dutch Shell had been a business partner both internationally and in Germany, with I.G. Farben (Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG.
IG Farben was formed in 1925 from a number of chemical companies and became the largest chemical company in the world. Involved in war crimes during WW2, the company was seized by the Allies in 1945 and liquidated in 1952.
The photograph shows military uniforms worn by marching employees of the Shell German subsidiary, Rhenania-Ossag. A photograph on the next page shows swastika flags on display during a staff meeting. Rhenania-Ossag was part and parcel of the Nazi movement when the Shell Group was in undisputed full control of the company. A senior director was involved in Nazi military planning.
In 1935, Rhenania-Ossag (owned by Royal Dutch Shell) was Germany’s second-largest gas station company, with 16,363 petrol pumps and several refineries. There were active Nazi members in the workforce and management. It’s DG, Dr. Erich Boeder, was involved in Nazi military planning (oil production) on behalf of the company.