Henry van der Waerden, the Shell executive who defied Deterding and his Nazi ambitions

Who Killed Henry?: The book title arises from the fact that in 1937, Shell Director for Europe Henry van der Waerden was found dead in mysterious circumstances after receiving a threat from members of the Nazi movement. This was after he had failed to respond favourably to intense pressure from Deterding and the Nazis to do their bidding.

By John Donovan

I was recently contacted by Henry van Buuren, the grandson of Henry van der Waerden, an engineer who held a high-level position at Shell under Sir Henri Deterding.

Sir Henri rightly had considerable regard for his integrity, experience and expertise.

Hence his appointment as Shell Director for Europe.

Henry van der Waerden had built a number of Shell refineries from scratch.

A remarkable book called “Who Killed Henry”, authored by Henry van Buuren was published in 2015.

It contains correspondence Sir Henri had with Henry van der Waerden and a transcript of a telephone conversation between the two Shell executives.

The book confirms the close relationship between Sir Henry Deterding and Herman Goering, and also Sir Henri’s dedication and fervent support for Nazi Germany.

The book title arises from the fact that in 1937, Shell Director for Europe Henry van der Waerden was found dead in mysterious circumstances after receiving a threat from members of the Nazi movement.

This was after he had failed to respond favourably to intense pressure from Deterding and the Nazis to do their bidding.

The pressure came not just from Deterding directly but from a mysterious friend of Deterding who supplied Henry van der Waerden with a copy of “Mein Kampf” – Hitler’s notorious autobiographical work in which he set out his warped political ideology and plans that would eventually destroy Germany.

Deterding and Goering were determined that Henry van der Waerden agree to return to his leadership role at the Astra Romana plant in Romania to ensure maximum supply of product to fuel the fast-growing German military forces. This was during the years immediately before WW2 when vast preparations were underway.

Henry van der Waerden was also introduced personally to the Nazi management of I.G. Farben, the German chemical giant that was in partnership with Shell in a number of ventures relevant to German military plans. I.G. Farben was later responsible for the manufacture of the Zyklon B gas used to exterminate millions of innocent adults and children during the Holocaust. A number of its directors were convicted of war crimes.

The more Henry van der Waerden found out about the Nazi party, the less he liked the prospect of caving into the huge pressure. But his increasingly autocratic boss, Sir Henri Deterding had made it clear that he would not take NO for an answer.

Deterding was up to his neck in all kind of Machiavellian plots and International intrigue driven by his growing megalomania and involvement in extreme politics. His highly controversial machinations on the global stage including alleged involvement in counterfeit currency had not escaped coverage by the news media.

Matters surrounding the events that had transpired so long ago became clearer in 1989 with the publication of information by an expert historical journalist Wim Wennekes. The information triggered the recall of distant memories by a daughter of Henry van der Waerden. This revived long existing family concern about what had happened.

The mystery eventually led to the grandson writing his book “Who Killed Henry”, which poses the question, was the sudden death of Henry van der Waerden suicide arising from the intense pressure or was it outright murder?

In either case, it seems reasonable to conclude that Deterding and/or the Nazis were responsible for the death of Henry van der Waerden. At that time, Sir Henri was still a director of multiple companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group and still its largest shareholder, with a controlling stake in the Group.

Astonishingly, Henry van der Waerden and his wife had survived an assassination attempt by Communists many years earlier while he was head of Shell’s Astra Romana refinery. Both had been shot several times and had not been expected to survive.

This time he was not so lucky.

The threat on the life of Henry van der Waerden set out in the extremely menacing letter he had received from the Nazi movement seems to have been carried out. The same letter also contained threats against his wife and children. At least with his untimely death, they were now safe. The full text of the letter can be seen in the book.

Deterding had definitely switched to the dark side, in bed with two of the evilest men in history. Adolf Hitler and Herman Goering, who each sent personal tributes to his funeral just prior to the outbreak of WW2. He was a great friend of both.

Extracts from the book

A biographical adventure showing how two prominent Shell oil men were swept off their feet by the opposing forces Communism and National Socialism. 

His name was Henry van der Waerden. This is the true story of that man and how his life came to an unexpected abrupt end. 

Extracts end

The book reads like a thriller and shows how oil played a decisive role in the 2nd World War and how it still plays an important role notwithstanding the actual attempts for an “energy change” to combat “Global Warming”

(This revealing book by Henry van Buuren is for sale on Amazon.com in the English language under the title “Who killed Henry?”)



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