Nazi Germany reflects one of the darkest periods in history. The war crimes, the bloodbath and the World War 2 – a lot happened when Adolf Hitler ruled over Germany. His regime is overlooked as an evil empire these days, but do you know that there were a few major established companies that profited in his rule? In fact, some of the brand names of present times have also been in controversies for doing business with Nazis.
Apparently, these business collaborators were delusional and alright with the horrific ideologies of Nazi Germany, or they worked simply for profits. Some companies used the slave labor, while some supplied materials to successfully carry out the Holocaust.
Here we have listed a few of those companies which despite being supporters of Nazi Germany, have managed to survive and remain top brands till date.
One of the largest firms in USA, the company was well-established during the era of Nazis. They manufactured machines to be used during Holocaust. For example, the punch card machines, which enabled the Third Reich to keep track of number of Jews that were sent to the concentration camps. It has been claimed that the President of the company, Thomas Watson personally traveled to Germany to seek lucrative deals. IBM has been investigated but the company was not charged with any crime due to lack of records that time.
If Beetle has been your favorite car, you will be shocked to know that it was the idea of Hitler himself that Volkswagen emerged. In 1934, Hitler wanted to get cars developed for the common people, as the auto industry of Germany was focused more on luxurious cars. That’s how the company got its name, ‘Volks’ meaning – people, and ‘wagen’ meaning – car. After being founded in 1937, the company started to build military vehicles for the expansion of Nazis. They even utilized over 15,000 slaves from the concentration camps to manufacture a number of cars.
The Coca-Cola Company
“Don’t You Wanna Fanta?” ~ apparently, you would not when you learn that Fanta emerged in Nazi Germany, under the ownership of the Coca-Cola company. An advertisement of Fanta, recently suggested how the brand emerged when Coca-Cola was scarce in Germany, 75 years ago. But, they avoided mentioning the reason behind the situation. It was when Allied powers emerged and Nazi government limited the imports of foreign products, including Coca-Cola. Thus, they decided to bring up a new product in their market, while still gaining profits.
From creating the SS uniforms to becoming a Nazi himself, Boss was making monthly donations to Schutzstaffel (SS), the Nazis’ paramilitary wing by 1931. Under the leadership of Hitler, Hugo Boss started to generate some 1,000,000 Reichsmarks by 1940. This company also did not shy away from using labor from the concentration camps in their factories. When the war ended, Boss was banished from owning any company – especially, his very own. After his death in 1948, the company was owned by his son-in-law, Eugen Holy.
When United States banned trading with hostile nations in 1941, Kodak used subsidiaries in European countries to continue business with Nazis. Their control over the German branches remained. The purchases of photographic equipment from these subsidiaries helped in funding of the enemy nations of USA. After the war, the Kodak reabsorbed the branches and utilized the profits that were made.
Adidas and Puma
The two brothers Rudolf and Adi Dassler, collaborated and founded a successful shoe company in 1924. Its shoes were even worn by the Olympians in 1930s. However, with the rise of sales, tensions between them grew. During the rise of Hitler, both of them joined the Nazi party, and Rudolf had closer ties with them. The family feud had grown so much that when Allied Powers captured Rudolf for being a member of the SS, he was sure that it was his brother Adi who sold him out. Subsequently, the two brothers split. Adi created the company ‘Adidas’ and Rudolf created ‘Puma’. To this day, the two companies are excelling in businesses, but the two brothers never talked again in their entire life.
The ever-so-luxurious BMW cars were even a favorite during the Nazi regime. The empire of BMW was ran by more than fifty thousand slave laborers from the concentration camps. Günther Quandt, the owner of the company during that time, was a close friend of Hitler. The company had also supplied airplanes and motorcycle parts for war efforts. They have shown regret for causing enormous suffering to the slave labor.
There were numerous other brands like Random House Publishing, Bayer and Mercedes-Benz, etc that have been reported to have had links with Germany during the dark period. Many of these profited during the Holocaust, be it for the abuse of labor from concentration camps or for benefiting the occurrence of Holocaust itself. Not all the companies have been charged for the crimes, or even apologized till date. However, there are a few that provided funds to the families who lost their people to the deplorable times.