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Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street’

Justice And Jewish Slavery: Daimler-Chrysler’s Final And Inevitable Collapse

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the March 9, 2007 issue of The Jewish Press. In light of last week’s filing of Chapter 11 by Chrysler LLC, we thought it would be appropriate to reprint it.

On its face, it would surely be foolish to blame Daimler-Chrysler’s extraordinary woes on the very dark history of Daimler-Benz. On its face, the combined company’s deep decline is manifestly a function of bad economic judgments. After all, from the very start, the 1998 decision by Germany’s Daimler-Benz to merge with Chrysler simply made no financial sense.

And yet, there are sometimes factors that play an important or even decisive role in explaining all aspects of human life – including the collective “lives” of nations and corporations – that are neither tangible nor measurable. The sad history of this iconic American automobile company may well have been determined, at least in part, by factors that we can’t really identify or clarify in the Management 101 textbooks.

The humiliating fate of the Chrysler Corporation cannot be detached entirely from the sordid history of Daimler-Benz. It might have been different perhaps, if there had ever been some acknowledgement of the German parent company’s enthusiastic wartime use of Jewish slave labor, but no such acknowledgment was ever made. Although not distinctly testable in science, silence can sometimes have genuinely frightful consequences.

Justice must always have a decipherable voice, and there can never be any such voice without memory. At the time of the 1998 merger, no public mention was ever made of Daimler’s Nazi involvement.

It was conveniently assumed by Chrysler’s top executives, that a murderous Daimler-Benz history could be shoved under the rug. And the insistently seductive calls for corporate wealth in America would drown out the increasingly weak cries for justice.

These assumptions were not merely sinister; they were also wrong. What we witness today, in Daimler-Chrysler’s now evident corporate collapse, is the ineradicable stain of unpunished and unapologetic Daimler-Benz wartime crimes against humanity.

Justice always requires a voice. Even today, someone must still speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves. Someone must speak for those endless railway cars of Jewish slave laborers whose seemingly inexhaustible supply in Nazi Germany and occupied lands had actually made them less than slaves. Even today, someone must speak for those starved and brutalized victims dehumanized by a venerated German corporation during World War II.

In 1998, the business world was all aglow, about a “marriage made in heaven” – the mega-merger of Chrysler with Daimler-Benz. Lost in this grand celebration of new fortunes to be made was the buried history of one corporate partner.

During the war, hundreds of thousands of Jews were coerced into forced labor by many major German industrial firms under conditions, which the judges at Nuremberg said “made labor and death almost synonymous.”

The victims were barely bits of sandpaper, rubbed a few times by their masters, judged useless and then burned – literally – with the garbage. Daimler-Benz was one of these firms.

Where did Daimler-Benz operate in the vast complex of slave enterprises? As documented authoritatively in The International Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (pp. 1037 – 1039) Natzweiler-Struthof, a concentration camp established by Albert Speer because of nearby granite deposits, was expanded. In 1944, Daimler-Benz moved some of its work from the Berlin-area to the new satellite camp at Neckarelz.

Here, the company used several thousand slaves in a joint project with Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) and the Ministry of Armaments. The Natzweiler main camp, although small, had its own gas chamber.

Together with other privileged German corporations, Daimler-Benz traded and transported Jewish forced laborers with nary a hint that they were dealing in human beings. They were purchased from the SS, with the understanding that they should not be kept alive for too long (so as not to slow down the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”).

The bewildered and tortured slaves were often housed in tiny animal kennels or underground chambers before “selection” for the gas chamber.

After the war, when some very small number of Jewish claimants called upon Daimler-Benz and other criminally responsible German firms to make some sort of restitution, the victims and their survivors were cruelly rebuffed.

On November 5, 1997, a German court upheld its government’s policy of rejecting compensation claims by Nazi-era slave laborers.

The judges based their decision in part on the fact that the pertinent German companies had already paid the Nazi SS for the forced laborers they had “employed” and that therefore no “further compensation” to Jewish victims was owed by the companies.

Most of these companies, of course, including Daimler-Benz, remained in business. Not one of these companies, including Daimler-Benz, ever made more than a token payment to their former Jewish slaves or to associated claimants.

In his book The Germans (St. Martin’s Press 1989) Financial Times correspondent David Marsh indicates that it was not until June 1988 that Daimler made a DM20 million payment to the U.S. Jewish Claims Conference “to ease consequences still ensuing from those times.”

Marsh notes that by June 1988, the actual victims of Daimler-Benz enslavement were no longer alive.

In 1998, according to Marsh, Daimler-Benz admitted to using 29,500 slaves at the end of 1944. (This was around half of its entire work force.) They sought – via its merger with Chrysler Corporation – to become a new and important giant in American industry.

Although certainly never to be acknowledged by Wall Street analysts, the now-imminent failure of this giant is due in some immeasurable way to the infamously unclean side of Daimler-Benz.

During the War, Daimler-Benz did pay salaries for their slaves, but the payments were made directly to the SS, which naturally kept the money. The ties between the German industrialists at Benz and other companies to the SS were more intimate than is generally realized.

The industrialists were all heavy contributors to SS leader Himmler’s personal fund. For a Christmas celebration in 1943, Himmler invited these magnates to his own headquarters. An SS film on eradicating Jewish “vermin” was screened, and the “distinguished group” was entertained by an SS all male chorus.

How did the victorious allies mete out justice to the German industrialist murderers? No corporate director or manager was compelled to stand before the International Military Tribunal. Not one.

In subsequent trials against certain leading directors, several defendants were found guilty of crimes against humanity for exploiting Jewish slave labor. Although many were sentenced to long prison terms, by January 1951, not a single corporate criminal was still in jail.

An act of “clemency” by John J. McCloy, United States High Commissioner, gave all of these Germans their complete freedom. A mere half-dozen years after the war, all of the criminal German business leaders were free to regain huge personal fortunes.

The Jewish slaves, who had endured the unendurable, were left only with abject poverty, crippling illness, limitless pain, and incessant nightmares.

So the Nazi-era crimes of Daimler-Benz had been forgotten or forgiven on Wall Street. After all, there was presumably a lot of money to be made in the merger with Chrysler, and no reasonable investor wanted to be limited by what was done and cannot be undone. Yet memory, not forgetfulness, is indispensable to justice. And justice – even on Wall Street – is what America is ultimately all about.

For Daimler-Chrysler, the past is irremediably present, still silent perhaps, but unforgiving, dark and thoroughly inescapable.

Copyright The Jewish Press, March 9, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES, professor of Political Science at Purdue University, was born in Zurich, Switzerland on August 31, 1945. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D. 1971), he is the author of nine major books on international relations and international law. Professor Beres’ Austrian-Jewish grandparents were murdered at the SS-killing grounds in Riga, Latvia.

The Much Deeper Meanings Of Wall Street’s Wild Ride

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

In figuring out the core weaknesses of our troubled financial markets, there is far more than meets the eye. On the surface, Wall Street’s seemingly interminable wild ride is the obvious outcome of purely economic factors. Yet, at a deeper level, the problem of market weakness and volatility is not really fiscal, but human. Sure, the interrelated banking and housing and credit crises have played havoc with securities, but these crises are themselves epiphenomenal. That is, they are a mere reflection of something “underneath” and much more fundamental.

At its heart, the ups and downs of Wall Street are the product of largely engineered and distorted human needs. As Americans, we are what we buy. Our status and self-worth correspond closely with what we own. This palpable celebration of inauthenticity and hyper-consumption is an incessant message received by everyone – again and again, day after day. More than anything else, it has created our broken economy. This economy, like the fragmented society from which it has plainly sprung, lacks any firm foundation. It is built upon sand.

Surely this is not what we hear from the “experts.” It is not their task to go beyond hard economics to soft psychology. But if we should look more closely, it will become absolutely clear that we may have as much to learn about core market crises from Freud and Jung as we do from Adam Smith and Karl Marx. So long as we Americans accept expanding debt and a decidedly negative savings rate as the price of appearing successful to others, all government “stimulus” packages will be utterly beside the point.

Soon we Americans shall have to get a handle on the unceasing public need for more and more things, for tangible goods that can seemingly validate us as individuals. Wall Street’s wild ride will never slow down meaningfully with the arrival of more money to spread around in stores. And even if we could actually fix core market problems by expanding consumption, exactly what sort of society would we be encouraging?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once spoke of “self‑reliance.” He understood that a foolish “reliance upon property” was the result of “a want of self‑reliance.” Today, living amid a humiliating barrage of advertising jingles, delirious collectivism and relentless imitation, the individual American desperately wants to project a “correct” image.

The demeaning consumer message of our American mass society is everywhere, even in the universities. Here, for the most part, mimicry and repetition define “excellence.” Today, almost all higher education is vocational. We generally graduate newly‑minted Ph.D.s, MDs, JDs and MBA’s who know almost nothing but how to progress in their own fields. They may turn out to be perfectly good teachers, doctors, lawyers and accountants, but they are nonetheless trained, not educated.

Do we want a genuinely robust economy and a stable stock market? Then we must first reorient our society from its cheapened ambience of mass taste to a more cultivated environment of thought and feeling. There is great beauty in the world, but it is best not to search for it at the bank, the video store or the shopping mall.

Even in that very large segment of Main Street that still knows little of Wall Street, there is deepening anxiety and considerable unhappiness. Taught that respect and success lie in high salaries and corollary patterns of consumption, the American public dutifully worships the commonplace. Why should it be otherwise? Galvanized by mostly patronizing and vulgar entertainments, this lonely American crowd thoughtlessly follows a flamboyant but impotent ringmaster. However well-intentioned and capable, our newly-elected president can never save us from ourselves.

Wall Street remains a thoroughly corrupted product of mass society. This mutually destructive dependence between Wall Street and Main Street can never bring us any success. Soon we must create conditions whereby each of us can feel important and alive without surrendering to manufactured images of power and status. Without such conditions, millions of Americans will continue to seek comfort in crime, mind-numbing music, mountains of drugs and oceans of alcohol.

Despite all the noise, we are now a largely joyless society that finds little or no authentic meaning within. This plainly human problem of a socially crushed individualism must be understood before we can fix what is actually wrong with Wall Street. It may seem reassuring to count on the next “stimulus package,” but the real benefits will be altogether illusory.

Copyright © The Jewish Press, January 23, 2009. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., Politics, 1971) and is Professor of International Law at Purdue University. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Sleaze, Equivalence, Bias

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

A few observations on media coverage of last week’s Mercaz HaRav massacre:

● Every so often the New York Post reminds those of us who attempt to defend it – usually on grounds of its sound editorials or entertaining political coverage – that at bottom it really is just a sleazy tabloid.

The Post relegated the Mercaz HaRav atrocity to page 23 in its March 7 issue. Not even a blurb on its front page, which was devoted to the bomb blast at the Times Square military recruiting station. Arguably a sound decision since it was a local story (although the bomb had gone off at 3:40 the previous morning and nobody was hurt). But here are just a few of the stories a reader had to make his way through to get to the article on the worst terrorist attack in Jerusalem in years:

Madonna’s work on a documentary about Africa (accompanied by the requisite photo of the pop star in all her vulgar glory); a local politician busted for DWI with a “mystery woman passed out drunk in the back seat”; the latest on the never-ending Obama-Clinton campaign skirmishes; four pages devoted exclusively to gossip (as opposed to the unlabeled gossip that takes up the bulk of the Post’s “news” pages); a piece on the feds busting a call-girl ring (the very one that reportedly counted among its clients the governor of New York, though that was not public knowledge at the time); and a story on the trial of a Los Angeles private eye titled “It’s Slime Time in H’wood Court.”

● For aficionados of moral equivalence, it was hard to top a March 8 Los Angeles Times story by staff writer Ashraf Khalil headlined “Across Divided Jerusalem, a Day of Grief.” All one needs to know about the rest of the lengthy article is how it began: “On different sides of this divided city Friday, grieving Israelis laid to rest their murdered sons while a Palestinian family grieved over the loss of the young man who killed them.”

● On The American Thinker website, novelist Gary Wolf had a fine piece on anti-Israel media bias, a phenomenon, he wrote, that “never ceases to amaze me. It must rank as one of the most curious sociopolitical phenomena of our era. The further the Palestinian Arabs move toward a barbaric Islamic theocracy, the deeper the support for them among the cadre of ‘progressive’ journalists.”

Echoing a point the Monitor made in a 2005 column titled “Passive Voice Genocide,” Wolf referred to the headline of an early Associated Press story on the Mercaz HaRav shootings – “7 Die in Shooting at Jerusalem Seminary.”

“Seven what – people? Jews? Martians?” Wolf asked. “And they are not killed, they simply ‘die,’ in the passive sense, as if from a stroke. The main reason why this is so insidious is that such language is never used when the enemies of Israel are the ones who die. One of the calling cards of the leftist journalism is that when Arabs die, you know how they died, who killed them…. If the sides were reversed, the headline would read, ‘Israeli extremist massacres 7 youths learning Koran at Gaza holy place.’ ”

As a postscript to his article, Wolf invited readers to “imagine what on-the-scene coverage of 9/11 might have looked like if the media’s anti-Israel bias were brought to bear”:

NEW YORK – Someone got behind the joystick of an airliner and leaned into it at the wrong angle, causing the plane to collide with a very tall structure in its path.

Rescue workers said that thousands of people, who happened to be physically present in the buildings, were dead. American police, FBI, and army officers allege that the person purposely flew the plane into the office building….

The New York plane crash came a day after North Korean President Kim Jong persuaded moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to consider peace talks with the United States. The Iranian president nixed the idea after it was disclosed that the U.S. is the number one oppressor of Muslims worldwide.

John Q. Public, a passenger on the plane, could be heard over the cockpit radio in the seconds before the crash. “Stop the terrorists, stop the terrorists,” he shouted. Psychologists say that Mr. Public was suffering from temporary insanity caused by his imminent death….

The office building is the World Trade Center in the Wall Street quarter at the entrance of New York, a well-known workplace identified with capitalism, inequality, and exploitation of the Third World, particularly Muslims.

There were no plane crashes with Muslim pilots in 2001, though American police and military claim they had prevented several similar incidents.

Justice And Jewish Slavery: Daimler-Chrysler’s Final And Inevitable Collapse

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

On its face, it would surely be foolish to blame Daimler-Chrysler’s extraordinary woes on the very dark history of Daimler-Benz. On its face, the combined company’s deep decline is manifestly a function of bad economic judgments. After all, from the very start, the 1998 decision by Germany’s Daimler-Benz to merge with Chrysler simply made no financial sense.

And yet, yet, there are sometimes factors that play an important or even decisive role in explaining all aspects of human life – including the collective “lives” of nations and corporations – that are neither tangible nor measurable. The sad history of this iconic American automobile company may well have been determined, at least in part, by factors that we can’t really identify or clarify in the Management 101 textbooks.

The humiliating fate of the Chrysler Corporation cannot be detached entirely from the sordid history of Daimler-Benz. It might have been different perhaps, if there had ever been some acknowledgement of the German parent company’s enthusiastic wartime use of Jewish slave labor, but no such acknowledgment was ever made. Although not distinctly testable in science, silence can sometimes have genuinely frightful consequences.

Justice must always have a decipherable voice, and there can never be any such voice without memory. At the time of the 1998 merger, no public mention was ever made of Daimler’s Nazi involvement.

It was conveniently assumed by Chrysler’s top executives, that a murderous Daimler-Benz history could be shoved under the rug. And the insistently seductive calls for corporate wealth in America would drown out the increasingly weak cries for justice.

These assumptions were not merely sinister; they were also wrong. What we witness today, in Daimler-Chrysler’s now evident corporate collapse, is the ineradicable stain of unpunished and unapologetic Daimler-Benz wartime crimes against humanity.

Justice always requires a voice. Even today, someone must still speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves. Someone must speak for those endless railway cars of Jewish slave laborers whose seemingly inexhaustible supply in Nazi Germany and occupied lands had actually made them less than slaves. Even today, someone must speak for those starved and brutalized victims dehumanized by a venerated German corporation during World War II.

In 1998, the business world was all aglow, about a “marriage made in heaven” – the mega-merger of Chrysler with Daimler-Benz. Lost in this grand celebration of new fortunes to be made was the buried history of one corporate partner.

During the war, hundreds of thousands of Jews were coerced into forced labor by many major German industrial firms under conditions, which the judges at Nuremberg said “made labor and death almost synonymous.”

The victims were barely bits of sandpaper, rubbed a few times by their masters, judged useless and then burned – literally – with the garbage. Daimler-Benz was one of these firms.

Where did Daimler-Benz operate in the vast complex of slave enterprises? As documented authoritatively in The International Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (pp. 1037 – 1039) Natzweiler-Struthof, a concentration camp established by Albert Speer because of nearby granite deposits, was expanded. In 1944, Daimler-Benz moved some of its work from Berlin-area to the new satellite camp at Neckarelz.

Here, the company used several thousand slaves in a joint project with Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) and the Ministry of Armaments. The Natzweiler main camp, although small, had its own gas chamber.

Together with other privileged German corporations, Daimler-Benz traded and trans-shipped Jewish forced laborers with nary a hint that they were dealing in human beings. They were purchased from the SS, with the understanding that they should not be kept alive for too long (so as not to slow down the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”).

The bewildered and tortured slaves were often housed in tiny animal kennels or underground chambers before “selection” for the gas chamber.

After the war, when some very small number of Jewish claimants called upon Daimler-Benz and other criminally responsible German firms to make some sort of restitution, the victims and their survivors were cruelly rebuffed.

On November 5, 1997, a German court upheld its government’s policy of rejecting compensation claims by Nazi-era slave laborers.

The judges based their decision in part on the fact that the pertinent German companies had already paid the Nazi SS for the forced laborers they had “employed” and that therefore no “further compensation” to Jewish victims was owed by the companies.

Most of these companies, of course, including Daimler-Benz, remained in business. Not one of these companies, including Daimler-Benz, ever made more than a token payment to their former Jewish slaves or to associated claimants.

In his book The Germans (St. Martin’s Press 1989) Financial Times correspondent David Marsh indicates that it was not until June 1988 that Daimler made a DM20 million payment to the U.S. Jewish Claims Conference “to ease consequences still ensuing from those times.”

Marsh notes that by June 1988, the actual victims of Daimler-Benz enslavement were no longer alive.

In 1998, according to Marsh, Daimler-Benz admitted to using 29,500 slaves at the end of 1944. (This was around half of its entire work force.) They sought – via its merger with Chrysler Corporation – to become a new and important giant in American industry.

Although certainly never to be acknowledged by Wall Street analysts, the now-imminent failure of this giant is due in some immeasurable way to the infamously unclean side of Daimler-Benz.

During the War, Daimler-Benz didpay salaries for their slaves, but the payments were made directly to the SS, which naturally kept the money. The ties between the German industrialists at Benz and other concerns to the SS were more intimate than is generally realized.

The industrialists were all heavy contributors to SS leader Himmler’s personal fund. For a Christmas celebration in 1943, Himmler invited these magnates to his own headquarters. An SS film on eradicating Jewish “vermin” was screened, and the “distinguished group” was entertained by an SS all male chorus.

How did the victorious allies mete out justice to the German industrialist murderers? No corporate director or manager was compelled to stand before the International Military Tribunal. Not one.

In subsequent trials against certain leading directors, several defendants were found guilty of crimes against humanity for exploiting Jewish slave labor. Although many were sentenced to long prison terms, by January 1951, not a single corporate criminal was still in jail.

An act of “clemency” by John J. McCloy, United States High Commissioner, gave all of these Germans their complete freedom. A mere half-dozen years after the war, all of the criminal German business leaders were free to regain huge personal fortunes.

The Jewish slaves, who had endured the unendurable, were left only with abject poverty, crippling illness, limitless pain, and incessant nightmares.

So the Nazi-era crimes of Daimler-Benz had been forgotten or forgiven on Wall Street. After all, there was presumably a lot of money to be made in the merger with Chrysler, and no reasonable investor wanted to be limited by what was done and cannot be undone. Yet memory, not forgetfulness, is indispensable to justice. And justice – even on Wall Street – is what America is ultimately all about.

For Daimler-Chrysler, the past is irremediably present, still silent perhaps, but unforgiving, dark and thoroughly inescapable.

Copyright The Jewish Press, March 9, 2007. All Rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES, Professor of Political Science at Purdue University, was born in Zurich, Switzerland on August 31, 1945. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D. 1971), he is the author of nine major books on international relations and international law. Professor Beres’ Austrian-Jewish grandparents were murdered at the SS-killing grounds in Riga, Latvia.

A Memory Of Justice – Chrysler’s Decline And The Third Reich

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

There can be no justice without memory. In 1998, Chrysler entered into an ambitious merger agreement with Germany’s Daimler-Benz. Since that time, its economic well-being has generally and persistently deteriorated. Most recently, Chrysler’s woes of falling stock prices and shrinking cash reserves have been aggravated by widening product deficiencies and burgeoning vehicle recalls.

For financial and industry analysts, there is nothing mysterious here. In their assessments, they continue to find appropriately scientific reasons to explain this unpredicted case of corporate misfortune. But not every truth can be found in science, and there are also less tangible reasons to be considered. These reasons have to do with Daimler-Benz’s horribly tainted past, and with the unrelenting destiny of all those who would refuse to acknowledge this past or to honor its many victims.

At the time of the merger six years ago, no public mention was ever made of Daimler’s Nazi involvement. Rather, it was assumed by Chrysler’s top executives that a murderous Daimler history could simply be shoved under the rug, and that expressly seductive calls for enrichment in America would easily drown out the increasingly weak cries for memory and justice. These assumptions were not merely sinister; they were also all wrong. What we witness today, in Daimler-Chrysler’s devastating economic decline, is the ineradicable stain of unpunished and unapologetic Daimler-Benz crimes against humanity.

One must speak today for all those who can no longer speak for themselves. One must speak for those endless railway cars of Jewish slave laborers whose seemingly inexhaustible supply in Nazi Germany and occupied lands made them less than slaves. Someone must speak for those starved and brutalized victims of unspeakable horrors inflicted by a “respectable” and venerated German corporation during World War II. So I speak today for the speechless victims of Daimler-Benz.

Six years ago, the entire business world was aglow about a “marriage made in heaven,” the mega-merger of Chrysler with Daimler-Benz. Lost in this grand celebration of new fortunes to be made was the extraordinary history of one corporate partner. During the War, hundreds of thousands of Jews were coerced into forced labor by many major German industrial firms under conditions which the judges at Nuremberg said “made labor and death almost synonymous.” In actuality, the victims were barely bits of sandpaper, rubbed a few times by their masters, judged useless and then burned - literally – with the garbage. Daimler-Benz was one of these firms.

Where did Daimler-Benz operate in the vast complex of slave enterprises? As documented authoritatively in The International Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (pp. 1037-1039), when Natzweiler-Struthof, a concentration camp established by Albert Speer because of nearby granite deposits, was expanded in 1944, Daimler-Benz moved some of its work from Berlin-area to the new satellite camp at Neckarelz. Here, the company used several thousand slaves in a joint project with Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) and the Ministry of Armaments. The Natzweiler main camp, although small, had its own gas chamber.

Together with other privileged German corporations, Daimler-Benz traded and transhipped Jewish forced laborers with nary a hint that they were dealing in human beings. Purchased from the SS, with the understanding that they should not be kept alive for too long (so as not to slow down the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”), the bewildered and tortured slaves were often housed in tiny animal kennels or underground chambers before “selection” for the gas chamber.

After the War, when some very small number of Jewish claimants called upon Daimler-Benz and other criminally-responsible German firms to make some sort of restitution, the victims and their survivors were cruelly rebuffed. On November 5, 1997, a German court upheld its government’s policy of rejecting compensation claims by Nazi-era slave laborers. The judges based their decision in part on the fact that the pertinent German companies had already paid the Nazi SS for the forced laborers they had “employed” and that therefore no “further compensation” to Jewish victims was owed by the companies.

Most of these companies, of course, including Daimler-Benz, remained in business. Not one of these companies, including Daimler-Benz, ever made more than a token payment to their former Jewish slaves or to associated claimants. As indicated by Financial Times correspondent David Marsh, in his book The Germans (St. Martin’s Press, 1989) it was not until June 1988 - when the actual victims of Daimler-Benz enslavement were no longer alive - that Daimler made a DM20 million payment to the U.S. Jewish Claims Conference “to ease consequences still ensuing from those times.”

Six years ago, Daimler-Benz which, by its own admission – according to Marsh - used 29,500 slaves at the end of 1944 (around half of its entire work force) became – via its merger with Chrysler Corporation – a new and important giant in American industry. Although certainly never to be acknowledged by Wall Street analysts, the resultant failure of this giant is due in no small measure to the infamously unclean side of Daimler-Benz.

During the War, Daimler-Benz did pay salaries for their slaves, but the payments were made directly to the SS, which naturally kept the money. The ties between the German industrialists at Benz and other concerns to the SS were more intimate than is generally realized. The industrialists were all heavy contributors to Himmler’s personal fund. For a Christmas celebration in 1943, Himmler invited these magnates to his own headquarters. An SS film on eradicating Jewish “vermin” was screened, and the distinguished group was entertained by a male chorus of SS men.

How did the victorious allies mete out justice to the German industrialist murderers? No corporate director or manager was compelled to stand before the International Military Tribunal. In subsequent trials against certain leading directors, several defendants were found guilty of crimes against humanity for exploiting Jewish slave labor. Although many were sentenced to long prison terms, by January 1951 not a single corporate criminal was still in jail. An act of “clemency” by John J. McCloy, United States High Commissioner, gave all of these Germans their complete freedom. A mere half-dozen years after the War, all of the criminal German business leaders were free to regain huge personal fortunes. The Jewish slaves who had endured the unendurable were left only with abject poverty, crippling illness, limitless pain, and incessant nightmares.

So the Nazi-era crimes of Daimler-Benz had been forgotten or forgiven on Wall Street. After all, there was apparently a lot of money to be made in the merger with Chrysler, and no reasonable investor wanted to be limited by what is done and cannot be undone. Yet, memory, not forgetfulness, is indispensable to justice, and justice – even on Wall Street - is what America is all about. For Daimler-Benz, and now for Daimler-Chrysler, the past is irremediably present, silent perhaps, but unforgiving, dark and inescapable.

Copyright © The Jewish Press 2004. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES, professor of political science at Purdue University, was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of ten major books on international relations and international law. His Austrian-Jewish grandparents were murdered at the SS-killing grounds in Riga, Latvia.

Understanding Recession And Bear Markets A New American Perspective

Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

Personal consumption drives our American economy. To uplift the financial markets and restore confidence on Wall Street and Main Street, everyone now wants the consumer to buy more. Without an aggressive expansion of consumer spending, corporate earnings will remain depressed, growth will stagnate, unemployment will increase, and stock values will decline even further. What then should we do?

The answer is simple and straightforward; the remedies, however, are not easy to implement. Our economy is weak because our society is weak. Our markets are lackluster because they are detached from an identifiable national life of genuineness, meaning and purpose. Rather than seek economic recovery in more accelerated purchases of material goods - goods which are largely unrelated to the requirements of a dignified private and public existence – it is time to ask the antecedent question: What kind of an economy relies for its buoyancy on the ceaseless consumption of more and more “things,” a consumption that bypasses progress and crowds out our capacity to do anything serious or important?

We Americans should recall Ralph Waldo Emerson. Writing during the middle of the 19th century, the great transcendentalist spoke knowingly of “self-reliance.” And he understood that a foolish “reliance upon property” was the result of “a want of self-reliance.” Today, living in a condition of delirious collectivism and endless conformance, the typical American wants more than anything to be like everyone else. The message is everywhere. We are what we buy.

Serious thought is an intolerable pretension. Electronic gadgetry is the very apex of consumer desire. Education, “higher” as well as elementary and secondary, is for the most part entirely vocational. Not surprisingly, we graduate newly minted Ph.D.s, M.D.s, SJDs and MBA’s who are at best marginally literate. What else could we expect?

Do we want a truly robust economy and stock market? Then we first have to reorient society from the corrupted ambience of the multitude and mass taste to a noble environment of thought and beauty. Let us be candid. In America, the most bountiful and privileged nation on Earth, there is also great anxiety and far-reaching unhappiness. Taught from the outset that “success” lies in consumption, the American “Mass Man” (and Woman) – strongly encouraged by all public authority – celebrates the ordinary and the commonplace. Jostled by mass entertainments and nurtured on mass foods, this present-day American dares not seek fulfillment where it can actually be found, in personal authenticity, reverence and “self-reliance.”

The American “Mass” now crushes beneath it everyone who seeks to overcome the crowd and become a person. In the schools, in the universities, in the professions, in politics, in the streets, the “Mass Person” rejects everything that is excellent, individual, qualified, singular and select. One can hardly be surprised at the weakness of our markets and economy. It merely mirrors a palpable weakness of our spirit.

Our economic vitality remains dependent upon Mass Society. Such dependence can never succeed in the long-term. Following Emerson, it is time to create conditions whereby an American can feel alive without surrendering to mass – a surrender for many that is accompanied by mountains of drugs and by oceans of alcohol. This will not be easy, of course, so long as the pleasure and promise of a simpler and more contemplative and more aesthetic life is unknown to the many. The change should begin in the schools, which must turn away immediately from the insidious mob tyranny of “standards,” to an education focused upon respect for the Individual. On the numbingly desolate stage of American society, we have had enough of the chorus. What we need now, desperately, are protagonists.

Left unchanged, our American society, after sucking out the very marrow of individualism, will be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty death of machinery, more hideous even than the death of a living organism. The economy, following society, will become more and more anemic, the victim of a mass culture that must inevitably exclude what is necessary. The only alternative, the only real creator of economic and investment growth, lies in an improved social order in which the Individual, firmly liberated from the mass, can begin to take himself or herself seriously.

LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is Professor of International Law at Purdue University.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/understanding-recession-and-bear-markets-a-new-american-perspective/2003/12/17/

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