President Bush recently paid a visit to the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland. He was shown tiny shoes that had belonged to Jewish babies, and locks of hair shorn from Jewish women and luggage that had been the property of camp victims.
After his tour of the camp, Bush said it was a monument to the darkest impulses of man. A place where evil found its willing servants and its innocent victims.
The tour was the latest in a series of managed political theater designed to enhance Bushs image. It also was a cynical and hypocritical performance that did profound disservice to the millions of innocents who perished at Auschwitz and other death camps.
An explanation of that position requires an examination of recent history that is widely known in some circles and not at all in others.
At the time, it was widely understood that the Nazis, like Mussolini, had been raised to power with the backing of big business to smash the socialist workers movement and prevent a revolution.
Bush, on this tour, chose to ignore the historical origins of fascism in Germany. That served a particular and personal purpose.
From 1920 into the 1940s, and during the Second World War, Prescott Bushthe presidents grandfatherwas a partner and executive in Brown Brothers Harriman, a Wall Street holding company. He also was a director of one of its key companies, the Union Banking Company (UBC).
Prescott and his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, controlled another of the holding companys assets, the Hamburg-Amerika shipping line. The Nazis used this line to ferry their agents in and out of North America.
In 1933 another subsidiary of the group, Harriman International Co., made a deal with Hitlers associates to coordinate German exports to the U.S. market.
At the same time, UBC managed all banking operations for Fritz Thyssen, who with Friedrich Flick, owned and operated the German Steel Trust. Thyssen was a principal backer of the SS and the Nazis.
Ten months after the war started, in October 1942, the U.S. government seized Union Bank and several other of the companies in which Bush and Harriman had an interest. The seizure order named not only Bush and Roland Harriman but also three Nazi executives.
A federal investigation in 1945 revealed the bank run by Prescott Bush was linked to the German Steel Trust owned by Thyssen and Flick. The mammoth German industry made half the steel and more than a third of the explosives and other strategic materials used by the Nazi war machine.
On October 28, 1942, the U.S. government seized assets of two Nazi front companiesthe Holland-American Trading Corp. and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corp., both controlled by Union Bank.
A month later, the same treatment was given the Silesian-American Corp., directed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law, George Walker.
The seizure order, issued under the Trading With the Enemy Act, stated Silesian-American was a U.S. holding company with German and Polish subsidiaries. These companies controlled large coal and zinc mines in Silesia, Poland and Germany. All were under Nazi direction.
These assets also included a steel plant in Poland in the same district as Auschwitz. Prisoners reportedly were used as slave labor.
John Loftus was formerly a prosecutor in the War Crimes Unit of the Justice Department. Today he directs the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Loftus alleges the Bush family got $1.5 million from its interest in Union Bank when that business was liquidated in 1951. Thats where the Bush family fortune came from, he said. It came from the Third Reich.
He charges that money included direct profit from the slave labor of Auschwitz victims. Loftus said further: …giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war is treason. The Bush bank helped the Thyssens make the Nazi steel that killed Allied soldiers. Thyssens coal mines used Jewish slaves as if they were disposable chemicals.
There are 6 million skeletons in the Thyssen family closet, and a myriad of criminal and historical questions to be answered about the Bush familys complicity, Loftus said.
It should be noted that Prescott Bush was not alone in admiring and dealing with Hitlers regime. Many other American industrialists, including Henry Ford and the Rockefeller family, did likewise.
All of it was covered up by the political structure of the U.S. Prescott Bush was made chairman of the National War Board, helping to raise money for war-related charities.
After he got his $1.5 million from the Union Bank dissolution, Prescott Bush ran for the Senate from Connecticut. He held office until 1963.