grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and
hareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with
the financial backers of Nazi Germany.... His business dealings,
which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under
the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years
later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against
the Bush family by two former slave labourers at
Auschwitz and to
a hum of pre-election controversy....
"... the new documents,
many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after
America had entered the war and when there was already significant
information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and
profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses
that financed Hitler's rise to power....
"While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic
to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked
for, Brown Brothers
(BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz
Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s.... The Guardian
has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New
York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented
Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after
America entered the war.... Bush was also on the board of at least
one of the companies that formed part of a multinational network
of front companies to allow Thyssen to move assets around the
"During the war, the company [CSSC] made use of Nazi slave
labour from the concentration camps, including
The ownership of CSSC changed hands several times in the 1930s,
but documents from the US National Archive declassified last year
link Bush to CSSC, although it is not clear if he and UBC were
still involved in the company when Thyssen's American assets were
seized in 1942.
"Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's involvement.
All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive
system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library of
Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University
of Maryland.... The third set of documents, also at the National
Archives, are contained in the files on IG Farben [maker
of the cyanide-based Zyklon B gas used in the
who was prosecuted for war crimes.
"Prescott Bush... was the founder of the Bush political dynasty....
Like his son, George, and grandson, George W, he went to Yale where
he was, again like his descendants, a member of the secretive and
influential Skull and Bones student society. He was an artillery
captain in the first world war and married Dorothy Walker, the
daughter of George Herbert Walker [whose son, George Herber
Walker, Jr. was a
"In 1924, his father-in-law, a well-known St Louis investment
banker, helped set him up in business in New York with Averill
the wealthy son of railroad magnate E H Harriman.... One of the
first jobs Walker gave Bush was to manage UBC. Bush was a founding
member of the bank and the incorporation documents.... The bank
was set up by Harriman and Bush's father-in-law to provide a US
bank for the Thyssens, Germany's most powerful industrial family....
"After hearing Adolf Hitler speak, Thyssen became mesmerised
by the young firebrand. He joined the Nazi party in December
1931 and admits backing Hitler in his autobiography, I
Paid Hitler... By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman,
which claimed to be the world's largest private investment bank,
and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel,
steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing
Hitler's build-up to war.....
"Thyssen's partner in United Steel Works, which had coal mines
and steel plants across the region, was Friedrich Flick, another
steel magnate who also owned part of IG Farben, the powerful
German chemical company. Flick's plants in Poland made heavy use
of slave labour from the concentration camps in Poland.....
"Bush's friend and fellow 'bonesman'
Knight Woolley, another partner at BBH, wrote to Averill Harriman
in January 1933 warning of problems with CSSC after the Poles started
their drive to nationalise the plant....
"'This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to
power... this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated
back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations
into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted,'
said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St
Petersburg. 'The Union Banking Corporation was a holding company
for the Nazis, for Fritz Thyssen,' said Loftus.... Loftus said Prescott
Bush must have been aware of what was happening in Germany at the
time. 'My take on him was that he was a not terribly successful
in-law who did what Herbert Walker told him to. Walker and Harriman
were the two evil geniuses, they didn't care about the Nazis
any more than they cared about their investments with the Bolsheviks.'...
"...documents from the Harriman papers include a flattering wartime
profile of Harriman in the New York Journal American and
next to it in the files is a letter ... from Prescott Bush congratulating
the paper for running the profile. He added that Harriman's 'performance
and his whole attitude has been a source of inspiration and pride
to his partners and his friends'."
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