Asks Shell to apologize for ‘fueling the Nazi war machine’
The Shell oil company faces calls for an apology as a new book highlights the full extent of its role in spurring the Nazi war effort.
According to “Crude Britannia” by James Marriott and Terry Macalister, at the outbreak of World War II, Anglo-Dutch society “effectively split into an Allied society and an Axis society.” Shell’s Nazi branch, called Rhenania-Ossag, “fell behind the [German] government as the Nazi state began to invade other countries ”.
Or as the official Shell story says “Following the annexation by Hilter of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the group’s general managers (Shell) sanctioned Rhenania-Ossag taking over the Shell companies in these countries. The same process took place in Hungary, Yugoslavia and Greece after Germany took control of these states.
During this time, Shell also supported Allied forces, producing aviation fuel for the RAF. The result, say the authors, was that “air combat over the English Channel between a Messerschmitt and a Spitfire could have seen both planes powered by Shell fuel.”
The book, launched last week, chronicles how oil shaped modern Britain from the 1930s to today. Its section on Shell’s role in World War II, based on the company’s official stories, shocked readers.
Speaking to openDemocracy, Marriott said: “In the many years of studying the history of Shell and other UK-based oil companies in the 1930s and 1940s, we took care of ourselves. to inspire widely works published by the companies themselves – to gain the official line – and to be inspired by the works of scholars.
“By carefully reading Shell’s history, we understood how the company was key to the German economy in the 1930s – the fastest growing market in Europe, especially in fuel. aviation. Shell and other companies have adapted to meet the demands of the National Socialist government.
“When the war with Britain came in 1940, society effectively split in two – an Axis part and an Allied part. He sold fuel to both parties to the conflict.
“The Axis side,” he said, “has gained strength in the German-controlled states”. Simultaneously, he said: “Many Shell personnel played a huge role – and gave their lives – in the Allied war effort.”
“However, after the war, society insisted on playing down its role in the Axis war effort. Only 60 years later, an official story has really started to describe both sides, although Shell still tends to pin corporate actions that supported the Axis war effort on a few individuals. “
Shell’s German subsidiary, Rhenania-Ossag, fired all Jewish members of its board in May and June 1933. Nominations to replace them included a member of the Nazi Party. Official history states that “profound changes in the board of Rhenania-Ossag would not have been possible without the full consent of[bureauxcentrauxdeShellAucunequestiondeprincipeoudejugementmoralsurlerégimehitlériennesembles’êtreposéeLeshistoriensdeShelln’ontpasétéenmesured’établircequis’estpasséàcôtédecesmembresdupersonneljuifs[ShellCentralOfficesNoquestionsofprincipleormoraljudgementsabouttheHitlerregimeappeartohavearisen”Shell’shistorianswerenotabletoestablishwhathappenednexttotheseJewishstaffmembers[bureauxcentrauxdeShellAucunequestiondeprincipeoudejugementmoralsurlerégimehitlériennesembles’êtreposéeLeshistoriensdeShelln’ontpasétéenmesured’établircequis’estpasséàcôtédecesmembresdupersonneljuifs[ShellCentralOffices…NoquestionsofprincipleormoraljudgementsabouttheHitlerregimeappeartohavearisen”Shell’shistorianswerenotabletoestablishwhathappenednexttotheseJewishstaffmembers
Seven years later, after Germany invaded Holland, the swastika flew past Shell HQ in The Hague.