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Friday February 5, 1999

Deutsche Bank financed
Nazi's death camp


By Howard Hobbs, Contributing Editor

Related Stories:
     Ford Law Suit 09/06/1998.
     Ford Slave Labor 03/18/1998.
     Secret Life of An American Nazi 09/01/1997.

     FRANKFURT - In the wake of the discovery that Ford Motor Co. profited from Nazi slave labor in Germany during WW2, now another shocker. Facing billions of dollars in claims from Holocaust survivors, today, Germany's largest bank has admitted it has documents in its vaults establishing a loan at a critical time to Hitler for financing the construction of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland where in Himmler's report to Hitler, he listed 363,211 Jews murdered during August-November of 1942.
     It was at this concentration camp that I.G. Farben had its Zyklon B Degesch Division, which manufactured a commercial form of deadly hydrocyanic acid, which became active on contact with air. It was used in the Auschwitz concentration camp beginning in the summer of 1941 where the poison gas was used for mass executions of prisoners too sick to work.
     Prisoners were marched there for slave labor every day. Over the gate there was a sign which read Arbeit Macht Frei ["Work (for I.G. Farben) will set you free!"]. Starved, and sick with infections, many died of exhaustion. But, most were killed with the I.G. Farben Zyklon-B cyanide gas.
     "Without I.G. Farben's immense productive facilities, including those at Auschwitz, its far-reaching research, varied technical experience and overall concentration of economic power, Nazi Germany would not have been in the position to conduct its aggressive war in Europe and against the United States, according to reports filed by General Eisenhower's staff at the close of the war.
     An indictment charging twenty-four of I.G. Farben's highest officials with war crimes was filed with the United States Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. In 1953, I.G. Farben's assets were divided among Hoechst, BASF sound recording tape, Bayer Aspirin and other firms. The current company is basically a trust to settle claims and lawsuits from the Nazi era.
     Deutsche Bank officials turned over the Nazi loan documents to independent historians the bank appointed last year to research its past connections with Hitler's Third Reich.
     Walter Schumacher of the Deutsche Bank in Frankfort told Bulldog Newspaper correspondents "We deeply regret this but recognize our responsibility to deal with these things openly....We don't want to keep them from the public."
     However, Schumacher was not as open as he seemed, because he did not answer questions from reporters about just how much money had been loaned to Hitler.
     The spectre of Germany's top banking institution profiting from the slave labor of Holocaust victims adds another layer of suspicion and mistrust surrounding Deutsche Bank amid revelations recently that it profited from gold teeth, gold and silver eyeglass frames and even human skin mined and looted from concentration camp victims during World War II.
     Victims' relatives who have filed lawsuits, seeking billions in compensatory damages, may now have to wait even longer to settle their cases as the discovery of the Auschwitz loan papers is expected to delay government approval of Deutsche Bank's $10.1 billion acquisition of U.S.-based Bankers Trust Corp., announced in November.
     Schumacher said the documents were part of caches of files locked up behind the Iron Curtain until the end of the Cold War and were just pulled together over the past year.
     Among those files were loan papers from the Deutsche Bank office in occupied Katowice, Poland he depicted as "...loans related to construction companies that built Auschwitz and were financed through the Deutsche Bank."
     According to the most accurate count, about 1.5 million people died at the Auschwitz I.G. Farben plant.

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