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ClearDot.gif (85 bytes) Nazty Business (cont.)
. . . . . .

The American Axis
Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of the Third ReichObjectionable though the Nazi business dealings of Prescott Bush, General Motors and IBM may be, however, they differed from Ford in one significant respect. As Edwin Black writes about IBM's Nazi collaboration, "It was never about the anti-Semitism, never about the Nazism. It was always about the money. As far as IBM was concerned, 'business' was its middle name."

In fact, it is an incident involving IBM President Thomas Watson that provides the starkest possible contrast between the philosophies of the two company's founders. At a Berlin Economic Congress in June 1937, the German government bestowed on Watson the Merit Cross of the German Eagle, a slightly lower grade Nazi decoration than the Grand Cross Henry Ford would receive a year later. Ford consistently refused public calls to return his own medal, even after the United States entered World War Two. He believed the Jews were behind efforts to take it away from him, telling an associate, "They told me to return it or else I'm not American. I'm going to keep it."

Thomas Watson's Nazi decoration never received the kind of publicity accorded to Ford's own Cross of the German Eagle; hence, there was no similar public clamor for the IBM President to return his medal. But in May 1940, as the Nazi blitzkrieg swept westward toward France, Watson wrote a letter to Hitler, returning the medal the Führer had bestowed on him three years earlier, writing, "The present policies of your government are contrary to the causes for which I have been working and for which I received the decoration." Like Ford, however, he never returned Hitler's money.psst! Magazine

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