Socialist Worker

Mike Rosen: Dealing with the Nazis

Issue No. 1778

As Christmas approaches you may be wondering how you're going to see your parents, grandparents, their friends and cope with all the guesting and hosting. If the thought of it all is getting you down, then spare a thought for George W Bush and his ambassador in London, William S Farish III.

To put you in the picture, Bush's ole grandpa ain't around no more but, as you know, ma and pa are alive and well. Meanwhile, Farish will go through the festive season without his dad and grandad. They both died in the 1940s. Who knows, perhaps the Bushes and the Farishes will get together? Because their families have been getting along fine for over 70 years.

Now why should I be painting this cosy picture to y'all here? In this paper, of all places? Wouldn't you just reckon it would be to sneer and carp at our great leaders as they face the great trial? As President Bush has pointed out (and the statesmanlike Jack Straw has echoed) this conflict with Bin Laden is like dealing with the Nazi terror in Europe in 1941.

It's very interesting that the N-word was bandied about so readily by the president. Obvious, you might think, as all our democracy-loving leaders often like to earn our loyalty by comparing the latest enemy with the universally loathed Nazis. But it's just possible that thoughts of the Nazis and horrific acts of genocide were near at hand in the Bush brain for other reasons.

You see, 60 years ago the president's grandpa-Prescott Bush-was in business.

He was a director of the Union Banking Corporation, which also managed the Holland-American Trading Corporation, the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation and the Silesian-American Corporation.

These companies all did good business with the Third Reich. The federal government went so far as seizing their assets in 1942. But there were more scrapes to get through-and perhaps this will be one of the jolly stories being told round the Christmas tree in the White House this year-ambassador Farish's gramp, longtime pardner of ole Prescott, was managing Standard Oil of New Jersey.

And, whaddyaknow, Standard was in a joint venture with IG Farben to produce artificial rubber and gas, in a little factory known as Auschwitz. In fact, one of Farish's hirelings, Emil Helferrich, used to write cheques to one Heinrich Himmler, then chief of the SS, on the Standard Oil account. Just to keep things consistent, Farish supplied the German navy and airforce with gasoline.

Much of this was exposed in 1942 in the full limelight of a Senate committee. And, sad to say, old man Farish seemed to die of shame. Six months later Farish junior copped it too, leaving the ambassador-to-be fatherless. The good news was that very little of the two families' combined assets was touched. After the war they founded oil companies with what has been scurrilously called 'Auschwitz money'.

Since then the Bushes and the Farishes have sought much more savoury trading partners and business chums-the Bin Laden family. Presumably another subject for hilarious joshing and rib-tickling over the Christmas pud.

'Like the Nazi regime of World War II,' President Bush told the world, 'the terrorists of today reject the limits of law, morality and religion.' And you can't help thinking, well, he of all people ought to know about such things.


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Sat 8 Dec 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1778
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