Father's Nazi Dealings Continued
say Federal Documents
By John Buchanan and Stacey Michael
from The New Hampshire Gazette Vol. 248, No. 3, November
After the seizures in late 1942 of five U.S. enterprises he managed
on behalf of Nazi industrialist Fritz Thyssen, Prescott Bush, the
grandfather of President George W. Bush, failed to divest himself
of more than a dozen "enemy national" relationships that continued
until as late as 1951, newly-discovered U.S. government documents
Furthermore, the records show that Bush and his colleagues routinely
attempted to conceal their activities from government investigators.
Bush's partners in the secret web of Thyssen-controlled ventures
included former New York Governor W. Averell Harriman and his younger
brother, E. Roland Harriman. Their quarter-century of Nazi financial
transactions, from 1924-1951, were conducted by the New York private
banking firm, Brown Brothers Harriman.
The White House did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Although the additional seizures under the Trading with the Enemy
Act did not take place until after the war, documents from The National
Archives and Library of Congress confirm that Bush and his partners
continued their Nazi dealings unabated. These activities included
a financial relationship with the German city of Hanover and several
industrial concerns. They went undetected by investigators until after
World War Two.
At the same time Bush and the Harrimans were profiting from their
Nazi partnerships, W. Averell Harriman was serving as President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt's personal emissary to the United Kingdom during
the toughest years of the war. On October 28, 1942, the same day two
key Bush-Harriman-run businesses were being seized by the U.S. government,
Harriman was meeting in London with Field Marshall Smuts to discuss
the war effort.
Denial and Deceit
While Harriman was concealing his Nazi relationships from his government
colleagues, Cornelius Livense, the top executive of the interlocking
German concerns held under the corporate umbrella of Union Banking
Corporation (UBC), repeatedly tried to mislead investigators, and
was sometimes supported in his subterfuge by Brown Brothers Harriman.
All of the assets of UBC and its related businesses belonged to
Thyssen-controlled enterprises, including his Bank voor Handel en
Scheepvaart in Rotterdam, the documents state.
Nevertheless, Livense, president of UBC, claimed to have no knowledge
of such a relationship. "Strangely enough, (Livense) claims he does
not know the actual ownership of the company," states a government
H.D Pennington, manager of Brown Brothers Harriman and a director
of UBC "for many years," also lied to investigators about the secret
and well-concealed relationship with Thyssen's Dutch bank, according
to the documents.
Investigators later reported that the company was "wholly owned"
by Thyssen's Dutch bank.
Despite such ongoing subterfuge, U.S. investigators were able to
show that "a careful examination of UBC's general ledger, cash books
and journals from 1919 until the present date clearly establish that
the principal and practically only source of funds has been Bank voor
Handel en Scheepvaart."
In yet another attempt to mislead investigators, Livense said that
$240,000 in banknotes in a safe deposit box at Underwriters Trust
Co. in New York had been given to him by another UBC-Thyssen associate,
H.J. Kouwenhoven, managing director of Thyssen's Dutch bank and a
director of the August Thyssen Bank in Berlin. August Thyssen was
The government report shows that Livense first neglected to report
the $240,000, then claimed that it had been given to him as a gift
by Kouwenhoven. However, by the time Livense filed a financial disclosure
with U.S. officials, he changed his story again and reported the sum
as a debt rather than a cash holding.
In yet another attempt to deceive the governments of both the U.S.
and Canada, Livense and his partners misreported the facts about the
sale of a Canadian Nazi front enterprise, La Cooperative Catholique
des Consommateurs de Combustible, which imported German coal into
Canada via the web of Thyssen-controlled U.S. businesses.
"The Canadian authorities, however, were not taken in by this maneuver,"
a U.S. government report states. The coal company was later seized
by Canadian authorities.
After the war, a total of 18 additional Brown Brothers Harriman
and UBC-related client assets were seized under The Trading with the
Enemy Act, including several that showed the continuation of a relationship
with the Thyssen family after the initial 1942 seizures.
The records also show that Bush and the Harrimans conducted business
after the war with related concerns doing business in or moving assets
into Switzerland, Panama, Argentina and Brazil - all critical outposts
for the flight of Nazi capital after Germany's surrender in 1945.
Fritz Thyssen died in Argentina in 1951.
One of the final seizures, in October 1950, concerned the U.S. assets
of a Nazi baroness named Theresia Maria Ida Beneditka Huberta Stanislava
Martina von Schwarzenberg, who also used two shorter aliases. Brown
Brothers Harriman, where Prescott Bush and the Harrimans were partners,
attempted to convince government investigators that the baroness had
been a victim of Nazi persecution and therefore should be allowed
to maintain her assets.
"It appears, rather, that the subject was a member of the Nazi party,"
government investigators concluded.
At the same time the last Brown Brothers Harriman client assets
were seized, Prescott Bush announced his Senate campaign that led
to his election in 1952.
In 1943, six months after the seizure of UBC and its related companies,
a government investigator noted in a Treasury Department memo dated
April 8, 1943 that the FBI had inquired about the status of any investigation
into Bush and the Harrimans.
"I gave 'a memorandum' which did not say anything about the American
officers of subject," the investigator wrote. "(Another investigator)
wanted to know whether any specific action had been taken by us with
respect to them."
No further action beyond the initial seizures was ever taken, and
the newly-confirmed records went unseen by the American people for
What Does It All Mean?
So why are the documents relevant today?
"The story of Prescott Bush and Brown Brothers Harriman is an introduction
to the real history of our country," says L.A. art book publisher
and historian Edward Boswell. "It exposes the money-making motives
behind our foreign policies, dating back a full century. The ability
of Prescott Bush and the Harrimans to bury their checkered pasts also
reveals a collusion between Wall Street and the media that exists
to this day."
Sheldon Drobny, a Chicago entrepreneur and philanthropist who will
soon launch a liberal talk radio network, says the importance of the
new documents is that they prove a long pattern of Bush family war
profiteering that continues today via George H.W. Bush's intimate
relationship with the Saudi royal family and the bin Ladens, conducted
via the super-secret Carlyle Group, whose senior advisers include
former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
In the post-9/11 world, Drobny finds the Bush-Saudi connection deeply
troubling. "Trading with the enemy is trading with the enemy," he
says. "That's the relevance of the documents and what they show."
Lawrence Lader, an abortion rights activist and the author of more
than 40 books, says "the relevance lies with the fact that the sitting
President of the United States would lead the nation to war based
on lies and against the wishes of the rest of the world." Lader and
others draw comparisons between President Bush's invasion of Iraq
and Hitler's occupation of Poland in 1939 - the event that sparked
World War Two.
However, others see an even larger significance.
"The discovery of the Bush-Nazi documents raises new questions about
the role of Prescott Bush and his influential business partners in
the secret emigration of Nazi war criminals, which allowed them to
escape justice in Germany," says Bob Fertik, co-founder of Democrats.com
and an amateur 'Nazi hunter.' "It also raises questions about the
importance of Nazi recruits to the CIA in its early years, in what
was called Operation Paperclip, and Prescott Bush's role in that dark
Fertik and others, including former Justice Department Nazi war
crimes prosecutor John Loftus, a Constitutional attorney in Miami,
and a former Veterans Administration official, believe Prescott Bush
and the Harrimans should have been tried for treason.
Now, say Fertik and Loftus, there should be a Congressional investigation
into the Bush family's Nazi past and its concealment from the American
people for 60 years.
"The American people have a right to know, in detail, about this
hidden chapter of our history," says Loftus, author of The Secret
War Against the Jews. "That's the only way we can understand it and
deal with it."
For his part, Fertik is pessimistic that even a Congressional investigation
can thwart the war profiteering of the present Bush White House. "It's
impossible to stop it," he says, "when the worst war profiteers are
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who operate in secrecy behind the
vast powers of the White House."
John Buchanan is a journalist and magazine writer
based in Miami Beach.
He can be reached by e-mail at :
Stacey Michael is a New Orleans-based journalist
and the author of Religious Conceit. His most recent book is Weapons
of Mass Dysfunction: The Art of "Faith-Based" Politics, due in early
He can be reached by email at :
Interview with a Prosecutor
By interview by John Buchanan
from The New Hampshire Gazette
( Vol. 248, No. 2, October 24, 2003)