The west’s long fascination with fascism

Claire Connelly
Aug 22, 2017 · 8 min read
An artist’s rendering satirising Coke’s sponsorship of the 1936 Munich Olympic Games.

The following is a heavily-edited excerpt of my upcoming book, Big Lies: How The World Really Doesn’t Work. Subscribe to Hello Humans for $1 a month for access to various previews.

Russia didn’t hack the election.

America is not at war with terrorism.

Nor did it go to war over fascism. America didn’t even win the war. That would be Soviet Russia, which lost more than 5 million troops holding off Nazi aggression and a further 15 million civilians. (0.1)

So long as there is profit to be made, governments and corporations are prepared to experiment with as many ‘isms’ that serve their bottom line, and they are willing to work together to do so. Unless it’s socialism or social democracy. Because apparently prioritising the political and economic needs of those who live and work in the country under which you serve is an idea so radical it is worth going to war over.

Our inability to come to terms with the basic facts of history is why we will probably go to war again.

The West has always been fascinated with fascism

Roosevelt was keen on Mussolini, who he described as an “admirable Italian gentleman”. So was Churchill who is quoted as saying Italian fascism “rendered a service to the whole world”. (1). He also admired Stalin, who he described as his “wartime comrade”, (2), and was “strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes,” and described those who disagreed with its use as simply “squeamish”. (3)

In 1937 the US State Department described Adolf Hitler as a “moderate”, holding off forces of the left — Bolsheviks and the labour movement — and of the ‘extremist Nazis’ of the right — and said the US should support him for this reason. (4)

Likewise ambassador and diplomat, Henry P Fletcher, said “peace and prosperity was preferred to free speech, loose administration and the danger and disorganisation of Bolshevism”. (5)

American diplomat and historian, George Kennan, said the US government should not be too harsh in condemning the Nazis since what they were doing “is kind of understandable” and said the US could “get along with them”. (6)

The White House, 10 Downing Street and western intelligence communities were not isolated in their fondness.

The fascist press

Both the American and international press also expressed a fascination with fascism.

The New York Times famously reported that Hitler’s anti-semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded and that he was merely using anti-semitic propaganda to amass followers.

In 1928 the New York Tribune said of the Italian ‘Fascisti’ movement: “though a bit rough in its methods”, its aims were a “tonic against socialistic internationalism.” (7)

The New York Times acknowledged that while fascism was a “new experiment”, it credited Mussolini with “returning a turbulent Italy to normalcy”. (8)

Journalist, Arthur Brisbane, wrote that “fascism sounded the awakening of a viable middle class political life in Italy.” (9)

Likewise the Chicago Tribune wrote: “fascism stood for the most striking and successful attempt of the middle class to meet the tide of revolutionary socialism.” (10)

Even the Times wrote an endorsement of Mussolini’s ‘Corporate State’ (the merger of state and corporate power) in 1925 that his concept of power and authority “has many points in common with that of men who inspired our own Constitution: John Adams, Hamilton and Washington. The uninformed will of the many is to be balanced by the experience and wisdom of the few.” (11)

The Associated Press entered a formal arrangement with the Hitler regime in the 1930s in which American newspapers were provided with content produced directly by Joseph Goebbels and his Nazi propaganda industry, according to historian Harriet Scharnberg. (12)

Hitler was even chosen as Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938. Stalin claimed the title twice: once in 1939 and again 1942. (13, 14,15)

Writers like Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain forewarned of facism’s danger, which largely fell on deaf ears. “Scratch a Democrat and you always find a Nazi,” Hemingway wrote. Also: “But are there not many fascists in your country? There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the times comes.”

And of course the American private sector was so taken with the achievements of Hitler and Mussolini, it would try to launch a fascist coup against Roosevelt for having the audacity to enact The New Deal which would result in one of the greatest redistributions of wealth the world had ever seen.

Corporate fascism

Many in the corporate sector adored Hitler and the opportunities fascism offered for the elite.

Notorious anti-semite, Henry Ford, was so enamoured by Hitler he would send the Fuhrer $50,000 every year on his birthday. (16)

Left: Henry Ford’s anti-semitic screed: The International Jew, Right: Henry Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Nazi officials, 1938.

American aviator, Charles Lindbergh, praised Hitler as “an undoubtedly great man”, while his wife published a best-seller in which she called totalitarianism “the wave of the future”. (17).

While FDR was not himself pro-fascist, he nonetheless did very little to discourage the US corporate sector from doing business in Germany, even after war had been declared.

“Long and shocking is the list of diplomats and businessmen alike who had their own ways of profiting from the war,” wrote British author and editor, Charles Higham in Trading With the Enemy. (18)

General Motors’ Opel Brandenburg plant produced trucks, aircraft parts, land mines and torpedo detonators for Nazi Germany, and in August 1938, senior executive, James D. Mooney, received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle for his distinguished service to the Reich. (19)

Nazi armaments Chief Albert Speer told a Congressional investigator that Germany could not have attempted its September 1939 Blitzkrieg of Poland without the performance-boosting additive technology provided by Alfred P. Sloan and General Motors. (20)

Ford trucks transported German troops. (21). ITT supplied many of the rocket bombs that landed on London and built the fighter aircrafts that dropped them. (22)

General Motors and Ford even received reparations from the US government after the war to repay the US companies for factories destroyed by the American military. (23)

Adolf Hitler commissioned Porsche to develop the KdF-Wagen (short for “Kraft durch Freude” or “Strength through joy”), forerunner of what we know today as the Beetle.

IBM’s punch-card technology was used to record and control the influx of millions of people in-and-out of concentration camps. (24)

Standard Oil shipped fuel through Switzerland for the Nazi occupation forces in France. (25)

When trade embargoes prevented Coca-Cola from importing its cola syrup into Nazi Germany, it invented Fanta out of scraps of locally available ingredients, for the sole purpose of maintaining its corporate profits while millions of people perished. (26)

Even The Bank for International Settlements was Nazi controlled in 1944 and presided over by American, Thomas K McKittrick, who, while millions were languishing at war or in concentration camps, sat down with Germany, Japan, Italy, Britain and America to discuss its receipt of gold bars, looted from the banks of Austria, Belgium and Czechoslovakia “or melted down from teeth fillings, eyeglass frames, and wedding rings of millions of murdered Jews.” (27)

But nothing speaks greater volumes for the private sector’s flirtation with fascism than the attempted coup attempts against FDR and Churchill as punishment for The New Deal and entering WWII respectively…

Continue reading the rest of this edited chapter, by subscribing to Hello Humans for as little as $1 a month.


0.1) Andreev, EM; Darski, LE; Kharkova, TL. Population dynamics: consequences of regular and irregular changes, In Lutz, Wolfgang; Scherbov, Sergei; Volkov, Andrei. Demographic Trends and Patterns in the Soviet Union Before 1991. Routledge, (11 September 2002).

1) Winston Churchill’s “Crazy Broadcast”: Party, Nation, and the 1945 Gestapo Speech, The Journal of British Studies, / Volume 49 / Issue 03 / July 2010, pp 655 ­ 680 DOI: 10.1086/652014, Published online: 21 December 2012.

2) How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey Across America, Jon Wiener, University of California Press, 2012, p 53.

3) Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, (London: Heinemann, 1976), companion volume 4, part 1.

4) Reexamining History with Noam Chomsky: US Elite’s view of European Fascism before WW2 Noam Chomsky, interviewed by Zain Raza, AcTVism Munich, September 30, 2016.

5) Deterring Democracy, Noam Chomsky, Random House, Jul 2011, p 30.

6) Reexamining History with Noam Chomsky: US Elite’s view of European Fascism before WW2 Noam Chomsky, interviewed by Zain Raza, AcTVism Munich, September 30, 2016.

7) Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America, John Patrick Diggins, Princeton University Press, p30.

8) Ibid, p30.

9) Ibid, 145.

10) Ibid, p31.

11) Ibid, p32.

12) Harriet Scharnberg, The A and P of Propaganda, Associated Press and the National Socialist Pictures, in: Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History, online edition, 13 ( 2016 ), H. 1.

13) Time Magazine, Monday, January 02, 1938.

14) Ibid, January 1st, 1940.

15) Ibid, January 4th, 1943.

16) Peter Kuznick interview series on The Real News Network, Untold History: Stalin, The Soviet Union and WWII, January 14th 2013.

17) Gunitsky Seva, These are three reasons fascism spread in 1930s America — and it might spread again today, The Washington Post, August 12 2017.

18) Preface, Trading With The Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money-Plot 1933–1949 by Charles Higham; Hale, London, 1983.

19) Henry Ashby Turner, General Motors and the Nazis: The Struggle for Control of Opel, Europe’s Biggest Carmaker. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. p 200, ISBN 978–0–300–10634–3.

20) Ibid

21) Dobbs, Michael (1998–11–30). “Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi Collaboration”. The Washington Post, pA01, Retrieved 2009–06–01,

22) Preface, Trading With The Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money-Plot 1933–1949 by Charles Higham; Hale, London, 1983.

23) Ibid, p1.

24) Black, Edwin, IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation, Crown Books, 2001, p351

25) Preface, Trading With The Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money-Plot 1933–1949 by Charles Higham; Hale, London, 1983.

26) Mark Pendergrast: For God, Country and Coca-Cola, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1993

27) Highman, Charles, Trading With The Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money-Plot 1933–1949 by Charles Higham; Hale, London, 1983.

28) Ibid, p34

29) Higham Charles, Trading With The Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money-Plot 1933–1949 by Charles Higham; Hale, London, 1983.

30) Smedley D Butler in Stone, Oliver, Kuznick, Peter, The Untold History of The United States, Random House, 2013, p xxxii.

31) Schlesinger, Meler Arthur, The Politics of Upheaval: 1935–1936, The Age of Roosevelt, Volume III, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003, p83

32) Colby Gerard, Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain, Open Road Media, 2014

33) How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power, The Guardian, 26 September 2004,

34) Sulick Michael J, Spying in America: Espionage from the Revolutionary War to the Dawn of the Cold War, Georgetown University Press, 2014

35) Nicholson Peter, Churchill and the Fascist Plot, Channel 4, 2013

36) Ibid

37) Ibid

38) Ibid

39) Nutting Rex, Trading with the enemy, MarketWatch, April 15, 2003

40) Gowans, Stephen, Washington’s Long War on Syria, Baraka Books, April 2017

41) President Barack Obama, The White House National Security Strategy, February 2015, p 2

42) UK Arms exports to Saudi Arabia can continue, high court rules, The Guardian, 10 July 2017

43) Ryan Peter, CBA risks massive fines over anti-money laundering, terrorism financing law breaches, ABC, August 2nd, 2017

44) Connelly, Claire, WTF is happening: A history, Renegade Inc, June 8, 2017.

Hello Humans

An experiment in subscription journalism & opinion

Claire Connelly

Written by

Lead writer @ Renegade Inc. Founder of Hello Humans.

Hello Humans

An experiment in subscription journalism & opinion

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