‘Story of Denazification in Germany full of lies and historic
A Jewish academic has slammed the perceived success of denazification in Germany as “full of lies and historic injustice”.
Addressing Limmud attendees online, Zachary Gallant outlined how the denazification of Germany after World War Two was repeatedly used as a model for other countries who refused to own up to their own wartime crimes. This included De-Ba’athification – the model for political cleansing in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein – with the White House and Downing Street claiming parallels with denazification.
Yet, during a wide-ranging presentation, Gallant noted that – contrary to common belief – families and companies had not in fact had assets stolen or earned during the Holocaust removed from them.
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He cited the example of Henkel, whose consumer brands today include Persil and Schwarzkopf: “Henkel was considered a model company by the Nazi regime,” Gallant explained. “Their wealth today still has its roots in the theft of Jewish assets and companies under Aryanization.
“After the war, British occupying forces wanted to dismantle the Henkel company and remove the family’s assets. However, the Henkel family used international connections – especially British and American – to avoid this fate and in the end kept the bulk of their assets and the entirety of their ownership of the company.”
Henkel remains the world’s leading adhesives producer, he noted, but is “irrevocably tainted” by its past.
Gallant is director of the “Values are One” project of the Global Ethic Foundation, funded by the German Federal Office for Migration & Refugees.
Over the past 14 months, Gallant and his wife have undertaken a research project which uncovers similar activities by dozens of other multinational companies with German origins.
“We thought that in the case of Henkel, we were dealing with just one company which denazification had accidentally missed. In fact, as we dug deeper, we learnt just how systemic the problem was and how the truth contrasts so significantly with the national narrative.”
“The fact is Henkel was not the exception, but the rule,” he explained. “Our research shows the same patterns of behaviour for dozens of companies and families, including Adidas, Bahlsen and BMW.”
Many of these companies now engage in “self-aggrandising philanthropy with ill-gotten wealth”, Gallant added. “A truly shocking amount of German philanthropy has been built off the back of the Holocaust.”
Recalling how he felt safe in Germany after seeing how “powerless and emasculated” Neo-Nazis were at a rally in 2012, Gallant began researching the extent to which denazification had really been a success in other areas of public and commercial life.
“When we talk about the German economic miracle after World War Two, for me the miracle is that they were allowed to keep these stolen assets whose value is equivalent to the entire Marshall Plan.”
“We need to change how we deal with this information. We need to be outraged and we need to force action. For me this is not about the money. It’s about the lies, hypocrisy and the systemic continuation of a historic injustice.”
Gallant’s new book ‘Brauner Boden’ will be published in German next month. An English translation will follow shortly.