World War I was unlike anything that the world had ever seen before. The chaos, tragedy and terror of mechanized warfare, combined arms, artillery and firearms forever changed the way the world would view warfare. World War I was a rude awakening as to what the nature of war would be from now on and it would live on in infamy in the hearts and minds of millions of people. The Great War, as it was called, took the lives of millions and was a bloody and brutal conflict through and through. The end was a very welcome sight amongst all of those involved, yet the final surrender of the belligerent nation, Germany, would open the door to a long, convoluted process that would ultimately culminate in the rise of Nazi Germany. This process can be linked back to one single document: The Treaty of Versailles.
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When Hannah Arendt came to Jerusalem in 1961 to attend the Eichmann trial she expected to find Evil incarnated in the person of Eichmann. How surprised she was to see the man in the glass booth. The word she used repeatedly to describe him was “mediocre,” referring to the very average qualities of his person. To Arendt the dissonance between Eichmann’s horrifying actions and the bureaucratic character of the man demanded an explanation. Like so many of us, Arendt’s conception of evil had been informed by great works of art, but the reality of this villain did not fit her expectations.
It is one of the great ironies of history that Emperor Heraclius, who rescued the Byzantine Empire from potential collapse at the hands of the Sassanid Empire, should preside over the defeat of the Byzantine army at the hands of the early Arab caliphs. The collapse of Byzantium’s military position in the near-east was sealed by the Battle of Yarmuk (also spelled Yarmouk) in AD 636.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to state that the Battle of Yarmuk was one of the most decisive battles in history. In the course of six days, a vastly outnumbered Arab army succeeded in annihilating a significantly larger Byzantine force. This defeat led to the permanent loss of not only Syria and Palestine, but also of Egypt and large portions of Mesopotamia, and contributed in part to the rapid collapse of Byzantium’s traditional rival, the Sassanid Empire.
There was no simple explanation for Byzantium’s military failure Yarmuk. Rather, a number of factors including Heraclius flawed military strategy and leadership and the delay of the Byzantine army in responding to the early Arab incursions in the Levant, must be considered.
When Heraclius seized the throne of the Byzantine Empire from Phocas in AD 610, he inherited an empire on the verge of collapse in the wake of a successful Sassanid offensive.Until AD 622, Heraclius fought a primarily defensive war against the Sassanid’s, slowly rebuilding the remains of the Byzantine army while trying to slow the progress of the Persian offensive.
Finally, in AD 622, Heraclius was able to take the offensive into the Sassanid Empire, and he inflicted a series of crushing defeats against the Sassanid army until he was able to impose a humiliating peace treaty on the Sassanid’s in AD 628. Yet Heraclius’ victory was only achieved at great expense; over twenty-five years of continuous warfare had exhausted both the Sassanid’s and the Byzantines resources and left them both vulnerable to the invasions by the Arab army’s six years later.
The Arab invasions of the Byzantine East began modestly in AD 634 in a series of tentative raids. Yet, within a span of two years the Arabs were able to score two impressive victories over the Byzantines; the first at Ajnadayn in July 634 and the second at Pella (also known as the Battle of the Mud) in January 635. The result of these battles was the collapse of Byzantine authority throughout the Levant, culminating in the capture of Damascus in September AD 635. Why Heraclius did not respond to these early incursions is unclear.
However, the fall of Damascus finally alerted Herculius to the danger which the Arab invasions posed to Byzantine authority in the east and he organized a massive army to recapture the city. In the face of a sustained Byzantine counteroffensive, the various Arab armies’ abandoned their recent conquests in Syria and retreated to the Yarmuk river, where they were able to regroup under the leadership of Khalid Ibn al-Walid.
The Byzantines pursuit of the Arabs, however, imposed massive logistical strains on the Empire (and the local population in particular), and served to exacerbate the disputes over strategy within the Byzantine high command. Indeed, Al-Baladhuri in his chronicle of the Arab offensive, stressed that the populations of Syria and Palestine generally welcomed the Arab invaders, as they were viewed as less oppressive than the Byzantine Empire and were often willing to cooperate with Arabs against the Imperial army’s.
Even when the opposing army’s finally met, the Byzantines delayed from mid-May until the 15th of August before finally giving battle. This proved to be fatal mistake as it allowed the Arab army to gather reinforcements, scout out the Byzantine positions, and to close off the Deraa Gap, which prevented the bulk of the Byzantine army from retreating after the battle.
The battle itself occurred over the course of six days. Though the Byzantines initially took the offensive and repulsed some Muslim counterattacks, they were unable to attack the main Arab encampment. In addition, the Arab army was able to use their foot and cavalry archers to great effect, placing them in prepared positions, and were thus able to halt the initial Byzantine advance. The decisive moment came on August 20, when according to legend, a sandstorm developed and blew into the Byzantine army, allowing the Arabs to charge the Byzantine line en-masse. The Byzantines, cut off from their main axis of retreat, were systematically massacred. The exact losses are unknown, though Al-Baladhuri states that up to 70,000 Byzantine soldiers were killed during and immediately after the battle.
The size of the army’s at Yarmuk is a matter of fierce debate. Al-Baladhuri, for instance, states that the Muslim army was 24,000 strong and that they faced a Byzantine force of over 200,000.Though the figures for the Arab forces in generally accepted, it is more probable that the Byzantine army contained about 80,000 troops or less. At any rate, it is clear that the Byzantines heavily outnumbered their Arab opponents.
The Byzantine army at Yarmuk, according to Al-Baladhuri, was a multi-ethnic force, comprising Greeks, Syrians, Armenians, and Mesopotamians. While the exact composition of the army is impossible to tell, it is thought that at only one-third of the Byzantine soldiers were peasants from Anatolia with the remaining two-thirds of the army’s ranks were primarily being filled by Armenians, as well as Arab-Ghassanid cavalry.
Multiple factors affected the outcome of the Battle of Yarmuk, most of which were beyond Heraclius’ control. It is important to note that Heraclius, while he personally commanded the Byzantine army in its campaigns against the Persians, remained at Antioch and delegated command to Theodore the Sakellarios and the Armenian prince, Vartan Mamikonian.
This, however, was likely unavoidable. Herculius, who by the 630s was an increasingly ill man suffering from hydrophobia and possibly cancer, was simply too frail to go on campaign with his army. Nevertheless, the lack of effective and coordinated leadership in the Byzantine army, coupled with the superb generalship of Khalid Ibn al-Walid was a likely factor in outcome of the battle.
The skill of the Arab cavalry, particularly the horse archers, also gave the Arab army a distinct advantage in terms of their ability to outmaneuver their Byzantine counterparts. The delay between May and August was disastrous for two reasons; first it provided the Arabs with an invaluable respite to regroup and gather reinforcements. Second, the delay wreaked havoc on the overall moral and discipline of the Byzantine troops; the Armenian contingents in particular grew increasingly agitated and mutinous.
During the battle itself the Armenians seemed to have refused to support the Byzantine troops when they attacked, while the Ghassanid-Arabs remained largely passive towards their fellow Arabs. Why the Byzantines waited so long to give battle remains unclear, but what is beyond doubt is that the delay practically doomed the Byzantines military position as it lay idle on the Yarmuk river.
The legacy of the Battle of Yarmuk was both far reaching and profound. First, and most immediately, the defeat at Yarmuk led to the permanent loss of the entire Byzantine East (Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Egypt), which seriously undermined the Byzantine Empire’s fiscal and military capabilities.
Second, the Arab invasions were perceived by many in Byzantine society as divine retribution for their lack of piety, idolatrous behaviour, and the Emperor’s incestuous marriage to Martina.These and subsequent defeats at the hands of the Muslims provided one of the origins for the Iconoclast crisis which would erupt to the early 8th century.
Third, the battle also stimulated a change in military tactics and strategy on the part of the Byzantines. Having failed to defeat the Muslim armies in open battle, the Byzantine army withdrew to form a defensive line along the Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountain ranges. The Byzantines were in fact no longer in any position to take the offensive to reconquer their lost possessions in the Levant and Egypt, and would primarily focus on defending their remaining territory in Anatolia.
Finally, the Arab conquests, and the battle of Yarmuk in particular, destroyed the military reputation of Heraclius. Having failed to prevent the loss of half the empire, Heraclius retreated into isolation, by all accounts a broken man, a mere shadow of the former dynamic personality who had been victorious against the Persians merely a decade before.
Al-Baladhuri. “The Battle of the Yarmuk (636) and After,” Internet Medieval Sourcebookhttp://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/yarmuk.asp
Bailey, Norman A. “The Battle of Yarmuk.” Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies 14, no. 1 (winter/spring 2004): 17-22.
Gregory, Timothy E. A History of Byzantium. Blackwell History of the Ancient World. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
Haldon, John. Byzantium at War AD 600-1453. Essential Histories. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2002.
Haldon, John. Warfare, State, and Society in the Byzantine World: 565-1204. Warfare and History. London: University College London Press, 1999.
Jenkins, Romilly. Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries AD 610-1071. Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987.
Kaegi, Walter Emil. Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Kunselman, David E. “Arab-Byzantine War, 629-644 AD” Masters Thesis, US Army Command and General Staff College, 2007.
Nicolle, David. The Great Islamic Conquests AD 632-750. Essential Histories. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2009.
Ostrogorsky, George. History of the Byzantine State. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1969.
Treadgold, Warren. A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.
 Timothy E. Gregory, A History of Byzantium, Blackwell History of the Ancient World (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005): 160.
 Gregory, 160.
 Gregory, 160-161.
 George Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1969), 110.
 David Nicolle, The Great Islamic Conquests AD 632-750. Essential Histories, (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2009), 50.
 Nicolle, 49.
 Romilly Jenkins, Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries AD 610-1071. Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), 32-33.
 David E. Kunselman, “Arab-Byzantine War, 629-644 AD” (Masters Thesis, US Army Command and General Staff College, 2007), 71-72.
 Walter Emil Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 132-134.
 Jenkins, 33.
 Jenkins, 33.
 Nicolle, 51.
 John Haldon, Warfare, State, and Society in the Byzantine World: 565-1204. Warfare and History. (London: University College London Press, 1999), 215-216.
 Jenkins, 34.
 Al-Baladhuri. “The Battle of the Yarmuk (636) and After,”
 Al-Baladhuri. “The Battle of the Yarmuk (636) and After.”
 Jenkins, 33.
 Al-Baladhuri. “The Battle of the Yarmuk (636) and After.”
 Kunselman, 71.
 Norman A. Bailey, “The Battle of Yarmuk.”Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies 14, no. 1 (winter/spring 2004), 20.
 Nicolle, 49.
 Jenkins, 33.
 Kunselman, 71-72.
 Warren Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 304.
 John Haldon, Byzantium at War AD 600-1453. Essential Histories, (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2002), 39.
The recent annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation should remind us of the competing and complicated claims of legitimacy over this tiny black sea territory, in this case between Ukraine and Russia. However, it would be a mistake to analyze Russia’s territorial ambitions as an isolated action, indeed quite the opposite. The Crimean peninsula has long been a contested region between various empires and nations.
During the 17th century, the steppes of Ukraine were subject to a prolonged series of wars between the great powers of Eastern Europe, namely the Ottoman Empire, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth (PLC) and Russia. During this period the Khanate of Crimea, one of the successor states of the Golden Horde and a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, played a critical role in aiding the Ottoman`s military campaigns against first the PLC, and later against the growing power of Russia.
Though Ottoman and Tatar military power was ultimately broken decisively during the disastrous War of the Holy League (1684-1699), and Russia’s dominance over Ukraine was assured, the result was never a certainty. Throughout most of the 17th century, the Crimean Khanate possessed the potential, and indeed the will, to dominate the Dnieper and Volga plains.
The origins of the Crimean Khanate can be traced roughly to the year 1443, when Haci Giray, one of the unsuccessful contenders for the throne of the Golden Horde, succeeded in establishing an independent authority over the Crimea and the adjacent steppe.
Following the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453, Haci Giray moved quickly to establish a military alliance with the Ottoman Sultan Mehemed II, who he saw as a potential partner in his wars against the Golden Horde. Indeed, the first instance of Tatars and Ottoman military cooperation occurred only a year later in 1454, when Giray Khan sent 7000 troops to assist in Mehemed IIs siege of the Genoese colony of Kaffa, situated on the southern Crimean coast.Though ultimately unsuccessful, the expedition set a precedent for future Ottoman-Tatar cooperation.
The Crimean Khanate’s independence was not to last long, however, as it was quickly incorporated into the Ottoman political orbit. After the death of Giray Khan in 1466, his two sons plunged the Khanate into intermittent civil war for control of their father’s throne. In 1475, Mehemed II seized the opportunity provided by the crisis over the Khanates succession to impose his influence over the Crimea, and by 1478 he was able to place a loyal candidate, Mengli Giray, on the throne.The new Tatar Khan agreed to become an Ottoman vassal, stating in a treaty to be “the enemy of your enemy and the friend of your friend.”
The Tatar alliance with the Ottomans was to prove remarkably enduring, and was to be a fixture of Eastern European politics until its “independence” was secured by Russia in 1774 by the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji. One reason for the durability of this alliance system was the mutually beneficial value of the relationship for both parties.
For the Ottomans, the Crimean Khanate was particularly helpful in securing the northern frontier of their empire, as well as being a reliable source for skilled cavalry (usually around 20,000) to supplement the Ottoman army on campaign. As the first line of defense against threats to Ottoman ports in Crimea, as well as their dependencies in Wallachia and Transylvania, the Tatars were highly useful as their ability to conduct quick raids into enemy territory could usually be relied upon to slow an enemy army’s advance.
For the Khanate, the Ottoman alignment was necessary to destroy the power of the Golden Horde, who until the late 15th century still posed a formidable military threat. Subsequently, the Ottomans offered protection to the Khanate against the encroachments of the PLC, and subsequently the Russian Empire.
That the Crimean Khanate possessed a formidable military organization is clear by the privileged position afforded to them by the Ottoman’s, yet it remains uncertain exactly how large the Tatar army was. This is important when one wishes to consider what the Tatar army’s military potential could have been, and what they might have been able to achieve if properly supported by the Ottomans.
Alan Fisher, for example, conservatively estimates Tatar military strength at around 40,000-50,000. Other sources place the number around 80,000, or even upwards to 200,000, though this latter figure is almost certainly an exaggeration.
The apogee of the Tatar army was in the early 16th century, with its most notable success being its victory over, and resulting destruction, of the Golden Horde in 1502. Yet the fruits of this victory went not to the Khanate, but to Russia. As the borders of Russia steadily advanced towards the Tatar frontier, the Crimean Khanate increasingly viewed Russia as their principle rival, and recognized it’s dangerous military potential long before the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomans, for their part, showed a remarkable degree of indifference to the expansion of Russia during the 16th century, preferring it to a corresponding increase in the Tatar’s political power, which would only weaken their influence over the Khanate. Indeed, during most of this period the Ottomans identified the PLC, not Russia, as its principle enemy along its northern frontier, and as such allocated most of its military resources in the region to face this threat.
Importantly, the Ottomans usually viewed their alliance with the Tatars as being defensive in nature, intending it to provide a buffer against foreign invasions against the Ottoman dependencies in the Balkans. They were therefore less inclined to support Tatar expansionist aspirations which could easily embroil them in a prolonged, expensive, and likely unnecessary conflict in the Ukrainian steppe.
The turning point in Ottoman-Russian relations came in 1654, with the union of the Dnieper Cossacks with Russia, which presented the Crimea Khanate and the Ottoman Empire with a formidable to challenge to their influence and claims of suzerainty over the Ukrainian steppe.
Nevertheless, the Ottomans were initially reluctant to commit further armies into the Ukraine, primarily because they were preoccupied in the Mediterranean and along the Danube frontier by the ongoing war against Austria and Venice. They also feared the weakening of their political influence over the Crimea in the event the Khanate conquered vast new territories along the Dniester and the Volga.
However, the rapid growth of Russian finally prompted a serious Ottoman campaign to expel the Russians from the Ukraine. In 1678, a large Ottoman army, supported by Tatar cavalry, launched an offensive which culminated in the siege of the strategic city of Cihrin. Russian attempts to relieve the city failed, and the Ottomans were able to secure a favorable treaty. Yet, while the Russians were temporarily pushed back, continued warfare along the Polish frontier forced the Ottomans to discontinue their Ukrainian offensive.
Despite the success of Ottoman-Tatar military cooperation, the territorial gains in Ukraine would prove to be temporary, as the Ottomans military power was shattered shortly thereafter during its war against the Austrian Empire and the Holy League. This left the Crimean Khanate dangerously exposed to a Russian attack, a situation which Tsar Peter I (the Great) quickly exploited to his advantage.
While the Ottomans were preoccupied in the Balkans against Austria, the PLC and Venice, Peter the Great led an attack against the Ottoman fortress of Azov in the heart of the Crimean Khanate, which he finally captured in 1696.Though the Tatars managed to evade two other Russian invasions during the war, Peter the Great’s campaigns signaled the beginning of an ominous new era in the Khanate’s relationship with Russia, as her neighbor was able to steadily penetrate its frontier as never before.
Part of the reason for the ease of Russia’s penetration into the Tatar frontier was that it had been severely weakened over the course of the 17th century, as the Crimean Khanate became increasingly subjected to Cossack raids along its borders. This in turn severely depleted the Khanate’s resources and population in numerous border districts. However, the extent of these raids must not be overstated as the Tatars themselves conducted frequent raids against their neighbors throughout the 16th and 17thcenturies, which can be said to have had an equally devastating effect.
Despite the advantages that the Ottoman-Tatar relationship conferred to both parties, the alliance nevertheless had a number of serious weaknesses that became increasingly evident as the seventeenth century progressed. Primary amongst these was the difference in Tatar and Ottoman strategic and territorial objectives.
As has been noted before, the Crimean Khanate maintained claims on most the territories of the former Golden Horde, namely between the Dniester and Volga Rivers. The Ottomans, by contrast, saw the Khanate as merely part of its northern defensive frontier, and was rarely inclined to support large-scale military enterprises aimed at conquests at the expense of the PLC, Russia and the various Cossack Hetmanates.
Indeed, the Ottomans were always suspicious of Tatar military ambitions, fearing that large-scale conquests would dramatically increase the military power of the Crimean Khanate, and thereby reduce Ottoman political influence over the Crimea. It must therefore be concluded that the Ottomans did not share the fears of the Crimean Khanate in regards to the expansion of Russia’s power, at least until the beginning the seventeenth century. When the Ottomans did commit large armies to the steppes of Ukraine, their military campaigns were primarily directed against the PLC, which allowed Russia to gradually expand her influence and territory in the Ukraine.
By the end of the seventeenth century, the Crimean Khanate’s strategic position had been drastically reduced, and though it would endure for almost another century, its military position was weakened by the rapid expansion of Russian military power in eastern and central Ukraine and by the gradual, but steady, decline of Ottoman military capabilities.
Fisher, Alan. “Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade”, Canadian American Slavic Studies. (Winter 1972).
Fisher, Alan. The Ottoman Crimea in the Mid-Seventeenth Century: Some Preliminary Considerations. Harvard Ukrainian Studies, vol. 3/4 (1979-1980): 215-226.
Fisher, Alan. The Russian Annexation of the Crimea 1772-1783. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970).
Fisher, Alan. The Crimean Tatars. Stanford: University of Stanford Press, 1978.
Inalchik, Halil. Struggle for East-European Empire: 1400-1700 The Crimean Khanate, Ottomans and the Rise of the Russian Empire. (Ankara University: The Turkish Yearbook of International Relations, 21), 1982.
Kortepeter, C.M. Gazi Giray II, Khan of the Crimea, and Ottoman Policy in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus,1588-94. The Slavonic and East European Review 44, no. 102 (1966): 139-166.
Scott, H. M. The Emergence of the Eastern Powers, 1756-1775. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2001.
Williams, Brian Glyn. The Sultan’s Raiders: The Military Role of the Crimean Tatars in the Ottoman Empire. Washington D.C: The Jamestown Foundation, 2013.
Vásáry, István. “The Crimean Khanate and the Great Horde (1440s–1500s): A Fight for Primacy.” InThe Crimean Khanate between East and West (15th–18th Century), edited by Denise Klein. Otto Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden, 2012.
 Brian Glyn Williams. The Sultan’s Raiders: The Military Role of the Crimean Tatars in the Ottoman Empire. (Washington D.C: The Jamestown Foundation, 2013), 2. There is, however, some debate as to the exact date that Crimea became a separate political entity from the Golden Horde. István Vásáry, for example, puts the date of the Khanate’s foundation in 1449 (István Vásáry. “The Crimean Khanate and the Great Horde (1440s–1500s): A Fight for Primacy.” In The Crimean Khanate between East and West (15th–18th Century), edited by Denise Klein. (Otto Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden, 2012), 15).
 Williams, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Ibid, 2.
 Alan Fisher, The Crimean Tatars. (Stanford: University of Stanford Press, 1978), 5.
 H. M Scott. The Emergence of the Eastern Powers, 1756-1775. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 232.
 Williams, 8.
 C. M. Kortepeter, “Gazi Giray II, Khan of the Crimea, and Ottoman Policy in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus,1588-94”, The Slavonic and East European Review 44, no. 102 (1966): 140.
 Allen Fisher, The Russian Annexation of the Crimea 1772-1783. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 15.
 Williams, 5.
 Ibid, 15.
 Ibid, 15.
 Halil Inalchik, “Struggle for East-European Empire: 1400-1700, The Crimean Khanate, Ottomans and the Rise of the Russian Empire” (Ankara University: The Turkish Yearbook of International Relations, 21, 1982):6.
 Ibid, 7.
 Ibid, 7-8.
 Ibid, 8.
 Ibid, 8.
 Williams, 18.
 Ibid, 18.
 Alan Fisher, The Ottoman Crimea in the Mid-Seventeenth Century: Some Preliminary Considerations. Harvard Ukrainian Studies, vol. 3/4 (1979-1980): 216.
 For example, in Poland alone it has been estimated that between 1474 to 1694 roughly 1 million Poles were carried off by the Tatars to be sold into slavery. Alan Fisher, “Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade.” Canadian American Slavic Studies. (Winter 1972): 582.
World War II has a nostalgia to it for Americans (and I’m allowed to say this, as I’m an American) that has nothing to do with the horrors that were experienced all over the globe due to a couple of power hungry men, but all to do with it being “simpler times” in many people’s minds, before the Age of Technology and the great globalization of our world.
This is in great opposition to some of what America considers to be the bad wars, like the almost genocidal status of the Indian Wars or the much-talked about Vietnam war that ripped teenage boys from their beds unwillingly to impose democracy, freedom, and Western ideals on the encroaching communism of Southeast Asia. And while America undoubtedly deserves props for it’s contribution to the bringing the Axis powers down, corporate America may have been undecided about where it’s allegiance was: to money to the Republic. When American soldiers dragged their boats to the shore in Normandy and faced Gerry for the first time, they may have been greatly surprised to find that June 1944, plenty of Nazi trucks outfitted with engines created by Ford and General Motors. It seemed, to any onlookers, that profit sent supplies to the Fuhrer, with thoughts only for wealth.
Power Recognizes Power
America had long felt sympathetic to Mussolini; the Italian dictator was met with corporate conglomerates from the other side of the pond that were not only sympathetic to his plight, but were calling his transformation of Italy the “fine, young revolution.”  But when it came to Hitler, big business was more reserved as the German upstart was often billed behind a Socialist bill, which was very anti-capitalist. One such big name that was a fan of Hitler in the beginning was Henry Ford, but he certainly wasn’t alone.  Other big names that followed Hitler’s progress, even as far back as the 1920’s, included Randolph Hearst and Irenee Du Pont, even going as far as providing for him financially. 
This fascination with Hitler lead to many American investments in Germany; by 1930 about twenty big names in the US were connected, such as Coca-Cola, General Electric, IBM, Singer, Goodrich, and Gillette, just to name a few. But it wasn’t just corporations, because soon the banks followed, including J.P. Morgan, the Union of New York, and Sullivan & Cromwell. The most shocking of all these facts was the father of George Bush Sr., Prescott Bush, who made his fortune in Nazi contracts that later led to the president’s oil money, and financing for his presidential campaign. 
While American investments in the German economy did poorly during the 1930’s—as the Great Depression had devastating effects in Europe as well as the US—the corporations still profited from the political atmosphere and the low wages. Coca-cola’s production and bottling in Essen, with workers that were little more than “serfs” who were working in poor conditions with no flexibility or freedom to change jobs, and salaries that were kept artificially low by the government to entice business to be conducted there.  Any attempts to protest these conditions by the workers resulted in transfers to the Gestapo, or worse. Fear of being sent to concentration camps made the German workers obedient, and this continued to increase the American profits that were tied to Hitler’s country. 
Stock Market Strategy
The next thing that enticed American money was Hitler’s answer to the increasingly worsening economic climate. A remedy that was a mix of Keynesian philosophy, Hitler created a state-mandated demand on goods that increased productivity and thereby profit for his American friends. What was sent into production was undeniably war equipment, and with a looming Nazi war and big bills from the suppliers racking up, the only possible outcome could be Nazi victory.
Ford was one such American that benefited from German government contracts, as well as GM’s Opel location in Russelshein, with reported earnings of increased production due to rearmament being upwards of 13 million USD for the entire year of 1938.  But it wasn’t only war machines that brought profit up; the stockpiling of oil meant big profit for Texaco, and IBM benefited from the Nazi use of the punch-card machine. It was this fact, the incredible returns on investment in Germany, and not Hitler’s purported charisma, that led to the high regard for the Third Reich and its economic prowess in the 1930s.
The Devil You Know
With the Great Depression raging on throughout the thirties in the US, unforeseen bumps in the road began to complicate the already low profits. Labour activists, Communists and other radicals came out of the cracks in the system to introduce Socialist ideas into the capitalist framework of the country, and Germany’s staunch republic proved to be something many American conglomerates looked to as a good example of a healthy economy.
Likewise, the German obsession with antisemitism was not harshly ridiculed by the Americans, as racism for non-whites and those of Jewish heritage was also fairly common on the other side of the Atlantic, despite ancestral ties to a Jewish past.  And although Hitler claimed to be a Socialist, his ideology was for pure, Aryan Germans and a national Socialism, which was at odds with much of Marxist ideology, Bolshevik communism and what contemporaries have called “Jewish” international socialism. 
This all in relation to the political nature at home, including Roosevelt’s New Deal, created a perceived hostile atmosphere for many corporations that considered Roosevelt’s attempts to bolster the economy as unhealthy, and unconstitutional, meddling. As Hitler was enacting in Germany, many CEOs were wishing that fascism would make it’s mark on the United States and oust the devil of Roosevelt’s “Jew Deal” and his undercover Communist agenda. 
Germany’s rearmament during the 1930s fooled no one into thinking that war wasn’t going to happen, many just thought Hitler was planning on going after the Soviets instead of Western Europe. Those companies who may have pretended that war wasn’t Hitler’s intention were no longer using ignorance as a their excuse for continuing business with Germany as the thirties continued to push on. However, the Soviets created common ground for many Western business leaders; Germany, as well as the capitalist West, saw the Soviets as the ultimate threat to their globalized free markets.
When the British, French, and American appeasement tactics didn’t work on Hitler however, the Fuhrer started to doubt the motives of the West, signed agreements with Stalin, and went to attack France and Great Britain rather than the Soviet Union. But despite these turn of events, the idea that Germany would lead a revolution against communism on behalf of the Allies never quite died, and even so, the profit made by American countries during the 1930s was so astronomical that the fact they had helped Hitler wage war against themselves mattered very little. 
The War Wages
Hitler’s blitzkrieg was a matter of military genius, and American supplies of diesel fuel, petroleum products, and other materials. Tanks, trucks, planes, rubber and sophisticated communication systems poured out of US borders straight to Germany or through third party countries to aid the war effort, but not on the Allied side.  And while war waged in Europe, parties were thrown stateside of Hitler’s victories, and then for their own gain, as Roosevelt’s push for tanks, planes, and other military supplies meant profits on the home front were going to prove incredibly profitable as well. Henry Ford was quoted by his biographer as saying that he “hoped the neither the Allies nor the Axis would win” so that he could produce munitions for both sides of the war, and rake in all of that outstanding profit. 
Supplying to multiple sides of the war continued for the US, as the Lend-Lease Agreement with Moscow meant Soviets would receive aid as of November 1941, and unlike the negotiations with Nazi Germany, these agreements were sanctioned by Washington, extending American product marketability even further. While this proved problematic for Hitler, it wasn’t until America declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, and forced his hand to declare war against the US only 5 days later. 
Even the involvement of America in the European war had little effect until after Germany had been defeated in 1945. Despite declaring war, the Naxis made no attempt to confiscate any assets, and throughout the war companies like GM remained sole proprietors of their German outposts.  And many experts believe that the best and brightest technological advances of the time from Ford and GM, along with others, went to benefit Germany rather than the US. Such examples include Opel 4-wheel drive, the first jet fighters, and the development of turbines for V-2 rockets. [Research Findings, 41-2]. The biggest discovery? None of the money made from American-owned plants made it into German hands; it was all retained by the company owners, and sometimes was made at the hands of forced concentration camp workers. 
While the everyman may have not been aware of GM’s dealings with the Nazi’s, Washington wasn’t so naive. However, the government was willing to turn a blind eye to the proceedings under the notion that “what is good for GM is good for America.” And thus, America financed war for the Axis powers.
As America has interests in the fate of Germany after the war ended, the US was in a good position to help determine the direction of the country. Among the leaders of the administration in Germany after their surrender were representatives of companies like GM and ITT, and their sole appointment was to ensure that corporate America continued to benefit financially from the investments in Germany.  While contemporaries of the time believed that returning Germany to an unarmored state, with a farm-based, non-industry based economy was the swiftest way to make the country virtually harmless as a potential foe, this was not in America’s best interest financially. While these plans were disregarded, they did have other consequences.
Shortly after the end of the war, while figuring out what to do with war-torn Europe, there was a large feeling of anti-fascism, and by extension, anti-capitalism, that worried the big corporations that were invested in German profit. Grassroot associations, anti-fascist groups, and “bottom-up” democratic ideas began popping up, meaning the Americans had their work cut out for them to quickly reinstate an authoritative, conservative regime that allowed for working conditions that favored American profitability.  They did this by hiring Nazi leaders that aligned with their aims, and once they were back within the structure, things could go back to normal; making lots and lots of money.
While it is certain that fascism and pure capitalism go hand and hand, and that the atrocities of World War II were unprecedented on such a global scale, it is undeniable that there was money to be made in the German economy throughout the war years, and that America was the beneficiary of this particular climate.
Not only could American corporations make money like in no other place in the world under Hitler’s Third Reich, even after Pearl Harbour, but America has pursued capitalism and monetary gain in other fascist regimes including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Chile, and many Latin American countries after WWII, effectively confirming that no matter what atrocities were to befall, the bottom line is always the bottom line.
Michael Dobbs, “US Automakers Fight Claims of Aiding Nazis,” The International Herald Tribune, 3 December 1998.
David F. Schmitz, “‘A Fine Young Revolution’: The United States and the Fascist Revolution in Italy, 1919–1925,” Radical History Review, 33 (September 1985), 117–38; and John P. Diggins,Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America(Princeton 1972).
Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (New York 2001), especially 172–91.
Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933–1949 (New York 1983), 162.
Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, “The Hitler Project,” chapter 2 in George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography (Washington 1991). Available online at <http://www.tarpley.net/bush2.htm>.
Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Unauthorized History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It (New York 1993), 221.
Knudsen described Nazi Germany after a visit there in 1933 as “the miracle of the twentieth century.” Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 163.
Stephan H. Lindner, Das Reichskommissariat für die Behandlung feindliches Vermögens im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Eine Studie zur Verwaltungs-, Rechts- and Wirtschaftsgeschichte des nationalsozialistischen Deutschlands (Stuttgart 1991), 121; Simon Reich, The Fruits of Fascism: Postwar Prosperity in Historical Perspective (Ithaca, NY and London 1990), 109, 117, 247; and Ken Silverstein, “Ford and the Führer,” The Nation, 24 January 2000, 11–6.
Henry Ford, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem (Dearborn, MI n.d.); and Higham,Trading With the Enemy, 162.
Aino J. Mayer, Why Did the Heavens not Darken? The Final Solution in History (New York 1988).
Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate, 279; and Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 161.
Anita Kugler, “Das Opel-Management während des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Die Behandlung ‘feindlichen Vermögens’ und die ‘Selbstverantwortung’ der Rüstungsindustrie,” in Bernd Heyl and Andrea Neugebauer, ed., “… ohne Rücksicht auf die Verhältnisse”: Opel zwischen Weltwirtschaftskrise and Wiederaufbau, (Frankfurt am Main 1997), 35–68, and 40–1; “Flugzeuge für den Führer. Deutsche ‘Gefolgschaftsmitglieder’ und ausländische Zwangsarbeiter im Opel-Werk in Rüsselsheim 1940 bis 1945,” in Heyl and Neugebauer, “… ohne Rücksicht auf die Verhältnisse,” 69–92; and Hans G. Helms, “Ford und die Nazis,” in Komila Felinska, ed., Zwangsarbeit bei Ford (Cologne 1996), 113.
David Lanier Lewis, The Public Image of Henry Ford: an American Folk Hero and His Company (Detroit 1976), 222, and 270.
James V. Compton, “The Swastika and the Eagle,” in Arnold A. Offner, ed., America and the Origins of World War II, 1933–1941 (New York 1971), 179–83; Melvin Small, “The ‘Lessons’ of the Past: Second Thoughts about World War II,” in Norman K. Risjord , ed., Insights on American History. Volume II (San Diego 1988), 20; and Andreas Hillgruber, ed., Der Zweite Weltkrieg 1939–1945: Kriegsziele und Strategie der Grossen Mächte, 5th ed., (Stuttgart 1989), 83–4.
Helms, “Ford und die Nazis,” 114.
Kugler, “Das Opel-Management,” 57; Kugler, “Flugzeuge,” 72–6, quotation from 76; and Billsteinet al., 53–5.
Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 212–23; Carolyn Woods Eisenberg, “U.S. Policy in Post-war Germany: The Conservative Restoration,” Science and Society, 46 (Spring 1982), 29; Carolyn Woods Eisenberg, “The Limits of Democracy: US Policy and the Rights of German Labor, 1945–1949,” in Michael Ermarth, ed., America and the Shaping of German Society, 1945–1955 (Providence, RI and Oxford 1993), 63–4; Billstein et al., 96–97; and Werner Link, Deutsche und amerikanische Gewerkschaften und Geschäftsleute 1945–1975: Eine Studie über transnationale Beziehungen (Düsseldorf 1978), 100–06, and 88.
Silverstein, “Ford and the Führer,” 15–6; and Lindner, Das Reichskommissariat, 121.