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Burying the past?

With recent accusations that IBM punch-card machines were used by the Nazis to more efficiently bring about the Holocaust, I was just pondering how companies who have had less than illustrious histories document events they’d rather forget about.

WW2 footage often shows German forces driving Mercedes trucks. In their truck history, they talk about the “dictatorial regime” forcing the company to make particular types of vehicles.

Krups, who apparently made gas chambers used in the camps, manages to gloss over much of their history, by only talking about their post-1846 “founding years”, before resuming the story at 1950.

Volkswagen are fairly candid about their role in supplying the German Armed forces with vehicles, and the fact that their labour was made up of “approximately 20,000 forced labourers, prisoners of war, and later also concentration camp inmates”. They also point out that in 1998 they started a programme to compensate those workers. Better late than never I suppose.

I’m not sure I can draw any meaningful conclusion from all this. And I’m not sure why I thought it worth looking into. I just found it interesting.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

5 replies on “Burying the past?”

Another company that would rather forget its past (but non-WWII related) is Transamerica Corporation, best known for owning the United Artists film studio from 1967-1981. Their company history only has a brief mention that they owned a motion picture distributor, not mentioning UA by name. This was because of the movie “Heaven’s Gate” the biggest flop movie of all time (which I mentioned in another comment I made recently) which lost so much money that it forced Transamerica to sell UA to MGM. After the sale, Transamerica forced MGM to delete all its references in UA films, ie. plaster new UA logos over old logos that feature the Transamerica logo and name. A pity as it was one of the coolest film logos of the seventies.

Craig, in the grand scheme of things, comparing bankrupting a company to assisting in the extermination of 6 million people… well they just aren’t in the same league.

Did you know..

Every day you probably eat food that was fertilized, or had pesticides or herbicides applied from one of the seven companies that produced Agent Orange (read dioxin) to the Americans for use in the Vietnam War.

Those companies are Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, Uniroyal, Hercules, Diamond Shamrock, Thompson Chemical and TH Agriculture.

11 million US gallons were dumped on Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.

Dioxin contamination of Agent Orange was up to 1,000 times higher than in domestic herbicides. TCDD is believed to be the most toxic of the dioxins, a family of chemicals that has been described as, “the most toxic substances known to humans”.

..The legacy of the use of Agent Orange is more profound than just the damage to the ecosystem. And it is one that has had consequences far beyond the forests of South-East Asia. Indeed, it has followed the American personnel home. Despite much conjecture from chemical companies, an independent scientific review has concluded that there is a significant link between exposure to Agent Orange and serious illness ˜ including various cancers, serious skin disorders (chloracne) and liver disorders.

..Perhaps the most gruesome legacy of the contaminated herbicide, though, is to be found in a locked room in Tu Du Obstetrical and Gynaecological Hospital in Saigon. Here the walls are lined with shelves filled with jars of formalin, containing aborted and full-term foetuses. They are just a sample of the horror that emerged from Vietnam ˜ and the hospital has for a long time now been unable to afford the bottles and formalin to preserve more specimens. They feature double and triple conjoined bodies, faces covered in cancerous growths and other terrible deformities.

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