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Haley Pace

UWRT 1103-005
Mrs. Wertz-Orbaugh

Business in the Holocaust

During the Holocaust, many business aspects were reflected during the times of
war and beyond. To begin with, the Germans took away the right for a Jewish citizen to
own a business, therefore they were decreasing the ability of the Jewish people to
support themselves while simultaneously increasing business for the non-jewish. I
chose to focus on business in the Holocaust for my final inquiry paper because I am
currently in the Belk College of Business, and I am majoring in accounting. I have never
thought about how the Nazis were able to have all of the land and resources necessary
to operate the concentration and work camps so that is what I wanted to focus on in my
last inquiry on the Holocaust.
Many big name corporations were involved by having profited from the Holocaust
activities that were taking place, such as; IG Farben, Bayer, Daimler-Benz, Krupp, Hugo
Boss, Allianz, and Degussa. Degussa would process the precious metals that were
taken away from the Jewish prisoners as well as provide Zyklon B to murder the jews
(Big Business and the Holocaust). It was interesting to me how the same company that
would smelt metals for profit were also producing Zyklon B, it seemed like a strange
vertical integration of business to me. Companies did not participate due to their hatred
for Jews, but rather for their need to remain prevalent in the economy of Germany
during this time period. Other companies made contracts with the Nazi party in order to

be able to create all of the Hitler Youth uniforms and jewish prisoner suits. IBM also
created a management information system program in order to keep track of the
prisoners and materials moving throughout the camps (Role of German Companies in
the Holocaust Discussed). When I found out this information, I was shocked by the well
known companies that were willingly assisting killing millions of Jews. There are a
couple of books written on this topic and I would definitely be interested to read more
about the business negotiating in the times of the Holocaust.
Businesses were also used to build all of the concentration camps and gas
chambers. These companies would provide materials necessary to build the barracks
and gas chambers, along with the dining halls and outhouses for the prisoners. Without
the support of these businesses, Hitler would have likely closed their business down
and not allowed them to make any profit (Rosenburg 111). Hitler was bullying and
intimidating the companies of Germany, just like he was with the Jews. So in a strange,
twisted way the German businesses did not have a choice as to whether or not they
supported the Nazi party (Feldman). When first reading that the businesses willingly
supported the Nazis I was in disbelief. But after doing more research, I found out that
the companies were somewhat pressured into helping Hitler carry out his plan.

After seeing how the German companies contributed to the Holocaust, I wanted
to see how these companies products made up the contents of the concentration
camps. The concentration camps were set up very similarly to prisons. The prisoners
were kept in the barracks within the fences of the camps in order to keep the prisoners
from escaping. The Nazis used prisoners of war for labor before the Jews were
imprisoned and these people were usually constructing buildings for the Nazis that they
would later die in (Feldman). While I was reading this I was wondering if the prisoners of
war knew that they were never going to escape the wrath of the Nazi, or if they knew
they were setting up these areas strictly for Jews to live. The gas chambers were set up
on the outskirts of the camp because they did not want to prisoners able to see their
fellow Jews never return from the chambers. There were guards set up around the
camp to shoot any prisoner that tried to escape from the camp without the permission
from the Nazis. When I began this section I was under the impression that the
concentration camps would be more complex than they ended up being. The camps
looked very similar to the prisons that are in America today and after I made this
connection to America, I wanted to see how America was involved in the Holocaust.

After seeing how German businesses and companies were involved in the
Holocaust, I wanted to see how America was involved with World War II and the
Holocaust. As Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president, he quickly became involved
with the Holocaust, World War II, and the Great Depression. FDR felt it was necessary
to help the Jews escape from the Nazi reign, so he set up ways for the Jews to
immigrate into the United States (Heuvel). He received very negative reviews after
doing this because of all of the citizens struggling in America were reluctant to increase
the number of people trying to fight for jobs, food, and shelter. After FDR received these
reactions from Americans, he set up different locations for the Jewish people to flee to
(Newton). After researching the involvement from the United States, I was relieved to
know that our country tried to help the Jews as best we could, especially with the U.S.
going through the Great Depression at the same time as the Holocaust. I am really
proud of how far my research took me on this inquiry paper and how I was able to learn
and research without strict limitations and guidelines. This project really opened my
eyes to how much I can learn and research without being pointed in a specific direction
of study.

"Big Business and the Holocaust." Big Business and the Holocaust. Web. 24 Nov.


Feldman, G D, W Seibel, and Lars Fischer. "Reviews - Modern Europe - Networks of

Nazi Persecution: Bureaucracy, Business and the Organization of the Holocaust."
Canadian Journal of History. Annales Canadiennes D'histoire. 41.3 (2006): 574.
Heuvel, William J. "America, Fdr, and the Holocaust." Society. 34.6 (1997): 54. Print.
Newton, Verne W, and Mark J. Miller. "Fdr and the Holocaust." The International Migration
Review : Imr. 31.1 (1997): 193. Print.
"Role of German Companies in Holocaust Discussed." Corvallis Gazette Times. 11 Apr. 2013.
Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <>.
Rosenberg, Daniel. "The Holocaust and Business As Usual." The Reference Librarian. 29

99-111. Print.