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General Motors and the Nazis: The Struggle for Control of Opel, Europe’s Biggest Carmaker

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300106343
ISBN-10: 0300106343
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Based on excellent and deep research, this book provides a clear, contextualized, and convincing account of General Motors’ efforts to run its German subsidiary Opel from 1933 to the American entry into the war in 1941.”—Gerald D. Feldman, University of California, Berkeley


“Based on excellent and deep research, this book provides a clear, contextualized, and convincing account of General Motors's efforts to run its German subsidiary Opel from 1933 to the American entry into the war in 1941.”—Gerald D. Feldman, University of California, Berkeley
(Gerald D. Feldman)

Book Description

This book, the first ever based on unrestricted access to General Motors’ internal records, documents the giant American corporation’s dealings with the Third Reich. Henry Ashby Turner first tells the fascinating story of how GM conducted business in Germany under the Nazi regime and then assesses the legality and morality of the company’s policies. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (July 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300106343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300106343
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Fredrick P. Wilson on February 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is adjudged to be the fairest, most logical, most factual, the most even-handed, the most dispassionate history of General Motors involvement with Opel and the Nazis during the 1930's and WWII. As the author states, this book was written with no money from, knowledge of, or approval by GM.

I agree with the above statement. That this is no liberal screed, out to pillory GM, does not excuse how it has underplayed how GM deliberately spent its money to curry favor with the Nazis.

GM purchased 80% of Opel, Germany's largest carmaker, in March, 1929, before the Great Depression, and complete purchasing the 20% remainder in 1931. GM bought Opel's existing plants and properties, which were amongst the most modern in Europe. What GM bought in hopes of making great profits went directly into the doldrums with the Depression. GM bought Opel before the Nazis came to power, before they were anything but a bit player in German politics (3% in the 1928 elections), and when Germany was a legal and respected country, living up to its treaty obligations.

Hitler and the Nazis came to power through a series of foolish errors by their political opponents, who consistently underrated and underestimated them, in 1933.

The German economy took off upwards. Simultaneously it became harder to move money (profits) out of Germany, and became impossible before WWII.

General Motors, unfortunately, thought only about business. This would be fine, of course, if there was no evil in the world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written in a dry and logical style, this informative and well researched book provides a university like thesis on a very interesting piece of corporate history. The book sticks to documented facts and fortunately avoids rash opinions and hysterical conclusions. The situation in which General Motors found themselves with the purchase of Opel just before the Nazis took power is still relevant today.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read some of the Mooney Papers when I was with GM, I was quite familiar with the background. The author could have put more meat on the subject as the content was quite thin. Further, more credit could have been bestowed on the GM Executives who stood their ground and protected GM shareholder interests from many parasites.
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