Der Spiegel's article, Nazi Death Marches: Book Details German Citizens' Role in End of War Killings, reviewed the book by Daniel Blatman, The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide. The book detailed a frenzy of killing by police officers, the Volkssturm national militia, Hitler Youth, and even German civilians at the very end of the war.
More than 250,000 concentration camp prisoners died in death marches between January and May 1945, when it was quite obvious that Germany was going to lose the war.
Just as one example in mid-April 1945, in Gardelegen, a town in east-central Germany, US soldiers found hundreds of charred and mangled bodies in a barn, the bodies of prisoners from various camps. Ordinary civilians slaughtered the prisoners, with adolescents boasting: "We're going hunting, to shoot down the zebras."
Blatman, a historian at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, concluded: "The more the war approached its end, and the more obvious the prisoners' presence in the midst of the German population became, the more regularly German civilians participated."
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BASF is not a household name anymore, but it used to be a major player in consumer goods. BASF reel-to-reel, cassette, and video tapes were a common brand of tapes available in the days before CDs and DVDs.
Bayer is another large German corporation. One of the results of WWI is that the USA confiscated its assets and trademarks in the USA, a reverse bailout, if you will; aspirin is a generic name in the USA, but in many other countries that name is still owned by Bayer of Germany. The company that manufactures Bayer aspirin in the USA today has no relationship to the German Bayer corporation.
BASF and Bayer, along with a few other German corporations, formed IG Farben in 1925. For a time, it was the fourth largest corporation in the world, after General Motors, U.S. Steel and Standard Oil. IG Farben held the patent for the cyanide-based pesticide Zyklon B -- the poison used in Holocaust gas chambers -- and owned over 40% of the factories which manufactured it, not to mention working closely with Nazi authorities throughout their reign of terror. If you have ever sprayed a bug with Raid bug killer and watched how the bug writhes in extreme agony before it finally dies, you have a reasonable idea of what people in the death camp showers experienced.
In the aftermath of WWII, IG Farben was dissolved with the assets split between the Soviet Union and new German corporations. The same people who were in charge of the corporations during the war were mostly the same people reinstalled in their jobs after the war by the Allies. This is not that different from the situation in the recent panic here, where the same people who caused the panic were allowed to remain in their jobs with a bonus.
According to Wikipedia, a 1941 investigation exposed a "marriage" cartel between John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company and IG Farben and brought new evidence concerning complex price and marketing agreements between IG Farben and DuPont.
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Many Americans believe that the Holocaust was the only mass killing in WWII, possibly because of the many Holocaust movies like Schindler's List. In truth, the Nazis used 12 million slave laborers during the war in factories operated by German corporations like Thyssen, Krupp, IG Farben, and Fordwerke -- a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company. These slave laborers were composed of Soviet POWs, Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, and many other groups, including Polish children. Millions of people died under the twisted philosophy of Arbeit Macht Frei (work makes one free).
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Foxconn, a manufacturing partner of Apple, was caught by the world's media employing slave labor tactics in China. Many media sources, including Der Spiegel, reported that 13 Foxconn workers jumped to their deaths from the roof of a Foxconn facility in Shenzhen.
However, at least one of the deaths, of Ma Xiangqian, is not clear-cut. His sister last saw him six days before he died. "He was upbeat because he had just resigned," she said.
Now why would someone who would soon leave his employer kill himself? He might drink too much in celebration, but he would be jubilant, not depressed. And markings on his corpse do not correspond to a death from a fall, rather they correspond to being tortured in a drill press. And, of course, it is merely a coincidence that Foxconn's surveillance video is missing from the time of the death.
One of Foxconn's solutions to the problem was to install anti-suicide nets on their buildings, something that Americans have not seen on any building in the USA because people have not jumped from buildings due to their job since the Great Depression.
Steve Jobs assured fawning Apple devotees at a U.S. conference in June 2010: "Foxconn is not a sweatshop" and "We're all over this." The only thing which was "all over" was the blood of the 14 workers. A responsible CEO would have flown there the very next day to see what the problem was and remained there until a fair and safe solution was crafted. Jobs did not do that. Also in 2010, 137 workers of Apple supplier Wintek were injured while using n-hexane to clean iPhone screens. Near the end of Jobs' watch, in 2011, four workers were killed in two different explosions caused by ignited aluminum dust from iPad polishing.
Der Spiegel reported on the current situation at Foxconn in An Inside Look at Apple Supplier Foxconn: 'We Were Not a Very Open Company Before.' Der Spiegel noted that Chinese labor law only allows for 36 hours of overtime per month. However, Foxconn manager Louis Woo admitted that that due to "a lack of infrastructure," the rule is often broken.
The typical work week for Foxconn employees is a 12-hour day, seven days a week, adding up to 84 hours each week.
The Apple Supplier Code of Conduct states: "Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in Apple's supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity ... Apple requires that Suppliers implement this Code ... Violations of this Code may result in immediate termination as an Apple Supplier and in legal action. ... Suppliers must uphold the human rights of workers, and treat them with dignity and respect as understood by the international community ... Suppliers shall not use any form of forced, bonded, or indentured, or prison labor. All work must be voluntary ... Except in emergency or unusual situations, a workweek shall be restricted to 60 hours, including overtime, and workers shall take at least one day off every seven-days. All overtime shall be voluntary."
Der Spiegel contacted Apple spokesman Alan Hely who, like any typical politician, side-stepped the issue of overtime. Instead, he merely pointed out the improvements Foxconn has undertaken since 2010.
The above was the policy under Saint Steve, but nothing has changed under Tim Cook who continued Apple's sweatshops.
BBC Panorama filmed workers at a different Apple subcontractor, Pegatron, while they were sleeping at their work stations due to over-work and fatigue. A BBC reporter masquerading as a worker was required to work 18 12-hour days in a row and experienced shifts as long as 16 hours. Apple was also caught employing children. Tim Cook's reaction was somewhat different than his predecessor. He channeled his inner Kim Jong-un and declared that Apple is "deeply offended" by the BBC investigation. Like Jobs, he did not soil his hands by personally investigating the matter. At least he did not refer to the BBC as "human scum."
Apple's subcontractor, Pegatron, was the scene of at least four deaths of Chinese workers in 2013, with the last due to pneumonia. Not to mention that Apple pays almost no U.S. corporate taxes, yet it is the 15th-largest public company in the world. Funny how Samsung, with sales of $208.9 billion compared to Apple's $173.8 billion, is able to do it without killing workers.
Americans like to think they are exporting democracy, but in this case, they are exporting manslaughter, if not murder.
Originally posted in 2011 and updated in 2015.