Bush was one of seven directors of Union Banking
Corp., a New York investment bank owned by a bank
controlled by the Thyssen family, according to
recently declassified National Archives documents
reviewed by The Associated Press.
Fritz Thyssen was an early financial supporter
of Hitler, whose Nazi party Thyssen believed was
preferable to communism. The documents do not
show any evidence Bush directly aided that effort.
His position with Union Banking never was a political
issue for Bush, who was elected to the Senate
from Connecticut in 1952.
Reports of Bush's involvement with the seized
bank have been circulating on the Internet for
years and have been reported by some mainstream
media. The newly declassified documents provide
additional details about the Union Banking-Thyssen
Trent Duffy, a spokesman for President Bush, declined
Union Banking was owned by a Dutch bank, Bank
voor Handel en Scheepvaardt N.V., which was "closely
affiliated" with the German conglomerate United
Steel Works, according to an Oct. 5, 1942, report
from the federal Office of Alien Property Custodian.
The Dutch bank and the steel firm were part of
the business and financial empire of Thyssen and
his brother, Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the
The 4,000 Union Banking shares owned by the Dutch
bank were registered in the names of the seven
U.S. directors, according a document signed by
Homer Jones, chief of the division of investigation
and research of the Office of Alien Property Custodian,
a World War II-era agency that no longer exists.
E. Roland Harriman, the bank chairman and brother
of former New York Gov. W. Averell Harriman, held
3,991 shares. Bush had one share.
Both Harrimans and Bush were partners in the New
York investment firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman
and Co., which handled the financial transactions
of the bank as well as other financial dealings
with several other companies linked to Bank voor
Handel that were confiscated by the U.S. government
during World War II.
Union Banking was seized by the government in
October 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy
No charges were brought against Union Banking's
American directors. The federal government was
too busy trying to fight the war, said Donald
Goldstein, a professor of public and international
affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
did not have the resources to do these things,"
Fritz Thyssen broke with the Nazis in 1938 over
their persecution of Catholics and Jews, and fled
to Switzerland. He later was arrested and spent
1941 to 1945 in a Nazi prison. His brother lived
in Switzerland from 1932 to 1947 but continued
to operate businesses in Germany.
The new documents were first reported by freelance
writer John Buchanan in The New Hampshire Gazette.
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