Exxon, IG Farben, Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
To whom are you giving your shekels when you fill your tank at an Exxon or Chevron station ? (both built from the ashes of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly). Most American consumers who fill their tanks at an Exxon station are probably not aware that they are, at least by proxy, handing their money over to a company which at one time had close ties to IG Farben, the german chemical corporation which provided Zyklon B, among other chemical wonders, to the nazis.
”During the 1930s when Walter C. Teagle was head of Standard Oil, the company forged close ties with I.G. Farben, a firm that supported the Nazis and used concentration camp labour. Charles Higham (a former New York Times writer and biographer) writes in his book Trading With the Enemy: ‘From the 1920s on Teagle showed a marked admiration for Germany’s enterprise in overcoming the destructive terms of the Versaille Treaty. His lumbering stride, booming tones, and clouds of cigar smoke became widely and affectionately known in the circles that helped support the rising Nazi Party’ . Exxon Mobil’s website prefers to describe how ‘Each company [Jersey Standard and Socony-Vacuum] beefed up refining output to supply the Allied war effort .’”
* * *
Thomas Pynchon, international man of literary mystery, included a great deal of material about IG Farben in his massive “postmodernist” novel Gravity’s Rainbow. GR’s not an easy read–I have been attempting to master Gravity’s Rainbow for a few years, following the enjoyment of reading Crying of Lot 49 (a sort of decent introduction to Pynchon and groundwork for GR) and his “California dystopia” novel Vineland–but there are quite a few accurate historical references in GR demonstrating the connection of many American businesses to the nazis. Indeed not only was Standard connected to IG Farben , but George W. Bush’s granddaddy, Preston Bush, had some ties to IG Farben as well.
”The big scandal around IG Farben this week is the unlucky subsidiary Spottbilligfilm AG, whose entire management are about to be purged for sending to OKW weapons procurement a design proposal for a new airborne ray which could turn whole populations, inside a ten-kilometer radius, stone blind. An IG review board caught the scheme in time. Poor Spottbilligfilm. It had slipped their collective mind what such a weapon would do to the dye market after the next war.” 163
Maybe when Tom makes another voice-over appearance on the Simpsons (as he did in what 2003 and 2005) he will like offer some explanations of the knottier sections of GR and the IG Farben scandals.
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