Giving Hitler a Ride

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WASHINGTON: Itís one thing to have done the Nazisí banking during the war; itís another to have given them a ride to the battlefield. Investigations into the WWII activities of Ford and GM have turned up evidence that the carmakersí German subsidiaries were using forced labor to supply the other side -- and that Detroit not only knew about it but happily cashed the checks, The Washington Post reports. Itís a far cry from the "arsenal of democracy" that the Big Three proudly claimed to be back then, and for Detroit today itís a PR mess that could make Swiss bankers look like starry-eyed idealists.

Ford and GM claim that they lost all contact with their German plants during the war, but a U.S. Army report from 1945 accused the German branch of Ford of serving as "an arsenal of Nazism, at least for military vehicles" with the "consent" of the parent company in Dearborn, and GM historians say Hitler never would have invaded Poland without GM. Itís something profiteers have always known -- in war, the best side to be on is both. But Ford and GM, after successfully casting themselves as the American corporate equivalents of Mom and apple pie, now have a lot of explaining to do.