CHEMICALS: Who Owns Aniline?

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Economist-Negotiator Gabler, a pronounced anti-Nazi, went about his task with great circumspection. He carefully described his mission to people in the Treasury, State and Justice Departments, FBI and SEC. He says he never phoned Basel without first telling FBI and State. Furthermore, his relations with General Aniline were correctly stormy. Messrs. Schmitz, Vom Rath and other directors, he says, threatened to resign in a body when he proposed a voting trust to control Aniline, on which a U.S. Government and a Chemie nominee should have equal voice. They seemed to fear any arrangement that would lessen their managerial domination of Aniline. Dr. Gabler does not like them.

His job was tough enough without their opposition. Dr. Gabler's wares have three deterrents to purchasers:

1) General Aniline (with other chemical companies) is under investigation by Thurman Arnold and a grand jury is now-sitting on the evidence. The Department makes its now-familiar allegation that international patent agreements with I. G. Farben led to current shortages of vital materials in the U.S. Any purchaser of Aniline would buy into a possible indictment.

2) Some of Aniline's voting stock, though physically in a U.S. bank, was owned "of record" by Dutch interests until 1939, and was caught by the U.S. freezing order before its recorded ownership could be fully transferred to I. G. Chemie. Since Dutch assets in the U.S. are frozen much solider than Swiss. I. G. Chemie might have a hard time delivering those shares.

3) If the Swiss sell General Aniline, they will want to be paid. But U.S. funds cannot be paid to Swiss nationals unless the Swiss Government can convince the Treasury that the recipient is un-Nazi. Whether I. G. Chemie is un-Nazi is the question around which the whole sale revolves.

I. G. Chemie is on the British blacklist. The Department of Justice (in its recent magnesium suit) implied that it was Nazi-controlled. Important individuals in State, Treasury and SEC believe it to be Nazi-controlled. The whole Swiss economy is under Nazi pressure, since German coal and iron are essential to it. (Last week the two nations signed a new trade agreement.)

Since General Aniline is a technologically important company, its sale to U.S. interests would seem an obvious boon to U.S. defense. But if Washington believes the seller is Nazi-controlled, Washington will look doubly hard at any buyer. Some of Dr. Gabler's fellow New Dealers, though no more anti-Nazi than he, believe he was hired because he had an "in" with the New Deal. If that was a Nazi plan, it could be an example of the super-ingenuity of Nazi infiltration tactics. Now that the U.S. has declared open economic war (see p. 63), a sale of General Aniline is not necessary to keep its skills and money in the country.

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