Dark, twisted and sometimes violent origins lie behind some of the most famous brand name products in the world.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The next time you lace up your Pumas, slip into a Nike jersey, start up your Ford or take two aspirin when you have a headache, just remember that these famous brands and others like them all worked with Hitler to enrich themselves on the backs of Jewish prisoners in Concentration Camps.
Family friendly Coca-Cola was heavily laced with cocaine when created in the late 1800s as an alternative to morphine and its addictive qualities. However, the amount of cocaine in the drink was equally as addictive as morphine.
The namesake of the Hugo Boss company, the German fashion house, was an ardent supporter of the Nazi party and made uniforms for the troops and the Gestapo, using 1,241 forced laborers that included French prisoners of war.
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company that first produced the Model T car in 1908, was rabidly anti-Semitic and convinced that an international Jewish conspiracy was going to take down America.
And German footwear giants Adidas and Puma, not only made sports shoes but the founding brothers became members of the Nazi party, making boots for soldiers as well as Panzerschreck bazookas, an anti-tank rocket launcher, which were used on the front line in World War II.
Now author Matt McNabb details the nefarious and shrouded beginnings of some of today’s most popular brands in his engaging new book, A Secret History of Brands, The Dark and Twisted Beginnings of the Brand Names We Know and Love.
McNabb makes clear in his writing that these origin stories ‘in no way reflects on the current companies and corporations that produce these products’. The book goes through some legendary companies that are still economically successful today, including the history of the Bayer company that produces its famous Aspirin.
It jumped into the snake-oil market in Germany in 1863 with a heroin laced product that was falsely promoted as a non-addictive cure-all remedy – even for babies – well into the 20th century. The company also co-sponsored the Nazi concentration camps and used the prisoners as slave laborers to produce the very chemicals that killed them.
The creator of the Kellogg’s breakfast cereal Corn Flakes was obsessed with the evils of masturbation, sexual arousal and sexual intercourse. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg developed quack treatments at his sanatorium that included applying carbolic acid to the clitoris of female patients.
And famed French fashion designer Coco Chanel was Hitler’s seductive spy, going by the code name ‘Westminster’ and was went on secret missions created for the aggressive businesswoman, who not only worked for the Nazis but slept with them.
The tales of these long lasting fixtures of today’s economic powerhouses are all highlighted in the newly released book.
Coca-Cola was originally made with ‘cocaine’ and hailed as a ‘most wonderful invigorator of sexual organs’
John ‘Doc’ Pemberton received a deep sabre wound across his chest while serving for the Confederacy in the Civil War in the 1880s and to alleviate the pain, he was given morphine, which was the standard painkiller for that era.
He later vowed to create a miracle drink that would not only kill the pain but also terminate his morphine addiction. At his drugstore in Columbus, Georgia, Pemberton’s Eagle Drug and Chemical House, Pemberton achieved his first success with ‘Pemberton’s French Coca Wine‘.
He touted it as ‘the world’s great nerve tonic’, ‘a cure for almost anything that could ail you …and endorsed and recommended by the most eminent medical men’.
Marketed like an snake oil product, ‘the drink supposedly cured mental and physical exhaustion, chronic and wasting diseases, dyspepsia, kidney and liver issues, heart disease, melancholia, hysteria, neuralgia, sick headache, throat and lung issues, sleeplessness, despondency and even tired feelings’.
Pemberton sold his Coca for $1.00 a bottle, equivalent to $20 today. In truth, his alcoholic beverage contained kola nut, damiana, coca and alcohol.
The cola nut was the source of the caffeine; Damiana, a shrub with unproven claims that it aided anxiety; coca and coca leaves supplied the naturally occurring cocaine extracted by a chemical process.
Unlike snorting cocaine, the high from the coca wine lasted longer and had promoted side effects of sexual arousal. Pemberton claimed his concoction was ‘a most wonderful invigorator of sexual organs’.
But he didn’t know how to market it, so he moved to Atlanta, hooked up with Frank Robinson and came up with the first ever cola in May 1886. Robinson named it Coca-Cola and began marketing it in the cultural hub of the day — soda fountains.
Pemberton was still addicted to morphine and had to sell off the patent to pay for his drugs to Asa Candler. Candler jumped in and began aggressively marketing what is now the number one selling soda, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that cocaine was removed from the drink.
Coca-Cola had received a special exemption to import cocaine after the Jones-Miller Act was passed in 1922 banning its importation to the US ‘and to this day they still import the narcotic-laced plant’, writes McNabb.
‘Coca-Cola publicly disavows any suggestion that their drink ever contained cocaine’.
Hugo Boss founder was a staunch supporter of Hitler and gladly designed Nazi troops and Hitler Youth uniforms
Many manufacturers in Germany made uniforms and arms for the Nazis so they could stay in business but only one became a household name – Hugo F. Boss.
‘The Hugo Boss company features a namesake that is shrouded in disgrace and subversion, with accusations of forced labor and an allegiance to the National Socialist Party by Boss himself,’ writes McNabb.
Boss agreed with the ideals of the Nazi party and his company made uniforms for the Nazi troops and the Gestapo prior to and throughout the Second World War. Boss was thrilled with the big commissions that flooded in during the late 1930s only to peak in profits by 1942 when the Third Reich limited acceptable manufacturers costs.
Prior to the war he produced the early brown shirts, black uniforms for the SS and the Hitler Youth uniforms. During the war, Boss produced uniforms for the German armed forces and the Waffen-SS.
His darker affiliation with the Nazis was his use of forced labor – 140 forced laborers and 40 French prisoners of war – all being held in the town of Metzingen in an encampment with little food and poor hygiene.
Boss was not only a proud and active member of the Nazi party but he also was good friends with the despised regional Nazi leader, Georg Rath.
Plagued by the dark past of Boss, the fashion company commissioned a historical study and published a mea culpa for his appalling beliefs – expressing ‘profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship’ in Boss’ factory.
Henry Ford founder purchased a local newspaper to publish anti-Semitic beliefs and thought a Jewish conspiracy would destroy America
Henry Ford, the Ford Motor Company founder, was an engineering genius who helped put more than 8 million cars on the road by 1926, which later allowed Americans to travel and vacation across the country.
While he aided others in motoring for the first time, he was driven by his anti-Semitic beliefs and hatred for the rich as well as his own investors. Ford was obsessed with forcing immigrant workers to fulfill his vision of an ideal American citizen and wanted to strip away their foreign culture.
The Ford Sociological Department was created to invade the personal lives of workers and investigate their homes for cleanliness. Opposed to labor unions, Ford wanted complete authority over how he ran his factory.
He hired ex-Navy man Harry Bennett to patrol the factory floor with his armed gang to ‘strong-arm the employees into subservience’. Ford grew increasingly paranoid and angry as he aged and began insisting that the Jews were persecuting him.
He bought a local weekly newspaper in Dearborn, Michigan where he published his anti-Semitic rants about ‘a vast and secret worldwide conspiracy of Jewish control and manipulation’. The paper’s circulation was 700,000 and more than 7,000 Ford dealerships were required to carry his paranoid anti-Semitic ravings, which were also published in a book.
His stories blamed the Jews for anything, including WWI, illegal bootlegging, jazz music and even the Bolshevik Revolution. Ford fantasized a mythical international Jewish conspiracy that hoped to takeover agricultural and horticultural resources of America and starve its citizens.
This vicious and dangerous anti-Semitic rhetoric even reached Hitler who regarded Ford as inspirational and kept a portrait of him next to his desk. Ford began manufacturing automobile parts in Hamburg as early as 1912, then Berlin and eventually assembled the Model T in Cologne.
In 1938, Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest honor the Nazi party could bestow upon a foreigner. Ford activities in Germany produced vehicles and weaponry for Hitler’s military forces throughout WWII.
Three strokes increased Ford’s mental confusion and his third son, Henry Ford II, took over as the company’s president when Ford died in 1947 aged 83.
One might assume Ford was a brilliant man because he was cunning, ruthless and driven but he was an under-educated farm boy viewed as ‘virtually illiterate, and his philosophy unashamedly out of the cracker barrel’, writes the author.
Founding brothers of Adidas and Puma were in bitter feud that lasted decades and created shoes and weapons for Hitler
The Dassler brothers, who took the trade names of Adidas and Puma, began shoe production in the 1920s in their hometown of Herzogenaurach, Germany, a hot spot for shoe making in Bavaria with more than 100 individual shoemakers.What distinguished Rudolf and Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler was not just their willingness to become members of the Nazi party, ensuring their business success under Aryan domination, but their ambitions.
When the Olympics were coming to Germany for the 1936 games, they snuck into the Olympic village to convince U.S. Olympic running star Jesse Owens to wear Adi’s custom-fitted spiked shoe.
Owens brought home four gold medals for team USA. Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect stated that the Fuhrer was ‘highly annoyed by the series of triumphs of the marvelous colored American runner’.
‘People whose antecedents came from the jungle…with stronger physiques… should be excluded from future games’, he stated. Owens went on to become the sprinter of the century.
With the expansion of the war in December 1943, Hitler converted civilian business operations to military manufacturing. Now instead of making sports shoes, the Dasslers produced boots for Nazi soldiers as well as the Panzerschreck bazookas in their factory. Both brothers were called to duty with Rudolf joining the Gestapo.
Adi served only one year while his brother stayed in until the end of the war.
When Rudolf found himself in an American internment camp, he suspected he had been denounced by his brother who was now busy making baseball and basketball boots for Americans. A lifelong grudge separated the brothers. The one company was split — Adi started ‘Adidas’ and Rudolf launched ‘Puma’.
CoCo Chanel took advantage of Germany-occupied Paris to expand her business and was a Nazi spy under the code name ‘Westminster’
Famed French haute couture designer Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel was not only ‘an ambitious business woman, but also widely regarded as a vicious and horrible person, a Nazi sympathizer, and eventually even a Nazi spy’, writes the author.
Her ambition was rooted in her humble beginnings and birth in a charity hospital – her mother a laundrywoman in the poorhouse and her father a traveling street vendor. By age 12, Chanel was sent to an orphanage by her father after her mother died, where she lived until age 18.
It was here that she learned to sew from the nuns — that changed her fate forever. Because an unmarried woman could earn more money in France, Chanel remained single and started singing in a French nightclub where she used the moniker ‘Coco’.
‘There is a lot of misinformation out there about the life of Coco Chanel, most of which was spread by Coco herself’, writes McNabb – to make her life sound sweeter.
She wasn’t shy sexually and took many lovers. She became a kept woman of Etienne Balsan, a young French socialite, just one of his many mistresses –and became intoxicated by what she could get by being someone’s mistress.
‘Coco would use the financial benefits of her relationships to launch her own fashion empire’ – and she launched it designing lavish hats, the fragrance Chanel No. 5, and then in Hollywood in 1931 – designing for studio stars.
When German forces rolled into France in May 1940, France signed a surrender armistice splitting the city — with Paris and the northern part of France now occupied by the Nazis. A puppet government, an anti-Semitic governing system called the Vichy regime, was set up by the Nazis.
They rounded up all Jews, approximately 15,000, and placed them in a sport’s stadium for a week – with no food, water or sanitation facilities. Their destination – Auschwitz. Now Coco had a chance to take advantage of the Nazi aryanization of Jewish owned businesses.
She still felt bitter towards Jews which started when she reached out to the Wertheimer family for financial backing to expand her Chanel No. 5 customer base. The deal gave a 70 percent stake in the company to the Wertheimers, 20 percent to the broker, and only 10 percent of the stock to Chanel for licensing.
Chanel wrote a letter to the Nazis asking for full ownership of Parfums Chanel.
At the time, she was living in the elegant Hotel Ritz, ‘in the lap of luxury and high society’ and climbed into bed with Abwehr spy Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, special attaché to the German Embassy in Paris in 1933.
Her affair allowed her to continue to live and dine lavishly at the Ritz while Parisians starved.
Recent declassified French intelligence documents detailed ‘not only an involvement with the Nazis, but her ascension into actual Nazi spy and the special secret mission that was crafted especially for her’.
Chanel was a Nazi spy who went by the code name ‘Westminster’, a reference to her previous affair with the Duke of Westminster. Her agent number was F-7124, according to records uncovered in the archives at the French Ministry of Defense.
While the author couldn’t find any anti-Semitic statements from Chanel herself, he writes she ‘was a cunning opportunist’. One of her assignments for the Nazis was to travel with Nazi conspirator and French traitor Baron Louis de Vaufreland to help conceal his actions while he recruited spies.
She died in the Ritz in 1971 at age 87.
Bayer had ties with a Nazi-supporting company that used Auschwitz as a factory to develop drugs that were later tested on Jews
The history of the Bayer AG company dates back to 1863 and its founding in Barmen, Germany. Felix Hoffman was credited with creating the product, but that claim has been refuted by Jewish chemist Arthur Eichengrun, written out of record books when the company got in bed with Nazis.
Hoffman is said to have been looking for an alternative to the very addictive codeine and he found one in heroin while he was working as a chemist for Bayer. Bayer pioneered the commercialization of heroin worldwide and began marketing heroin as ‘a non-addictive medicinal alternative to morphine and codeine’.
Heroin was touted as a miracle cure for coughs, hailed as being 10 times more effective than codeine and with few side effects. It was called a ‘wonder drug’ in 1898 and began being marketed worldwide.
Bayer marketed the product in the pre-vaccination era to parents who feared their child’s cough could be tuberculosis, pneumonia or whooping cough. The company was also a major player in a pharmaceutical conglomerate, IG Farben, during WWII that went into business with Hitler and ‘enjoyed a long relationship with the dictator’.
IG Farben utilized prisoners in Auschwitz to build a new factory near the camp that began not as an extermination camp but as a slave labor camp for IG Farben Industries to build their own factory, according to the writer.
‘IG Farben built an industrial complex on the land near Auschwitz to produce their chemicals; thirty thousand slave laborers would die there.’
‘Experiments that IG Farben were involved in included the forced testing of drugs on prisoners’. IG Farben’s involvement with the atrocities of war earned 24 members of the company a spot in the famed Nuremberg trials. (read the rest of the article on Daily mail UK)