Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #242 Dot.Kameradschaft USA: German Corporate Control Over the Internet

MP3 One Seg­ment

1. Fur­ther devel­op­ing a line of inquiry pur­sued for the last cou­ple of years, this broad­cast exam­ines the role of cor­po­rate Ger­many in con­trol­ling inter­net con­tent.

2. The title of the pro­gram derives from a Third Reich orga­ni­za­tion of returned Ger­man émi­grés. “The Kameradschaft’s main task was to help Ger­man nation­als from Amer­i­ca (the Ruck­wan­der­ers, or returnees) reset­tle in the Father­land. It also served as a kind of shad­ow intel­li­gence agency . . . The full extent of Kam­er­ad­schaft activ­i­ty will nev­er be known, since a sub­stan­tial part of the files con­cern­ing Ruck­wan­der­ers from around the world ‘was either destroyed or has nev­er been recov­ered.’” (Dream­er of the Day: Fran­cis Park­er Yock­ey and the Post­war Fas­cist Inter­na­tion­al, Autono­me­dia, copy­right 1999, p. 114.)

3. This orga­ni­za­tion worked with the bet­ter-known Ger­man-Amer­i­can Bund and served as a “kind of shad­ow intel­li­gence agency.” (Idem.)

4. The founder of the orga­ni­za­tion, Fritz Gis­si­bl, was an SS offi­cer and worked for a Nazi pub­lish­ing house. “ ‘Upon his return to Ger­many, Gis­si­bl was con­sid­ered for a posi­tion at the DAI. Though nev­er a full-time mem­ber of the staff, he worked with the lead­er­ship of the Insti­tute and estab­lished the Kam­er­ad­schaft-USA in 1938. He also held a posi­tion in the Tar­nungsver­lag (Stuttgart), a Nazi pub­lish­ing house; in 1937, he was appoint­ed SS Haup­sturm­fuhrer (cap­tain), and after 1941 he was an SS Ober­sturm­ban­n­fuhrer [lieu­tenant colonel] (SS num­ber 309, 051).’” (Ibid., p. 120.)

5. The broad­cast’s title is an obvi­ous pun, based on Gis­si­bl’s orga­ni­za­tion. One should note that Gis­si­bl’s back­ground is not alto­geth­er dis­sim­i­lar from that of Hein­rich Mohn, the patri­arch of the Ger­man Ber­tels­mann firm, a cen­tral ele­ment of the dis­cus­sion in FTR-242.

6. Mohn was in the SS and the firm was the largest pub­lish­er of books for both the SS and the Wehrma­cht dur­ing World War II (The Nation, 12/28/98).

7. Dis­cus­sion begins with an arti­cle about a Ber­tels­mann high-tech ven­ture cap­i­tal arm called BV Cap­i­tal. (Wall Street Jour­nal, 7/5/2000, p. C19.)

8. Head­ed by Jan Buet­tner, the firm is linked to numer­ous Amer­i­can and Ger­man insti­tu­tions, and is deeply involved with the financ­ing of sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion inter­net tech­nol­o­gy. (Idem.)

9. Next, the pro­gram under­scores the point that Ber­tels­mann is merg­ing its e‑commerce activ­i­ties into a sin­gle enti­ty, empha­siz­ing its shift in strat­e­gy toward pro­vid­ing inter­net con­tent. (Finan­cial Times, 6/5/2000, p.21.)

10. It has been not­ed that Amazon.com’s wan­ing eco­nom­ic for­tunes may ren­der its on-line book sales divi­sion vul­ner­a­ble to acqui­si­tion by Ber­tels­mann. Recent spec­u­la­tion by mar­ket ana­lysts sug­gests that Ama­zon’s on-line music busi­ness may be sim­i­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble. (Finan­cial Times, 7/28/2000.)

11. Ber­tels­man­n’s recent three-way deal with Span­ish telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions giant Tele­fon­i­ca and inter­net com­pa­ny Lycos gives it “pre­ferred con­tent” sta­tus on two of the largest inter­net por­tals (AOL and Lycos.) (The New York Times, 5/16/2000, P. C1.)

12. The access of Ber­tels­mann con­tent in Latin Amer­i­ca, in par­tic­u­lar, will be great­ly enhanced by the Tele­fon­i­ca-Lycos deal. (Finan­cial Times, 5/17/2000.)

13. Tele­fon­i­ca chair­man Juan Vil­la­lon­ga pre­dict­ed that Ter­ra-Lycos would over­take Yahoo as the num­ber two inter­net por­tal. (Finan­cial Times, 6/9/2000, p. 23.)

14. Tele­fon­i­ca has also hired Mar­tin Bange­mann, a Ger­man, who had been employed as a Euro­pean Com­mis­sion­er. (The Finan­cial Times, 5/20–21/2000, p. 7.)

15. Fre­quent­ly over­looked is the EU’s capac­i­ty to block merg­ers by Amer­i­can com­pa­nies. Recent­ly, Microsoft aban­doned its pur­chase of Telewest, a British telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firm, as a result of a threat by the Euro­pean Union to block the acqui­si­tion. (Wall Street Jour­nal, 7/5/2000, p.A3; Wall Street Jour­nal, 7/8/2000, p. C1.) In addi­tion to rep­re­sent­ing a fun­da­men­tal incur­sion on Amer­i­can sov­er­eign­ty (the Unit­ed States is not rep­re­sent­ed in the Euro­pean Union), the EU’s influ­ence on Amer­i­can cor­po­rate prac­tice can serve as a vehi­cle for Ger­man eco­nom­ic hege­mo­ny. (Mr. Emory’s obser­va­tions in this con­text should not be mis­in­ter­pret­ed as an endorse­ment of eco­nom­ic glob­al­iza­tion or con­cen­tra­tion of eco­nom­ic pow­er. Rather, they should be under­stood as analy­sis of the geo-polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of under­cur­rents with­in these impor­tant, and on-going, eco­nom­ic phe­nom­e­na.)

16. In addi­tion to pres­sure from the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice over poten­tial monop­o­lis­tic over­tones to the deal, the recent can­cel­la­tion of the World­Com-Sprint merg­er stemmed, in part, from oppo­si­tion by the EU. This can­cel­la­tion may facil­i­tate the takeover of either World­Com or Sprint by Deutsche Telekom, the for­mer Ger­man tele­phone monop­oly. Deutsche Telekom is look­ing to enter the Amer­i­can telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket. (The New York Times, 6/27/2000, p. C2.) When con­sid­er­ing Ger­man cor­po­rate pol­i­cy, one should remem­ber the rela­tion­ship between cor­po­rate Ger­many and the dead­ly Bor­mann orga­ni­za­tion, the eco­nom­ic com­po­nent of a Third Reich gone under­ground.

17. The hir­ing of Bange­mann will no doubt enhance Tele­fon­i­ca. Lycos recent­ly announced the for­ma­tion of a 12-chan­nel on-line TV capa­bil­i­ty, aimed large­ly at the chil­dren’s view­ing mar­ket. (The San Jose Mer­cury News, 5/16/2000, p. 3C.)

18. Ger­man inter­net com­pa­ny T‑Online (a sub­sidiary of Deutsche Telekom) is look­ing to buy-out Walt Dis­ney’s 25 per­cent stake in Infos­eek Deutsch­land. (CBS MarketWatch.com, 7/7/2000.)

19. Ger­man pub­lish­ers Von Holtzbrinck and Axel Springer Ver­lag (a Ber­tels­mann sub­sidiary) own a 25 per­cent stake in Infos­eek Deutsch­land. (Idem.) If con­sum­mat­ed, this deal will be the sec­ond recent exam­ple of “cud­dling up” between Dis­ney and cor­po­rate Ger­many.

20. In FTR 240, Mr. Emory dis­cussed Ran­dom House (the largest Eng­lish-lan­guage pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny in the world, and a Ber­tels­mann prop­er­ty), and its acqui­si­tion of exclu­sive rights from the Dis­ney cor­po­ra­tion to pub­lish books based on char­ac­ters in Dis­ney films. (The Wall Street Jour­nal, 5/8/2000, p. B2.)

21. As not­ed by Mr. Emory in numer­ous pro­grams, major Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions are linked to each oth­er, and con­trolled by the Bor­mann group. Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions are dri­ven by the prof­it motive, and coor­di­nate poli­cies on labor, envi­ron­men­tal, mar­ket­ing and tax­a­tion issues–they are oth­er­wise apo­lit­i­cal. In con­trast, Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions (under con­trol of the Bor­mann group) func­tion as coor­di­nat­ed ele­ments of inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal con­trol, not unlike the divi­sions in an army. In that con­text, one should note that Ger­man insur­ance giant Allianz is work­ing on devel­op­ing an “inter­net offen­sive,” devel­op­ing tech­nol­o­gy with Cis­co sys­tems. (Finan­cial Times, 5/20–21/2000, p. 24.)

22. Allianz is the sixth largest finan­cial com­pa­ny in the world, was deeply involved with the Third Reich and has resist­ed the com­pen­sa­tion of Holo­caust vic­tims. (The Los Ange­les Times, 6/1/2000, p. C‑1.)


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