Prescott Bush was one of seven directors of Union Banking Corp.,
a New York investment bank owned by a bank controlled by the Thyssen
family, according to recently declassified National Archives
documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
Fritz Thyssen was an early financial supporter of Hitler, whose
Nazi party Thyssen believed was preferable to communism. The
documents do not show any evidence Bush directly aided that effort.
His position with Union Banking never was a political issue for
Bush, who was elected to the Senate from Connecticut in 1952.
Reports of Bush's involvement with the seized bank have been
circulating on the Internet for years and have been reported by some
mainstream media. The newly declassified documents provide
additional details about the Union Banking-Thyssen connection.
Trent Duffy, a spokesman for President Bush, declined to comment.
Union Banking was owned by a Dutch bank, Bank voor Handel en
Scheepvaardt N.V., which was "closely affiliated" with the German
conglomerate United Steel Works, according to an Oct. 5, 1942,
report from the federal Office of Alien Property Custodian. The
Dutch bank and the steel firm were part of the business and
financial empire of Thyssen and his brother, Heinrich
Thyssen-Bornemisza, the report said.
The 4,000 Union Banking shares owned by the Dutch bank were
registered in the names of the seven U.S. directors, according a
document signed by Homer Jones, chief of the division of
investigation and research of the Office of Alien Property
Custodian, a World War II-era agency that no longer exists.
E. Roland Harriman, the bank chairman and brother of former New
York Gov. W. Averell Harriman, held 3,991 shares. Bush had one
Both Harrimans and Bush were partners in the New York investment
firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman and Co., which handled the
financial transactions of the bank as well as other financial
dealings with several other companies linked to Bank voor Handel
that were confiscated by the U.S. government during World War II.
Union Banking was seized by the government in October 1942 under
the Trading with the Enemy Act.
No charges were brought against Union Banking's American
directors. The federal government was too busy trying to fight the
war, said Donald Goldstein, a professor of public and international
affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
"We did not have the resources to do these things," Goldstein
Fritz Thyssen broke with the Nazis in 1938 over their persecution
of Catholics and Jews, and fled to Switzerland. He later was
arrested and spent 1941 to 1945 in a Nazi prison. His brother lived
in Switzerland from 1932 to 1947 but continued to operate businesses
The new documents were first reported by freelance writer John
Buchanan in The New Hampshire Gazette.
On the Net:
National Archives: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_re_us/storytext/SIG=4l4jcv/*http://www.nara.gov