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December 21, 2006 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-12-21

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GM: Nazi Regime
Was Abhorrent
The series "Hitler's
Carmaker" by JTA correspon-
dent Edwin Black (Dec. 7,
page 15) examines once again
the role of Adam Opel AG,
General Motor's German sub-
sidiary, in the period before
and during World War II.
It has been well docu-
mented that, like all German
companies, Opel participated
in the rebuilding of German
industry during the 1930s. As
Germany rearmed, Opel sold
trucks and other vehicles to
the German military, as did all

other German vehicle manu-
In independent research
supported by GM, historian
Henry Ashby Turner Jr. con-
cluded that GM executives
in charge of Opel strove
to evade Nazi demands to
convert the firm's main fac-
tory for production of dedi-
cated war material. His book,

Opel Story: Muckraking
The article "Hitler's Carmaker"
(Dec. 7, page 15) claims that GM
"was masquerading as if it did
not control its Opel operations"
and that "throughout the war,
GM in the U.S. controlled all
[Opel"] voting stock and could
veto or permit all operations."
Can anyone seriously believe,
much less claim, that Hitler was
deterred by such legal niceties?
The whole import of the article
— indeed, even its title — is
that GM furnished Hitler with
the vehicles needed to "motorize"
the German army and enabled it
to "rise above the horse-drawn
divisions ... of World War 1."
Wrong! Except for the relatively
few panzer divisions, equipped
with German-designed tanks,
the great bulk of the Wehrmacht
in World War II moved by horse
— over 500,000 of them.
Hitler and his generals con-
stantly lamented the lack of
motor vehicles, especially after
the Eastern-front battle of the
Kursk salient in July 1943, when
the German retreat kept getting
overrun by the Russians, who
were equipped with American
trucks! Indeed, Soviet leader
Josef Stalin, in a rare acknowl-
edgement of America's contri-
bution to the Allied war effort,
once said that the Soviet Union
could not have prevailed over
the Germans without
its American-supplied

The IN does a disservice by
publishing a muckraking article
such as "Hitler's Carmaker."

General Motors and the Nazis
(Yale University Press, 2005),
documents that by mid-1940,
soon after the invasion of
Poland, the Nazis had taken
complete control of opera-
tions at Opel.

Burt Ansell

Bloomfield Hills

Students And Israel
The University of Michigan's
Israel IDEA (Initiative for
Dialogue, Education and
Advocacy,) with the support of
StandWithUs/Michigan and a
gift from a generous benefactor,
brought Lebanese-born journal-
ist and author Brigitte Gabriel to
the University of Michigan's Ann
Arbor campus ("Survivor's Tale,"
Dec. 14, page 16).
The day before her speech, a
veiled threat appeared on the
e-mail newsletter sent out by a
radical anti-Israel organization.
Within hours, this message was
repeated on a number of other
hate-filled, anti-Israel Web sites
and Internet forums. These
Internet messages were an
attempt to silence the Zionist
voice and crush free speech
through tactics of intimidation.
Less that a week earlier, police
intervention was needed to
maintain order when members
of the audience at a speech
from U-M Professor Emeritus
Raymond Tanter attempted to
halt the event through disruptive
and volatile behavior.
After careful consideration of
potential security risks facing

It was during this later peri-
od, from 1940 though1945,
that the Nazis turned to
forced labor to bolster
Germany's manufacturing
industry and that sanctions
against Jews and others
grew into the horrors of the
During this period, GM had
no role in supporting the Nazi
regime. In fact, GM became
a key part of the American
war effort, without which the
Nazis might have remained in
power for many years longer
General Motors finds the
atrocities committed by the

Nazi regime abhorrent and
among the darkest days of
our collective history. General
Motors deeply regrets any
role the company or its vehi-
cles played in the Nazi era.
While "Hitler's Carmaker"
makes for compelling read-
ing, it is not news. It covers
a period of history that has
been extensively researched.
For example, following in-
depth investigations in 1999,
Opel made a $15 million
contribution to the German
multi-company Trust Fund
Initiative to compensate
forced labor workers and

Ms. Gabriel's appearance, our
group decided that we were not
going be intimidated by threats
and tactics of those who don't
want the pro-Israel voice to have
a presence on college campuses.
With the cooperation and coor-
dination of the university, the
Department of Public Safety, the
Ann Arbor Police Department
and the support of StandWithUs,
we were able to take the neces-
sary precautions to assure the
event would proceed safely and
After a stressful day of prepa-
rations and security arrange-
ments, we were glad to see an
auditorium packed with nearly
300 students, faculty members
and community members who
listened to Ms. Gabriel deliver a
fiery speech defending Israel and
responding to the threats posed
by radical Islam.
Students and professors alike
walked away from Ms. Gabriel's
speech feeling empowered with
the conviction to fight anti-Israel
bias and threats to free speech on
campus and in the classroom.
It isn't easy to be pro-Israel
on university campuses today.
Student Zionist groups like Israel
IDEA can only succeed with the
support and solidarity of Jewish
communities like ours in Detroit
and with the assistance of groups
like StandWithUs.
We must stand strong and
proud as Jews and supporters of

Israel in the face of all intimida-
tion and adversity.

Report's Roots Naive
The American Jewish Committee
certainly appreciates the efforts
of former Secretary of State
James Baker and former U.S.
Rep. Lee Hamilton in lead-
ing the panel that produced
the Iraq Study Group's Report.
Nevertheless, the underpinnings
of the report are naive and based
upon ungrounded optimism as
the report relates to Palestinians,
Iran and Syria.
The report urges that Iran be
engaged in "diplomatic dialogue,
without preconditions," but the
Iranian regime is the root of
much of the violence across the
Middle East. Iran actively sup-
ports international terrorism,
promotes the annihilation of
Israel as state policy, threatens its
neighbors, viciously suppresses
human rights and pursues
nuclear weapons capability in
open defiance of its international
The report provides an insuf-
ficient rationale for such a gentle
approach to so recalcitrant and
menacing an adversary.
The Syrians actively support
Hamas as well as Hezbollah, ter-
rorist organizations committed
to Israel's destruction.
If Syria chooses to seek the

Steven J. Harris

vice president, communications

General Motors Corporation


path of peace with Israel, it can
demonstrate that policy shift by
shutting down the Hamas head-
quarters in Damascus and the
rest of the terrorist infrastructure
supported by the Assad regime, a
close ally of Iran.
Israeli-Palestinian peace can-
not result from internationally
convened dialogue between the
democratically elected govern-
ment of Israel and, as the report
states, "those [Palestinians] who
accept Israel's right to exist."
Hamas was elected earlier this
year to lead the Palestinian
government. That terrorist orga-
nization adamantly refuses to
recognize Israel, honor previous
Israeli-Palestinian agreements
and end violence — all basic
steps required by the internation-
al community to advance peace.
The report does not explain
what purpose will be served by
negotiations between Israel and
those Palestinians who, while
presumably moderate, do not
actually have the power to make
and carry out any agreements.

Todd R. Mendel

international affairs chair

American Jewish Committee, Metro

Detroit Chapter

Bloomfield Township

For the full analysis of the Iraq Study

Group report, visit www.ajc.orq.

Letters on page 9

FILEMET 'cha Don't Know

How to Send Letters
We prefer letters relating to JN articles. We reserve the right to edit or reject letters.

Which Jewish language, spoken today, has only about 150,000 words,
just a fraction of other spoken languages?

Letters of 225 words or less are considered first. Longer ones will be subject to trim-
ming. Letter writers are limited in frequency of publication. Letters must be original
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electronic copies must be hand signed. Send letters to the IN: 29200 Northwestern
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e-mail, letters@the jewishnews.com . We prefer e-mail.


maglaH :JaMSUy

ii>Copyright 2006, Jewish Renaissance Media


Nick B. Israel

Farmington Hills

their survivors.
Nor does it reflect the
General Motors of today,
which is firmly commit-
ted to basic human rights.
These principles, spelled
out in "GM's Human Rights
and Labor Standards," the
"Global Sullivan Principles"
and related documents, are
proudly supported by the men
and women of GM around the

December 21 . 2006


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