A lawsuit by Hebrew University challenging the right of General Motors to use the image of Albert Einstein in an advertisement was dismissed in a U.S. court.
Just the day before, May 1, 1934, under a brilliant, cloudless sky, James D.Mooney, president of the General Motors Overseas Corp., climbed into his automobile and drove toward Tempelhof Field at the outskirts of Berlin to attend yet another hypnotic Nazi extravaganza. This one was the annual May Day festival.
During the late 1930s, Hitler's persecution of Jews was building to a frenzy even as fears of a war escalated. Nevertheless, General Motors' German automotive subsidiary, Opel, remained a loyal corporate citizen of the Third Reich -- content to obediently do the Nazi regime's bidding, and unstintingly supporting Hitler's program on many fronts. These included economic and employment recovery, anti-Jewish persecution, war preparedness and domestic propaganda. In return, Opel prospered.
The Last Word: How will posterity remember General Motors' conduct? The epilogue of the tumultuous saga of General Motors during the New Deal and Nazi era is still being written.That saga is the subject of a four-part JTA investigative series that concludes with this story.
Within a few years of partnering with the Hitler regime, Opel began to dwarf all competition. By 1937, GM's subsidiary had grown to triple the size of Daimler-Benz and quadruple that of Ford's fledgling German operation, known as Ford-Werke.
Opel became an essential element of the German rearmament and modernization Hitler required to subjugate Europe.
Mr. Big Sloan lived for bigness. Slender and natty, attired in the latest collars and ties, Sloan commonly wore spats, even to the White House."Deliberately to stop growing is to suffocate," Sloan wrote in his 1964 autobiography about his years at GM. "We do things in a big way in the United States. I have always believed in planning big, and I have always discovered after the fact that, if anything, we didn't plan big enough. I put no ceiling on progress." For Sloan, motorizing the fascist regime that was expected to wage a bloody war in Europe was the next big thing and a spigot of limitless profits for GM.
Hitler knew that the biggest auto and truck manufacturer in Germany was not Daimler or any other German carmaker. The biggest automotive manufacturer in Germany -- indeed in all of Europe -- was General Motors, which since 1929 had owned and operated the long-time German firm, Opel.Impressive production statistics aside, the Fuhrer was fascinated with every aspect of the automobile, its history, its inherent liberating appeal and, of course, its application as a weapon of war.