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Sam Adams

British and Nazis Carry On
Harmoniously in World Bank

(October 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 42, 26 October 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We learn from the New York Times of October 14 that the Bank of International Settlements, more commonly known as the World Bank, continues to function and carry on its business despite the war. Even though the nations which are members of this institution are at war and their armies seek to destroy each other, we find that representatives of these same countries conduct their business in virtually the same way as before.

The matter of the World Bank arose in the British House of Commons when G.R. Strauss, a Labor representative from Lambeth, asked that the British sever all relations with this body. The debate brought out the following interesting facts: The Bank of International Settlements is now under control of the Germans. Of the sixteen directors of this bank, two are neutral, two are British and the rest either Germans or representatives of countries dominated by the Nazis. The president of the bank is Thomas H. McKittrick of the United States, in whose neutrality (in the midst of the war!) Sir Kingsley Wood, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, has the greatest confidence. Says Sir Kingsley:

“The banks are so pledged that actually no transactions have taken place or can take place under the present arrangements which would confer any economic or financial advantage on any belligerent nation to the detriment of another. There have been no meetings of the board since the outbreak of the war and they have had no contact, direct or indirect, or any association with the enemy directorate ... The bank carries on only what might be called routine business.”

One can imagine what this routine business is about, for the Chancellor pointed out that Great Britain had, according to the Times, “substantial interest in the bank under the International Trust Agreement among the various governments and there was a British deposit amounting to between two million and three million pounds.” In addition, the Bank of England had a sharehold of 4,000,000 pounds, of which 25 per cent was withdrawn. And now we come to some of the routine business, again quoting the Times’ remarks of Chancellor Wood:

“Britain’s association with the bank, he insisted, had brought no advantage, economic or financial, to the enemy, adding that it was significant that Germany paid interest to the bank, and from the bank’s assets whereof these dividends formed a part, Britain had received a dividend.”

Perhaps this dividend wasn’t much but big business, in England, as in all other countries, will go a long way before it gives up anything resembling a dividend. It’s the principle of the thing, don’t you know!

But the Labor representative pointed out that the World Bank in its report had set forth proposals for post-war economic reorganization, and declared that:

“There’s some form of collaboration between the Nazis and the Allies and that somewhere in this country appeasement still lives.”

What the Laborite meant to say is that even though there is a war on between Great Britain and Germany, the capitalists of both countries still find a way to work together to insure their post-war existence and profit-making. And that’s not strange. It happened in the last war; it is happening in this one.

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Last updated on 21 September 2014