Dark Money

The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

by Jane Mayer


Fred Koch built the family fortune with contracts to build a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany, fuelling Germany's war machine. Koch and his American friend, and Nazi sympathizer met with Hitler seeking approval of their proposal to build the oil refinery in Hamburg. Fred Koch's friend, William Rhodes Davis did the "Heil Hitler" when they greeted Hitler.

The Hamburg Oil Refinery became key, according to several German historians Jane Mayer talked to, to Hitler's war efforts. One of the things Hitler was unable to do was to refine high-octane oil for warplanes. The oil refinery Fred Koch built created that capacity and it eventually supplied much of the fuel that was needed for Hitler's Luftwaffe.[21]

It was such an important piece of Hitler's war machine that the United States and its allies bombed the Hamburg facility six times in 1944 and 1945. The Nazi regime would then rebuild the oil refinery with Jewish slave labor from concentration camps. They were forced to work at clearing rubble to allow rebuilding efforts. [22]

Fred Koch lived, worked and made millions in Russia (it was still the USSR at that time) during Josef Stalin’s reign. Joseph Stalin was starving a large portion of his population and competitors were reluctant to do business with the tyrant, but Winkler-Koch Engineering Co. lacked any such qualms.

Prior to his contract with Nazi Germany to build an oil refinery, between 1929 and 1931, Winkler-Koch built 15 cracking units for the Soviets. "Although Stalin's evil was no secret, he would later write "I went to the USSR in 1930 and found it a land of hunger, misery and terror". Even so, he agreed to give the Soviets the engineering know-how they would need to keep building more.[23]

More from Jane Mayer

The Kochs and a number of other ultra wealthy families with far-right views have spent a fortune over a period of decades to influence how  Americans think and vote. Jane Mayer, author of the highly recommended book Dark Money "credits groups financed by the Kochs and their allies with providing support for the Tea Party movement, along with the public relations strategies used to shrink public support for the Affordable Care Act and for President Obama’s proposals to mitigate climate change." "The Koch network also provided funding to fine-tune budget proposals from Representative Paul D. Ryan, such as cuts to Social Security, so they would be more palatable to voters, according to the book. The Kochs were so influential among conservative lawmakers, Ms. Mayer reports, that in 2011, Representative John A. Boehner, then the House speaker, visited David Koch to ask for his help in resolving a debt ceiling stalemate.

“Dark Money” also contains revelations from a private history of the Kochs commissioned by David’s twin brother, William, during a lengthy legal battle with Charles and David over control of Koch Industries. Ms. Mayer describes a sealed 1982 deposition in which William Koch recalled participating in an attempt by Charles and David to blackmail their fourth and eldest brother, Frederick, into relinquishing any claim to the family business by threatening to tell their father that he was gay." [24]

Recommended Reading: 

Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world's largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don't want you to know is how they made all that money. [25]

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