Sir Henri Deterding, seventy-year-old head of the Royal Dutch Shell group, battler for the world’s oil market and unceasing, unyielding foe of Soviet Russia, the downfall of which he has insistently predicted during the past decade, received last week at his Buckhurst Park estate, one of his most valuable aides in his struggle to regain the rich Baku oil fieldsâ€” Dr.Alfred Rosenberg, native of Esthonia, German by choice since the War, head of the foreign affairs department of the National Socialist party and editor-in-chief of the Voelkische Beobachter, once most virulent of all Nazi publications but now subdued by its responsibility as official organ of the Hitler regime.
Dr. George Bell, who first brought these two men together and whose intrigues tormented Soviet officials for many years, was not present at the conferences which undoubtedly took place at Buckhurst Park. Bell was shot and killed last month in the tiny inn at Durchholzen, just over the Austrian border, where he had sought refuge from a group of Nazis whom he had betrayed.
In a sense, the conferences must not have been particularly happy ones. Rosenberg, who had confidently come to London with the avowed intention of making the British realize the might and power of Adolf Hitler and to allay growing British resentment at the persecution of the Jews and to the menace to European peace which Hitler represented, found himself rebuffed on all fronts and was smarting from the plain and unadorned talk he had heard. The oil king must have been concerned by the intimations of failure of his most likely scheme for obtaining control of the Caucasian oil deposits and ending a threat to his rule over the oil markets of a great part of the globe.
The enmity of Deterding toward the present Russian Government is easily understood. Not so Rosenberg’s. Born and raised on Russian territory, he was among the first to volunteer for the German army when the invaders reached his native town of Reval (now Taillinn), but was rejected. He was one of the first to join the “migration” from the East into Germany after the War, and obtained his German citizenship about ten years ago. He brought with him an abiding hatred of Russia which he has sought to impress upon the National Socialist party and the present German regime.
OTHER COUNSELS HEARD
For a time, with the series of raids which Nazi storm troopers made upon the offices of the German-Russian Petroleum Corporation, through which Soviet Russia supplied thirty percent of all the oil and gasoline used in the Reich, and the treatment of the German communists, it appeared that the aim of Rosenberg and Deterding would be achieved. Apparently, however, other counsels than that of the former Esthonian have prevailed. The German rulers, who see themselves as Europe’s bulwark against Bolshevism, seem ready to overlook this, and the Soviet leaders seem equally ready to forget the incidents and the fate of Germany’s communists in order to continue commercial relations which are important to both states.
Deterding and Rosenberg were originally brought together by Bell, an Englishman who had made his home in Germany for the past fifteen years. He openly boasted that he was a political agent, and was generally recognized as an agent of Deterding whose letters of recommendation he used and displayed freely. Bell had been involved in the notorious Tscherwonzen counterfeiting caseâ€”a scheme to flood Europe with spurious ten-ruble notesâ€”and in a score of other plots aimed to harass Soviet Russia. He boasted of these freely in Munich and Berlin cafes.
Bell became active in the Nazi movement and was a frequent visitor at the Brown House in Munich where he joined, with zest, in the many little plots which went on there. He was friendly with Captain Ernst Roehm, commander of all the storm troopers. with the Rosenberg clique and with the group led by Lieutenant Schulz. notorious character and recent defendant in a murder case.
TAKES ROSENBERG TO LONDON
He brought Rosenberg to London to meet Deterding, who found in the fiery Nazi a weapon to be used in the oil magnate’s private war with the Russian Government. To what extent Deterding aided the Nazi movement in its early days, when great German industrialists found it advisable to furnish a great part of the funds to keep the organization going, is not known, but his support is generally believed to have been not inconsiderable.
At any rate, Rosenberg, in the Nazi party councils, in exerting his influence over Hitler and in his legislative functions in the Reichstag of the ill-fated Second Reich, sought to align Germany against Russia. It became a common taunt in the Reichstag to describe the Nazi deputy as a “tool of Deterding” and one session had to be adjourned in the row that ensued when Rosenberg threatened to box the ears of another deputy who taunted him with the fact.
Whether the Reichstag fire, which gave the Hitler Government a pretext for ruthless suppression of all constitutional and natural liberties in the Reich and natural liberties in the Reich and ensured the complete throttling of all opposition in the election which gave Hitler his “mandate” to rule Germany, originated in Bell’s fertile brain is not definitely known. It is known. however, that Bell was acquainted with the plot and discussed it with certain Nazi leaders. It was not without reason that Der Ring, organ of the Herren Club, wrote early in March that if the mystery of the Reichstag fire were ever to be cleared up, it would reveal that leading officials in the Foreign Office were at the bottom of it. This issue of the newspaper was speedly confiscated by storm troopers.
BELL GIVES AN ALARM
One grave error was committed in connection with the Reichstag fire. Fifteen minutes before anyone except the incendiaries knew that the building was aflameâ€”before the fire alarm had been put inâ€”Bell, who was in Berlin on that day, telephoned several London newspaper correspondents and in horrified tones cried out that the Reichstag was burning and had been set on fire by a communist.
But before the Reichstag fire, Bell had got into difficulties with Nazi leaders because of the knowledge he had acquired and his known propensity for talking. In a libel suit brought by the Brown House against the Muenchener Post last Fall, Bell, who had previously proclaimed to the Leftist press that he was through with the Nazis, appeared as a witness for the defense. He later sought to justify his action with the Nazis by saying he had only done so to protect Roehm about whose personal habits and practices he had much evidence.
After the election, Bell prudently retired to Austrian soil. His assurances of silence were not to be trusted, however, by the Nazis, and on April 6, a car from Germany carrying six men, descended on the little village where Bell lived. After a short, loud-voiced conversation, the party left Bell’s room. One man returned. Several shots were heard. Bell was found dead and Major Hans Hell, editor of a Bavarian Catholic newspaper, the Gerarder Weg, who had been visiting the spy, was found seriously wounded. The Nazis said that Bell was a communist and had been executed by Soviet agents.
Dr. Bell’s sudden death cannot be of great significance in the war against Russia. He served his purpose in bringing together those two uncompromising foes of the Soviet, Deterding and Rosenberg. As the next step, it is not unlikely that Rosenberg, after taking counsel with Sir Henri, returns to Berlin to press his anti-Russian policy upon the Nazi inner councils and to attempt to convince Hitler that an anti-Russian policy is as important as the anti-Semitic program on which they both see eye to eye.
And Deterdingâ€”if Fascist Germany fails to realize the natural enmity it should have for Soviet Russiaâ€”will go on to new plans to regain those Baku oil fields which once were his. At seventy he is still the fighter he was forty years ago and was in 1903 when, with the Rothschild millions behind him, he stepped out to battle Rockefeller Standard Oil interests for supreme domination of the world of oil.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.