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Hermann Abs, Leading Nazi Banker, Honored by World Exhibit Group

June 21, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The appointment of Hermann J. Abs, head of the Deutsche bank under the Nazi regime, as a member of the “International Honorary Advisory Council” of a group planning a United States Government-approved 1962 International Economic Development Exhibition in Chicago, was made known here today.

The exhibition is sponsored by the “Center for International Economic Growth,” a private undertaking advocating “economic and social development throughout the free world” under the presidency of Eric Johnston. Mr. Johnston today told a press conference that he knew nothing of Mr. Abs’ career prior to 1945. Edward K. Moss, director of publicity for the Exposition, said that Mr. Abs was honored because of his recent World Bank activities in India and Pakistan. Other officials of the Center pointed out that Israel has benefited from various aid programs in which some of the Center’s leaders have participated.

The undertaking was designed to “advance the brotherhood of man…economic progress and human welfare” by expediting global economic development with participation of private industry.

President Kennedy endorsed the exposition as a response to “aspirations of people everywhere for a better life.” The Center announced that Mr. Kennedy “has already instructed various agencies of the U.S. Government concerned to participate.”

It was pointed out that U.S. Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon is an “organizing member” of the Center as is Harlan Cleveland, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs.

Mr. Abs, according to an official report to the U.S. Defense Department by the commanding general of an Army decartelization unit, participated in direction of Hitler’s economic strategy and undertakings that “performed a planning, shaping, and guiding function in the Nazi economy.” Nazi Economic Minister Walther Funk, sentenced at Numberg, described the role of Abs’ bank in Nazi crimes and exploitation of occupied areas.

William L. Shirer reported that the Deutsche Bank, under Abs’ direction, was among industries and institutions that backed and benefitted from the Hitler regime.

Asked if Abs’ honorary status in the new group would inspire those developing nations seeking economic guidance, officials of the Center indicated it would be best if his record before 1945 were ignored and emphasis placed on his more recent activities in Asia. It was also pointed out that Robert R. Nathan, a liberal economist who aided Israeli development, and Charles Malik, an Arab statesman, would serve on the same council with Mr. Abs and that their political views might not be shared by all participating nations.

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