The father of the billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch helped construct a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler, according to a new history of the Kochs and other wealthy families.For years the Koch brothers have been referred to as "reclusive," but all of sudden brother Charles was everywhere starting last fall -- Fox News, CBS Sunday Morning, public radio's Marketplace, Morning Joe, Forbes -- all in an effort to promote a book he'd written with the virtuous-sounding title Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World's Most Successful Companies. And then there was Charles again last week, sitting down in the Koch Industries cafeteria with a pulled-pork sandwich for a lengthy chat with a Financial Times interviewer, to whom he complained about the fact that his influence on American politics is slightly less than absolute.
The book, “Dark Money,” by Jane Mayer, traces the rise of the modern conservative movement through the activism and money of a handful of rich donors....
But the book is largely focused on the Koch family, stretching back to its involvement in the far-right John Birch Society and the political and business activities of their father, Fred C. Koch, who found some of his earliest business success overseas in the years leading up to World War II. One venture was a partnership with the American Nazi sympathizer William Rhodes Davis, who, according to Ms. Mayer, hired Mr. Koch to help build the third-largest oil refinery in the Third Reich, a critical industrial cog in Hitler’s war machine.
Mayer has been writing about the Kochs since 2010, and they clearly knew this book was coming, even though it wasn't officially announced until November of last year. So I guess that's why they've become a wee bit less publicity-shy. On the one hand, it's probably not helping them much (the complaints about lack of influence in that Financial Times interview came off as embarrassing). On the other hand, books like this rarely do serious damage to their subjects.
But who knows? This is the first news story about the book, which doesn't go on sale until a week from tomorrow, and there could be more juicy material to come. Let's hope so.
UPDATE: Oh my.