CHAPTER 17: News story in February 2015: Shell ship named after a Nazi SS Officer

This closing chapter is about a victory I scored over Shell in 2015. The above screenshot is from an article published in the Financial Times on 5 February 2015.

Extract from the article:

“Royal Dutch Shell is facing a storm of criticism after deciding to proceed with plans to bring a ship named after a Nazi war criminal into UK waters to decommission the Brent oilfield…”

In January 2015, The Observer newspaper published a major article by its chief correspondent Ed Vulliamy under the headline: 

“Jewish outrage as world’s largest ship, named after SS war criminal, arrives in Europe”. 

It reported: “Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS.”

The owner of the ship, Mr Edward Heerema, founder of the Allseas Shipping Group, named his new vessel after his father, a pioneer of the offshore oil industry, Pieter Schelte Heerema. In World War 2, he was an officer in the German Waffen-SS.

The Ed Vulliamy article quoted from a petition I launched online asking Edward Heerema to rename the ship.

John Donovan petition published on change.org

Guardian Online published his article on Saturday 24 January 2015. It appeared in The Observer newspaper the following day.

Ed Vulliamy article published by The Observer and The Guardian Online

Extracts: Cidi cited a petition organised by a British-based website monitoring the affairs of Royal Dutch Shell, the energy group, which trumpeted the ship’s arrival in Rotterdam and which Allseas confirms in a press release to be among its early clients. The site, Royaldutchshellplc.com, is run by John Donovan, a former Shell contractor who is completing a book on the history of the company’s relations with the Third Reich. His petition reads: “Please change the ship’s name so that it no longer sails under the name of a former Waffen-SS officer jailed for war crimes.” Donovan told the Observer: “This public homage by Edward Heerema as the wealthy son of a Nazi war criminal is an affront to the relatives of tens of millions of souls who perished at the hands of Nazi Germany. The name is unacceptable.”

Shell was aware of the intent to name the giant Allseas vessel after a Nazi war criminal but still went ahead with its plans to become one of the first clients to use the ship.

The astonishing story was also covered by Mail Online and many other publishers around the world, including the Dutch equivalent to the Financial Times, a Middle-East focused website and Jewish publications, such as the Jewish Business News and The Jewish Chronicle.

More information about Pieter Schelte Heerema can be found in articles I have published, including one by a Dutch investigative journalist, Ton Biesemaat, and my own main article.

Pieter Schelte Heerema, Dutch Officer in the Waffen SS

When Shell announced its plans to use the Nazi named ship for decommissioning North Sea oil platforms, UK maritime unions, after becoming aware of my petition, took a very hostile attitude to the astonishing news.

Initially, Shell had insisted it was an issue for Allseas alone. However, when the negative publicity continued to build day-by-day, Shell eventually put pressure on Allseas to change the name.

The then UK coalition government, after initially declining to get involved, also responded to the growing firestorm of criticism and put their weight behind the objections to the Nazi name.

On Friday 6 February 2015, Allseas reversed course and announced that it would change the name of the ship, thereby doing exactly as I had requested in my petition published on change.org.

Why did Shell not intervene years earlier after I first published an article mentioning the subject?

The first news article about the Nazi name controversy was published in July 2008: “Dutch outcry over naming giant ship after Nazi.”

Shell, therefore, had plenty of advanced warning, yet still hired the Nazis named Allseas ship. An act they must now regret.

John Donovan holding The Observer article aloft
Newspaper article: Man’s fight to change ship’s Nazi-linked name succeeds

I am also the author of a related ebook: Sir Henri Deterding and the Nazi History of Royal Dutch Shell.

SUMMARY OF THE CONTENT

  • In the years leading up to WW2, the Dutch founder of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Sir Henri Deterding became an ardent Nazi. He financially backed the Third Reich and met directly with Hitler on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell.  

  • As a major financial contributor to Nazi Germany in pre-WW2 years, the Royal Dutch Shell Group, under Dutch leadership, arguably had some indirect responsibility for the death toll in the subsequent war, in which over 50 million people perished.

  • Shell publicly boasted at the time about the importance of its financial contribution to the German economy. The claims were made by Shell in Germany while the country was under Nazi control.

  • In years leading up to WW2, Shell conspired with partners, Standard Oil, and German chemical giant I.G. Farben, to covertly import oil products, including aeroplane fuel, from the US into Nazi Germany. The US government was kept in the dark. 

  • I.G. Farben supplied the Zyklon-B gas used in the Holocaust to kill millions of people.

  • The portrayal in 2007 by Shell’s paid historians of a distant relationship between Deterding and Hitler, in which all attempts by Deterding to meet with Hitler were rebuffed is simply untrue. 

  • In fact, their meetings included a four-day one-on-one summit held at Hitler’s mountain retreat, as reported by Reuters in 1934. 

  • Deterding has been described by independent authors as “a hardline Nazi revered and ultimately mourned by Hitler.” That description is confirmed by the evidence within the book and evidence accessible via links.

  • There are credible allegations that the Royal Dutch Shell Group, under the control of Dutch directors, used forced labour at its German subsidiary, Rhenania-Ossag. Many of its directors and staff were fanatical Nazis.

  • Royal Dutch Shell collaborated in the annexation and occupation of sovereign countries by the Nazis – Austria and Czechoslovakia – before the outbreak of WW2.

  • The donations and financial contributions to the Third Reich were all carried out under the control of Dutch directors of companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group.

  • In 1936, while still a director of multiple Royal Dutch Shell group companies, Sir Henri purchased the Castle Dobbin estate North of Berlin for 1,050,000 Reich marks from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.

  • Deterding moved into Castle Dobbin with his young German wife, Charlotte-Minna Knaack, his secretary, a fanatical Nazi said by one source to be a former private secretary of Hitler’s.

  • Sir Henri’s friend Hermann Göring, the founder of the Gestapo, regularly visited Castle Dobbin to go hunting with him. Deterding generously gave Göring the Rominten Hunting Lodge in East Prussia as a spectacular gift. Kaiser Wilhelm II once owned it.

  • In 1936 and 1937, Sir Henri – while still a director of multiple companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group, in which he held a controlling interest – made huge donations of food (“millions of tonnes”) to Nazi Germany as part of the “Winter Help” scheme. 

  • A New York Times report in June 1937 (“Deterding to Distribute More Food in Germany”) specifically linked the food donations to Germany’s rearmament policy.

  • The massive donations enabled significant funds to be diverted at a time when the Nazi regime was engaged in urgent rearmament of its military might. 

  • Seven thousand railway wagons were used in the first immense delivery.”  

  • Deterding died just before the outbreak of WW2. He was honoured by a Nazi ceremonial funeral at Castle Dobbin in February 1939. It was attended by a full contingent of Royal Dutch Shell Group directors mingling with Nazi military officers.

  • A glowing tribute to Sir Henri on behalf of the German nation was inscribed on a wreath sent by Adolf Hitler.  

  • The Bishop who conducted the funeral service was a  supporter of Hitler and a rabid anti-Semite. 

  • Film footage of the Nazi funeral spectacular exists.

  • Fears that the Nazis intended to exploit the death of Sir Henri, just before the start of WW2, to seize control of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, were well founded.  The UK National Archive kindly gave permission for related documents and correspondence to be featured within the book. 

  • Dutch directors of the Royal Dutch Shell Group engaged in anti-Semitic policies against Shell employees and were also guilty of collaboration and appeasement. 

  • Royal Dutch Shell employees in the Netherlands were instructed to complete a form that for some amounted to a self-declared death warrant. Many did not survive the war. 

  • The Nazis did succeed in gaining control over Dobbin Castle. 

  • In the latter part of WW2, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, SS leader Heinrich Himmler and General Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command, were all stationed at Dobbin Castle. 

  • Hitler’s final despairing message from his Berlin bunker, a day before he committed suicide, was sent to Field Marshal Keitel at Dobbin Castle, whilst it was still owned by the Deterding family. Strangely, that somehow seems appropriate. 

  • Evidence was on display at Castle Dobbin, signed by Hitler, confirming Deterding’s financial support for the Nazis. Also a personal testimony by Herman Göring acknowledging the generosity of his friend and benefactor, Sir Henri Deterding. 

LINKS TO SUPPORTING EVIDENCE

Links are provided to thousands of pages of supporting evidence on subjects covered within the book, some of it stretching back several decades. 

The extensive information includes news reports, documents and correspondence gathered during six years of research by the author, John Donovan.

Royal Dutch Shell Founder Sir Henri Deterding who became an ardent Nazi
Castle Dobbin Estate: German country manor home of Sir Henri Deterding
Berlin Bunker in which Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide 
Shell boasted about its financial contribution to Nazi Germany
royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

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