President Bush’s grandfather was a director of a bank seized by the federal government because of its ties to a German industrialist who helped bankroll Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, government documents show.
Prescott Bush was one of seven directors of Union Banking Corp., a New York investment bank owned by a bank controlled by the Thyssen family, according to recently declassified National Archives documents reviewed by the Associated Press.
Fritz Thyssen was an early financial supporter of Hitler, whose National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi) Mr. Thyssen believed was preferable to communism. The documents do not show any evidence that Mr. Bush directly aided that effort. His position with Union Banking never was a political issue for Prescott Bush, who was elected to the Senate from Connecticut in 1952.
Reports of Prescott Bush’s involvement with the seized bank have been circulating on the Internet for years and have been reported by some mainstream news media. The newly declassified documents provide additional details about the Union Banking-Thyssen connection.
Trent Duffy, a spokesman for President Bush, declined to comment.
Union Banking was owned by a Dutch bank, Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaardt N.V., which was “closely affiliated” with the German conglomerate United Steel Works, according to an Oct. 5, 1942, report from the federal Office of Alien Property Custodian. The Dutch bank and the steel firm were part of the business and financial empire of Mr. Thyssen and his brother, Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the report said.
Union Banking was seized by the government in October 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.