Cars – an unnatural history

I started writing a long poem about the history the the car a few years ago, when I hadn’t owned for for 20 years, living in the heart of Sydney. Cars are the ultimate expression of machine production, capitalist efficency, marketing and the dangers of technology. Car accidents have claimed nearly 50 million lives from the first, an English mother of two run over by a French taxi at Crystal Palace.

Jane Kay notes that 29 tons of waste and 1,207 million cubic yards of polluted air are produced in the manufacture of one vehicle before it ever runs on a road. Emissions and disposal of pollutants produce local, regional and global effects on ecosystems, from roadside lead pollution, to regional acid rain and global climate change.

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Autobahns

 

Trotsky was right, fascism is capitalism manifest.

Hitler honoured IBM’s chairman for providing 1936

machines the SS used to score Jewish populations

 

When is a man dressed fashionably? When he is least noticed.                       (Adolf Loos

Hugo Boss joined the Nazis in 31 and flourished as supplier of uniforms

to the SA. He then designed the S&M SS uniform.

 

Hitler had a photo of Henry Ford on his office wall and awarded

the anti-semite, and James Mooney of General Motors, the highest honour

a foreigner could receive, The Grand Cross of the German Eagle

 

Capitalism and nationalist socialism built the autobahns

described by Hitler as an ‘overture to peace’

but intended to aid rapid troop movement

 

’Ford’ and ‘Rolls Royce’ have burst open the core of the town,                     (Hannes Meyer

obliterating distance and effacing the boundaries between

town and country. Aircraft slip through the air.

 

‘Fokker’ and ‘Farman’ widen our range of movement

and the distance between us and the earth; they disregard

national frontiers and bring nation closer to nation.

 

Ford’s German division, Fordwerke, made huge profits,

and the backbone of the motorized German army, and OPEL

a subsidiary of General Motors, produced half of all

 

the trucks and many of the planes for the Luftwaffe.

Like General Motors, Ford claimed to have lost control

before forced labor was used, but that’s unlikely.

 

Volks-wagen produced the ‘people’s car’, in the economic

policy of ‘Motoriserung’, its founder, Ferdinand Porsche

was an SS activist. Hitler promised a car for everyone,

 

until production quickly switched to the war machine

and from cars to grenades, land mines and V1 rockets

using 20,000 slave laborers. They had a hospital.

 

The function of this organization was nothing

more than a death chamber for children of slave workers

and veiled by the term ‘maternity hospital . . .

 

The infants literally rotted away with the same

sequence of symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea, emaciation,

distended blueish colored abdomens and death.

 

The war effort depended on synthetic rubber and gasoline,

IG Farben chose Oswiecem a small agricultural town

in Upper Silesia long before the invasion of Poland

 

close to vast coal fields and sitting on the confluence

of three rivers. It became known as Auschwitz;

architect Lothar Hartjenstein designed a plan showing:

 

the concentration camp itself (Auschwitz I) . . . with its barracks,. . .,                 (Robert-Jan van Pelt

hospital, prison, work shops, and auxiliary structures such as theKommandantur,

the offices of the Gestapo, the barracks for the SS men, and so on –

 

but it also shows, to the right, a pleasant village for married SS men

and their families, including a hotel, shops, sports facilities and,

on the edge of the barbed-wire fence close to the prisoners’ hospital, a primary school.

 

It does not show the enormous camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Auschwitz II)

the terminus of countless transports with Jews from all over Europe (a mile west),

or the town of Auschwitz itself (a mile east of the SS village).

 

Göring approved slave labour, 25,000 of 35,000 1937

laborers who worked at Auschwitz for Farben died there.

a life expectancy of three and a half months; some made Zyklon B.

 

The Krupp family financed the Nazi party and fabricated

the gas chambers, used over 70,000 slave labourers to produce

armaments for use against their own

 

in factories inside Auschwitz and Ravensbreuck.

Daimler-Benz used over 30,000 foreign workers,

POWs, and concentration camp inmates

 

under the most brutal conditions to build the war machine.

BMW used the same number. If they were paid,

their meager pay funneled into the SS treasury

 

to further fund the annihilation of their tribes.

The children were housed in sort of prison bunks…

 

The children there were quite naked… Many of them

had swollen heads… These children were so undernourished…

Fifty or sixty children died every day,

 

and as many were born every day, because there was

an influx of eastern female workers with children…

The children were cremated inside the camp….

 

Bayer bought Auschwitz prisoners for testing experimental anaesthetics.

The transport of 150 women arrived in good condition.

However, we were unable to obtain conclusive results

 

because they died during the experiments.

‘We would kindly request that you send us another group of women

to the same number and at the same price.                                  (170 Reichsmarks each)

The Nazi war machine was oiled by elites, big business

Standard Oil and Swiss Banks and you, me, anybody.

It is still important to ask the most fundamental questions,             (Goetz Aly

 

namely how all this happened. What . . . allowed this criminal regime

to thrive? So much came out of the German middle class.

That is the most troubling aspect of the history.