Nazi Collaborators: The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company benefited financially via Nazi Germany. In fact, the company’s product, Fanta, was birthed during the Nazis’ reign.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Coca-Cola’s business in Germany was booming under the leadership of a man named Max Keith. He revamped the Coca-Cola brand in the country and boosted sales. During the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, for example, Keith made sure that attendants had all the Coke they could want.
However, the Coca-Cola Company’s profits were hurt later that year when the Nazi government began to severely limit imports from foreign nations, including Coca-Cola syrup.
However, the president of the Coca-Cola Company communicated through a third party to convince Hermann Göring, Hitler’s second in command, to allow the importation of this syrup.
Not long after, though, in 1937, Coca-Cola took another hit in their efforts to sell their products in Germany when a German executive at a rival soda company spotted a Coke bottle with Hebrew writing on the cap, indicating that the soda was kosher. He used this as evidence to claim that the Coca-Cola Company was secretly run by a Jew.
To counteract this notion, and the ensuing loss of profits from German consumers, Keith began to aggressively brand the Coca-Cola Company in Germany as pro-Nazi.
He reached out specifically to the Hitler Youth, attempting to win over the younger generation of Nazis.
But, in 1940, as World War II progressed, Keith began to worry about import restrictions. Out of concern, he developed a new syrup from local ingredients to be used if they could not get access to the official Coca-Cola syrup from America.
After Keith asked executives at his company to use their “fantasie” (German for “imagination”) to come up with a name for this new drink, they quickly dubbed the new soda “Fanta.”
When the United States entered the war in 1941, all official contact was severed between Keith’s German affiliate and the larger Coca-Cola Company.
With a dwindling supply of Coca-Cola, Keith worked to ensure that his sodas only went to injured soldiers who were specifically members of the Nazi Party. When they had entirely run out of Coca-Cola, the company began selling Fanta, which was a smash hit among the German populace.
After the war, the Coca-Cola Company took back control of their German branch and, despite being ousted by the occupying U.S. military as Nazi collaborators, reinstated Keith as the leader.