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For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts
In order to thrive inside Nazi Germany, its Coca-Cola franchises had waged a rigorous campaign to disassociate themselves from their American roots. While the soft drink came to symbolize American freedom, the same Coca-Cola logo rested comfortably next to the swastika. The drama of German Coke’s survival before, during, and after World War II swirls around one central figure – Max Keith, at once the quintessential Coca-Cola man and Nazi collaborator.
The 1936 Summer Olympics in
Goring and Goebbels hosted elaborate parties for foreign guests, most of whom were suitably impressed by what they saw. One of those guests was Robert Woodruff, who had brought over an entire Coca-Cola entourage. Woodruff belonged to network of corporate executives, many of whom were worried about their German subsidiaries and interests. With was clouds darkening, these titans of American industry quietly maneuvered to protect themselves against all contingencies. Some, like Henry Ford, were in fact Nazi sympathizers, while others, such as Walter Teagle of Standard Oil, avoided taking sides but saw nothing wrong with doing business with the Nazis. Like his friend and hunting companion Teagle, Woodruff practiced expediency. His politics were Coca-Cola, pure and simple.
In March of 1938, as Hitler’s troops stormed across the Austrian border. Far from expressing horror at Nazi aggression, Keith and his men swiftly followed the troops into
And therein lies the true beauty of capitalism. The Coca-Cola religion has no real morality, no commandment other than increased consumption of its drink. Consequently, it has been perfectly willing to co-exist with Hitler, bejeweled Maharajas, impoverished migrant workers, malnourished Africans, Guatemalan death squads, clear-cut Belizean rainforests, or repressive Chinese. Unlike most world governments, however, the Coca-Cola Company eventually acts out of enlightened self-interest. Because it values its squeaky-clean image above all else, it reacts far more quickly to bad publicity than any potentate.
Whenever you hear "Have a Coke," you hear the voice of
[1945 Coca-Cola Advertising Slogan]
While touring the