Kelly’s Heroes: The Golden Side of WW2
ON THE SURFACE, the 1970 film Kelly’s Heroes seems like a fairly routine Hollywood “war” movie with many standard tropes of the Allies’ court history. There are funny, relatable and colorfully characterized US Army soldiers; there’s a load of action and pyrotechnics, which were top-level stuff for their time; and, of course, there’s heaps of faceless corpses supplied by an inexplicably inept Wehrmacht. The film was made with the help of Communist Yugoslavia, thus there’s really no surprises with that last part.
Yet beneath this goofy façade are actually a few telling details about one of the principal drives that led to World War 2 – the economic drive. Hitler sought to free Germany from the crippling debts forced onto it by the Versailles Treaty as well as new ones that sprung up during the Weimar Republic. With Germany being one of Europe’s main economic engines and Europe itself being tied to much of the World through various business interests and its colonial past, this meant nothing less than redefining one of the core tenet’s of the World’s economy.
Needless to say, high financiers who built massive, competing, debt-fueled lending empires were enraged when someone dared to challenge the way things are done. So they then accused Hitler of doing, more or less, precisely what they did – massive rearmament, yet the III Reich’s economy only became fully geared toward war in 1942 – three years after the war had started. 
Now, what does all that have to do with a silly action movie romp? Well, one key dialogue exchange sheds some light on this matter.
Big Joe: Look, Mac, you and us? We’re just soldiers, right? We don’t even know what this war’s all about. All we do is we fight and we die and for what? We don’t get anything out of it. In about a half an hour the whole American army’s gonna be comin’ down that road. Why don’t you do yourself a great, big fat favor, huh? And get the hell outta here?
Panzer Commander: I have orders. This bank isn’t to fall into the hands of the American army.
Kelly: Sergeant, this bank’s not gonna fall into the hands of the American army. It’s gonna fall into our hands. You see, we’re just a private enterprise operation.
Panzer Commander: You… the American army!
Oddball: No, baby, we ain’t. You know what’s inside that bank, man? There’s 16 million dollars worth of gold in that bank, sweetheart.
The film starts with US Army Private Kelly kidnapping a German Officer and getting information about a bank with a large gold reserve, which is where the film ends and where the above conversation takes place. Thus, for all the goofiness and explosive action in the middle part of the movie, it’s the bank plot thread that bookends the film, just as bankers’ motivations book-ended World War 2. Many of the promotional posters for the movie communicate this banking theme with characters ecstatically holding gold yet this one takes that up a notch or two.
The main characters are carrying a war banner that is not just a stylized dollar bill, it actually reads “The Almighty Dollar” in place of where it should say “United States of America” strongly suggesting for what ideals the US was involved in the war. Also, there are golden bomber planes and tanks in the background leading the viewer to think: was Operation Gomorrah and other Allied mass bombing operations actually motivated by money? This image seems to say just that. The main characters in the film know the war, as pitched in American media and propaganda, is a sham and decide to get in on some of the spoils that their government is after.
This makes them rather cynical, but they are the products of a system where loyalty to higher ideals is an alien or even looked down upon concept.
The film shows the World War 2 defeat of Germany both militarily as an entire platoon and two tanks are destroyed in battle, though rather laughably by only a few US Army soldiers, and ideologically as the third tank goes along with Kelly’s plan and helps him and his unit loot the bank. After the war, a divided Germany went along with not just the ideological systems of the Allies and Soviets, but also with their central bank-based economic systems. Interestingly, a detail on the third tank reveals that this unit belonged to the “1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler” with the key insignia on the front of the tank being visible in many shots. Thus, the climax as the bank is linked directly to not just NSDAP ideology, but also to the leader who made it possible. It is with the defeat of this that truly defined the post-war order and the allowed the Breton Woods economic system, an internationalist trade zone ruled by central banks, to wrap its tentacles around the world.
Additionally, a contextual note is that Kelly’s Heroes was made during the Vietnam War, which by 1970 was becoming increasingly unpopular with the American populace. This explains Oddball’s hippy-like characterization, as he was meant to satirize a different era. However, what Big Joe, Kelly, and Oddball say to the German tank commander is just as applicable to the war in they are in: war is a way to loot resources and, more often than not, the bankers’ means to an end, since war means lots of loans and debts. Hitler tried to stop this cycle with NSDAP policies, yet his main economic idea was not originally his – it actually relates directly back to the United States.
Follow the Money?
A more intuitive approach to studying Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP means going beyond and demystifying all of the plentiful, hyperbolic horror stories in order to take a closer look at what Hitler’s government actually did, and in particular, with the economy. In 1933, when Hitler entered government, the German economy was a wreck burdened by debts, mismanagement, corruption and all the vices that capitalism and democracy typically spin together.
“In the second place, as long as Germany and Italy are under their present governments, they will not touch foreign loans, and Germany by her method of internal economy and trading has eliminated the international financier, and those who make profits by playing with foreign exchanges. That is doubtless why the government is being forced by the “City” to start a trade war with Germany. If the economic methods devised by Germany are successful, and spread to other nations, and if Hitler succeeds in his policy of establishing permanent peace in Europe, the high financier will cease to be able to exist. It is therefore their main interest today to plunge the four powers into war, in order to destroy Germany and Italy.”
— Arthur Pillans Laurie, The Case for Germany, p. 91
Hitler’s promise of reforming of the German economy, which would have long term effects on the World economy, started the drive to war with anti-German boycotts and a general demonization of Hitler, such as the effort of Samuel Untermyer seen below; it was well before Kristallnacht or any hyper-publicized NSDAP anti-Jewish measures.
“Hitler and the National Socialists, who came to power in 1933, thwarted the international banking cartel by issuing their own money. In this they took their cue from Abraham Lincoln, who funded the American Civil War with government-issued paper money called ‘Greenbacks.’ Hitler began his national credit program by devising a plan of public works. Projects earmarked for funding included flood control, repair of public buildings and private residences, and construction of new buildings, roads, bridges, canals, and port facilities. The projected cost of the various programs was fixed at one billion units of the national currency. One billion non-inflationary bills of exchange, called Labor Treasury Certificates, were then issued against this cost. Millions of people were put to work on these projects, and the workers were paid with the Treasury Certificates. This government-issued money wasn’t backed by gold, but it was backed by something of real value. It was essentially a receipt for labor and materials delivered to the government.” 
This was all before German rearmament and the rebuilding of the meager Reichswehr into the much more solid Wehrmacht, which was formed in 1935. The key thing to note is that “Wehrmacht” literally means “Defense Force” and that’s exactly what it was. Hitler and the NSDAP had intended (as did nearly every other political grouping in Germany) to bring the military to levels comparable to surrounding countries, though the call to really strengthen the military came after Hitler pretty much saw that the international banking cartels (the other “Internationale”) wouldn’t let Germany run under a system freed from debt-finance.
“Hitler will have no war, but he will be forced into it, not this year but later…” ~Emil Ludwig, Les Annales – June 1934
“Germany is the enemy of Judaism and must be pursued with deadly hatred. The goal of Judaism of today is: a merciless campaign against all German peoples and the complete destruction of the nation. We demand a complete blockade of trade, the importation of raw materials stopped, and retaliation towards every German, woman and child.”
— A. Kulischer – October 1937
“The millions of Jews who live in America, England and France, North and South Africa, and, not to forget those in Palestine, are determined to bring the war of annihilation against Germany to its final end.”
— Central Blad Voor Israeliten in Nederland – September 13, 1939
“Germany must be turned into a waste land, as happened there during the 30-Years War.”
— The Morgenthau Diary, pg. 11
The war ended, not just with the destruction of the Reich and also pretty much all of Eastern Europe in the Soviet advance. The latter was an acceptable side effect to the powers that be, while the former was a means to an end – the end of the NSDAP economic model that strove for autarky, debt-free currency, and an economy based on labor performed and goods produced without the interference and opportunistic meddling of speculative banking.
There have been other leaders that tried similar methods.
Don’t just follow the money, rather also look at what they did with the money to understand why they were stopped and who sanctioned those measures.
* * *
Source: Sword of Elysium