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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

 

JANE MAYER AND THE NEW YORK TIMES DIVE INTO THE GUTTER

Recent media reports have highlighted a series of false and inaccurate claims about Koch made by Jane Mayer in a book that will be released later this month. As we have told the media, we declined to participate in her book and have not read it. If its content is anything like Ms. Mayer’s previous comments about the Koch family, Koch Industries, or the Kochs’ political involvement, then we expect to have deep disagreements and strong objections with her interpretation of the facts and their sourcing.

Of the many false and inaccurate claims that have leaked out so far, the implication that Fred sympathized with one of the most tyrannical regimes in history is reprehensible and represents the lowest form of journalism. Ever since the New York Times reported on this allegation, we have conducted an extensive archival search to collect the facts and share them with you. We firmly believe that you deserve to know the truth about the history of the company you represent.

Between 1928 and 1934, Winkler-Koch Engineering handled more than 500 projects. Of these, 39 involved signed contracts to build cracking units. One of those units was included in a refinery in the port area of Hamburg, Germany, built for Foreign Oil Co. of Boston. During this period, Winkler-Koch worked on hundreds of other international projects, including work in England, Scotland, France, Canada, Romania, the Soviet Union, Persia and India. Winkler-Koch also worked on similar projects throughout the United States, including in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Wyoming, Illinois and Ohio.

Winkler-Koch’s contract with Foreign Oil was signed on Sept. 8, 1933, and the refinery became operational March 23, 1935. That signing was nearly six years before Germany invaded Poland. Meanwhile during that same period, many iconic U.S. companies were doing business in Germany, including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Ford and IBM. While this was Winkler-Koch’s one and only project in Germany, some of those companies continued to do business in Germany throughout World War II.

Simply put, this cracking unit was just one element in the composition of a single refinery. To state that Fred Koch was “hired to build the third-largest refinery in the Third Reich, a critical industrial cog in Hitler’s war machine” is an outrageous assertion. To cherry-pick one project among hundreds during this time frame and then use it out of context in order to further an agenda-driven storyline is grossly inaccurate.

It is a sad commentary on today’s political and media environment that we even have to address such a false and horrific charge. Many of the other claims made about the Koch family are even more preposterous. Suffice it to say, Fred Koch opposed all forms of tyranny. He was a great man who built a great company. Under the leadership of his son Charles, we are proud to continue his legacy.

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