A few days after Christmas I was called to the office of my sponsor, Mr.von Meister, and was told that my hopeless search for employment had come to an end, because he had made arrangenments for me to start work at the camera plant of Agfa-Ansco Corporation in Binghamton, NY. To understand how he was able to perform this seemingly impossible feat I must digress and relate some of his background as well as some of the history of the company where I was to start my career on the second day of the approaching New Year. Von Meister was, as previously mentioned, the son of a British mother. He was born and educated in England and therefore a British subject. His father was the president of the government of the Prussian state, Hesse-Nassau, and a prominent industrialist as well as one of the three founders of the giant German chemical trust known as IG-Farben. The trust consisted of six major combines, one of which was Agfa-Berlin, the number one supplier of photographic materials and equipment throughout Europe. The American subsidiary of IG-Farben was General Aniline and Film Corporation, which had purchased the venerable photographic firm of Anthony and Scovill in Binghamton, from then on called Agfa-Ansco. There they produced all types of photographic films, papers and chemicals as well as low priced cameras in competition with Kodak and DuPont. Because of the high quality of their products, especially the photographic papers, they became very successful. Von Meister had come to the US in the Twenties where he became, only twenty-some years old, the sales representative of Luerssen Yachts, a German manufacturer of large and luxurious motor yachts. They must have sold very well during the Roaring Twenties, because after the Depression hit the country in the early Thirties, von Meister was able to found his own company which produced reproduction papers for engineering drawings. The new product, he introduced, known as Diazo-Print, was the property of IG-Farben and therefore easily available to von Meister. Eventually Diazo-Print replaced blueprinting in the US as it had done previously in Germany and most of Europe. His company, Ozalid Corp., was located in Johnson City, NY, a small town situated between its two sister cities, Binghamton and Endicott. The latter was the home of IBM. Johnson City was hometown to the Endicott-Johnson shoe factory. Binghamton had, in addition to Agfa-Ansco, the Link Aviation Corporation and later a large division of Remington-Rand Corp. The whole area of the "Triple Cities" called itself the "Valley of Opportunity." Shortly before my arrival Ozalid had fused with General Aniline and Film Corp. and von Meister became thereby a vice president in this large combine. The financial relations with IG-Farben were severed for political reasons and their interest in General Aniline, today known as GAF, was taken over by Swiss Interhandel, a financial institution of Switzerland. These details are important to appreciate the actions of the US Government a few years later.
On December 30, 1939 I arrived by bus in Binghamton and settled temporarily in von Meister's beautiful little summer house in Johnson City. The following week I was introduced to the management of Agfa-Ansco where I found to my great surprise that nearly everybody from the president down to the chief engineer was a recently arrived Jewish emigree from Germany. As everybody knows today, IG-Farben was the terrible outfit which mistreated Jewish deportees in their large Buna (artificial rubber) Works located in Auschwitz. Of course their managemennt was tried after the war and many of them severely punished for their alleged misdeads. Anyway, during the lateThirties Agfa-Berlin was pressured by the German government to get rid of its high-level Jewish staff members and arrived at the heinous solution of deporting them to the wild west in Binghamton, NY, where they languished at salaries from fifteen to fifty thousand dollars per annum. These salaries were published by the local press at the end of each year and should be compared with my starting salary of $1,300 ($25 per week) and the then-existing minimum wage of $0.45 per hour for a factory worker. But even with my modest income I was able to scrape together the $50 downpayment for a four year old Pontiac in less than eight weeks. In prosperous Germany I would have to work several years before I could think about the purchase of an automobile.
The first eight months of the year were mostly enjoyable. The work at the newly created research department was easy, the American people were very friendly and quite different from the types encountered in New York. The streets were clean and safe and the entrances to the houses were left unlocked during the night. There was some resentment because a greenhorn such as I had what was then considered a well paying job, while many locals were unemployed during the still-unrelieved Depression.
The personal difficulties I had were mainly with ethnic Germans who had immigrated into the US in the Twenties. They resented my efforts of setting them straight with respect to their distorted views of the Third Reich, which had been infected with anti-German media propaganda. My efforts to give them a more balanced view of the new Germany were usually given the pat admonishment: "Vee are Americans and venn in America you have to do as ze Americans do." This attitude, shared by the vast majority of ethnic Germans, comprising about twenty percent of the total population, is actually quite laudable and could, if practized by the numerous and more vociferous minorities, would make life in our times much more agreeable. For the German-Americans it has led to a situation were they have, despite their not inconsiderable contributions to the progress and well-being of this country, become the politically most impotent group in the US. Compare this with the influence and power of American Jewry, whose supposedly two percent of the population occupies nearly fifty percent of the seats of the upper echelons of our government, and exerts an iron grip over the remainder. There is not a single German-sounding name in the ranks of our present administration! A more active participation in American politics by the large German minority would certainly have prevented the idiotic and disastrous participation of the US in a war in Europe which was instigated by the imperialistic ambitions of Russia, France and England. (For the best researched background to that conflagration, make sure to read Degrelle's Hitler: Born at Versailles). It also would probably have nullified the sinister plans of Roosevelt which caused the outbreak of the war in Poland and dragged the American people into it through his lying and the cynical sacrifice of nearly three thousand sailors and soldiers at Pearl Harbor.