At the end of the month of August, 1940, a stormy meeting is held on the 26th floor of the Chrysler Building, the Texaco New York headquarters. Some 20 people were convened, the key executives of the oil company and of course, but also large shareholders and the company bankers. All are gathered to decide the fate of Torkild Rieber, the Almighty boss of the Texaco since 1935. Fifty-eight years, this man very little known to the general public is under the spotlight. A few days earlier, the "New York Herald Tribune" indeed laid a beautiful pavement in the mare by revealing the discrete contacts industrial ties, New York, envoys of Goering, and, even though the US is not mystery for their support to Britain in war! "Finish in this type", exclaimed from the White House President Roosevelt, at the height of the exasperation. The leak to the "New York Herald Tribune" was cleverly orchestrated by William Stephenson, head of the New York branch of British secret service. Because, in London, it was decided to put an end to this sulphur industrial continues with impunity to sell oil to the nazis. Rather than a final, delicate liquidation because of the size of the target, the services of the Crown have opted for a gentle but equally effective method: scandal.
Battles of the clans
At the top of the Chrysler Building, two clans, in this day of August 1940, face: a new "Yorkers", financiers and bankers, including many Jews, shocked by the closeness of the industrial and decided to let go to not to back the American authorities. on the other, Texaco executives. From Houston, they owe their careers to Torkild Rieber and looking instead for a sidelined provisional implementation, while the case is calm. A man does however tip the balance: William Starling Sullivant Rodgers, Director General of Texaco and pattern of sales to the United States. The anglophile said has never supported Torkild Rieber, who had the audacity to him blowing the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors. On the evening of August 26, 1940, the case is settled: Torkild Rieber, placed in a minority, is forced to leave his post.
The struggles of clans, the oil industrialist but always knew play to his advantage, he did much of his career in the shadow of Joseph s. Cullinan, the very autocratic founder of the Texaco. When he joined the company in the early 1910s, it has before it a promising future. Founded in 1901 in the aftermath of the fabulous discoveries of oil at Spindletop, in the heart of Texas, it is bound to a strong hand by Cullinan. Born in 1860 in Pennsylvania, the descendant of Irish immigrants began to work in oil at fourteen years before service of the powerful Standard Oil of Rockefeller. Later, the same Standard gave him a little financial help to build its first oil case, hoping by this means circumventing antitrust legislation which will eventually shoot him. Then came the discovery of the Texas oil and the creation of the Texaco, with a skewer of businessmen Texan. At the beginning of the 1910s, having bought its competitor Red Star Oil Company - which it took over the famous red star logo-, the fact Texaco figure of first oil company in Texas. Its prosperity it due to its sales of gasoline to southern planters, who, since the abolition of slavery, chose to mechanize their farms.
At Texaco, Torkild Rieber, he came by a rather unusual way in the world of oil: the sea. Born in Voss, Norway, in 1882, the son of a small industrial wood has, as Cullinan, began working at fourteen, abandoning the career that he intended his father in the family business to embark on board a trade vessel. Five years later, at the age of nineteen and having prepared only examinations, this self-taught to the will of iron became officer of the Merchant Navy before taking his first command in 1903. Five years, he liaised between Europe and the United States, but also between U.S. ports. It is on this occasion that he came into contact with the Texaco, which he ferried cargo of oil. In 1909, the company, looking for new skills, proposed him to build a large oil terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey. A major challenge for this exceptional men leader has no qualification of engineer! And which he is acquitted with such talent as Joseph s. Cullinan did come at the Texas headquarters of the company.
Las! In 1913, under the pressure of New York financiers which entered its capital, the iconic pattern of the Texaco left the company he founded. His authoritarian methods, his total lack of consideration for the financial and ludicrous ideas, as the black flag he did climb onto the roof of the building of Headquarters as a "warning of privilege and oppression", eventually playing against him. Forced to resign, he takes with him a handful of followers, including Torkild Rieber. For the next fourteen years.the former Commander of the merchant participates in the new oil adventures as Cullinan launched successfully in Texas. However, in 1927, Texaco recalled to supervise its production and refining facilities. Become a member of the Executive Committee, that is dubbed the "Captain Rieber" internally begins its rise to supreme power. A climb that the struggles of influence émaillent at regular intervals the history of the Texaco contribute to accelerate. In the early 1930s in effect, with the global economic crisis, sales of the company begin to decline dangerously, drawing up once again, "New York speculators" against the Texan oil. Between 1933 and 1935, three Presidents succeed each other. Up to this day of 1935 where the unanimous Board decides to appeal to Torkild Rieber.
Grip, the "master" man moved to New Yorkwhere he housed at the year in a hotel suite - and undertakes to make this company located primarily in Texas and New Jersey a national group. Opening of refineries in the Western United States, acquisition of competitors, creation of a network of service stations on the whole of the territory: within a few years, the firm to the Red Star change dimension. At the same time, Rieber began to diversify its sources of supply, taking equity stakes in oil fields in South America and the Middle East.
In the second half of the 1930s, with 7,000 23 refineries and a fleet of tankers 50 operated well, Texaco has emerged as one of the first US oil companies and Torkild Rieber as one of the leading figures of this industry. Little known to the general public, merely a modest life train - it has no secondary residence or yacht and are paid an annual salary of $ 75,000-, he lives for his work. New "tycoon" in the oil, Rieber has little qualms embarrassment when it comes to sell black gold. As a number of American businessmen, the pattern of Texaco sees with sympathy the European Fascist regimes, a guarantee of stability in its eyes, and intend to continue to trade with them. In 1937, he so deliver very large quantities of oil to the General Franco. Taken in part by the Roosevelt administration, which does not tolerate rape characterized American neutrality, it bypasses the Act by organizing a wide traffic passing through the Belgium and the Italy.
But it is mainly with the representatives of the Nazi Germany Torkild Rieber maintains the closer relations. In early 1940, arrives in New York Dr. Gerhardt Alois Westrick. The man, officially, is the new commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Germany. In reality, this former secret agent who had come first in the United States in 1916 to establish a network of espionage received mission is to forge links among the men of us business to serve as a relay of influence with the White House. The pattern of Texaco is one of his first contacts. Since 1936, this man without any anti-Semitic feeling which does not hide his admiration for the Hitler regime book regularly the oil refined at the Germany. Through Nikolas Bensmann, the representative of Texaco, Germany and by the Abwehr agent he has frequent contact with the entourage of Marshal Göring, who put the hand large segments of the German economy. But the conflict that broke out in Europe has changed the equation. Commitment to more and more marked Roosevelt with the France and Britain and the maritime blockade destined for the Germany now need to act with caution. Since 1939, it is therefore by neutral ports in Europe or Latin America the Texaco to book its oil to the Germany, the regulations making way is illegal in nature against new tankers transiting through Latin America. "Rieber makes significant services to the German cause," wrote Bensmann superiors in 1940.
New York, Gerhardt Alois Westrick has therefore regular contacts with Torkild Rieber, as it was with these other friends of the Germany of Henry Ford, to the raging anti-Semite, James d. Moosey, one of the leaders of General Motors, or even Sosthenes Behn, the pattern of the IT & T, a satisfied pro-nazi welcomed publicly the defeat of the France. Westrick, which Rieber has developed courtesy car available, cleaning his time or efforts to convince industrial friends do not deliver equipment to the English. With little success it must be said, the Affairs remaining business... A Torkild Rieber, the German Envoy assigns another mission: be the spokesman for the German interests to the White House. In June 1940, the industrial is thus received by Roosevelt at his request. It is a message - no doubt of Göring - inviting US to no longer support Britain, military condemned, but to sign with the Germany a broad peace plan in which the United States would open a unlimited access to the European continent under the hegemony of the Germany. A perfect utopia that Roosevelt, who knows all the tactics of Rieber, hastens to refuse and that sealed the fate of the industrialist. Brutally rejected branch of Texaco in August 1940, Torkild Rieber will continue his career in the oil industry and will die in 1968.
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