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Tea Party Financiers Owe Their Fortune to Josef Stalin
Posted on Apr 18, 2010
By Yasha Levine, AlterNet
Luckily, there was one market where opportunity beckoned and innovation was rewarded: the Soviet Union.
Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan was just kicking into action a nation-wide industrialization effort, and Soviet planners needed smart, industrious college grads like Fred Koch. The Soviet Union was desperately trying to increase its oil refining capacity, so oil engineers were especially in high demand—and well paid, too.
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In 1929, after hosting a delegation of Soviet planners in Wichita, Kansas, Winkler and Koch signed a $5 million contract to build 15 refineries in the Soviet Union. According to Oil of Russia, a Russian oil industry trade magazine, the deal made Winkler-Koch into Comrade Stalin’s number-one refinery builder. It provided equipment and oversaw construction:
At the time, the Soviet Union’s oil industry was a total mess. Equipment built by Western engineering firms was always breaking down or didn’t work at all. Western engineers were constantly being accused of espionage or sabotage, real or imagined, and booted out of the country. Soviet workers suspected of colluding with the foreigners were simply taken out back and shot. Winkler-Koch made sure it was running a tight, efficient operation. Unlike his Western competitors, Koch pleased his Soviet clients by ensuring top quality and helping the cause of socialism.
The Soviet oil planners were delighted with Koch’s refineries. The communists were so impressed they kept giving Winkler-Koch business and regularly sent Soviet engineers to train in Wichita. It was a sign of growing mutual trust.
By the time he got out in 1933, Koch earned $500,000, which was a ton of money for a kid fresh out of college. This nut of money served as the foundation for the family’s future assets, which Koch no doubt started acquiring at rock-bottom prices. After all, 1933 was one of the two worst years of the Great Depression—all assets were priced to go at 90 percent off. In the end, the capitalist-hating socialists ended up treating Koch fairly, way better than the monopolistic thrashing he got from his native land. So you’d think he’d at least something good to say about the Soviet Union when he got home.
Nope, not at all. He hated the commies, but for some reason he kept it to himself until the late 1950s (possibly because he was still doing work for the Soviet Union). Then, after coming back from a trip to the Soviet Union in 1956, he flew off the handle. According to a 1956 AP article, Fred Koch was among 11 prominent residents of Wichita, Kansas who traveled to Moscow "in an effort to convince the Russian people that Soviet propaganda about capitalists is untrue." Sounds like the perfect cover for a business trip.
It’s not clear what he was actually doing there. But whatever the outcome—maybe he didn’t get the contract he was expecting or maybe he got swindled out of some investment or maybe he plain hated the thaw of post-Stalin Russia—Fred Koch came back a pissed-off anti-communist and joined up with the right-wing Birchers. He bankrolled a John Birch Society chapter in Wichita and attempted to open a Bircher bookstore, which wasn’t too popular and had to close.
He warned of a massive communist conspiracy to take control of America, saying that the Reds were eroding American universities, churches, political parties, the media and every branch of government. "Maybe you don’t want to be controversial by getting mixed up in this anti-communist battle," Koch said in said in a speech to a Women’s Republican Club in 1961. "But you won’t be very controversial lying in a ditch with a bullet in your brain."
In 1961, Koch published a pamphlet titled "A Businessman Looks At Communism," in which he recounted his travels with a "hardcore Communist" named Jerome Livshitz. It was from Livshitz that Fred Koch first learned about the commie conspiracy to take over America:
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