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General Motors documents relating to World War II corporate activities in Europe

 Collection
Call Number: MS 1799

Scope and Contents

This collection focuses on World War II era activities of and relating to Adam Opel Aktiengesellschaft, a German firm in which the General Motors Corporation (GM) purchased a controlling interest in 1928. The collection materials were assembled as part of a 1999-2000 research project under the auspices of GM. The collection contains approximately 1,150 copies of GM and Opel records, including copies of relevant records from GM's subsidiaries in Britain (Vauxhall Motors Ltd.), Denmark (General Motors International), and Sweden (General Motors Nordiska). The documents in the collection specifically relate to GM's acquisition, ownership, management, loss of effective control, write-off, and reacquisition of Opel from 1929 through the early 1950s.

Dates

  • Circa 1900-1982
  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1949

Creator

Language of Materials

Material is primarily in English and German, with a small amount in several other European languages.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research. Copies of the documents in this collection may not be made for researcher use without written permission from General Motors. Researchers must also have written permission from General Motors to take digital photographs of documents from this collection. Researchers interested in applying for copying permissions should address a letter to GM Legal Staff care of the Carrie S. Beinecke Director of Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by General Motors Corporation for materials authored or otherwise produced in the course of its business activities. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of General Motors Corporation, 2009.

Arrangement

Documents are arranged according to a page-based numbering sequence assigned at the time of the scanning project in 1999-2000. Page numbers range from 148-78646, with many missing page numbers and sequences where duplicates and non-relevant documents were eliminated before the collection was given to Yale University. Document numbers used as folder numbers represent the page number range corresponding to each document.

The source for each document is indicated by a code in square brackets following the document title (e.g., [OPR]). These designations were part of the spreadsheet of information that accompanied the documents when received by Yale University. The following list indicates the meaning of each code used:

  1. No code - GM Legal Staff, Detroit, MI.
  2. AC - GMAC, Detroit, MI.
  3. AN - Opel Belgium N.V., Antwerp, Belgium.
  4. BR - GM Business Research Library, Detroit, MI.
  5. CR - GM Business Management (previously Central Records), Detroit, MI.
  6. DM - GM International, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  7. DMS - Darmstadt Zwangsarbeiter Archives
  8. EX - GM Executive Compensation, Detroit, MI.
  9. MA - GM Media Archives, Detroit, MI.
  10. NY - GM New York, NY.
  11. OPR - Opel Russelsheim, Germany.
  12. PR - GM Public Relations, Detroit, MI.
  13. SW - GM Nordiska, Stockholm, Sweden.
  14. TX - GM Tax Staff, Detroit, MI.
  15. VX - Vauxhall Motors Limited, Luton, UK.

Associated Materials

Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. Papers (MS 1691). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Extent

25.75 Linear Feet (52 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.1799

Abstract

This collection focuses on World War II era activities of and relating to Adam Opel Aktiengesellschaft, a German firm in which the General Motors Corporation (GM) purchased a controlling interest in 1928. The collection materials were assembled as part of a 1999-2000 research project under the auspices of GM. The collection contains approximately 1,150 copies of GM and Opel records, including copies of relevant records from GM's subsidiaries in Britain (Vauxhall Motors Ltd.), Denmark (General Motors International), and Sweden (General Motors Nordiska). The documents in the collection specifically relate to GM's acquisition, ownership, management, loss of effective control, write-off, and reacquisition of Opel from 1929 through the early 1950s.

Custodial History

This collection was assembled under the auspices of the General Motors Corporation during 1999 and 2000 by a team of researchers directed by Professor Henry A. Turner of Yale University. The records were identified through searches in the archives of GM and many of its subsidiary firms, and then scanned and saved as PDF files by the project team. Many of the GM records were available only in Xerox copies as a result of the destruction of documents when the firm's New York office was liquidated in 1978. Scrutiny of these Xerox copies, which were made in 1974-1975, by the research team left no doubt about their authenticity. Records in this collection should be cited by the numbers, sometimes with letter prefixes, stamped on each page and not by other numbers that may appear on each item. The original documents and Xerox copies scanned for this collection remained, as of February 2001, in possession of GM and its subsidiaries.

Related Publication Note

Collection material was signficantly used in research for the following publication: Turner, Henry Ashby, Jr. General Motors and the Nazis: The Struggle for Control of Opel, Europe's Biggest Carmaker. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Processing Information

The original PDF files of documents scanned by Professor Turner's research team were printed out, partially by Yale University Library staff and partially by staff at General Motors. Legibility issues in some of the PDF printouts result from poor quality in the original scans. The original document numbering sequence established by the research team was maintained and used in lieu of folder numbers; gaps in the document numbering sequence reflect gaps in the original PDF documents. The titles and dates of the documents in this collection were taken from an index to the collection supplied by the donor and were not verified against actual document content during processing. The date format used in the original index is YYYY/MM/DD, and 00 is used to represent years, months, and days that are unknown. This formatting is retained in the document inventory in this finding aid. Toward the end of the inventory, dates were not provided in the original index and consequently do not appear in the Date column in this inventory; for many of these items, a date is included in the document description.

Title
Guide to the General Motors Documents Relating to World War II Corporate Activities in Europe
Status
Under Revision
Author
compiled by William Landis
Date
October 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)

Location

Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours