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© The Boston Globe 2001.  Used by permission.
The Secret History of World War II

by Mark Fritz / Globe Staff / November 19, 2001

Page 4 of 11

Continued from page 3

Consider American Cornelius Tucker, who the declassified files show served as the Argentina representative for the American Foreign Insurance Association, a brokerage firm that represented such wartime US insurance giants as Home Insurance Co., the Hartford, and the Phoenix of Hartford.

The AFIA, based in New York, was a rich source of information for the OSS unit and Tucker cooperated fully with the US Embassy in Buenos Aires on insurance intelligence matters, one OSS report said. Yet Tucker also was director of an AFIA-owned Argentine insurance company, Sud Atlantica, that was placed on the ''yellow list'' of companies doing indirect business with the enemy. Yellowlisted firms were forbidden from doing business with Allied companies and given the opportunity to break off Axis ties or face war-crime sanctions.

The OSS said Sud Atlantica was writing insurance policies for such important Axis defense industries as Siemens-Schuket, a subsidiary of the big German electronics firm. And the actual managers of Sud Atlantica were Heine and Co., which also was the broker for two German insurance syndicates: Bremen Marine Insurance Association and the Hamburg Association of Insurance Firms.

The upshot of such business-as-usual arrangements meant that there was a clear channel for cash and strategic data to reach from the United States to the Axis nations trying to crush it.

The same fears were expressed in reports on two New York insurance executives, Cecil Stewart and Stewart Hopps, who were affiliated with the Atlantic Brokerage Co., the Rhode Island Insurance Co., and the William Penn Insurance Co. A 1943 OSS report said they were purportedly selling war insurance to strategic US defense industries and reselling some of the risk to Latin American affiliates linked to Nazi insurers. The report said the two men also ran a steamship company that chartered tankers for Royal Dutch Shell, a Nazi collaborator that used Hitler's slave laborers.

''It's very possible that details of American insurance properties could reach the enemy via this sequence of reinsurance transactions,'' the OSS report said.

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