Lenin’s Willing Industrialist: The Saga of Armand Hammer, Part 5: Coda to a Life of Lies

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Doctor Armand Hammer made it clear that he would be remembered and that, not only would his memory be secure in immortality, but he would also exert influence over what didn’t get remembered about him. The memory of the bad things that he had done would die with him, while the good he wanted people to believe he’d done would be his legacy, even if it was largely a lie. Armand Hammer claimed that he “pursued two of the greatest goals I can imagine — world peace and a cure for cancer” (Hammer 468). These may have been his stated goals, but it’s doubtful that they were ever his real intentions.

***

The idea that Hammer wanted world peace is directly at odds with how he earned his money. War, upheaval, and revolution had provided his point of entry in the two major ventures that created his empire and helped make him one of the largest players on the geopolitical scene in the twentieth century. His friend and fellow titan-of-industry John Paul Getty reminded  Hammer of this fact in his autobiography As I See It. According to Mr. Getty, when someone cornered him at a party and made the requisite “‘tell-me-the-secret-of-making-millions’ question I furrowed my brow and said, ‘Actually, there’s nothing to it. You merely wait for a revolution in Russia’” (Hammer 150).

War had been good to Armand Hammer. Although Armand Hammer talks proudly in his autobiography of supporting the campaign to bomb Germany into submission in World War II, the good Doctor also had a blast in the aftermath of the Great War.

As in his descriptions of life in Russia under the Bolsheviks, Hammer’s description of life in interwar/Weimar Germany segues sentence to sentence from crocodile tears to wallowing in his own superabundance of good fortune:

Rich “Schiebers” (speculators) flaunted the furs and jewels bought with their easy money, while beside them, people once comfortably off — professors, government employees, ex-army officers and the middle class generally — wore shabby clothes and had pinched, pale faces. There were scores of beggars, too, many of them mutilated soldiers. I was startled. I had always heard of Berlin as the most orderly of cities, where everything was trim and tidy, yet here on the Linden itself was poverty and suffering. I began to realize how terrible had been the pressure of war and blockade upon the German people. So extremely depressed was the German mark that it was possible to make huge profits in all kinds of speculations, especially if they could be negotiated in foreign currencies. (Hammer 94)

Hammer then used his constant jaunts between Russia and the U.S. to take advantage of the power of the dollar against the essentially worthless Deutschmark (prior to Rentenmark stabilization efforts) to buy goods in Germany before and after visiting with Vladimir Lenin in Russia and returning to sell them in the United States. His first acquisition was a Mercedes Benz.

***

For a man who supposedly wanted to cure cancer (he even appeared in an episode of The Cosby Show that dealt with the issue) Hammer exhibited a strange indifference toward the environmental contamination he caused and the harmful effects it had on those directly employed by him. It is curious that soon after Hooker Chemical was acquired by Hammer’s Occidental Petroleum, it found itself involved in one of the largest environmental disasters in American History. Armand tried not only to turn chemical disaster to his advantage but to turn a profit from the suffering of his employees made ill from exposure to chemicals.

Warning signs that something was wrong were significant:

A plant manager observed a dog accidentally step into water that was percolating from the waste pond and then lick itself. By the end of the day the dog was dead. In a confidential memorandum to his supervisor, the manager wrote, ‘Our laboratory records indicate that we are slowly contaminating all wells in our area and two of our other wells are contaminated to the point of being toxic to animals or humans. This is a time bomb we must defuse.(Blumay 297–298)

Hammer ignored the ticking of the timebomb, until it was discovered that male workers in the pesticide division were being rendered infertile:

They underwent fertility tests; all those who had worked in the unit for more than four years had zero sperm counts. Armand reacted to this news with simple irritation. “I don’t give a damn about environmental problems and I’m sick of these workers making our plant their scapegoat,” he said. “Millions of men who don’t work in pesticide plants are sterile. These fellows ought to be men and stop trying to save their pride by blaming others for their potency problems. They ought to appreciate the fact that our Lathrop Plant provides them with good jobs.” (Blumay 299)

The cause of their sterility was revealed to be the ungloved handling of “DBCP, a pesticide used to kill nematodes, microscopic worms that attack the roots of plants. During the manufacturing process, the workers had not worn gloves, and their work clothes had often gotten soaked through with the formulation” (Blumay 299).

When the agricultural chemical division at the plant under observation halted operations, Hammer was enraged, first suggesting the “idea of hiring only men who have had vasectomies or are already sterile” (Blumay 300). Not one to let tragedy go to waste, he also thought about using the chemical that had sterilized the men to make a buck by finding a “a way to turn DBCP into a male contraceptive” (300).

If at this point the reader thinks that maybe Doctor Hammer had forgotten some portion of his Hippocratic Oath, they could be forgiven for getting that impression.

Not only was Hammer lacking anything that could be called a bedside manner, but there was something wanting in all his human relations, in things as personal as love or as practical as the handling of employees. A true sociopath.

***

Back when Armand Hammer was liquidating genuine Russian art smuggled abroad on behalf of the Soviets, and around the time he developed a penchant for fabricating authentic Faberge eggs, the good Doctor also had a firesale on items from the distressed William Randolph Hearst collection. In his own version of this time in his life, he claims that William Hearst’s tyrannical mien frightened his employees so much that it created an atmosphere that wasn’t conducive to good business:

Looking back on this brouhaha, I think I can see more clearly now than I could at the time. Huberth and his colleagues lived in awe and dread of “the old man,” and they were excessively nervous of his sensibilities. No doubt William Randolph Hearst did have a wayward and whimsical temper, but I don’t believe that he was nearly as thin-skinned and delicate as Mr. Huberth imagined. The understandable fearfulness of the employee toward the boss really results in a stifling of executive imagination and an unhealthy degree of conservatism in action. (Hammer 241)

One could perhaps infer from this anecdote that Armand Hammer was open to suggestions from the rank-and-file in his enterprises. One would be wrong, if Armand Hammer’s public relations agent of more than a quarter century is to be believed. His boss related the following to him on a flight in the Doctor’s Gulfstream to Los Angeles:

“I’m never curious about those who don’t think as I do. … Unless it affects business, I ignore them. If it does affect business, I screw them before they screw me” (Blumay 54).

Sometimes the screwing was literal. Carl Blumay tells the following story about a woman who had been staring daggers at Armand Hammer and following him from party to party, to events given by “prominent members of the Los Angeles art and business communities” (Blumay 172). When the young, attractive but scowling woman finally gave Armand Hammer the stink eye one too many times, Carl Blumay grew curious enough to ask a friend of the Hammer family why the woman was following Armand around, and why she seemed to despise him so. This intimate of the Hammer family

told me later that this woman’s uncle and Armand had been business associates in the late 1930s and around that time Armand had attended a dinner party for her mother when she came to New York on a visit. According to my source Armand had made a pass at the mother, had been rejected, and had smoothed things over by volunteering to drive her to the airport the following day. Instead Armand had taken her to his Greenwich Village carriage house and had forced himself upon her because he “never took no for an answer.” Then he had warned her that if she ever discussed the event with anyone, he would insist that she was the initiator, which would ruin her marriage. Years afterward she had confided the story to her daughter. I was too shocked to pursue the matter further. (Blumay 172)

Before one judges Carl Blumay for not investigating the potential allegations that his boss might have to add “rapist” to his long CV, it should be remembered that Armand Hammer was known to threaten the lives of those who got in his way or divulged his secrets. Just witnessing him in flagrante delicto at the office could mean the death of one’s career, along with literal death threats.

Carl Blumay tells of being forced to fire his mail clerk, a diligent employee with a wife and children to support. When Blumay asked to know the reason, Hammer replied, “I know the reason. That’s good enough” (Blumay 253). After standing up to his boss on behalf of the clerk a couple more times, Carl Blumay was forced into the unenviable position of having to let the man go:

I sat down with the employee and explained what I had to do and how bad it made me feel. He said he knew it was coming and told me why. After having made an arrangement with me to come in after lunch one day and make up the time by staying late, after everyone had left for the day, he had heard strange noises coming from Armand’s office. Concerned, he had opened the door, and to his surprise had found Armand entertaining an attractive woman. “Dr. Hammer began to yell real loud,” the man said. “He accused me of being a Peeping Tom and said that if I told anybody about what was going on, he would have me killed. He sounded like he meant it.” (Blumay 253)

Firing a man who witnessed his boss having sex with an employee and then threatening said employee’s life would seem to run counter to Doctor Hammer’s stated desire to discourage “fearfulness of the employee toward the boss” (Hammer 241), which as everyone who has read autobiography knows “results in a stifling of executive imagination and an unhealthy degree of conservatism in action” (241).

***

If there is one area where Armand Hammer the public relations creation and the real Armand Hammer differ most drastically, it must be on the issue of money, its worth, and its meaning. Reading of the doings of his fictional alter-ego on display in Hammer makes for nauseating reading, especially in those sections where he asks the reader to believe he doesn’t care about money. Suspending disbelief to think Armand Hammer may have performed a breach delivery abortion with no special training is one thing (as is claimed in the early portion of the book that deals with his time in medical school). The following, however, does not only strain credulity but rips it to shreds, as Armand Hammer explains his credo succinctly in the opening pages of his autobiography:

I asked God, then, that I might be given the strength to help deserving people as much as I was able. I’ve never prayed for power or fame or riches, though I’ve enjoyed them all in abundance. I hope that I have never been greedy. If my main motive had been to make myself rich, I could have been numbered among the multibillionaires of the world. I am not. All my life I have given away a large part of my fortune, more money than I could ever count. Fortunately, I’ve always had the ability to make money, leaving me with plenty to share. My childhood creed has always been my guide. My life spans the present century and it has sometimes precariously bridged the greatest cultural and political divide in history-the ideological gulf between the capitalist countries of the West and the socialist countries of East.  (14)

Later in the book, he describes himself selflessly trying to force his money on a cancer researcher reluctant to let the Doctor enjoy sharing his wealth to make the world a better place and to rid it of the scourge of cancer:

“I understand your caution, Doctor,” I said, “but a month delay could cause hundreds of people to die who otherwise wouldn’t. Is there anything-anything at all which can be done to facilitate this process? Is there anything you need?”

He seemed mildly embarrassed for a moment and reluctant to speak.

Then he said, “The main problem we have is that the process of cell extraction is extremely laborious, and if we had a few more assistants to help in that process, we could immediately double the number of patients under treatment. If I had a hundred thousand dollars additional appropriation, we could work with four patients instead of two”

“You’ve got ‘em,” I said. He seemed about to protest. “We’re not talking about money in a business way here,’ I said. ‘We’re talking about life and death.”

I’ve never met a man more reluctant to take money than Stephen Rosenberg, but he consented at last that I make my contribution through [the National Cancer Institute]. (Hammer 491)

A slightly more plausible admission from Hammer to Carl Blumay came in one of the Doctor’s more candid moments: “In order to succeed, a businessman has to have a love affair with money. That’s why I’m such a brilliant businessman. Money is my first, last, and only love” (Blumay 62).

One would be hard-pressed to find someone who loved money as much as Armand Hammer, or who went to such extreme (and sometimes bizarre) lengths to get his hands on someone else’s money, even in the smallest amount. Tricking someone into giving him as much as a quarter, even after purchasing something like a Rembrandt or an $8 million-dollar Boeing 727, was the kind of thing Doctor Hammer lived for.

Carl Blumay’s depiction of his boss’s life is peppered with anecdotes about Armand Hammer’s penny-pinching:

Later that week we were at NBC’s television Studios in Burbank and he spotted a vending machine that dispensed apples. “They sure look good,” he said. “Have you got fifty cents?” Twenty-five years had passed since he and I had started working together, and he was still borrowing small change from me and relishing the fact that he could occasionally get away with it. (Blumay 385)

Blumay dispenses an even weirder and pettier tidbit in his account of life with Doctor Hammer, when he talks about walking with his boss toward his Rolls Royce in a parking lot a few blocks from a museum they had just visited. As they were walking past a payphone on a New York City street, Armand halted and asked his then-faithful PR man if he had any change:

I reached into my pocket and handed him a coin. A block later he encountered another payphone and begged another coin. Just before we reach the parking lot, he spotted a third phone and asked for one more coin. As I got to know him better, I learned that although he was willing to spend vast sums to impress other people, he was miserly by nature and hated spending a cent of his own money on himself. There was a glint of pleasure in his eyes every time he got someone else to plunk down the change to pay for his calls, candy bars, and newspapers. (16)

That glint in his eyes  was more than a bit malicious, and though metaphysics and mythology are a bit beyond the scope of this piece, the author can’t help but wonder that when Armand Hammer died (not a moment too soon) in 1990, supposing the Jewish custom of putting pennies on the eyes was honored, he might not get into Hades, since he seemed like the kind of man who would stiff Charon on the ferry fare.


Works Cited

Blumay, Carl. The Dark Side of Power: The Real Armand Hammer. Simon & Schuster, 1992

Epstein, Edward J. Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer. Random House, 1996.

Hammer, Armand and Neil Lydon. Hammer: The Armand Hammer Story. Perigee Trade, 1988.

11 replies
  1. Trenchant
    Trenchant says:

    Great series, thanks. I’m left wondering, however, why Blumay stayed on in Hammer’s employ for so long, given his evident disdain for the man.

    • Charles Frey
      Charles Frey says:

      Blumay, at minimum, would have known about Hammer’s innate vindictiveness and reprisal mode, at least to the degree we know here in general and now specifically about him.

      Not only would H have given B a most unfavourable employment reference, but he would have {{{ traditionally }}} black-balled him. And how many courageous new employers, willing to cross this rich, powerful and wonderful philanthropist do you think he could count on for a new career, in order to pay his mortgage and feed his family ?

  2. Stritchplatte
    Stritchplatte says:

    I am astounded! Armand Hammer a rapists! and a jew! Has anyone ever seen a picture of the perfect man dressed in the mufti of a rabid Bolshevik? Maybe borrowing a pistol or a hand full of cartridges for his stolen revolver to shoot a “capitalist” on a muddy road in the Ukraine? Surely he must have joined in the usual proclivities of armed insane jews and enjoying a slaughter of rich Kulaks to acquire an Art Collection and open a museum.

    • Arch Stanton
      Arch Stanton says:

      You’re “astounded?” Really? Frankly, I am merely sickened, but then that happens whenever reading putrid accounts about self aggrandizing Jews. Too bad I cannot say this one takes the bagel as they all seem to be smears taken from the same stool.

      • Arch Stanton
        Arch Stanton says:

        I might clarify that it is the subject matter that is putrid, not Mr. Wald’s article, which is not only well written, but very insightful. After all, here I am on part five. And it is Armand Hammer whom I define as the bagel/smear.

        I will save this article for future reference, as I know that someday in the near future I will regret not having done so.

        Jews are truly a sickening race whose presence sickens the healthy mind.

  3. Charles Frey
    Charles Frey says:

    I can easily visualize a California San Fernando Valley- Girl, competing at a Miss California Beauty Pageant, exclaim: And I am going to work for ” world peace and a cure for cancer ! ” I can also visualize a judge or two saying to themselves: Such platitudes, my dear girl, will not augment the size of your inadequate bust; especially when exclaimed with an IQ of 75; fluttering artificial eyelashes notwithstanding.

    However, when a 750 IQ Jewish millionaire utters these phrases, his PR man, with a little Geld, would assure national headlines; including his munificent pressing of his dollars onto a reluctant researcher. Cancer research dependent on Jewish charity.

    Meanwhile, back in Old Germany things ran a different course, as described, in part, by R.N. Proctor, in his book ‘ The Nazi War on Cancer “:

    Part of our story has to be understood in light of the fact that Nazism took root in the world’s most powerful scientific culture, boasting half of the world’s Nobel Prizes and a sizable fraction of the world’s patents. [ The latter stolen by the truck-load by special detachments of the US Army, as sort of WW I reparations. Commenter ].

    . The topic is sobering, given that Nazi health activists may well have developed the most aggressive and successful cancer prevention program of the era. This should not be too surprising, since German cancer research – and medical research more generally – was the most advanced in the world by the time of the Machtergreifung [ 1933 ]. German scientists were the first to discover skin cancers caused by coal tar distillates, and the first to show that uranium mining could cause lung cancer; both in the 1870s. Germans were the first to identify a bladder cancer hazard of aniline dye manufacture, 1895, a lung cancer hazard from chromate manufacture, in 1911, and a skin cancer hazard of sunlight exposure in 1894. German physicians were the first to diagnose an X-ray induced cancer in 1902, and the first to prove, by animal experimentation, that X-rays could cause leukemia, in 1906 [ both, amazingly, well before and without Mengele ]. They were even the first to suggest that domestic indoor radon might prove to be a health hazard, in 1907.

    —– a mere couple of related accomplishments from the following even longer paragraph:

    Germany was the site of the first international congress of cancer research in Heidelberg and Frankfurt in 1906.
    Germany pioneered the optical diagnosis of cancer, being home to the development of not just X-rays and the colposcope but also the rectal endoscope – a candle-lit version of which was introduced in Frankfurt in <<>>.
    German scientists in the mid-1930s elaborated on this base. The Reich Anticancer Committee etc., etc……..

    Hitler left Heinrich Warburg, the only non-banker of THAT Hamburg clan, in charge of his cancer lab. He died in retirement in Berlin in 1970, without ever having had a single hair plucked or burned from his scalp as only a quarter Jew.

    • Charles Frey
      Charles Frey says:

      …..but also the rectal endoscope – a candle-lit version of which was introduced in Frankfurt in — 1807 —.
      Ouch !

      • Charles Frey
        Charles Frey says:

        And endoscopes are not powered by candle-light any longer — 210 years later. All but a handful of innovations and discoveries stand on the shoulders of the previous ones.

  4. Charles Frey
    Charles Frey says:

    DEAR MR. WALD:

    Hammer, in his psychopathic need of self-aggrandizement told another one about the pivotal role he played in providing Israel with the necessary proof needed to convict John Demjanjuk – Ivan the Terrible.

    According to Wikipedia, The Virtual Jewish Library and my own involved Ottawa friends, this essential evidence was an ID card, with a rubber-stamped photograph, issued to all who were trained as concentration camp guards at Travniki camp – hence called the Travniki Card.

    The Ukrainian, JD, had been drafted by the Red Army and was captured by the Germans. Like so many, he volunteered for them. At war’s end he ended up in a DP camp in Germany where he met his future wife.

    Please ask yourself why any Russian national would continue to carry such an incriminating document with him rather than destroying it . Or are we to believe that he dutifully left it at his former barracks, for the invading Reds to find it, demanding his extradition from the Allies pursuant to the Yalta Codicil ? [ Operation Keelhaul ].

    Certainly H delivered such a card, or rather a poor facsimile of it, to Israel. But to avoid his later two genuinely-interested Israeli defense counsel to possibly prove it a forgery, a prosecution witness took it to the BKA, [ then West-Germany’s FBI ] to authenticate it.

    A matter of this significance was handled by Dr. Werner, its Chief, personally. Werner told the Israeli emissary, that the head of D was photomontaged onto the torso. That the photo had two staple holes that did not appear on the card itself. That the rubber stamp marks on the photo and the card did not line up. That a signing Corporal at the time of issue was a Sargent and that a signing Captain had before the date of issue been promoted to Major.

    This is the used toilet tissue transferred to Israel accompanied by trumpet and shofar blasts heard around the world.

    This emissary contacted Jerusalem with Werner’s assessment, which told him to tell Werner to stop further authentication efforts.

    Vat se Hell a fforjery is better san nossing !

    JD was convicted on one count, under which agreement with the US he was extradited, exclusively for murders at Treblinka. The Israeli Supreme Court allowed an Appeal with new evidence, not usually granted. This new Appeal evidenced so much falsification, that JD was sent back to Cleveland, essentially unconvicted because the SC had not even heard his Appeal, to which he was entitled. All too embarrassing to the legal system.

    Jerome Brentar, a very successful Cleveland travel agent, had long since become involved in assisting JD; money no object. Jerome had gone to Germany with the Army and had remained there working for the UN Refugee organization, under US auspices, filtering DPs from the East, in a feeble attempt to exclude Soviet spies. Jerome, of Croat origin spoke eight languages and easily found out people who were lying about their nationality and place of origin. Of course he had come across every conceivable ID card, which allowed him to regard JD’s as a fabrication.

    He, at the time in question, confided to my friend, one of Zundel’s messengers visiting him in Cleveland, that he had complained to his superior that they were admitting too many undeserving people, misrepresenting themselves. His superior’s reply ? Oh, let them in they suffered enough !

    Some state witnesses saw him there, others elsewhere and even more in an entirely different place. Therefore Jerome sought and found three witnesses in Eastern Poland who easily identified JD from photographs.

    Jerome bought all three a ticket from Warsaw to Cleveland. Of course local Jews found out and spread the word to the Jewish media, that Jerome was bribing witnesses to attend JD’s other trial in Cleveland.

    What both of the abovementioned sites chose to ignore, was that {{{ Neal Sher }}} head of the newly formed OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, within the DOJ, sent his agents to the Warsaw AP to tell them that the trial was already over and that therefore they need not come to Cleveland.

    As you know as a lawyer, witness tampering is a crime: except when committed in the interest of Jewry, when such allegation or indictment itself becomes the crime of anti-Semitism.

    What a merciless investigative journalist for THE NEWYORKER, covering the Sackler family, wonderfully termed ” the circularity of empiricism “.

    Justice Merritt of the Cleveland Court ordered an investigation into all of the procedural irregularities and perjury, which, predictably, had Clinton remove him from the short list of the Supreme Court of the United States nominees.

    Sher was relieved of his duties and joined AIPAC where he lasted a few months until fired. He then worked for the World Jewish Congress in their insurance claims conference against several major European insurers, but was fired and disbarred for fraud; continuing to practice law in NY state, contrary to their reciprocal disbarment agreement.

    As a last resort he was foisted on Canada to help it with its lagging Nazi hunts. Of course someone is always obliged to keep these gangsters’ liquor cabinets filled; why not the dumb Canuck taxpayers, since the 800 million tax evading Montreal Bronfmans still ran Seagrams Distillers.

    Before I forget: Jerome gave my friend, several hundred old, original German newspapers, collected during his time in Germany. One such Berlin paper headlined, that Hitler during Kristallnacht, had deployed Hitler Youth contingents to protect Jewish establishments and life.

    Several months ago I commented here, that my aunt lived one street north of Oranienburger Strasse, the location of Germany’s biggest Synagogue, attended exclusively by Ostjuden, at the corner of August Strasse, which also remained untouched on those nights, until it was burned to the ground by incendiary bombs during an aerial bombardment in 43, by Allied Air Forces.

    Jerome was financially ruined by Jews threatening Lufthansa’s Condor charter carrier with accusations that he was flying Nazis all over, many for free, and publishing such.

    • Charles Frey
      Charles Frey says:

      Demjanjuk again lost his US citizenship and was extradited to Germany, where he stood trial in Munich. He was again convicted but launched an Appeal, while being wheelchaired about well into his 90s. He died before his Appeal could be heard. By law he remained innocent of all crimes, because he did not have his Appeal.

      The only new death during this circus, was a retired Israeli Judge, one of two D’s Israeli counsel who accidentally fell out of his 23 story condominium in Tel Aviv’s exclusive Jerusalem Towers overlooking the beach.

      His other Israeli counsel, also accidentally, sprayed acid into his face while walking on the street.

      Talk about the teachings of the Talmud.

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