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James David Mooney (18 February 1884 – 21 September 1957) was an American engineer and corporate executive at General Motors who played a role in international affairs in the 1930s and early 1940s. His career was disrupted when he was accused of Nazi sympathies in 1940.

Biography

Early years

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Mooney attended the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, and in 1908 received a B.S. in Mining and Metallurgy.

After graduating he went on gold mining expeditions in Mexico and California. From 1910 to 1917 Mooney worked at Westinghouse Electric, B. F. Goodrich and the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company, which later became part of General Motors. He steadily rose in the management ranks.

In 1917 he enrolled in the army, and served in France as a captain with the 309th Ammunition Regiment, 159th Field Artillery.[1]

General Motors executive

After the war Mooney was appointed President and General Manager of Delco Remy, a General Motors subsidiary. In 1922 Mooney was made President of General Motors Overseas, responsible for operations around the world.

He traveled widely, visiting his division's factories in many different countries. Mooney was an early leader in managerial theory, recording his theories and real-life experiences in the widely read Onward Industry (1931), reissued in a revised edition as The Principles of Organization. He succeeded in applying American approaches to a great range of conditions in other countries.[1]

Informal diplomacy

Mooney met leading government officials and other members of the elite in the countries he visited, discussing local and global economic issues. He was awarded the German Order of Merit of the Eagle in 1938. In May 1939 he met Nazi officials in Germany and discussed various issues concerning GM's Adam-Opel facility.

He arranged for a meeting in London between Helmuth Wohlthat, who was working for Hermann Göring on a four-year plan for the German economy, and ambassador Joseph Kennedy. The purpose was to discuss possible loans in exchange for more open trade conditions. In December 1939 and January 1940 he met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and obtained authority for informal discussions with the Germans to better understand their goals. In March 1940 Mooney met first with Adolf Hitler and then with Göring. He presented Roosevelt's views to both men, and recorded their replies.[1]

The German lawyer and businessman Gerhardt Alois Westrick visited the United States between March and August 1940.[2] According to Charles Higham in his book Trading with the Enemy, Sosthenes Behn of ITT arranged the trip and persuaded Torkild Rieber, CEO of Texaco, to look after Westrick's local needs.[3] Westrick represented many American companies in Germany including ITT, Cleveland, Ohio, Mooney attended the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, and in 1908 received a B.S. in Mining and Metallurgy.

After graduating he went on gold mining expeditions in Mexico and California. From 1910 to 1917 Mooney worked at Westinghouse Electric, B. F. Goodrich and the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company, which later became part of General Motors. He steadily rose in the management ranks.

In 1917 he enrolled in the army, and served in France as a captain with the 309th Ammunition Regiment, 159th Field Artillery.[1]

General Motors executive

After the war Mooney was appointed President and General Manager of Delco Remy, a General Motors subsidiary. In 1922 Mooney was made President of General Motors Overseas, responsible for operations around the world.

He traveled widely, visiting his division's factories in many different countries. Mooney was an early leader in managerial theory, recording his theories and real-life experiences in the widely read Onward Industry (1931), reissued in a revised edition as The Principles of Organization. He succeeded in applying American approaches to a great range of conditions in other countries.[1]

Informal diplomacy