Republican Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota led the 1934 hearings on the US arms industry that revealed the nefarious practices and enormous wartime profits of American munitions companies.
He said, 'The committee listened daily to men striving to defend acts which found them nothing more than international racketeers, bent upon gaining profit through a game of arming the world to fight itself.'
In April 1934 before the hearings started two books were published exposing in detail the dealings of US munitions makers and of their compatriots in other parts of the world. At the same time Doubleday reprinted an article from the March issue of Fortune magazine titled 'Arms and the Men' exposing the European arms industry.
It began, 'According to the best accountancy figures, it cost about $25,000 to kill a soldier during the World War. There is one class of Big Business Men in Europe that never rose up to denounce the extravagance of its governments in this regard - to point out that when death is unhampered as an enterprise for the individual initiative of gangsters the cost of a single killing seldom exceeds $100. The reason for the silence of these Big Business Men is quite simple: the killing is their business. Armaments are their stock in trade; governments are their customers; the ultimate consumers of their products are, historically, almost as often their compatriots as their enemies. That does not matter. The important point is that every time a burst shell fragment finds its way into the brain, the heart, or the intestines of a man in the front line, a great part of the $25,000, much of it profit, finds its way into the pocket of the armament maker.'
In September 1934 four members of the DuPont family took the stand together and were grilled about the enormous profits made by their company during the war years. Between 1915 and 1918 their orders of $1,245 billion showed an increase of 1,130% compared with the four years before the war.
In December 1934 the Washington Post published a list of companies involved in various aspects of of war production plus the returns on their investments. Also released were the names of the 181 individuals who reported incomes exceeding $1 million in 1917 and it was noted that, of these, 41 had appeared for the first time. The list included six Duponts, three Rockefellers, two Morgans and two Vanderbilts.
[Information extracted from a recently published book, 'The Untold History of The United States' by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick]