Charles Bedaux

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Charles Eugène Bedaux
Charles Bedaux and filmakers.gif
Bedaux with his film crew in Canada in 1934
Born 26 October 1886
Paris, France
Died 18 February 1944
Miami, Florida
Occupation Production Engineer and Management Consultant
Spouse(s) Fern

Charles Eugène Bedaux (26 October 1886 – 18 February 1944) was one of the most colorful millionaires of the early twentieth century. Friends with British royalty and Nazis alike, he amassed a fortune expanding on the Taylorism style of scientific management and was a management consultant, big game hunter and explorer.

Early years[edit]

Charles Bedaux was born in Paris, France.[1] In 1903, he dropped out of school and worked a series of menial jobs before befriending Henri Ledoux, a successful pimp from the infamous Pigalle district. Ledoux taught Bedaux lessons on proper dress, confidence and street-fighting, but when Ledoux was murdered in 1906, Bedaux moved to the United States where he became a United States citizen, married, and had a son, Charles Emile Bedaux (1909–1993).[2] However, according to Martin Allen,[3] Bedaux completed his schooling normally in 1903 with a degree in civil engineering from the Say College, Paris. He worked as a mining engineer in Arkansas and Georgia after emigrating to the United States in 1906.

Scientific management[edit]

Bedaux was one of the leading contributors in the field of scientific management and introduced the concept of rating assessment and timing work which led to great improvements in employee productivity, and which became known as the "Bedaux System." He was strongly influenced by Fredrick Winslow Taylor and was also an adherent of Frank Gilbreth's theories of time and motion studies and allowing rest periods to prevent employee fatigue.

By 1916, Charles Bedaux had established a management consulting firm in Cleveland. It would be one of the first of its kind and within a decade its success would allow for the creation of a string of firms across the United States, Europe, and eventually throughout Africa, Australia and the Orient administered by the parent company, Bedaux Internationale.[4]

The Bedaux Canadian Sub-Arctic Expedition[edit]

The Bedaux Canadian Sub-Arctic Expedition was the grand title Bedaux gave to the expedition he formed to cross the wilderness of Northern British Columbia, Canada in 1934. Mostly, the expedition was a publicity stunt, but it was also formed to test out the new Citroën half-track cars that were being developed by Bedaux's friend André Citroën.[5] Key points in the trip were filmed by Academy Award winning cinematographer from Hollywood, Floyd Crosby, who would later be praised for his work on High Noon. Also along for the trip were several dozen Alberta cowboys and a large film crew. To map the route of the expedition, the Canadian government sent along two geographers, Frank Swannell and Ernest Lemarque. The expedition started off at Edmonton, Alberta on 6 July 1934 and their goal was to travel 1500 miles to Telegraph Creek, British Columbia. Much of the trip would have to be made through regions that were relatively uncharted and had no trails.[6] The party failed to reach their destination and the original movie was never made, but in 1995, Canadian director, George Ungar, produced a television biography of Bedaux incorporating Crosby's footage of the expedition, entitled "The Champagne Safari".[4] [7]

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor[edit]

Charles Bedaux hosted the Windsors' wedding in his Château de Candé.

Bedaux purchased the sixteenth-century Château de Candé, in France, and lived there with his American second wife, the former Fern Lombard (1892–1972), a daughter of lawyer James Lombard of Grand Rapids, Michigan.[8][9] On 3 June 1937, they hosted the wedding of Wallis Warfield and Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor.[4]

Second World War activity[edit]

When Paris was occupied by the Germans during World War II, Bedaux became acquainted with leading Nazi and Vichy figures. After the fall of France in 1940, he was appointed as an economic advisor to the Reich and, according to Martin Allen, given responsibility for the liquidation of Jewish businesses in Occupied France.[3]

Bedaux's wife, Fern, and her sister, Eve Duez (Mme Louis S Duez), were interned briefly in Paris during the war but were soon released through their connections to the Nazi government in France, according to a memoir by Drue Leyton Tartière (née Dorothy Blackmon Tartière), an American former actress and broadcaster who worked with the French Resistance.[10]

Bedaux's Nazi connections were by no means restricted to Occupied France. The archival records show that Bedaux maintained a close relationship with the German military intelligence service, the Abwehr, and that he was even designated in October 1941 by the sabotage branch of the Abwehr (Abwehr II) to command a large-scale covert mission to Persia (Iran) that he himself had contrived to capture the Abadan oil refinery and protect it from Allied bombardment prior to a planned German military invasion of Iraq and Persia. The sheer scale of such an operation would have been enormous, especially since Bedaux contemplated the “sanding-up” (and subsequent “de-sanding”) of not only the Abadan refinery, but also the Mosul oilfield, as well as the 483 km of pipeline between them, not to mention other infrastructure in southwestern Persia. The proposal was indeed first regarded by the Abwehr planners as a “fantastic” plan, and it looked as if it would not gain acceptance. However, Bedaux persisted and succeeded in getting the plan submitted to a panel of experts who, after meticulous examination, pronounced it technically feasible. The scheme was ultimately cancelled by the Abwehr for various reasons. Those that concerned Bedaux himself were: (1) his expertise was confined strictly to his 1938 survey of the refinery, and he knew even less about Persia than the Persians knew about him; (2) Bedaux's age, poor health, lack of military training and experience, lack of petroleum-engineering qualifications, and inability to speak either Persian or German made him a poor choice as commander; (3) Bedaux's inappropriate, grandiose demands, such as being given the full rank of general. By the end of 1942, however, strategic events (Second Battle of El Alamein, Battle of Stalingrad) had negated the need for the desanding operation, and Bedaux was abruptly dropped by Berlin. The extraordinary countersabotage plan became instantly obsolete and was never, as far as we know, revisited by Abwehr planners at any later stage of the war.[11]

Despite Bedaux's activities on behalf of the Abwehr and his cultivation of relationships with various Nazi Party officials, at least one record suggests that Bedaux did not have dealings with the upper echelons of the Party or with officials of the Sicherheitsdienst (SS Security Service).[11]

Bedaux's arrest and apparent suicide[edit]

On 13 January 1943 Bedaux was in Algeria supervising the construction of a German pipeline when he and his son were arrested by the Americans. Bedaux was taken back to the United States on a charge of trading with the enemy, and committed suicide while in Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) safe-house custody in Miami, Florida awaiting a grand jury investigation into his wartime activities.[2][3][11] The circumstances of Bedaux's death remain suspicious, and the existence of any relevant documents continues to be denied by the FBI even today.[11] After the defeat of Nazi Germany, as part of an attempt to restore Bedaux's good name, the French government awarded Bedaux a posthumous Légion d'honneur on the grounds that he had actually hampered the Germans and guarded Jewish property.[12] This award remains controversial.[11]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Britannica. "Charles Bedaux". Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  2. ^ a b NY Times (1985-06-02). "Dropout Millionaire". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  3. ^ a b c Allen, Martin (2000). Hidden Agenda: How the Duke of Windsor Betrayed the Allies. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-90181-9. 
  4. ^ a b c Bedaux. "Charles Bedaux". Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  5. ^ Saskatoon Sun. "Rumours surround legendary Bedaux trek". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  6. ^ Bob Dyke. "Bedaux Expedition". Retrieved 2007-07-10. [dead link]
  7. ^ Mostra. "Champagne Safari". Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  8. ^ http://ww2.glenbow.org/search/archivesPhotosResults.aspx?AC=GET_RECORD&XC=/search/archivesPhotosResults.aspx&BU=&TN=IMAGEBAN&SN=AUTO15706&SE=580&RN=0&MR=10&TR=0&TX=1000&ES=0&CS=0&XP=&RF=WebResults&EF=&DF=WebResultsDetails&RL=0&EL=0&DL=0&NP=255&ID=&MF=WPEngMsg.ini&MQ=&TI=0&DT=&ST=0&IR=17085&NR=0&NB=0&SV=0&BG=&FG=&QS=&OEX=ISO-8859-1&OEH=ISO-8859-1
  9. ^ http://www.polyvore.com/nicolas_becker_oil_on_canvas/thing?id=3003323
  10. ^ "My attention was drawn to a woman who was sitting on the edge of a cot with an ermine wrap around her feet. She was passing around a five-pound box of chocolates to her friends. I learned that she was Mrs. Charles Bedaux, at whose chateau the Duke of Windsor married Mrs. Simpson. Mrs. Bedaux said in a very loud voice that she did not expect to be with us long, and that she was waiting for Otto Abetz, Nazi fifth columnist in France before the war and the new Nazi Ambassador to France, to come and get her and her sister released. Next morning a group of French collaborationists, obviously personages high in treachery, arrived with an important German in uniform. They were very respectful to Mrs. Bedaux, helped her pack her things, and out she swept, while the rest of us were enraged at this exhibition of the power of social and political influence." From The House Near Paris: An American Woman's Story of Traffic in Patriots by Drue Tartière and M R Werner, Simon & Schuster, 1946, page 105.
  11. ^ a b c d e O'Sullivan, Adrian (2013). German Covert Initiatives and British Intelligence in Persia (Iran), 1939-1945 (DLitt et Phil dissertation). Pretoria: UNISA. 
  12. ^ Sebba, Anne (2011). That Woman: the Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-297-85896-6. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Christy, Jim (1984). The Price of Power : A Biography of Charles Eugene Bedaux. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-18909-5. 
  • Berton, Pierre (2002). My Country: The Remarkable Past. Anchor Canada. ISBN 978-0-385-65928-4.