Fact Check: Was Davos Founder Klaus Schwab's Father Hitler's 'Confidant'?

As world leaders meet in Davos, Switzerland, social media users have attempted to create a familial link between the conference's founder, Klaus Schwab, and Adolf Hitler.

Schwab, who was born in Ravensburg, Germany, in 1938 during the Nazi era, has been the target of multiple conspiracy theorists, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To that end, Twitter and Reddit users have shared claims that Schwab's father, Eugen Schwab, was an "intimate confidant" of Germany's infamous World War 2 leader.

Klaus Schwab
Founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab delivers a speech at the Congress center during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos on May 23, 2022.

The Claim

The posts shared online in May, 2022, claim Klaus Schwab's father, Eugen Schwab, was a close ally of Hitler, and include a photo of the World Economic Forum leader alongside a man in Nazi uniform.

The posts have received thousands of likes and engagements on both Reddit and Twitter.

The Facts

Klaus Schwab has been a frequent target of conspiracy theorists, who have invented claims that he was related to the Rothschilds and that he wrote four billion people would die through planned epidemics.

The theory that his father was a close confidant of Hitler appears to be part of the same misinformation narratives.

To start, the photo shared online is not of Eugen Schwab, but of Nazi general Walter Dybilasz. The photo used in the post appears to be the same used in blogs cataloging details of Third Reich officers. It has been published multiple times including by someone who claims to have an original photo.

Of what little information is available online, Dybilasz is said to have been born in 1892 and died in 1950, possibly in Soviet captivity. Some sources claim he was awarded the German Cross and obtained the rank of General-major. Other spellings of his forename include Watther and Walther.

Klaus Schwab's father, on the other hand, was the managing director of a subsidiary of Zurich-based engineering firm Escher Wyss. The history of Eugen's relationship with Nazism in general is complex, but there is no substantive evidence of ties to high-ranking German leadership, particularly Hitler.

A fact check published by accredited German journalists dpa used Denazifaction records to uncover that Eugen Schwab was a member of some National Socialist organizations, but that alone does not prove any relationship to German high command or a belief in Nazi ideology.

While the Escher Wyss branch in Ravensburg, Germany, (which Eugen managed) used prisoners of war and forced laborers, it is not clear whether the company was forced to do so by the Nazis or because of a lack of workers.

Similarly, while Escher Wyss made a turbine for a Norwegian hydroelectric power station used in the construction of an experimental reactor for military-use plutonium, whether the Ravensburg branch did so as well is not clear.

At the end of the Second World War, as Germany attempted to remove Nazis and Nazism from public life, Schwab was acquitted before a committee investigating prominent public figures.

A translation of dpa's work states: "...it also seems unlikely that Schwab could have successfully denied that he would have been a member of the N.S.D.A.P. (the National Socialist German Workers' Party) if he were a prominent Nazi."

Crucially, there appears to be no evidence to suggest that Eugen Schwab was a confidant of Hitler, as the social media posts state.

Newsweek has contacted the World Economic Forum for comment.

The Ruling

Fact Check - False

False.

The photo shared on social media is thought to be of German general Walter Dybilasz, not WEF chief Klaus Schwab's father. While Eugen Schwab was a member of some National Socialist organizations and managed a factory that used prisoners of war, this does not demonstrate any direct ties to the Nazi regime. There is no evidence he was linked to German high command, including Hitler.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team