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Discarded Patriot

Ernest von Simson

In the 1920s, a German diplomat from a distinguished family won the release of WWI military officers whom the French and English accused of being war criminals. Shortly afterwards, this same diplomat helped upend the Versailles Treaty through the détente with the Soviet Union, formalized as the Treaty of Rapallo. And in 1925, he co-founded IG Farben, merging six huge chemical firms into the world's fourth largest company - a combination that helped restore German prosperity and eventually facilitated its rearmament. His activities supporting Weimar Germany were widely hailed.

Yet two decades later, this patriotic man was forced into exile with failing health, forfeited wealth and his family in hiding. That man was my grandfather.

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Ernest von Simson is the co-founder and retired President of the Research Board, a private sector think tank that discusses the sources and uses of advanced technology for a selected group of the largest enterprises in North America and Europe. He subsequently co-founded the CIO Strategy Exchange and has been a board member of a dozen technology companies involved in cybersecurity, open source, and expert systems. At this time, he is a trustee of several non-profits involved in education and landmark preservation. Ernie is the author of The Limits of Strategy which recounts recurring turmoil in the IT sector, and his articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Computerworld, Harvard Business Review, and other publications. He is a graduate of Brown University and New York University.