IG Farben

[German: "Farben" = "color" "die" "paint"]

The following are some gleanings from my reading of Richard Sasuly's 1947 book IG Farben[1]. I can't remember where I first read that Sasuly's book had been a major source for Gravity's Rainbow (it may have been Weisenburger) but obviously much of IG Farben found its way into GR (sometimes almost verbatim). I haven't had time to really write it all out, so it appears here just as I pulled it from the book, the numbers in parentheses indicating the page numbers on this long-out-of-print book.

While hunting down the book in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I live), one book dealer didn't have the book, but knew Sasuly and gave me his home number (he's also a Bay Area resident). I gave him a call and had a long and fascinating conversation with him. He'd heard of Pynchon, but not of GR. In a subsequent conversation, he told me he'd checked out Gravity's Rainbow, but told me it really wasn't his "cup of tea." Of course, I told him that he really should withhold judgment until he'd read it several times. He, um, laughed.

Anyway, I hope what follows provides a modicum of enlightenment. — TW


Interessen Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft = "community of interests of dye industries, incorporated"; "community of interests" = "cartel"

"Germany's greatest corporation and the kingpin of the German war effort." (8)

"at the center of the network of international cartels which control a bewildering array of products from oil to rubber to dyes to nitrogen to explosives to aluminum to nickel to synthetic silks."
"had a share, generally the lion's share, in the control of more than three hundred and eighty other German firms"
"IG Farben world organization included more than five hundred firms abroad."
"had its own mines for coal, magnesite, gypsum, and salt. It had its own coke ovens and was a heavy investor in steel firms." (9)
"had its own house banks and patent and research firms, not only all over Germany but scattered through all the main business centers of the world." (9)

IG's most important achievement was in finding substitutes for critical raw materials. (83)

Industry and the Right Wing

In 1933 - alliance of the Nazi Party, organized Big Business, the German General Staff, and important sections of the government bureaucracy. Robt Brady, American economist, described Nazi state:

"a dictatorship of monopoly capitalism. Its 'fascism' is that of business enterprise organized on a monopoly basis, and in full command of all the military, police, legal and propaganda power of the state." (128)
"Hitler was pushed to the top, without support of a majority of the people, by a coalition of the heavy industry leaders and Junker militarists." (14)

Hitler raised tariffs on gasoline to aid IG. In Hitler's Germany, there was no organized labor movement--only a dwindling underground which had ceased to be a factor. No longer any problems of wages and working conditions. Wages stayed low after 1933. 60-hour work week became common; the result was a jump in industrial accident rate (almost doubled between 1932 and 1938).

There was a sudden emergence of new fortunes during both WWI and WWII, as in all wars.

Old privileges for Big Business were flourishing without check in Nazi Germany during WWII. The local paper, the Frankfurter Zeitung, was owned by Jews and was anti-Nazi. IG took it over, ran it as a "cloaked syndicate" headed by a Professor Brunner.

"The operations of the cartel work against the interests of people. . .all over the world" (28)

Pre-World War I

Strides in Organic Chemistry Facilitate Synthesis Dyestuffs from Coal Tar Derivaties

Justus von Liebig (b. 1803) - one of the first German pioneers in what became industrial chemistry (21)

Studied with Gay-Lussac in Paris - no chemistry in Germany

Returned to Germany in 1824 and taught other Germans to be chemists
Bulk of his work was in organic chemistry

One of Liebig's pupils, August Wilhelm von Hofmann, "cut the beginning trail which led, through the making of dyestuffs, to IG Farben." (22)

  • A great teacher - led his students into the field of coal tar. Research led and inspired by him built IG.
  • Taught in England first, then in 1864 went to teach in Germany.
  • One of his British students, William Henry Perkin, created the first synthetic dye, mauve.

Coal tar was left over in the process of using coal to reduce iron from its ores in the blast furnaces. Evil smelling and hard to get rid of. To get rid of it, chemists had to first boil it off. It boiled off at different temperatures. When the varieties of coal tar by-products were isolated, they yielded a huge variety of further substances. Perkin's discovery, based on teaching of Liebig and Hofmann, enabled coal tars to be turned to the supplying of dyes for textiles.

England could import dyes from its colonies. German had coal, but no empire.

In late 19th century, Germans invented many synthetic dyes, including Tyrian purple. (23)

Carl Duisberg "great apostle of cartels in the chemical field" (26). leader of the IG in 1906.

  • Was head of Elberfelder works at Leverkusen
  • Set up cartel "to maintain prices under the complete control of a small top group; to eliminate competition and gain the security of blocked-off markets; to concentrate control and make some gains in efficiency through larger scale production" (27)
  • Wanted the consolidation of a world empire in chemicals (27)
  • Began pushing for cartelization in 1900

Germany set up a special patent system in 1877 to protect its chemical industry from foreign competitors.

History of IG Farben

  • 1863 Hoechst chemical works (Hoechster Farbwerke) - 5 workers
  • 1865 Ludwigshafen works (Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik)- 30 employees - 11,000 by 1914 (30 miles from French frontier)
  • 1870 Bismarck forms one German state
  • 1880 English patents filed in Germany were pirated by the Germans in collusion with their own Patent Office. (36)
  • German producers wouldn't issue licenses to British, so they had to import German products.
  • 1903-13 Germans used price-cutting against American companies; also, "full-line forcing" - to get one product you had to purchase entire line
  • 1900 Duisberg pushes for cartelization
  • 1904 The 6 major German chemical companies organized into two major rings/cartels:
    • Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik, the Bayer Co. of Leverkusen (Duisberg's), AGFA Co. of Berlin;
    • Hoechst works (on outskirts of Frankfurt-on-the-Main), Leopold Cassella & Company, and Kalle & Co. of Biebrich
    • Quota system setup, profits were pooled and divided according to an agreed-upon formula
    • At this time, IG came into common usage to describe the German dye cartel. The most advanced specimen of cartel organization
  • 1916 The two cartels organized into a single IG

Griesheim-Elektron and Farbwerk Muehlheim were added The science of chemistry came of age during WWI

  • 1925 The separate firms are merged into a single corporation - IG Farbenindustrie, Inc.

World War I

In WWI the British won by the age-old principle of blockade: oil and rubber were essential for war and Germany had no natural supplies of either. In WWII they made their own, from coal which they had in abundance. "Used all the craft and arts of organic chemistry [the chemistry of carbon and its compounds] to transform it into the things they needed."

During WWI, the Germans had monopolies on certain medicines and anesthetics, and they ceased exporting them during the WWI.

WWI demonstrated "IG's tremendous power as a war-maker and its great share in the direction of Germany." (32)

Between the Wars

Americans (through Alien Property Custodian) discovered German firms were sending information back to Germany, and spreading German propaganda. (37)

Walter Rathenau

Walter Rathenau was the coordinator of the German economy during WWI.

Son of the founder of the giant electric concern A.E.G. (German Gen'l Elec Co) - he became chairman of the trust

He created cartels one at a time. First iron and steel, then metals, then chemicals and then leather and rubber.

Steel's major producers already in cartels, so cartelization was easy. Chemicals even easier because in 1916 the complete IG was formed.

Hermann Schmitz was one of his chief aides. Schmitz succeeded Carl Bosch as president of IG and was still the #1 man at end of WWII.

Rathenau forced non-cartel industries to organize. Supplies of raw materials rigidly controlled, prices fixed, production quotas established.

Designated particular plants for specific jobs.

Envisioned a permanent completely cartelized State.

Took responsible posts in the new Weimar Republic. First, was Minister for Reconstruction, then Foreign Minister. Became target for the terrorist gangs that were forerunners of Hitler's Storm Troops -seen as example of civilians who wouldn't let the German army win WWI and was assassinated.

Hugo Stinnes

"swashbuckling industrial pirate" who had grandiose visions of getting a corner on the whole of Germany."

Family had been prominent in coal industry of Ruhr for several generations.

1890s Started buying a group of coal mines; formed German-Luxembourg Mining and Smelting Co.

Early 1900s Capital of 75M marks - controlled a chain of mines and steel works throughout the Rhineland and Westphalia.

Started Rhenish-Westphalian Electric Works - furnished gas, water, electricity for 25 Ruhr communities.

During WWI he was a leader in Rathenau's Raw Material Bureau in Berlin. Directed taking over mining and steel making in occupied portions of France and Belgium; directed removal of machinery; responsible for sending thousands of workers from occupied territories to work in German industry.

After WWI, acquisitions greatly increased. Empire finally included more than 1500 different firms. Swallowed up hotels, restaurants, newspapers, lumber mills, forests, steamship lines and shipyards. Interests in Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Dutch East Indies.

1921 - In the fall Rathenau put together the "trust to end all trusts": Siemens-Rheinelbe-Schuchert Union. Rheinelbe Union was merger of major coal and iron concerns. Siemens-Schuchert was the only rival of German GE Co (AEG) in electrical field; a great horizontal trust [included many firms in same field], but didn't supply its own fuel and raw materials. The merger took care of weaknesses, horizontal and vertical - a self-sufficient empire - biggest ever.

Saw need for political control: Bought newspapers to control public opinion, then lumber mills and paper-pulp works and printing houses. Supported monarchist and ultra-nationalist groups. Greatly swayed votes in 1921 municipal elections.

Held out longest against surrendering in WWI. After the war, had agents in all Central European countries, and owned newspapers in Prague, Budapest and Vienna.

Harangued German labor to abandon its 8-hour day and sweat out a daily ten hours.

Died in 1924. "Stinnes empire turned out to be the Stinnes bubble." (45)

Holdings broke up after his death because they were too unweildy and dispersed for his sons to handle.

The Inflation

Made possible the growth of Stinnes into a colossus.

Dealt a fatal blow to small businesses and the German middle class.

Started in 1914 when Reichsbank suspended conversion of notes to gold. Volume of notes in one month jumped 2 billion marks. Before inflation was over there were 93 trillion marks in circulation. At the beginning of 1924, US$ = 6K marks.

Inflation enabled Germany to wipe out of all internal debt. Brought tremendous gains to IG and Ruhr steel magnates. "They could produce goods, meet current costs of production in worthless currency, and sell cheaply abroad; German foreign trade was thereby quickly reestablished. And they could pay off all debts and meet all taxes (based on the old price level) virtually for nothing. German industry emerged from the inflation greatly strengthened." (46) "Industrialists profited to an even greater extent through the wiping out of insurance policies, mortgage bonds, and fixed incomes generally." (47)

Inflation was started by Germany's heavy borrowing to finance WWI. Only 6% of cost of WWI was met by taxation. Unfunded debt reached 39 billion marks.

Workers' wages could not keep pace with prices.

"[Industrialists] had one and all made a calculated, co-ordinated effort to ruin the credit of their country in order to secure discharge from their war obligations. Stinnes was openly held by the mass of the German people to have played in this matter especially for his own hand, and to have been responsible for the fall of the mark and resultant position in Germany." (47)

Stinnes in 1922 to German Economic Council: "If you gentlement charge me, and the men who think as I do, with opposing stabilization of the mark at any price, you are absolutely right." (47-48)

Industrialists purchased foreign currency with loans made from the Reichbank, drove the mark still further down, and paid off the loans for a fraction of the original value. The more conservative business groups ran off their own currency (Notgeld) with no backing.

1923 - objectives of inflation accomplished. In November a new currency (Rentenmark) was issued and tightly controlled by the Reichbank under Schacht. The inflation was over.

IG official Paul Haefliger (Summer 1945)

[The cost price of products during the inflation mattered very little] "because the production price was being paid in continuously inflating currency, whereas, for instance, the important dyestuff export yielded for the most part stable money in good foreign currency which when transferred to Germany represented mark accounts quite out of proportion to production costs, so that on paper big profits could be shown even with a much smaller dyestuff export volume than pre-war..."

Out of the pieces of the Stinnes super-trust, Siemens-Rheinelbe-Schuchert, a new steel trust was formed: Vereinigte Stahlwerke, dominating all German steel production and European steel cartel as well.

At least one of the German delegates to the Versailles peace conference was an IG director.

IG given full governmental support after WWI. No taxes, loans. Also, government-sponsored organization of an over all nitrogen syndicate, under IG leadership, the Stickstoff Syndikat.

After mark was stabilized in 1923, IG could no longer afford internal rivalries/competition in sales.

By agreement of all members of the IG, in 1925 all of the other concerns were absorbed into the Ludwigshafen firm (headed by Bosch), Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik, and the name was changed to the IG Farbenindustrie A.G.

1925 - Social Democrats the strongest political group in Weimar Republic, but super-Junker Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg was elected President of the Republic.

In order to get around the restrictions of the Versailles Treaty, the German General Staff was organized as a corporation.

Fear of Communism

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk - harsh terms - Russia paid huge reparations, lost 32% of its agricultural land, 34% of its population, 54% of industry and 89% of coal mines. Germany controlled Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, with puppet governments in Finland, the Ukraine and Georgia.

After armistice of November 1918, workers took over factories in Germany. British came in and gave plant managers protection. Lots of armed conflicts and street fighting. By 1923 all armed conflict had ceased.

"On the extreme Right, there still remained firmly rooted vestiges of feudalism. This was particularly the case in north-eastern Germany, main center of the Junker estates. The Junkers had received a reprieve when the debts on their estates were liquidated during the inflation." (57)

Social Democrats were largest party on the left. As the party in power they had proclaimed a program of nationization of industry. This made German aristocrats and business leaders nervous. But nothing happened.

Field Marshal von Hindenburg was President of Germany, the picked candidate of an alliance of Junkers and industrialists. German Nationalists were most identified with big business.

By 1930 Germany had strong Left Wing movement, but Hitler made strong showing in 1930 elections, after which 107 brown-shirted Nazis took their places in the Reichstag on the extreme Right. Brown-shirted Storm Troopers started long series of street brawls in 1920s, particularly with the Communists. Nazis provided pageantry and uniforms, and the ritual and discipline of semi-military organization. Offered foreign excuses for all Germany's troubles. The evil sprang from the Versailles Treaty and loss of colonies. "To a bewildered and embittered middle class which came out of the inflation threatened with the loss of even their respectability, Hitler offered an ancient target for hatred--the Jew." He also attacked Big Business, but this was spurious and BB wasn't alarmed.

Nazi power peaked in July 1932, then a reaction set in. Because Naziism's greatest appeal was to the unstable, support was volatile. Another general election in November 1932 saw a drastic decline in popularity. With Nazis on the decline and Communists and Social Democrats on the rise, the industrial and financial leaders of Germany, with IG in the lead, closed ranks and gave Hitler their full support. (63) Hitler was presented with the Chancellorship of Germany.

Hjalmar Schacht, head of the Reichsbank (the central bank of Germany), he who had stabilized the mark and ended inflation, argued against 8-hour day, against social insurance because it weakened moral fiber:

"For German industry the colonies, like foreign plants, represented hopes for the future, a possible escape from the ever more difficult conditions of investment and production at home."

Carl Duisberg, president of IG, said:

"Be united, united, united! . . . We hope that our words of today will work, and will find the strong man who will finally bring everyone under one umbrella . . . for he [the strong man] is always necessary for us Germans, as we have seen in the case of Bismarck." (65)
"If Germany is again to be great, all classes of our people must come to the realization that leaders are necessary who can act without concern for the caprices of the masses."
"...there is no doubt that the German economy can only exist and fulfill its duties, if the burdens of salaries, wages, taxes, freights, and--not least--impositions for social security, which it must carry are limited..."

IG spread its support of political parties around, advised by their Political Committee which had a representative in each of the political parties. IG contributed heavily to elections.

Max Ilgner, nephew of Hermann Schmitz (Rathenau's associate in WWI and president of IG during WWII), was "director of the Finance Department in title, actually one of the key organizers in IG and boss of the IG international spy ring." (13 & 97) Ran his office (Berlin NW 7) with a strong hand, and none of his chief assistance had a complete picture of the whole operation. (97) Statistical Department prepared maps and kept tabs for the army on industries and agricultural production abroad, especially bottlenecks in capacities and raw materials. Joined Nazi party early.

The top men of IG avoided taking official government jobs themselves. Per Duisberg: stay clear of open government ties, but to exert pressure in secret conferences. Second-tier leaders were sent to the government.

"Without the support of the IG and the rest of the German monopolies and cartels, Hitler could not have won his polical fight. And the German industrialists could see that without Hitler their empires would crumble." (54)

Four members of the Vorstand [managing directors] of IG Farben, including Dr. Bosch, the head of the Vorstand, and Baron George von Schnitzler were asked by the president of the Reichstag to attend a meeting at this house. About 20 people attended, mostly leading industrialists from the Ruhr: Schacht, Krupp von Bohler, and Albert Vogler, leader of steel trust Vereinigte Stahlwerke. Hitler was also present, and was given the decisive support of German business leaders.

Historical revisionism: German army was "stabbed in the back" by the surrender in WWI. German generals let civilians negotiate armistice under their directions, so generals said they wanted to fight to bitter end but civilians wouldn't let them. (74) So army could still feel it could have won the war.

To show that Germany was no place for pacifists and defeatists, former soldier organizations like Black Militia and Free Corps assassinated Erzberger and Rathenau, identified as civilian leaders who gave up the war.

Dr. Karl Waninger's firm, Rheinmetall-Borgis, opened office in Berlin "disguised as a transfer office," but actually used to direct the production of artillery.

Before Hitler, Ministry of Defense coordinated with Association of German Industry to draw up an industrial mobilization plan.

Arms producers worldwide (e.g. Du Pont) benefitted from rearmament. After Hitler took power, all arms producers made a killing.


In 1920 Krupp began producing weapons.

Krupp was symbol of arms makers. Krupp family fortune was saved in December 1924 by a loan of $10 million from Hallgarten and Company and Goldman Sachs and Company of New York. Foreign loans poured into Germany between 1924 and 1930.

IG became one of the big powers of the Ruhr, owning its own coal mines. Hermann Schmitz was on the Krupp board of directors, as well as on Vereinigte Stahlwerke's board of directors. (83)

The two major munitions-making concerns became IG subsidiaries in 1926. (83)


IG's most important achievement was in finding substitutes for critical raw materials. (83) Prof. Fritz Haber's process for producing nitrates by snatching nitrogen from the air (fixation of nitrogen - essential for explosives - and fertilizers) was very successful.

Dr. Carl Bosch (who with Duisberg had founded the IG), with IG chemists, discovered how to make synthetic oils using hydrogenation which converted coal into lubricating oils and gasoline for cars, tanks or airplanes. Enabled IG to form an alliance with Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey. Produced gasoline at its main plant at Leuna.

Search for synthetic rubber began in 1906 when Duisberg ordered Dr. F. Hofmann, a chemist at Leverkusen works, to proceed with rubber synthesis.

Sir William Tilden, an English chemist, created a synthetic called isoprene by replicating the ratio of carbon atoms to hydrogen atoms (5 to 8)--but it wasn't rubber. Needed to get the atoms of isoprene to arrange themselves in a more complicated way by a process called polymerization. Instead of isoprene which replicated the atomic make-up, they decided to use butadiene which had the physical qualities of rubber. After WWI, began to make butadiene cheaply from coke and limestone. Then mixed butadiene with other substances, like styrene, and eventually produced buna N and buna-S rubbers which were used in WWII.

"During the period between the two world wars, IG was tirelessly spreading a network of cartel relations which eventually covered every part of the world. In almost every case IG was the dominating element in the cartels it entered." (90)

Through patent-pooling agreements, IG could keep constant watch on all new discoveries in other countries.

"The widely spread sales organization of IG was used to plant Nazi agents in strong posts through the world." (90) "Germany's most effective intelligence agents were solid, respectable businessmen."

A few years after WWI, created alliances with three Swiss concerns — Ciba, Sandoz, and Geigy — who formed a cartel of their own in 1920.

  • 1929 Continental Dye Cartel (CDC)- Ciba, Sandoz, Geigy, Establissement Kuhlmann and Societe des Matieres Colorantes de St. Denis (both French), and IG. 80% of world dyestuffs in 1927.
  • 1926 Major English chemical firms had organized into a single concern - Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd. (ICI) - 2nd only to IG in Europe.
  • 1932 ICI joins CDC.

Because of buna rubber, strong links were established between IG and Standard Oil Co. of NJ and with Ford Company.

IG had a system of foreign holdings (est. 500) and assets which covered 93 countries on all the continents. (92)

Schmitz used camouflage (Tarnung) to disguise IG links. Though ownership on paper rested with citizens of the country, close inspection revealed that operations were actually controlled by agents of IG Farben, e.g. American company, General Aniline and Film Corporation. When US entered WWII, it called itself an independent corporation with no relation to IG. But it was created by IG under the name of American IG. Stock held by a dummy corporation set up by IG: IG Chemie of Switzerland ("Internationale Gesellschaft für Chemische Unternehmungen") (set up in 1928), which called itself an independent and neutral Swiss company. Schmitz was president of IG and IG Chemie. When WWII started and Schmitz declared IG Chemie independent, the old ties were still there. The bank which handled IG Chemie's financial matters was one of IG Farben's foreign assets.

Camouflage also used to avoid taxes.

Herrn Klub - elite inner circle of Junkers and financiers

IG espionage went largely undiscovered by US

"According to the German military theory developed between the two world wars, every resource of the nation, from the entire economy out through every political organ, would be organized in complete support of a mechanized and sharply trained army which would strike suddenly and with overwhelming force. This became the well-known pattern of the Blitz." (100) "Every foreign link of the entire nation should be used to pick up information and funnel it back to the intelligence center."

For the all-important U.S., IG set up a special organization, Chemnyco, Inc., of New York — to siphon out technical data of military importance. Though its officials were mostly Americans, it was run by Germans or loyal German Americans. Its sole client was IG.

Where IG did not set up special intelligence agencies such as Chemnyco, NW 7 was represented by special agents called Verbindungsmaenner, well established sales representatives of IG whose spy work could be carried on under the cloak of everyday business. Kept IG informed on political developments. Also did straight military espionage.

Auslands-Organization (AO) - Nazi Party's foreign agency.

Business concerns abroad were expected to help preserve German culture by building up purely German institutions. "Once a German always a German." (106) IG very active in spreading pro-German/Nazi propaganda.

Hired American high-powered public relations man Ivy Lee (did JD Rockefeller's make-over).

Vermittlungsstelle W. - Army Liaison Office created by IG. Liaison between Wehrmacht and IG. Headed by Prof. Carl Krauch, big leader in IG.

IG supported the Nazi State. "The wild-eyed Nazis on the fringe of the Party, the ones who had believed Hitler in his early speeches when he said he would clip the big monopolies, could safely be forgotten. The bad manners of the Storm Troopers counted for nothing while the profits rolled in." (109)

During final preparations for WWII, IG took the lead in making plastics and also entered the light-metals field, tripling its magnesium production between 1935 and 1941.

From 1932 to 1943 IG profits took a big leap each year. Gross profit in 1943 was 16 times as great as in 1932.

Munich Pact - with England and France - Sept 1938. When Hitler seized all the border areas around Czechoslovakia, IG president Hermann Schmitz sent a telegram to Hitler:

"Profoundly impressed by the return of Sudenten-Germany to the Reich which you, my fuehrer, have achieved, the IG Farbenindustrie A.G. puts an amount of half a million Reichsmarks at your disposal for use in the Sudenten-German territory."


Chemistry was the business of IG. 43 main products, 28 of which were of primary concern to the Wehrmacht.

IG produced :

  • all of Germany's synthetic rubber
  • all Germany's lubricating oil
  • part of its synthetic gasoline (Leuna plant)
  • greatest bulk of German explosives
  • 90% of plastics
  • light metals

Britain & US went to war with their own defenses neglected, as the result of arrangements made between their own big industrialists and German businessmen.

"More than any other corporation IG sat at the center of a web of international cartel agreements." (15)

During occupation of France, Germans stole useful equipment and machinery from the chemical plant in Chaulny and then destroyed the plant before leaving.

WWII Nazi spies were respectable businessmen - "picked up and transmitted vital information in the normal course of running their businesses." (15)

"IG took over control of every chemical plant of importance" in countries conquered by the Wehrmacht. (15)

IG was a big part in developing chemical/gas warfare: toxic gases were produced at Hoechst, Agfa and Leverkusen plants (34)

Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, the steel magnate, and Carl Duisberg credited as being the men most responsible for war production.

IG's major assignments: find synthetics for rubber and for Chilean nitrates.

IG participated in the plunder of conquered countries (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France and all the rest of Central Europe), seizing their factories and taking over.

Max Ilgner:

"The general policy of the Nazi government in respect to the conquered countries was to take as much out of those countries as possible. . .IG played an important role in adapting the industries of those countries to the purposes of the Nazi war machine."

Deutsche Bank - one of Big Six German banks - big, German and Aryan; acted as respectable fence in stolen property.

  • Austria: Pulverfabrik Skoda Werke Wetzler - leading chemical concern
  • Czechoslovakia: Aussiger Verein of Prague - only major chemical concern
  • Belgium: Solvay Chemical Co. IG battled SS for control.
  • Poland: 3 dye companies: Boruta, Wola, and Winnica.
  • France: the French army collapsed after only 6 weeks of attack by Wehrmacht. Four years of Nazi occupation. The leaders of the French chemical industry (Kuhlmann Company the biggest) quickly expressed eagerness to help Nazis in any way. The leading French industrialists were willingly accepting the terms of the Germans. Dr. von Schnitzler: "...based upon the 'slogan' of collaboration, an intercourse between the German and French industries had developed, which practically included the whole French industry..."

IG used slave labor extensively.

"foreign slave workers who had been shanghaied by the Nazis declared themselves free and were graduated to the status of "displaced persons"--DP's. Soon DP's by the tens and hundreds of thousands were on the move all over Germany...As many as ten thousand DP's made themselves at home in the IG building [main headquarters in Frankfurt-on-the-Main]." (12)

IG produced fully 95% of the poison gases for Germany. Developed Tabun - most deadly yet.

Because it worried that questions of title and legal claim might eventually become a concern, IG moved in behind the Wehrmacht in conquered countries not just to seize but to buy properties, on its own terms. Didn't do it gangster fashion.


  1. Sasuly, Richard, IG Farben, Boni & Gaer New York, 1947

There's a scanned, OCRed version on archive.org

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