IG Farben

IG Farben
I.G. Farbenindustrie AG
Former type Public
Industry Chemicals
Fate Liquidated
Predecessor BASF, Bayer, Hoechst, Agfa, Griesheim-Elektron, Weiler Ter Meer
Successor BASF, Bayer, Hoechst
Founded December 25, 1925
Defunct 1952
Headquarters Frankfurt am Main

I.G. Farbenindustrie AG was a German chemical industry conglomerate. Its name is taken from Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG (lit. Community of interest of the dye industry). The company was formed in 1925 from a number of major companies that had been working together closely since World War I. During its heyday IG Farben was the fourth-largest company in the world, after General Motors, U.S. Steel and Standard Oil. During the planning of the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland, IG Farben cooperated closely with Nazi officials and directed which chemical plants should be secured and delivered to IG Farben.[1]


Founding members

IG Farben was founded on December 25, 1925, as a merger of the following six companies:[2]

  • BASF
  • Bayer
  • Hoechst (including Cassella and Chemische Fabrik Kalle)
  • Agfa
  • Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron
  • Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler Ter Meer


Predecessors of IG Farben

At the beginning of the 20th century the German chemical industry dominated the world market for synthetic dyes. The three major firms BASF, Bayer and Hoechst produced several hundred different dyes, along with the five smaller firms Agfa, Cassella, Chemische Fabrik Kalle, Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron and Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler-ter Meer concentrated on high-quality specialty dyes. In 1913 these eight firms produced almost 90 percent of the world supply of dyestuffs and sold about 80 percent of their production abroad.[3] The three major firms had also integrated upstream into the production of essential raw materials and they began to expand into other areas of chemistry such as pharmaceuticals, photographic film, agricultural chemicals and electrochemicals. Contrary to other industries the founders and their families had little influence on the top-level decision-making of the leading German chemical firms, which was in the hands of professional salaried managers. Because of this unique situation the economic historian Alfred Chandler called the German dye companies "the world's first truly managerial industrial enterprises".[4]

Indigo production at BASF in 1890

With the world market for synthetic dyes and other chemical products dominated by the German industry, German firms competed vigorously for market shares. Although cartels were attempted they lasted at most for a few years. Others argued for the formation of a profit pool or Interessen-Gemeinschaft (abbr. IG, lit. Community of interest).[5] In contrast, the chairman of Bayer, Carl Duisberg, argued for a merger. During a trip to the United States in the spring of 1903 he had visited several of the large American trusts such as Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, International Paper and Alcoa.[6] In 1904, after having returned to Germany he proposed a nationwide merger of the producers of dye and pharmaceuticals in a memorandum to Gustav von Brüning, the senior manager at Hoechst.[7] Hoechst and several pharmaceutical firms refused to join. Instead, Hoechst and Cassella made an alliance based on mutual equity stakes in 1904. This prompted Duisberg and Heinrich von Brunck, chairman of BASF, to accelerate their negotiations. In October 1904 an Interessen-Gemeinschaft between Bayer, BASF and Agfa was formed, also known as the Dreibund or little IG. Profits of the three firms were pooled, with BASF and Bayer getting 43 percent and Agfa 14 percent of all profits.[8] The two alliances were loosely connected with each other through an agreement between BASF and Hoechst to jointly exploit the patent on the Heumann-Pfleger indigo synthesis.[9]

Within the Dreibund Bayer and BASF concentrated on dye whereas Agfa increasingly concentrated on photographic film. Although there was some cooperation between the technical staff in production and accounting, there was little cooperation between the firms in other areas. Neither were production or distribution facilities consolidated nor did the commercial staff cooperate.[10] In 1908 Hoechst and Cassella acquired 88 percent of the shares of Chemische Fabrik Kalle. As Hoechst, Cassella and Kalle were connected by mutual equity shares and were located close to each other in the Frankfurt area, this allowed them to cooperate more successfully than the Dreibund, although they also did not rationalize or consolidate their production facilities.[10]

Foundation of IG Farben

IG Farben was founded on December 25, 1925 as a merger of the following six companies: BASF (27.4 percent of equity capital), Bayer (27.4 percent), Hoechst including Cassella and Chemische Fabrik Kalle (27.4 percent), Agfa (9.0 percent), Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron (6.9 percent) and Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler Ter Meer (1.9 percent). In 1926 IG Farben had a market capitalization of 1.4 billion Reichsmark and a workforce of 100,000 people, of which 2.6 percent were university educated, 18.2 percent were salaried professionals and 79.2 percent were workers.[2]

Similar mergers took place in other countries. In the United Kingdom Brunner Mond, Nobel Industries, United Alkali Company and British Dyestuffs merged to Imperial Chemical Industries in September 1926. In France Établissements Poulenc Frères and Société Chimique des Usines du Rhône merged to Rhône-Poulenc in 1928.[11]

The IG Farben Building, headquarters for the conglomerate in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, was completed in 1931.

In 1938 the company had 218,000 employees.[12]

IG Farben factory in Monowitz (near Auschwitz) 1941

World War II

During the planning of the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland, IG Farben cooperated closely with Nazi officials and directed which chemical plants should be secured and delivered to IG Farben.[1]

In 1941, an investigation exposed a "marriage" cartel between John D. Rockefeller's United States-based Standard Oil Co. and I.G. Farben.[13][14][15][16] It also brought new evidence concerning complex price and marketing agreements between DuPont,[citation needed] a major investor in and producer of leaded gasoline, United States Industrial Alcohol Company and its subsidiary, Cuba Distilling Co. The investigation was eventually dropped, like dozens of others in many different kinds of industries, due to the need to enlist industry support in the war effort.[citation needed][original research?] However, the top directors of many oil companies agreed to resign, and oil industry stocks in molasses companies were sold off as part of a compromise worked out.[17][18][19]

IG Farben held the patent for the pesticide Zyklon B[citation needed] (used in Holocaust gas chambers), and owned 42.2 percent (in shares) of Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung) which manufactured it. IG Farben also had managers in Degesch's Managing Committee. Of the 24 directors of IG Farben indicted in the so-called IG Farben Trial (1947–1948) before a U.S. military tribunal at the subsequent Nuremberg Trials, 13 were sentenced to prison terms between one and eight years. Some of those indicted in the trial were subsequently made leaders of the post-war companies that split off from IG Farben, including those who were sentenced at Nuremberg.

Ruins of the synthetic petrol plant (Hydrierwerke Pölitz – Aktiengeselschaft) in Police, Poland

Facilities during World War II

IG Farben facilities were bombing targets of the Oil Campaign of World War II, and up to 1941, there were 5 Nazi Germany Buna plants that produced Buna N by the Lebedev process.[20]:15

The Buna Chemical Plant at Dwory was under construction by 1943,[21] after a March 2, 1942 contract with "IG Farbenindustrie AG Auschwitz."[1] The plant, which produced synthetic oil and rubber (from coal), was the beginning of SS activity and camps near Auschwitz III-Monowitz during the Holocaust.[citation needed] At its peak in 1944, this factory made use of 83,000 slave laborers.[22] Today, the plant operates as "Dwory S.A." [2]
In addition to the "cavernous" IG Farben building at Frankfurt, a Hoechst AG chemical factory in Frankfurt was bombed by the RAF on September 26, 1944.
Ludwigshafen and Oppau
The I.G. Farbenindustrie, A. G., Works, Ludwigshafen and Oppau had several chemical plants.
Pölitz, North Germany (today Police, Poland)
In 1937, IG Farben, Rhenania-Ossag, and Deutsch-Amerikanische Petroleum Gesellschaft founded the Hydrierwerke Pölitz AG synthetic fuel plant.[23]:193ff By 1943, the plant produced 15% of Nazi Germany's synthetic fuels, 577,000 tons.[23]:196
An IG Farben plant was at Waldenburg[24]:6

Break-up and liquidation

Due to the severity of the war crimes committed by IG Farben during World War II, the company was considered to be too corrupt to be allowed to continue to exist. The Soviet Union seized most of IG Farben's assets located in the Soviet occupation zone (see Morgenthau Plan), as part of their reparation payments. The Western Allies however, in 1951, split the company up into its original constituent companies. The four largest quickly bought the smaller ones. Today Agfa, BASF, and Bayer remain, Hoechst having in 1999 demerged its industrial chemical operations to Celanese AG and merged its life-sciences businesses with Rhône-Poulenc's to form Aventis.

Part of Hoechst was afterwards Celanese AG, while another part of the company was sold in 1997 to the chemical spin-off of Sandoz, the Muttenz (Switzerland) based Clariant.

IG Farben was officially put into liquidation in 1952, but this does not mean the company ceased to exist as a legal entity; up to today, it is still in existence as a corporation "in liquidation", meaning that the purpose of the continuing existence of the corporation is being wound up and dissolved in an orderly fashion. As of 2010, its shares are still traded on German markets.[25] On November 10, 2003, its liquidators filed for insolvency,[26] but again, this does not affect the existence of the company as a legal person. It had contributed 500,000 DM (£160,000 or €255,646) towards a foundation for former captive labourers under the Nazi regime. The remaining property, worth DM 21 million (£6.7 million or €10.7 million), went to a buyer. During this lengthy period, the holding company had been continually criticized for failing to pay any compensation to the former laborers, which was the stated reason for its continued existence after 1952.[citation needed] The company, in turn, blamed the ongoing legal disputes with the former captive labourers as being the reason it could not be legally dissolved and the remaining assets distributed as reparations. Nevertheless, it refused to join a national compensation fund that was set up in 2001 to pay people who had suffered.[27] Each year, the company's annual meeting in Frankfurt was the site of demonstrations by hundreds of protesters.[28]

The accused

Charges were filed against 23 persons. In 1945, the sentence was as follows:

  • Carl Krauch (Chairman of IG Farben) - 6 years because of "slavery", released in 1950, 1955 board member of Huels GmbH;
  • Otto Ambros (Director, Planning IG Auschwitz) - 8 years, released in 1952, from 1954 in various executivefunctions, and pharmaceutical issues, such Grünenthal than or consultant for F. K. Flick;
  • Ernst Bürgin - 2 years;
  • Heinrich Bütefisch (Board Member, gasoline synthesis IG Auschwitz) - 6 years because of "slavery", released in 1951, 1952 Board member, among others, Ruhr-Chemie and coal-oil chemistry;
  • Walter Dürrfeld - 8 years;
  • Fritz Gajewski (board member, contact to Dynamit Nobel AG) - acquittal, 1949 GF for Dynamit Nobel AG;
  • Heinrich Gattineau - acquittal;
  • Paul Haefner - 2 years;
  • Erich von der Heyde - acquittal;
  • Heinrich Hörlein - acquittal;
  • Max Ilgner - 3 years;
  • Friedrich Jähne (Director, Chief Engineer) - 1 year 6 months because of "looting", 1955 board member of the "new" Hoechst;
  • August Knieriem - acquittal;
  • Hans Kugler - 1 year 6 months;
  • Hans Kühne - acquittal;
  • Carl Lautenschläger - acquittal;
  • Rudolf Wilhelm Mann - acquittal;
  • Fritz ter Meer (board member, administrator IG Auschwitz) - 7 years because of "looting" and "enslavement", released in 1952, 1955 board member of Bayer;
  • Heinrich Oster - 2 years;
  • Hermann Schmitz (Chairman, Chief Financial Officer) - 4 years because of "looting", released in 1950, 1952 board member of the German bank West Berlin, 1956 Honorary Chairman of the Rheinische steel works;
  • Christian Schneider - acquittal;
  • Georg von Schnitzler - 5 years;
  • Carl Wurster (Director) - acquittal, 1952 Chairman of the "new" BASF, etc.

All defendants who were sentenced to prison received early release. Most were quickly restored to their directorships, and some were awarded the Federal Cross of Merit.[29]

Patents and scientific knowledge

Once Germany had surrendered the US moved quickly to commercially exploit all German patents and scientific knowledge. (see Industrial plans for Germany)

Konrad Adenauer stated "According to a statement made by an American expert, the patents formerly belonging to IG Farben have given the American chemical industry a lead of at least 10 years. The damage thus caused to the German economy is huge and cannot be assessed in figures. It is extraordinarily regrettable that the new German inventions cannot be protected either, because Germany is not a member of the Patent Union. Britain has declared that it will respect German inventions regardless of what the peace treaty may say. But America has refused to issue such a declaration. German inventors are therefore not in a position to exploit their own inventions. This puts a considerable brake on German economic development."[30]


Synthetic dyes, Nitrile rubber, Polyurethane, Prontosil, Resochin, Zyklon B, among others.

IG Farben scientists made fundamental contributions to all areas of chemistry. Otto Bayer discovered the polyaddition for the synthesis of polyurethane in 1937.[31] Several IG Farben scientists were awarded a Nobel Prize. Carl Bosch and Friedrich Bergius were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1931 "in recognition of their contributions to the invention and development of chemical high pressure methods".[32] Gerhard Domagk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1939 "for the discovery of the antibacterial effects of prontosil".[33] Kurt Alder was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (together with Otto Diels) in 1950 "for his [their] discovery and development of the diene synthesis".[34]

IG Farben in fiction

See also


  1. ^ a b Profit Over Life | The Nuremberg Pharma Tribunal | www.pharma-over-life.org
  2. ^ a b Tammen 1978, p. 195
  3. ^ Aftalion 1991, p. 104, Chandler 2004, p. 475
  4. ^ Chandler 2004, p. 474–485
  5. ^ Chandler 2004, p. 479
  6. ^ Beer 1981, p. 124–125
  7. ^ Duisberg, Carl (in German), Denkschrift über die Vereinigung der deutschen Farbenfabriken (Abhandlungen, Vorträge und Reden aus den Jahren 1882–1921 ed.), Berlin, pp. 343–369 
  8. ^ Beer 1981, p. 125–134
  9. ^ Tammen 1978, p. 11
  10. ^ a b Chandler 2004, p. 480
  11. ^ Aftalion 1991, pp. 140, 143
  12. ^ Fiedler, Martin (1999), "Die 100 größten Unternehmen in Deutschland - nach der Zahl ihrer Beschäftigten - 1907, 1938, 1973 und 1995" (in German), Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte (Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck) 1: 32–66 
  13. ^ Trading With the Enemy (1983), Charles Higham: Delacorte Press, New York NY; Pp. 32 - 62 ISBN 0-440-09064-4
  14. ^ Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler (2000) By Antony C. Sutton]
  15. ^ Facts and Fascism (1943) by George Seldes
  16. ^ The Senate Military Affairs Subcommittee on War Mobilization (Kilgore Committee), headed by Senator Harley M. Kilgore, held several hearings throughout the second half of 1945 that focused on German economic penetration of neutral countries, elimination of German resources for war, German's resources for a third world war, etc. Archives are at NARA's Center for Legislative Archives in the Archives I building. See the National Archives finding aid for Holocaust research.
  17. ^ World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B17 (Laetrile) (1974-1975) by G. Edward Griffen
  18. ^ I.G. Farben (1947) by Richard Sasuly
  19. ^ Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler (2000) By Antony C. Sutton, a book that describes in detail the money trail from its roots to the bank accounts of the Nazi SS.
  20. ^ "Summaries: Microfilm 2, U.S. Government Technical Oil Mission" (pdf). pp. 15 pdf pages (last numbered 14). http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/Tom%20Reels/Linked/TOM%20143/TOM-143-0028-0042%20Reel%202%20Summaries.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-21.  Table of Contents
  21. ^ HQ. U.S.S.T.A.F. (5th MARCH 1944), "Appendix F", Plan for Completion of Combined Bomber Offensive (Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library: SMITH, WALTER BEDELL: Collection of World War II Documents, 1941-1945; Box No.: 48: HQ, U.S.S.T.A.F), "MOST SECRET … DECLASSIFIED … 4/4/74" 
  22. ^ http://www.profit-over-life.org/rolls.php?roll=97&pageID=760&expand=no IG Farben Trial Documents
  23. ^ a b (German)Karlsch, Raymond G (2003), Faktor Öl: die Mineralölwirtschaft in Deutschland 1859-1974, C.H.Beck, pp. 193ff,196, ISBN 3406502768 
  24. ^ "Summaries: Microfilm 2, U.S. Government Technical Oil Mission" (pdf). fischer-tropsch.org. pp. 15 pdf pages. http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/Tom%20Reels/Linked/TOM%20143/TOM-143-0028-0042%20Reel%202%20Summaries.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  25. ^ http://aktien.onvista.de/snapshot.html?ID_OSI=82198
  26. ^ http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/0,1518,273365,00.html
  27. ^ Former Zyklon-B maker goes bust BBC News Online November 10, 2003. Accessed March 27, 2008.
  28. ^ IG Farben to be dissolved BBC News Online September 17, 2001. Accessed March 27, 2008.
  29. ^ Diarmuid Jeffreys, Hell's Cartel: IG Farben and the Making of Hitler's War Machine, Bloomsbury, 2009, pp. 321-341
  30. ^ Konrad Adenauer, "Memoirs", Volume 1, p.148 (1966)
  31. ^ Nicholson, John W. (2006), The Chemistry of Polymers, London: Royal Society of Chemistry, pp. 61, ISBN 0854046844 
  32. ^ The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1931, Nobel Foundation, http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1931/index.html, retrieved 2008-10-27 
  33. ^ The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1939, Nobel Foundation, http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1939/, retrieved 2008-10-27 
  34. ^ The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1950, Nobel Foundation, http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1950/index.html, retrieved 2008-10-27 


  • Aftalion, Fred; Otto Theodor Benfey (1991), A History of the International Chemical Industry, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 0812282078 
  • Beer, John Joseph (1981), The Emergence of the German Dye Industry, Manchester, NH: Ayer Company Publishers, ISBN 0405138350 
  • Borkin, Joseph (1978), The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben, New York, London: The Free Press, division of Macmillan Publishing Co., ISBN 0-02-904630-0 
  • Borkin, Joseph (1990) (in German), Die unheilige Allianz der IG Farben. Eine Interessengemeinschaft im Dritten Reich, Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, ISBN 3593342510 
  • Chandler, Alfred DuPont (2004), Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674789954 
  • Dubois, Jr., Josiah E. (1952), The Devil's Chemists, Boston, United States: The Beacon Press, ASIN B000ENNDV6 
  • Hayes, Peter (1987), Industry and Ideology IG Farben in the Nazi Era, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0 521 32948 5 
  • Jeffreys, Diarmuid (2008), Hell's Cartel-IG Farben and the making of Hitlers War Machine, New York: Metropolitan Books-Henry Holt and Company, ISBN 978 0 8050 9143 4 
  • Kreikamp, Hans-Dieter (1977), "Die Entflechtung der I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G. und die Gründung der Nachfolgegesellschaften" (in German), Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag) 25 (2): 220–251, http://www.ifz-muenchen.de/heftarchiv/1977_2.pdf, retrieved 2008-10-27 
  • Plumpe, Gottfried (1990) (in German), Die I.G. Farbenindustrie AG: Wirtschaft, Technik und Politik 1904–1945 (Schriften zur Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte ed.), Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, ISBN 3428068920 
  • Tammen, Helmuth (1978) (in German), Die I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft (1925-1933): Ein Chemiekonzern in der Weimarer Republik, Berlin: H. Tammen, ISBN 3883440019 

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