IG Farben (short for Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG, "syndicate of dyestuff corporations", and also called I.G. Farbenfabriken) was a German conglomerate of companies formed in 1925 and even earlier during World War I. Farben is German for "paints", "dyes", or "colors", and initially many of these companies produced dyes, but soon began to embrace more advanced chemistry. The founding of IG Farben was a reaction to Germany's defeat in World War I. IG Farben held a near total monopoly on chemical production, later during the National Socialist (Nazi) regime, including manufacturing Zyklon B. This was a poison commonly used at the time for delousing, which became notorious as the lethal agent in the gas chambers of the death camps of Auschwitz and Majdanek. The company was a major user of slave labour. Before the war the dyestuff companies had a near monopoly in the world market which they lost during the conflict. One solution for regaining this position was a large merger.
IG Farben consisted of the following major companies and several smaller ones.
- AGFA (Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation), Berlin
- Cassella, Frankfurt
- BASF (Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik), Ludwigshafen
- Bayer, Leverkusen
- Farbwerke Hoechst (now Sanofi-Aventis), Höchst
- Chemische Werke Hüls, Marl (founded in 1938)
- Chemische Fabrik Kalle, Biebrich
Collaboration with the Nazis
In 1941, an investigation exposed a "marriage" cartel between United States-based Standard Oil Co. and I.G. Farben. (see  and ) It also brought new evidence concerning complex price and marketing agreements between duPont, a major investor in and producer of leaded gasoline, U.S. Industrial Alcohol Co. and their 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. 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. (see   but see )
IG Farben built a factory (named Buna Chemical Plant) for producing synthetic oil and rubber (from coal) in Auschwitz, which was the beginning of SS activity and camps in this location during the Holocaust. At its peak in 1944, this factory made use of 83,000 slave laborers. The pesticide Zyklon B, for which IG Farben held the patent, was manufactured by Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung), which IG Farben had 42.2 percent (in shares) of and which had IG managers in its 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 one half to 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 Nuremburg.
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, and the allies considered confiscating all of its assets and putting it out of business. Instead, in 1951, the company was split up into the original constituent companies. The four largest quickly bought the smaller ones, and today only Agfa, BASF, and Bayer remain, while Hoechst merged with the French Rhône-Poulenc Rorer to form Aventis, now based in Strasbourg, France.
After the Holocaust, I.G. Farben joined with Americans to develop chemical warfare agents. Together they founded the "Chemagrow Corporation" in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chemagrow Corporation employed German and American specialists for the U.S. Army Chemical Corps. Dr. Otto Bayer was I.G. Farben's research director. He developed and tested chemical warfare agents with Dr. Gerhard Schrader.
Even though the company was officially liquidated in 1952, it continued to be traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as a trust, holding a few real estate assets until it was finally wound-up on November 10, 2003 by its liquidators, after contributing 500,000 DM (£ 160,000 or € 255,646) towards a foundation for former captive laborers under the Nazi regime and the remaining property, worth DM 21 million (£ 6.7 million or € 10.7 million) going 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. The company, in turn, blamed the ongoing legal disputes with the former captive laborers as being the reason it could not be legally dissolved and the remaining assets distributed as reparations. Each year, the company's annual meeting in Frankfurt was the site of demonstrations by hundreds of protesters.
Holocaust Memorial controversy
In 2003 Degussa, a company closely associated with IG Farben during the Nazi period, was involved in a major controversy surrounding its involvement in the construction of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe ("Holocaust Memorial") in Berlin. Degussa produced the anti-graffiti substance Protectosil used to cover the stelae which are the major element in the memorial. The dispute arose mainly because Degussa had also owned 42.2 percent of the shares in Degesch (a subsidiary) , at the time when that company was producing Zyklon B. The board of trustees of the memorial ultimately decided that, given the cost of eliminating Degussa's role in the project at that relatively late stage, the use of Protectosil ought to continue, despite protests from many Jewish groups.
IG Farben in fiction
- I.G. Farben plays a major part in Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow.
- I.G. Farben plays a part in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious.
- I.G. Farben is a character played by Dennis Hopper in the film Straight to Hell (1987).
- I.G. Farben is the name on the business card that Bud (played by Harry Dean Stanton) gives out to Mr. Pakman in the 1984 film Repo Man.
- I.G. Farben is one of Germany's most skilled research teams in the computer strategy game Hearts of Iron II.
- In William Styron's novel "Sophie's Choice," the protagonist meets a fictionalized I.G. Farben executive in pre-war Poland and during her internment and Auschwitz.
- I.G. Farben of Germany was mentioned to have taken over Du Pont in Kurt Vonnegut's "Hocus Pocus".
- Correspondence from I.G. Farben to the Commandant of Auschwitz requesting female prisoners to test a drug on is included in David Markson's novel Vanishing Point.
- Der Rat der Götter "The Advice of the Gods" (DEFA 1951, director Kurt Maetzig) is about IG Farben's role in WWII and the subsequent trial. See: Rat der Götter, Der at the Internet Movie Database
- IG Farben Building
- Nerve agent
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
- The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug by Thomas Hager (Author)
- Profit Over Life - The Nuremberg Pharma Tribunal
- Borkin, Joseph (1978). The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-02-904630-0. This book is available for download in Australia (as it is out-of-print) see this link.
- Facts and Fascism (1943) by George Seldes
- 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.
- World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B17 (Laetrile) (1974-1975) by G. Edward Griffen
- I.G. Farben (1947) by Richard Sasuly
- 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.
- http://www.profit-over-life.org/rolls.php?roll=97&pageID=760&expand=no IG Farben Trial Documents