Nazi's in­dus­trial jackal

Pharma and chem­i­cal ma­jors, Bayer, Hoechst and BASF, par­tic­i­pated in Nazi crimes


DNurem­berg War Crimes Trial in 1946, Chief UR­ING THE Pros­e­cu­tor Telford Tay­lor made a scathing ac­cu­sa­tion against a Ger­man car­tel. “Th­ese com­pa­nies, not the lu­natic Nazi fa­nat­ics, are the main war crim­i­nals. If the guilt of th­ese crim­i­nals is not brought to day­light and if they are not pun­ished, they will pose a much greater threat to the fu­ture peace of the world than Hitler if he were still alive,” he had said. The car­tel in ques­tion was In­ter­essen-Ge­mein­schaft Far­ben or As­so­ci­a­tion of Common In­ter­ests, IG Far­ben in short. The car­tel was formed in 1925 after Ger­man pharma and chem­i­cal ma­jors, Bayer, basf and Hoechst, joined hands.

Dur­ing the tri­als to in­dict Nazis for cul­pa­bil­ity in World War II, Tay­lor and his col­leagues went on to pro­vide a huge body of ev­i­dence that in­crim­i­nated the Ger­man car­tel. The tri­als re­vealed that IG Far­ben was the sin­gle largest donor to the elec­tion cam­paign of Adolph Hitler in the late 1920s. A year be­fore Hitler seized power, IG Far­ben do­nated 400,000 re­ichs­marks (Ger­man cur­rency be­tween 1924 and June 1948) to Hitler and his Nazi party.

After Hitler came to power, IG Far­ben worked in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis. Far­ben pro­duced chem­i­cal weapons for the Ger­man mil­i­tary and looted chem­i­cal in­dus­tries of the coun­tries Ger­many oc­cu­pied dur­ing the war.The Nurem­berg tri­als de­scribed the con­glom­er­ate as “Nazis’ in­dus­trial jackal”.

The tri­als re­vealed that dur­ing the war, IG Far­ben used slave labour in many of its fac­to­ries and mines. A part of the in­fa­mous con­cen­tra­tion camp in Auschwitz in Nazi-oc­cu­pied Ger­many was ded­i­cated to sup­ply­ing slave labour for the nearby IG Far­ben plant, Buna-Werke, also known as IG Auschwitz. By 1944 over 80,000

forced labour­ers and death camp in­mates had been put to work at IG Auschwitz—the syn­thetic rub­ber and fuel plant where Far­ben had in­vested 600 mil­lion re­ichs­marks, the Nurem­berg tri­als re­vealed.

Writer Primo Levi, who was in­car­cer­ated at IG Auschwitz, wrote later, “There was chronic hunger… un­known to free men.On the back of my feet I al­ready had those numb sores that will not heal. I pushed wag­ons, I worked with a shovel, I turned rot­ten in the rain,I shiv­ered in the wind. ”The in­hu­man con­di­tions claimed sev­eral thou­sands— this de­spite Far­ben en­sur­ing that the fittest of the Aush­witz in­mates came to the plant.It paid the Ger­man 10,000 re­ichs­marks each year for the pur­pose.

“Our as­so­ci­a­tion with the Nazi party worked to our ben­e­fit,” a Far­ben em­ployee tes­ti­fied at the tri­als.The company man­u­fac­tured and sup­plied Zyk­lon B to the Nazis. This poi­sonous cyanide-based pes­ti­cide, on which IG Far­ben held the patent, was used dur­ing the Holo­caust to an­ni­hi­late more than a mil­lion peo­ple at Ger­man con­cen­tra­tion camps. Far­ben also sup­plied the Nazis the methanol used to burn the corpses.

The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­part­ments of the IG Far­ben car­tel used the in­mates of the con­cen­tra­tion camp for hu­man ex­per­i­ments, such as the test­ing of new and un­known vac­cines. For ex­am­ple, cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the com­man­der of the con­cen­tra­tion camp and IG Far­ben rep­re­sen­ta­tives which came to light dur­ing the Nurem­berg tri­als shed light on the sale of 150 fe­male pris­on­ers for ex­per­i­ments on a sleep-in­duc­ing drug. Another mis­sive notes, “The ex­per­i­ments were per­formed. All test per­sons died. We will con­tact you shortly about a new ship­ment.”

A for­mer Auschwitz pris­oner tes­ti­fied: “There was a large ward of tu­ber­cu­lars on block 20.The Bayer Company sent med­i­ca­tions in un­marked and un­named am­poules. The tu­ber­cu­lars were in­jected with this. Th­ese un­for­tu­nate peo­ple were never killed in the gas cham­bers.One only had to wait for them to die, which did not take long.”

The sero­logic-bac­te­ri­o­log­i­cal depart­ment of IG Far­ben ex­per­i­mented on Auschwitz pris­on­ers with their new ty­phus fever prepa­ra­tion, “3582”.The first se­ries of tests pro­duced re­sults that were far from sat­is­fac­tory.Of the 50 test per­sons 15 died; the ty­phus fever drug led to vom­it­ing and ex­haus­tion. Part of the Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp was quar­an­tined, which led to an ex­ten­sion of the tests to the nearby con­cen­tra­tion camp at Buchen­wald.

In their book, I.G. Far­ben, from Anilin to forced la­bor, the his­to­ri­ans Jörg Hunger and Paul San­der note, there was “no sci­en­tific value to th­ese ex­per­i­ments.The test per­sons were in bad phys­i­cal con­di­tion, caused by forced labour, in­suf­fi­cient and wrong nu­tri­tion and dis­eases in the con­cen­tra­tion camp.In ad­di­tion to this there were gen­er­ally bad san­i­tary cir­cum­stances in the lab­o­ra­to­ries. The test re­sults in the con­cen­tra­tion camps, as the IG lab­o­ra­tory spe­cial­ists should have known, could not be com­pared to re­sults made un­der nor­mal cir­cum-

Cyanide-based pes­ti­cide Zyk­lon B, on which IG Far­ben held the patent, was used dur­ing the Holo­caust to an­ni­hi­late a mil­lion peo­ple at Ger­man con­cen­tra­tion camps

stances”. The his­to­ri­ans note that Far­ben footed the bill for the re­search of Josef Men­gele, Auschwitz-Birke­nau’s in­fa­mous “An­gel of Death”,and some of his ex­per­i­ments utilised germs and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals pro­vided by Bayer.

Nazi physi­cian Hoven tes­ti­fied at the Nurem­berg Tri­bunal: “The SS (Nazis) did not have no­table sci­en­tists at its dis­posal. The ex­per­i­ments in the con­cen­tra­tion camps only took place in the in­ter­ests of the IG Far­ben, which strived by all means to de­ter­mine the ef­fec­tive­ness of th­ese prepa­ra­tions. They let the SS deal with the—shall I say— dirty work in the con­cen­tra­tion camps.”

The Nurem­berg Tri­bunal in­dicted 24 IG Far­ben board mem­bers and ex­ec­u­tives on charges of crimes against hu­man­ity. But only 13 re­ceived prison sen­tences. Tay­lor de­scribed the sen­tences they re­ceived as “light enough to please a chicken thief ”. By the early 1950s, a num­ber of those con­victed of slav­ery, loot­ing and mass mur­der were back at the helm of Bayer, Hoechst and basf.

One of them was Bayer ex­ec­u­tive Fritz ter Meer. A se­nior sci­en­tist at IG for many years, ter Meer had be­come a Nazi party mem­ber in 1937 and rose to be­come the chair­per­son of IG’s tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee.He was also the ex­ec­u­tive re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of the IG Far­ben’s Auschwitz fac­tory.The Nurem­ber tri­als re­vealed that ter Meer had a clear pic­ture of what was oc­cur­ring. He was found guilty of plun­der, slav­ery and mass mur­der. But ter Meer was out of jail by 1952.By 1956 he had be­come the chair­per­son of the su­per­vi­sory board of Bayer, a post he held un­til 1964.Even to­day Bayer con­tin­ues to hon­our this con­victed mass mur­derer. On All Saints Day 2006,for in­stance, the cor­po­ra­tion is known to have laid a wreath on ter Meer’s grave in Krefeld-Uerdin­gen, Ger­many.

IG Far­ben fac­tory within the Auschwitz

con­cen­tra­tion camp com­plex

Fritz ter Meer (right), de­fen­dant of the IG Far­ben trial at Nurn­berg, chats

with his coun­sel dur­ing a court in­ter­mis­sion

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