September 2003

Materials About Bayer´s Nazi-past:

Bayer "Aryanized" Jewish Cemetery

Newly found documents show that in 1942 IG Farben´s branch office in Uerdingen, Germany got hold of the town's Jewish cemetery. The forced sale price was way below the actual market value: 100,000 square meter property for 3,000 Reichsmark. After the war the property was passed on to IG Farben´s successor BAYER AG.

The Nazis dissolved the Jewish Community of Uerdingen in 1942. Today all traces of the Jewish cemetery in Uerdingen have been completely obliterated. The city archive indicates that the cemetery was located approximately where the main gate to the BAYER factory currently stands.

The COORDINATION AGAINST BAYER-DANGERS demands that the company publicly apologize for the defilement of the Uerdingen cemetery and affix a memorial plaque to the main gate of the company´s Uerdingen works. Hans Frankenthal, former slave worker in IG Farben´s plant in Auschwitz and board member of the Jewish Community: "I was terrified when I learned from this offence against Jewish belief. According to our faith, taking possession of the cemetery without exhuming the bodies is tantamount to defiling the graves."

BAYER today is living off the fruits of Nazi legalism. On paper everything was legally correct: Julius Israel Kohn from the "Association of Jews in the German Reich" and Bernhard Hoffmann, the representative of IG Farben, signed the sales agreement in a notary´s office, and the copy of this seemingly standard real estate transaction has a stamp from the Krefeld tax office.

At the same time the former culprits are publicly honored in Uerdingen. Fritz ter Meer served on the IG Farben board of directors from 1926 to 1945 and was the head officer directing the operations of the IG Farben factory at Auschwitz. The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal sentenced him to seven years in prison. He was released after serving only four years. Not long after, in 1956, Ter Meer was elevated to the chairman of the supervisory board at BAYER, a position he held for seven years. His grave in Krefeld has a meter-high wreath on it - donated by BAYER in recognition of his services.

Letter to the editor of "The Jewish Chronicle"

In Pittsburgh/USA several newspapers and activist groups regard closely the Nazi past of the Bayer corporation. Since Bayer´s American division is located in Pittsburgh this topic should be looked at very closely.

IG Farben was the only German company in the Third Reich that ran its own concentration camp. At least 30.000 slave workers died in this camp; a lot more were deported to the gas chambers. It was no coincidence that IG Farben built their giant new plant in Auschwitz, since the workforce they used (altogether about 300.000 people) was practically for free. The Zyklon B gas, which killed millions of Jews, Gypsies and other people was produced by IG Farben´s subsidiary company Degesch.

In Germany a growing number of people do not understand that IG Farben´s successors Bayer, BASF and Hoechst still refuse to apologize for their misdeeds. It is hard to accept that after the war the companies were allowed to keep IG Farben´s entire property, whereas the surviving slave workers received nothing. Until today Bayer, BASF and Hoechst did not pay any wages to their former workers, let alone any compensation.

In 1995 the coalition "Never again!" was created by the German Auschwitz Committee, Critical Shareholders and several organizations of former slave workers. In a joint appeal the coalition demands that there has to be an appropriate compensation by the companies for slave-workers and their descendants. Also the maintenance of the memorial at Auschwitz, which reminds the public of IG Farben´s victims, should be paid by the corporations. "Never again!" states that without verification of the past we always have to be present so that these crimes might never happen again. More than 1,500 individuals and about 100 German groups have signed this platform, among them former slave workers, many students and members of the Green party and the churches. The activities were organized by the Coordination against Bayer-dangers, a group that monitors Bayer worldwide for already 20 years.

In 1995 representatives of "Never again!" spoke at Bayer´s Annual Stockholder Meeting in Cologne/Germany. Bayer chairman Mr. Manfred Schneider refused to discuss the issue "since Bayer is not IG Farben's successor". Two members of "Never again!" were dragged out of the hall. In 1996 Hans Frankenthal, who survived two years in IG Farben´s plant in Auschwitz, spoke to the stockholders. He demanded an apology and financial compensation - not only for himself, but for all of the surviving slave workers in Eastern Europe. Again, Bayer´s board did not react.

A lot of Germans feel that we finally have to come to terms with this part of our history. We are glad to know that groups like the Committee for Appropriate Acknowledgment help us to urge the powerful Bayer group to accept their responsibility.

Also the new German government admits that we need a sincere and just solution. In a few years, the last surviving victims of the Nazi period will have perished. Before that, the company Bayer has to accept its responsibility - in Germany and in the US.

Holocaust survivor sues BAYER

A survivor of the Holocaust sued the pharmaceutical giant Bayer in federal court, accusing the company of collaborating in wartime atrocities by Nazi doctors who experimented on Jews. The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, seeks U.S. District Court approval to cover all those who can be shown to have been experimented on by the Nazis with Bayer's involvement. Eva Mozes Kor, among the 1,500 sets of twins experimented on by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele, claims that Bayer monitored and supervised medical experiments at the Nazi concentration camp where she was interned. She claims the experiments involved toxic chemicals that Bayer provided.

In some of the experiments, the lawsuit states, prisoners were injected with germs known to cause diseases, "to test the effectiveness of various drugs" manufactured by Bayer. "It's impossible to put on a scale the various horrors of the Holocaust; but this case represents the worst example of individual and corporate evil that the legal system may ever see," said Irwin B. Levin, one of several lawyers handling this class-action case and a prior lawsuit that won reparations for Holocaust victims from banks in Switzerland.

According to Levin, Bayer paid Nazi officials during World War II for access to those confined in the camps and collaborated in Nazi experiments as a form of research and development. The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and the recovery of profits it maintains Bayer earned as a result of such research.

Kor is represented in her lawsuit by five of the 10 U.S. law firms that were appointed by a federal judge in New York to handle litigation against Swiss banks. The banks were targeted for their business transactions with Nazis who stole hundreds of millions of dollars in Jewish assets. Evidence of the Nazis' bank deposits in Switzerland surfaced in recent years as wartime records were declassified. That litigation recently was settled on behalf of Holocaust survivors for $1.25 billion.

Levin, who has worked with Cohen & Malad co-counsel Richard Shevitz on the Holocaust cases, said there is a significant distinction between the case against the Swiss banks and the case against Bayer. "Even though we had direct evidence of the Swiss banks' refusal to release monies that they knew belonged to Holocaust victims and survivors, there was never a suggestion that the banks directly participated in the atrocities at the camps. "In this case, Bayer actually performed some of those atrocities," Levin said.

According to the lawsuit, a physician identified only as Dr. Koenig was a representative of Bayer and accompanied Mengele as he performed his grotesque medical experiments at the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland. Bayer provided toxic chemicals to the Nazis, and Mengele used them in the experiments, while Koenig recorded the results and reported that information to Bayer, the lawsuit maintains.

Kor and her twin sister were among a group of 300 female twins in a camp in the Birkenau section of Auschwitz. Mengele conducted genetic experiments there in an effort to create a super race of blonde, blue-eyed Aryans who would be born in multiple births. As many as 1,500 sets of twins were maltreated and injected with chemicals by Mengele, who was accompanied by Koenig, the lawsuit states. Both Kor and her sister survived their 10-month ordeal in the concentration camp and were liberated by Soviet troops in January 1945. They were nearly 10 years old. "I'm hoping that after 54 years, and losing my sister as a result of these experiments, that they (Bayer) will acknowledge responsibility for using children, especially twins, to conduct experiments with Joseph Mengele," Kor said. Besides restitution, Kor said she also wants an apology and assurances that it never happens again. The lawsuit maintains that Bayer has for decades denied any involvement in the experiments, refused to offer any compensation and refused to disclose information. But, the lawsuit states, information recently has come to light on the issue as more archived records are being made available to the public.

The New American, November 14, 2006

The Crimes of I.G. Farben

During WWII, I.G. Farben, a synthetic-fuels manufacturer for the German war machine, was a major supporter of the Nazi regime and a willing co-conspirator in the Holocaust.

March 8, 1943 was the day when the Nazi S.S. came for Norbert Wollheim and his family. With his wife and his three-year-old son, Wollheim was sent to the Grasse Hamburgerstrasse “collecting camp,” a way station on the blood-stained path to the Nazi’s “final solution.” A few days later, the family was sent to Auschwitz. Wollheim would never see his family again. “On arriving at the station at Auschwitz,” Wollheim recalled at the Nuremberg Trials, “I was separated from my wife and child and have not seen them since.”

Wollheim was one of the “lucky” ones. Along with about 220 other men, he was separated from the other prisoners who were condemned to immediate death in the gas chambers. Instead, he was taken by truck to the Monowitz camp, a special labor camp within the sprawling Auschwitz system of death camps. There, with the others, his head was shaved; he was disinfected, tattooed with his prison ID number, and immediately put to work. “I came to the dreaded ‘murder detail 4,’ whose task it was to unload cement bags or constructional steel,” Wollheim recalled. He had ceased to be a private citizen. He was no longer even the property of the Nazi state. Instead the deed to his life was held by the owner and operator of the Monowitz camp, the notorious German industrial conglomerate I.G. Farben.

Created by the unification of a number of German chemical firms, including BASF, Bayer, and AGFA following World War I, I.G. Farben was famous for its innovations — including in the manufacture of synthetic fuels and synthetic rubber — and for its stature as the largest chemical manufacturer in Europe and one of the largest corporations in the world. But with the rise of the unspeakably evil Hitler and his demon-spawned followers, I.G. Farben would become infamous for its wholehearted support of, and participation in, the brutal Nazi regime.

By 1923, pioneering German chemist Carl Bosch had been managing director of the Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik (BASF) Company for four years. During those years he had seen the post-World War I German economy crumble and, more disturbingly still, had seen French forces occupy the Ruhr Valley, causing the German government to order the closing of manufacturing plants there. The shutdown was devastating for BASF and the other companies of the German chemical industry’s interessen gemeinschaft (literally, “community of interest” — i.e., a cartel). Foreign competitors, particularly Du Pont in the United States, were quick to take advantage of the shutdown and expand into markets previously dominated by the big German chemical firms. Bosch knew that if BASF and the other firms of the cartel were to recover ground lost during the shutdown, new thinking would be required.

Fortunately for BASF, Bosch had an idea. Having played a central role in the creation of technologies to manufacture synthetic indigo and synthetic ammonia, Bosch was certain that it would be possible to manufacture synthetic motor fuels on a large scale as well. The technology already existed. In 1913, chemist Friedrich Bergius had invented a method of extracting liquid fuel from coal using a process that came to be called hydrogenation. Though this process could only be used in the laboratory, Bosch believed that, given sufficient funding, he could lead an effort to make the technique useful on a large scale.

The stakes were enormous. Germany was rich in coal, but had practically no reserves of crude oil. Success would mean energy independence for Germany and vast, almost unimaginable, wealth for the German chemical industry.

The problem was that BASF, large though it was, did not have the financial resources to tackle the problem all on its own. “A broader and more substantial corporate base was needed,” wrote Department of Justice official Joseph Borkin in his book The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben. Bosch had just such a plan. “He proposed that all the I.G companies merge into a single corporation bringing all their industrial activities and financial strength into a gigantic monolithic entity.” Bosch’s proposal met with favor and on December 9, 1925 the companies of I.G. cartel were merged into BASF creating a new corporate colossus: I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft — I.G. Farben for short.

Synthetic Fuel and Nazi Germany
With the merger, I.G. Farben’s immense research and engineering facilities swung into action looking for a way to employ the Bergius hydrogenation process on a larger, industrial scale. Officials from other nations and companies were overawed by the scale of the I.G. Farben effort. Frank A. Howard, the head of research and development for Standard Oil, was given a tour of the Farben efforts in 1926. Though Standard Oil was no slouch in matters of research, Howard couldn’t believe what he was seeing at the Farben facilities, stating that he was “plunged into a world of research and development on a gigantic scale such as I had never seen.” As a result of Howard’s glowing praise, Standard Oil president Walter C. Teagle arranged to tour the Farben facilities for himself. His comments echoed Howard’s: “I had not known what research meant until I saw it,” Teagle remarked. “We were babies compared to what they were doing.”

Just when it looked like I.G. Farben was about to take the world by storm with its process for making synthetic fuel, the bottom fell out of crude-oil prices with the beginning of the Great Depression, and the outlook for synthetic fuels went from promising to bleak nearly overnight. But the rise of Adolf Hitler changed the equation. Even before becoming chancellor, Hitler met with Farben officials Heinrich Buetefisch and Heinrich Gattineau. The man who would shortly become dictator of the German Reich told the two Farben men that synthetic fuel was a matter of central importance. “German motor fuel must become a reality, even if this entails sacrifices,” Hitler said. “Therefore it is urgently necessary that the hydrogenation of coal be continued.”

Though Bosch was initially cautious of the Nazis, he was eager to sign a pact with the Hitler regime to ensure that the I.G. Farben synthetic-fuel program could continue. The pact was formally signed on December 14, 1933. Under the agreement with the Nazi regime, I.G. Farben was to increase production capacity so that by 1937 it could produce 300,000 to 350,000 tons of synthetic oil each year.

After 1933, I.G. Farben moved ever closer to the Nazi regime. According to Joseph Borkin, I.G. Farben officials made up the majority of the staff of the Nazi research and development office that reported to Herman Goering. That office was part of the Goering effort to develop a four-year economic plan for the Nazi regime. When that plan was announced in 1936, 73 percent of Nazi investment was earmarked for I.G. Farben. By 1937, in fact, I.G. Farben was entirely Nazified. Carl Bosch had been replaced as head of the company in 1935, and now those members of the I.G. board who did not yet belong to the Nazi party eagerly joined. Conversely, any Jewish members of I.G.’s leadership were purged. The marriage of I.G. Farben with the Nazi state was complete. The consequences would be chilling.

“I.G. Auschwitz”
By 1940, notes Daniel Yergin in The Prize, his 1991 history of the oil industry, Germany was producing 72,000 barrels of synthetic fuel every day. Despite the Allied strategic bombing campaign that was designed both to break the will of German citizens and hobble German industry, production in Germany actually increased as the war dragged on. This was true also of the production of synthetic fuel. Yergin points out that production was up to 124,000 barrels per day and was still increasing in the first quarter of 1944. This, Yergin notes, “could not have happened without immense effort and all the normal tools and techniques of the Nazi war economy, including slave labor.”

The increased demand for both synthetic fuel and the synthetic rubber known as Buna that I.G. Farben produced required the construction of additional facilities. The Nazis summoned I.G. officials Fritz ter Meer and Otto Ambros to a secret meeting to discuss the situation, after which Ambros was sent on a scouting mission to Auschwitz. Ambros found that the proposed site had ready access to coal, rivers, and both road and railroad transportation. But most of all, it had a ready source of labor in the unfortunates who were interred at the Auschwitz concentration camp. This, Ambros thought, would be the place to build the new I.G. Farben facilities. The new division would be named I.G. Auschwitz. I.G. management appointed Ambros head of the Auschwitz Buna facility and appointed Heinrich Buetefisch head of the Auschwitz synthetic-oil plant. Under their leadership, I.G. would wholeheartedly participate in the brutal genocide of Jews and others whom the Nazis considered undesirable. The only difference would be that I.G. Farben would work the prisoners to death rather than kill them directly in the gas chambers.

At I.G. Auschwitz, the S.S. guaranteed the company access to 10,000 slave laborers under Nazi control. At first this seemed to satisfy the I.G. management. “Our new friendship with the S.S. is proving very profitable,” Ambros informed Fritz ter Meer. Relations soon deteriorated between I.G. and the S.S., however, leading I.G. executives to claim — ludicrously since they were using slave labor — that the Nazi masters of Auschwitz didn’t understand “the working methods of … free enterprise.” If the I.G. Farben notion of “free enterprise” was to succeed, they would need to build their own concentration camp. “In July 1942,” wrote Justice Department official and I.G. Farben prosecutor Joseph Borkin, “the I.G. managing board voted to solve its Auschwitz labor problems by establishing its own concentration camp.” Though owned and operated by I.G. Farben, the new camp, Monowitz, would be run on Nazi forced-labor principles: “All the inmates must be fed, sheltered and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent, at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.” It was a death sentence almost as inescapable as the gas chamber. Work groups would march into the factories in the morning, and carry back the corpses of those who had died of exhaustion in the afternoon. “I.G. reduced slave labor to a consumable raw material,” noted Borkin, “a human ore from which the mineral of life was systematically extracted. When no usable energy remained, the living dross was shipped to the gassing chambers and cremation furnaces of the extermination center at Birkenau, where the S.S. recycled it into the German war economy — gold teeth for the Reichsbank, hair for mattresses, and fat for soap.”

The Ugly Web of I.G. Farben
I.G. Farben was not solely the creation of German industrialists. Unwittingly, American industrialists and financiers played a role in the creation of conglomerate. The most visible partnership was with Standard Oil. In the 1920s, I.G. Farben’s synthetic-fuel technology seemed to represent a threat to Standard Oil’s position in the fossil-fuel industry. Reacting to the German advances, in 1927, Standard obtained from Farben the right to produce synthetic fuel using its process in the United States. The agreement was expanded in 1928 when the two companies formed the Standard-I.G. Company in the United States. The new firm gained complete control of the rights to use the synthetic-fuel process outside of Germany, thus protecting Standard Oil from direct competition with I.G. Farben. In exchange, Standard gave 546,000 shares of its common stock, valued at $35 million, to I.G. Farben.

Through its relationship with I.G. Farben, Standard Oil would play an important role in the arming of the Wehrmacht. According to Borkin, in the mid-1930s, realizing that Germany would need the capacity to manufacture tetraethyl lead, a crucially important fuel additive needed for high-performance engines, the German firm sought help from Standard. “Through the good offices of its cartel partner, Standard Oil, I.G. approached the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation with the suggestion that they enter into a partnership to build tetraethyl plants in Germany,” noted former Justice Department official Joseph Borkin. A bargain to that effect was struck, but the plants wouldn’t come online until 1939. By 1938, though, German ambitions in central Europe meant that both the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe would need access to greater amounts of leaded fuels. To avert a shortage, the Nazi Air Ministry asked I.G. Farben to secure a large quantity of tetraethyl lead from Standard Oil. Standard Oil complied in a move that, according to Borkin, “materially strengthened Hitler’s hand.”

After the United States entered the war, Standard’s cooperation with I.G. Farben became a scandal. In Senate hearings, Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin was blunt in his criticism of the company. Standard Oil, he said, “was found by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice to be conspiring with I.G. Farben … of Germany. I.G. Farben, through its maze of international patent agreements, is the spear-head of Nazi economic warfare.”

Standard Oil, though, was not the only well-known U.S. firm to do business with I.G. Farben and the Nazis. In his valuable study Wall Street and the Rise of Adolf Hitler, historian Antony C. Sutton points out a surprising and disturbing number of American financial and industrial firms that contributed immensely to the funding that supported the rise of Nazi regime. Summarizing his research, Sutton wrote: “The evidence suggests that some members of the Wall Street elite are connected with, and certainly have influence with, all significant political groupings in the contemporary world socialist spectrum — Soviet socialism, Hitler's national socialism, and Roosevelt's New Deal socialism.”

Ongoing Legacy
After the World War II, I.G. Farben was broken up into its constituent companies and several Farben officials, including Fritz ter Meer of the I.G. managing board and Otto Ambros and Heinrich Buetefisch, were sentenced to terms in prison for their role in enslavement and death of those victims of the Holocaust who perished at the hands of I.G. Farben. As for I.G. companies, several continue in operation. Bayer AG, the producer of “Bayer Aspirin,” is perhaps the best known of the I.G. companies remaining in operation. Bayer notes on its website that during WWII “forced laborers from the occupied countries of Europe were brought to work” at Bayer/I.G. Farben locations but says that this was true of “German industry as a whole.” Bayer also states that “concentration camp prisoners were not employed in the Lower Rhine sites” where Bayer’s operations were located. Other former I.G. companies that remain in operation include BASF, AGFA, and Hoechst AG. The latter merged with a French firm to form Aventis, the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical company.

The technology that allowed the conglomerate to make the synthetic fuel that powered the Nazi war and terror machine remains a viable energy alternative today. With the bloody use of slave labor, Farben produced a significant amount of fuel for Hitler’s Germany. “Altogether,” wrote Daniel Yergin in The Prize, “synthetic fuels would account for half of Germany’s total oil production.” If this could be achieved by the repugnant Nazis using starved, tyrannized, and deathly ill slaves, free America workers and entrepreneurs should be able to do infinitely better today. by Dennis Behreandt