Monday, Oct 20, 2008
After World War Two, scores of suspected Nazi war criminals were prosecuted by the Allies in the Palace of Justice in the city of Nuremberg, the birth-place of the Nazi Party. The defendants were drawn not just from the military, but also from medical, judicial, administrative, industrial, and other sectors of the German war machine.
Among the industrial prisoners charged with crimes against humanity were 24 managers of IG Farben, an organization without whom, according to U.S. Chief Prosecutor Telford Taylor, the Second World War would not have been possible.
In 1925, IG Farben, Interessengemeinschaft Farben, (Association of Common Interests), became a powerful cartel of German chemical and pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer (the aspirin manufacturer), BASF, AGFA, and Hoechst (now known as Aventis.) By 1933, the IG Farben group had become the largest chemical and pharmaceutical corporation in the world. And even today, although it doesn’t use the name IG Farben, its companies remain the most powerful transnationals on the planet in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and agro-chemicals.
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The IG Farben cartel was crucial to the Nazi war effort by supplying synthetic fuel, rubber, and other chemicals. They also manufactured Zyklon-B, the nerve gas used to kill millions at the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau and elsewhere. The cartel, later known as the Devil’s Chemists, used unwilling inmates of the concentration camps as slave labourers and guinea pigs to test chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines. Tens of thousands died, and those who became too ill to be of any use were murdered in the gas chambers.
IG Farben worked closely with the Nazi regime and the SS and were perhaps the most important dynamic in driving the Nazi war machine, donating some 80 million Reichsmarks in return for chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries seized from occupied countries. Yet they could not have gotten to a position of such power without huge investment from John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company. Together with Rockefeller they set up a company called Standard IG Farben.
Although he knew it would be used for war purposes, Rockefeller was able to organize a shipment of 500 tons of tetraethyl lead to IG Farben in 1938 which the Luftwaffe needed for aviation fuel. Amazingly, a year later, with war about to break out, he supplied them with up to 20 million dollars of tetraethyl lead which directly enabled Hitler to start the War by attacking Poland and France.
Even as late as 1942 he supplied the Nazis with oil diverted through Switzerland and refuelled German submarines in the Channel Islands. When charged under the “Trading With The Enemy” Act, Rockefeller got away with a ‘slap on the wrist’ (5,000 dollar fine) when President Roosevelt abruptly halted the investigation at the behest of the War Department. (The unpatriotic Rockefeller had threatened to stop supplying the U.S. with crucial supplies of war-time oil.)
IG Farben went on to build the largest industrial complex in Europe at Auschwitz to manufacture chemicals and explosives for the German war effort. The venture was financed by Deutsche Bank to the tune of almost one billion Reichsmarks. This complex, known as IG Auschwitz, covered some 24 square kilometers including the Auschwitz concentration camp from which it drew on a huge pool of slave labour. IG Farben directors were instrumental in turning this huge complex into the largest extermination camp in human history.
This article was posted: Monday, October 20, 2008 at 4:40 am