The Times: War Record Of I.G. Farben: 6 MAY 1947



From Our Special Correspondent in the United States Zone

With the arraignment before an American military tribunal of Germany's vast chemical combine, I.G. Farben Industrie (Dye Trust), the most powerful industrialists of the Third Reich now step into the place at Nuremberg occupied a year ago by her chief political and military leaders. A group of 24 directors and executive officials were served on Saturday with a 20,000-word indictment charging them with preparing and waging wars of aggression and with a formidable list of specific crimes, including the murderous consequences of Nazi slave labour, that arose from them. The issue, in sum, is to determine the guilt of the industrialist in making aggressive war, already judged by Nuremberg to be the " supreme international crime."

The far-reaching contention of General Telford Taylor, chief of counsel for the United States, is that with- out the armament makers Hitler and his generals could not have gone to war. Proceedings were recently begun in Nuremberg, the city of Nazi triumph and disaster, against Friedrich Flick, the little known but extremely influential steel magnate, and charges are to be brought in due course against the house of Krupp. The " Farben " trial, which may not open until July, is second in its significance only to the international trial mainly because of the intricate arrangements by which the combine participated in no fewer than 500 industrial undertakings outside Germany, apart from its foreign manufacturing plants and holding companies. Judging from the indictment, these international ramifications, which for a long time inspired cynical doubts about a trial ever being held, will be closely examined in the light of a massive accumulation of documentary evidence.


Industrial undertakings abroad are set forth as the dupes of the Farben combine, which as late as 1942 still controlled more than 90 per cent. of synthetic rubber production throughout the world. Working hand in glove with Nazi foreign policy, its international affiliations and contracts, the indictment asserts, ran into thousands, including cartel agreements with major concerns in America, Britain, France, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and Poland, which were used as an economic weapon in the preparation for war. From 1935 on, all cartel agreements were cleared by Farben through the military economic staff of the Wehzrnacht.

Their deliberate purpose was to restrict industrial development and scientific research outside Germany, especially in countries which Hitler planned to attack. In the same way Farben's pre-war activities were designed to weaken the United States as an " arsenal of democracy" by retarding such strategic products as synthetic rubber, magnesium, synthetic nitrogen, tetrazene, and' sulpha drugs. It is related how a cartel arrangement among Farben, the Aluminum Company of America and the Dow Chemical Company greatly restricted the production of magnesium in the United States and prohibited exports to Europe except to Germany and, in negligible amounts, to Great Britain.

Thus, Britain and the rest of Europe became completely dependent upon Germany for magnesium for which Britain was in a desperate situation on the outbreak of war. When, early in 1941, the British Purchasing Mission tried to buy tetrazene primed ammunition in the United States the sale was prevented by a cartel agreement between a subsidiary of Dupont and a subsidiary of Farben. The indictment further describes how, by means of cartel agreements with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, Farben delayed the development and production of buna rubber in the United States until 1940, while at the same time making Germany independent of rubber imports. Farben deliberately evaded its obligations under the agreements, with the result that America entered the war with no adequate rubber supply and, cut off from supplies from the Far East, with no adequate programme for making synthetic rubber. " Only the most drastic steps prevented disaster."


Another aspect of Farben's international activities was the laying in of stocks of critical war materials pending the full production of German synthetics. No other firm in Germany had the necessary international connections or the foreign currency. In 1936, for example, the Standard Oil Company delivered S14,000,000 worth of petrol on an order for $20,000,000.

In June, 1938, with the invasion of Czechoslovakia imminent, Germany was still deficient in tetra-ethyl lead, one of the main essentials of aviation petrol. On Goring's orders Farben arranged to " borrow" 500 tons from the Ethyl Export Corporation of the United States, misrepresenting the purpose of a 'Sloan" that was never returned. In the same way the Trust, at the request of the Reichsbank, used its international credit position to obtain loans of foreign currency; when German needs of foreign exchange became desperate it sold its products at less than cost.

From all these international tentacles it was not a far step for the Trust's foreign agents to form the core of Nazi intrigue and espionage throughout the world. Its Berlin office, it is declared, was transformed into the economic intelligence arm of the Wehrmacht, preparing special reports and maps from which the Luftwaffe often selected its targets, and its leading officials abroad were in many instances absorbed into the counter-intelligence branch of the High Command. And as war loomed nearer Farben had its plans ready for protecting its foreign assets in the British Empire, France, and the United States by transferring them to neutral trustees.

The international aspects of the Farben trial may be expected to throw a new and sometimes uneasy light on German preparations for war. We have, for instance, this illuminating statement from one of the accused, Georg von Schnitzler, who directed Farben's sales and commercial activities:- " Even without being directly informed that the Government intended to wage war, it was impossible for officials of 1.G. or any other industrialists to believe that the enormous production of armaments and preparations for war, starting from the coming into power of Hitler, accelerated in 1936, and reaching unbelievable proportions in 1938, could have any other meaning but that Hitler and the Nazi Government intended to wage war.

Long before the coming of Hitler, Farben was not only the largest industrial combine ever formed in Germany but one of the greatest in the world. By 1939, hitched to the Nazi star, it had more than doubled its size; book profits by 1942 had risen to 571,000,000 marks; and again there is the word of Schnitzler for affirming that modem warfare would be unthinkable without the achievements of the German chemical industry through the Four-Year Plan, under which Carl Krauch, chairman of Farben's supervisory board of directors and No. I defendant in the coming trial, had served with plenipotentiary powers as Goring's chemical expert.

In the early days Farben saw in Hitler and his movement the possibility of extending its empire. The indictment relates how in November, 1932, two of its directors sought from Hitler support for the costly Farben hydrogenation process for producing synthetic petrol, which it had contemplated abandoning. Synthetic petrol fitted into Hitler's programme.


When Hitler asked the industrialists for aid before the elections of March, 1933, Farben headed the list of contributions with 400,000 Reichsmarks; by the end of the year the Government had guaranteed a large expansion of the Farben synthetic petrol plants, and discussions had begun on synthetic rubber research and the construction of a secret magnesium plant. On the basis of this collaboration the combine was soon concentrating its vast resources on the creation and equipment of the German war machine, and a purely military liaison agency, the Vermittulungssvelle was set up in Berlin, one of whose functions was to assure secrecy, particularly in respect of patents.

By the end of 1936 Goring, explaining the Four-Year Plan, was telling the industrialists, including Farben, " We are already on the threshold of mobilization and we are already at war. All that is lacking is the shooting."

For Albert Speer, the Dye Trust, often referred to as the "State within the State," had been raised to government status.

The indictment precisely describes Farben's major contribution to German rearmament as the synthetic production of nitrates, oil, and rubber, without which Germany, having no natural resources, was incapable of preparing or waging aggressive war. Farben was the core of military mobilization not only by virtue of its own production but because all other German chemical companies and many other war industries were almost totally dependent upon its products. German tanks, artillery, and armoured vehicles rolled on Farben electron metal wheels, were shod with Farben buna rubber, and propelled by Farben synthetic petrol. Nazi bombers were armoured with Farben aluminum and magnesium alloys, carried death loads of Farben incendiary bombs and explosives, and were fuelled by Farben high-octane aviation petrol.

With the unleashing of war Farben, it is alleged, entered upon a systematic programme of spoliation by seizing the chemical industries of the overrun countries. But by the time France was defeated Farben's dreams of world conquest under its own New Order, a document of several thousand pages setting forth detailed schemes for the whole of Europe's chemical production, were rivalled only by Hitler's. Finally, the dread shadow of Himmler and the S.S. falls upon the war record of I.G. Farben, which is charged not only with a share of responsibility for the slave labour programme in drawing upon foreign workers for its factories but, by the construction on its own recommendation of a buna plant at Auschwitz, of direct complicity in the inhuman sufferings and murder of the concentration camps. Farben's conduct at Auschwitz, concludes the indictment, may best be described by a remark of Hitler: " What does it matter to us? Look away if it makes you sick."