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Pharmaceutical giant Bayer and the holocaust

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by PzJgr, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Many people remain unaware of the key role of companies like Bayer and BASF in the holocaust. Their role was so critical that it led the Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg to warn: "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." But despite the enormity of their crimes, their guilt has remained largely hidden and 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.

    Bayer and the holocaust
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    So many big companies and countries made money out of what Hitler et co were doing....No questions asked... :(
     
  3. GrandsonofAMarine

    GrandsonofAMarine Member

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    As despicable as their conduct was the prosecutor's statement is grossly inaccurate. It wasn't BASF or Bayer who decided that the Jews had to be exterminated or to start a world war. It has Adolf Hitler who did that. It was the government that set the policy, designed the facilities, and selected and transported the victims. BASF and Bayer were supporting members to be sure, but the onus is on Hitler and the Nazis.

    The part about those groups being greater threats than Hitler is so patently absurd that I can scarcely believe that they were uttered.
     
  4. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    Hmm. . . I think it's a very complicated issue and gets back to the question at the end of the war (and to this day) of "who was guilty?" If it were as simple as "Hitler and the Nazis", the limited number who were found, tried, convicted and sentenced would have answered that question to everyone's satisfaction, but it didn't. "German Collective Guilt" was proposed and largely accepted as somewhat of an answer. Surely those who held money and corporate power within the Nazi schema hold a lion's share of that guilt, don't they? I think a compelling case can be made in that day (and the world since then) that "death merchants" who profit from their wares allow such evil government enterprises to exist, whether they are chemical/pharmaceutical companies or financial institutions, complicit in their dealings.

    I think the prosecutor was quite forward in his thinking to realize the danger this presented for the future of mankind.
     
  5. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    I had no idea. Thanks for posting this.
     
  6. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Agreed the Prosecutor's statement was "Over the Top". IG Farben was sucked into the Nazi nightmare but once there, became super enthusiastic since the profits were fabulous and Nazi support rescued this Chemical Combine which had made a disasterous mistake in heavy investment in totally uneconomic synthetic petroleum process just as the World became awash with cheap oil from Texas.

    You are quite wrong in stating that the Government designed the facitilities (or operated the facility and Concentration Camps).

    IG Farben chose the site at Auchwitz, built not only the chemical facilities, Synthetic Oil, Methanol, and Buna Rubber but also (and set them apart from every other slave using German organisation) they built and ran the Concentration Camp at Monowitz.

    No other organistion had its own private Concentration Camp.

    This whole lot was financed by IG Farben against guaranteed long term subsidies from the 3rd Reich.

    After the war they tried to pretend that the Nazi had forced them - was not so - IG Farben started the ball rolling which was enthusiastically accepted by Hitler who asked for it to be expanded. The Company duly complied.

    Once the victims were worked to death (average 3 to 4 months) they were sent to Buchenwald to be exterminated by the SS.

    IG Farben also bought and expanded two coal mines on the site. Conditions is these were even more terrible than the Concentration Camp - where the SS complained that the inmates were treated too harshly.

    Whilst the chemical facilities were essentially the property of BASF, Bayer financed pharmacuetical research by a certain Dr Mengele. Train loads of incriminating documents were destroyed by the Company but one survived and it showed that Bayer were trying to negotitate a lower price from Mengele for work which resulted in the sterilisation of 200 women. I beleive one lady (Jew of course) managed to get some compensation after the War (and many years later of $2000) - no IG Farben victim received more than $7000.
     
  7. GrandsonofAMarine

    GrandsonofAMarine Member

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    I strongly disagree. The companies are aiders and abettors of the crimes, but they are not the ones who permit "evil enterprises to exist". The Nazis at any time could have compelled BASF and Bayer to do their bidding. It is the government, not corporations who wield the true power for they have the army and law enforcement. The only group who could have overthrown the Nazis was the military. That's it. Corporations have no power besides financial and Hitler very easily could had stripped that from them by imprisoning management. This is especially so in Nazi Germany's planned economy where industry was dictated to by Schacht and then Goering.

    I do not mean to defend BASF and Bayer. What they did was morally abhorrent. But they did not conceive the Holocaust or develop Germany's foreign policy. They did not train and equip millions of German men to rampage through Europe and North Africa. BASF, Bayer, Thyssen and Krupp, Siemans, etc, existed LONG before Hitler and the Nazis. Nothing in their past would indicate that they had any idea of using insecticide to slaughter human beings or to man factories with slave labor. The horrors of the Nazi-era belong to the Nazi government. They they were the ones who conceived, developed, and put into motion the machinery of death.
     
  8. GrandsonofAMarine

    GrandsonofAMarine Member

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    The Nazis always intended to murder the Jews. They spent a lot of time trying to find ways to kill masses of undesirables.Shootings, gassings, explosives…the Nazi government investigated ways to exterminate the Jews and other undesirables. Do recall the Aktion T-4 program where the Nazis murdered 100,000 of the mentally ill. The Wannsee Conference in January of 42' enacted the "Final Solution". It is there where the conception of death camps came into being, though the Einsatzgruppen were already at work in Russia. These special murder squads would slaughter hundreds of thousands in the year preceding the opening of Auschwitz.

    You also are focusing on one death camp. There were in actuality six altogether. All of which were located in the General Government. Along with Auschwitz, there was Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka, Belzec, and Chelmo. It was the Nazis who ran the camps. IG Farben have nothing to do with the selection and killing process. That was the province of the SS-Totenkopfverbände. IG Farben developed Zyklon B and designed the factories, but Auschwitz was already setup for concentration a large amount of humans as it formerly a Polish army barracks.

    IG Farben was never concerned with killing people. Thry simply wanted facilities with free labor. They did not care whether people lived or died.Murder was never their goal. Mass extermination, however, was the end of the Nazis.
     
  9. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    And they still exist today. Perhaps this is why he said "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." Business as usual. Hey, I'm pro-business but that doesn't make everything they did and will do okay.

    I understand where you are coming from, but you might want to give further consideration to where the power comes from in any government. Whether it gets you elected, keeps you in that office or puts fuel in your machines of war, "Money makes the world go 'round, the world go 'round, the world go 'round. That clinking, clanking sound . . ."
     
  10. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    It's the man who is the murderer not his gun. So saying a company is guilty a bit easy and a bit farfetched. They have their part of guilt, but if one starts saying companies are guiltier than the actual war criminals then why some and not others? What about the car companies , the steel industry and the clothing companies? Someone could quote bottle and canteen makers because bottles were used to quench the thirst of the SS... It would be endless.
     
  11. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    So what do you think the Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg was trying to say?
     
  12. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    He made a valid point that's not an issue, but he took a few emblematic companies and did not mention many others. In the mean time some engineers were never bothered and were "bought" by both West and East.
     
  13. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Opinionated trouble maker here.......since we have a supreme court that has decided that corporations are people.....in their determination that unlimited spending of money can be used to overwhelm us individual people with their power to buy free speech.........why can't they be fully responsible for their activities, atrocities, etc. The god our industry follows is not an evil god unless it is helped along by this kind of court ruling. The god industry follows in most cases is the quarterly return on investment or a similar guideline that compels all motivation, conscience, work goals, which can and will be abused by the leadership more often than not when one assesses the behaviors of many corporate entities. It appears that the misbehavior of Bayer and the likes did not end with Hitler and the Nazi's as was predicted in mentioning the greater threat. In fact unconscionable acts have persisted by those entities and no amount of rationalizing can excuse such things as "spreading more HIV" when you know the facts about your product. If an individual commits a crime against another person, he may go to prison and be barred forever from freedoms that enabled his action. Why can't the corporate world suffer the same? After all they have now been endowed with the "inalienable rights" of man. They need to take up the same responsibilities as a man instead of only the special privileges.
     
  14. Fury 1991

    Fury 1991 New Member

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    Companies have always played a role in conflicts. This continues today.
     
  15. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Good point Victor, Some companies had their capital confiscated , but the cold war has certainly influenced policies regarding this matter and it was apparently better for both sides of the Iron Curtain to have companies work for them after 1945 rather than dismantle them .
     
  16. DocCasualty

    DocCasualty Member

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    I don't know what evidence they had accumulated on other companies or perhaps were interested in pursuing. As this article only focuses on these corporations, the following sounds compelling to me. Of course, it was a prosecutor stating his opinion, so I suppose we have to take that FWIW.
     
  17. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Grandsonofamarine

    I can see that you (and many others) have difificulty with the concept of Corporate Guilty as opposed to individual guilt. It is true that a hanfull of Bayer employees were brave enough to resist - and Totalitarian regimes are not stupid, you did not get he bullet in the head - your career suffered and peer pressure was enormous but it was still possible to refuse if you were sufficiently indespensable or to go slow or to deliverately screw up the scientific results. I believe that there is evidence that some of this happened.

    However, let us take an individual - Ter Hell - a Director of IG Farben, Bayer and his family owned company Ter Hell, part of the IG Farben Combine.

    During his trial as a war criminal, in the view of the Prosecutor, Ter Hell was the "leader" who coerced the other IG Directors into silence " we kneo nothing - didn't know what was happening at the compnay owned concentration camp at Monowitz".
    During the trial Ter Hell was allowed freedom from Prison by the sympathetic American chief judge - he used his time to try to pervert justice by getting witnesses to change their evidence. In fact the Trial held in 1948 when the Red Scare was dominant was a travesty.

    Ter Hell was asked about the Mengele experiments on live prisoners - his answer was "well they were going to die anyway".

    He was convicted by the Court of using slave labour in the Buna Works at Monowitz and sentenced to 8 years - he was pardoned after 2 years (so were the others). His commment on the early realease "Well the Americans need us now (against the Soviets)".

    Contrition for the deaths of tens of thousand worked to death at Monowitz - nothing.

    In 1957 as soon as Nazi War Criminals were allowed to take up Directorships again - Ter Hell was appointed Chairman of Bayer.

    So we have Hitler who genuinely thought that Jews had stabbed Germany in the back and needed to be exterminated.

    Then we have Ter Hell, apparently a snob with a fine taste in wines and opera, rich, sophisticated and extremely clever, who was never a member of the Nazi Party, knew exactly what he was doing, who oversaw the extermination of thousands of prisoners for whom he never spared a thought and all the in name of profit and the wellbeing of Her Ter Hell.

    In my book the more evil is Ter Hell!

    And what does this say about Bayer as an organisation?
     
  18. freebird

    freebird Member

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    In my mind the real travesty is the War Crimes Comissions that failed to see that the really guilty (like Ter Hell) faced proper punishment.
    If he was pardoned after only 2 years it's not surprising that Bayer turned a blined eye and reinstated him.
    He should never have walked out a free man.
     
  19. scipio

    scipio Member

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    I thought I would lookat Bayer's website to find out how they explained away WW2, BunaRubber production at Monowitz and Mengele's experiments. Leverkusen was and still is Bayer's headquarters and major production site, both before the IG Farben Cartel formation and after.


    Breathtaking in itsomissions – the full piece can be read on the link below but I havelifted out the relevant bits


    1925 - 1945 - Bayer

    World War II approaches
    In 1936 the National Socialist government began systematically preparing for war.
    When the Second World War finally broke out in 1939, the locations of the Lower Rhine consortium were among the sites of German industry that were considered "vital to the war." Production requirements
    grew steadily, yet more and more employees were drafted into military service. For this reason, foreign and forced laborers from the occupied countries of Europe were brought to work in Leverkusen, Dormagen, Elberfeld and Uerdingen - and throughout German industry as a whole - to maintain output levels. At times during the war, these laborers accounted for up to one third of the workforce.
    Concentration camp prisoners were not employed in the Lower Rhine sites.



    A time of inventions
    Within the network ofI.G. sites, Leverkusen also developed into a key production locationfor basic chemicals and intermediates, as well as the largest dyestuffs production site.
    Rubber synthesis and modern polymerchemistry were the focus of research activities at this time.
    In the early 1930s, polyacrylonitrile-butadiene-rubber (Perbunan) wasdeveloped here, and Otto Bayer(1902–1982) invented polyurethanes in 1937.


    The Wupperal-Elberfeldfacility continued its successful research into drugs to controlmalaria. Working together with Fritz Mietzsch (1896-1958) and JosephKlarer (1898-1953), GerhardDomagk (1895–1964) discovered the therapeutic effect of the sulfonamides - a key breakthrough in the chemotherapy of infectiousdiseases for which Domagk received the Nobel Prize in 1939.




    So Bayer are rightly proud of their Buna Rubber (synthetic rubber andpolyurethane) and their pharmaceuticals – shame they can't own upto owning Monowitz Concentration Camp and financing Mengelesexperiments.
     
  20. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard

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    Victor is correct, at least as far as the modern US Supreme Court is concerned. The corporation is an individual, and therefore should be subject to the same strictures.

    After WW2, corporations like Bayer and Krupp should have suffered the same consequences as the individuals involved. They were part and parcel of the evil perpetrated by Hitler and the Nazis. I understand the impetus of the Cold War, but the industries came out of WW2 as though they had nothing to do with the death camps. Granted, some individuals were punished, but the corporations themselves suffered no lasting damage, as is evidenced by their standing in modern society. It was always the policy of Hitler to eliminate the Jews, and these corporations aided him. While the prosecutor was over the top (remember he was speaking in 1945-46), those involved in the Holocaust should have received at least the same punishment as the others did.
     
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