by Joseph Borkin and Charles
extracted from 'Germany's Master Plan'
The Story Of Industrial Offensive
No better insight into the German
strategy of economic war could be contrived than the history of
Interessen Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie Aktiengesell-schaft,
commonly known as I.G.*
* Community of Interest of Dye
The record of I.G. in the twentieth century is a recital of
Germany's attempt to use scientific achievements to control the
world. I.G.'s commercial peacetime monopolies have been the support
for its services to Ger- man militarism. I.G. has never foregone an
opportunity to turn a pretty penny in a business sense, however, if
Germany's interest permitted. Time after time financial profit has
been subordinated by I.G. to nationalistic aims. While I.G. may
prefer to gain its own ends and enhance the power and wealth of
Germany by economic means, it has consistently abetted and given
force to purely military plans. The audit of I.G.'s contributions to
Germany's martial designs is long.
The antecedents of I.G. reach far back into the industrial
revolution of the nineteenth century, specifically into those
developments which resulted in the establishment of the coal tar
chemical industry. The history of coal tar chemicals is in itself
one of the most fascinating phases of nineteenth-century industrial
In 1856 in the course of his experiments with coal tar, theretofore
regarded as an interesting but essentially useless material, a young
English chemist, William Henry Perkin, found that it could be
transformed into a synthetic aniline dye. This discovery was to
bring Perkin (later Sir William) world-wide acclaim.
The glory of a major scientific
contribution belongs to Perkin and to England, but Germany usurped
the gain. At the time of his discovery Perkin was only 18, still a
student of the famous Professor Hofmann at the Royal College in
London. Perkin had started out, strangely enough, to prepare
artificial quinine. He wound up with a delicate purple solution
called mauveine, which was to give name to the Mauve Decade, and to
color the future military and industrial history of the world.
Perkin himself understood the profound and revolutionary nature of
his findings, but the mentally stuffy industrialists of Victorian
England failed to grasp their significance. Exhibiting a complacency
which would repeatedly imperil the British Empire as the future
un-folded, neither the Government nor British capital supported Perkin's struggles to found a coal tar industry. In time this lack
of insight so exasperated Perkin that he reproached them for the
dalliance and lack of imagination which cost them the industry.
genius and patriotism been given the recognition it merited, England
could have become the leader of the organic chemical industry. What
is more, there might have been no I.G., and without I.G. Germany
could not, twice within a generation, have filled the vials of wrath
and hurled their Prussic acid in the face of the world. What might
have been was not to be. Perkin's brilliance could not compensate
for the dilettante attitude of the universities toward chemical
research or the dullness of official and financial minds.
If England was not sufficiently prompt and alert to change, Germany
immediately seized on Perkin's discovery. Within a few short years
the parent firms of I. G. Farben had been established, and their
grip on the dye-stuffs industry made secure. German chemists entered
upon a perfect frenzy of research. Perkin's own teacher, Hofmann,
returned to Germany and helped found the new laboratories.
When Perkin's next contribution to the
industry, the preparation of an equivalent for natural red dye
(madder), was announced and patented, he found that Dr. Caro of the
Badische Anilin Works had been before him. Perkin's patent was dated
June 26, 1869, Caro's had been issued June 25. The processes were
somewhat different, but the Germans had won a major research victory
symbolizing their capture of the initiative in the field, which they
Because of Germany's "patent" system in those early years, there
were no barriers to the foundation of the industry. The
well-financed organizations formed between 1856 and 1880 expended
huge sums on research and chemical facilities. As early as the end
of the Franco-Prussian War, the ancestors of I. G. Farben were all
strong "going" concerns. Once under way, the establishment of the
German patent system of 1877 placed in their hands a shield and a
spear. German patents in the hands of German industry have been a
branch of Ger- man arms since that time.
The names of the firms which were eventually to become the I.G. are
worth noting, for their trademarks have carried the banner of German
economic imperialism to every land.
These firms are:
Badische Anilin & Soda Fabrik,
Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedrich
Bayer & Co., of Leverkusen
Farbwerke vorm. Meister Lucius
and Bruening, of Hoechst am Main
Anilinfabrikaten, of Berlin
Leopold Cassela & Co., m.b.H.,
Kalle & Co., A. G., of Biebrick.*
These concerns in time became known as
the "Big Six" and were from their inception primarily responsible
for the amazing growth of the German chemical industry. Germany's
economic might was "built out of a sandbox" by her chemical and
metallurgical industries, and the Big Six were the principal
artificers of the gigantic structure. The methodical but almost
frenetic determination which inspired German research did not
observe any scruples in "borrowing" inventions from other countries.
As Perkin told the story to Lord
He went so far as to say that, for
years before he left the business, he and other English chemists
had entirely abandoned attempts to patent their discoveries in
Berlin. He had found, by sad experience, that whenever he sent
over an application for a patent on a new dyestuff, or new
chemical compound of importance, the German Patent Office would
at once call in, for consultation, the leading German chemists
who were interested in that line of work.
He would get request
after request for more and more detailed information about
every part of the process; and then, when they had got from him
every bit of information that they could, they would grant the
patent to some one of his German competitors...2
The attitude taken by the German
chemical concerns toward the industries of other nations reflected
the same chauvinistic inspiration that underlay her political and
military views: an overweening ambition to acquire a "place in the
sun," driven by a transcendental assumption of the predestined
supremacy of German Kultur. While this psychological motivation may
have been mystical and even irrational, the commercial relations of
the Big Six exhibit a completely realistic "trading philosophy" in
the course of their transactions with other countries and in the
adaptability of their management to domestic political and social
Rapid growth, increasing economic power, and a tendency to carry
industrial integration both vertically and horizontally to its
limits favored the Big Six in their single-minded pursuit of
world-monopoly in the organic chemical field. After it was too late,
England realized that it had lost the coal tar industry.
The British Government became aware that
the German economic offensive had been mounted, and that the citadel
of Eng-land's historic industrial leadership had been surrounded.
That the tactics of I.G. today are an extension of the early
practices of its forebears is witnessed by the statements of Joseph
Chamberlain in 1883 and Lloyd George in 1907.
in support of the proposed compulsory licensing of patents in Great
It has been pointed out especially in an interesting memorial
presented on behalf of the chemical industry that under the present
law it would have been possible, for instance, for the German
inventor of the hot blast furnace, if he had chosen to refuse a
license in England, to have destroyed almost the whole iron industry
of this country and to carry the business bodily over to Germany.
Although that did not happen in the case of the hot blast industry,
it had actually happened in the manufacture of artificial colors
connected with the coal products, and the whole of that had gone to
Germany because the patentees would not grant a license in this
In commenting on this, Lawrence Langner, a "well-known authority on
International Patent Law, says:
In other words, the first British
compulsory license law was directed against the practice of the
Germans in taking out patents on the chemical industry in Eng-
land and using those patents to kill the British chemical
Lloyd George reiterated Chamberlain's
view in 1907, in discussing prospective revision of British patent
law, stating that:
Big foreign syndicates have one very
effective way of destroying British industry. They first of all
apply for patents on a very considerable scale. They suggest
every possible combination, for instance, in chemicals, which
human ingenuity can possibly think of. These combinations the
syndicates have not tried themselves. They are not in operation,
say, in Germany or else-where, but the syndicates put them in
their patents in obscure and vague terms so as to cover any
possible invention that may be discovered afterward in this
In 1904 one of the decisive events of
modern economic history transpired almost unnoticed. Dr. Carl Duisberg, one of Germany's foremost chemists, later Chairman of the
Board of I. G. Farben, prepared a special report in which he
proposed the complete unification of the Big Six into an Interessengemeinschaft.
The three largest firms, Badische, Bayer, and Berlin, immediately
entered into the first I.G. in 1904. Shortly afterward, Hoechst,
Kalle, and Cassela formed a separate cartel. Mutual competition was
eliminated, and technical experience and resources were pooled, with
the result that the German twins had attained an almost absolute
monopoly in the organic dyestuffs, pharmaceutical, explosive, and
synthetic chemical industries of the world. Within a few years the
two groups were fully united, and in 1916, when the Weiler ter Meer
and the Griesheim Elektron companies were brought in, I. G. Farben's
internal integration was complete.
From 1904 to 1914, I.G. made every effort to overcome Germany's
dependence on foreign sources of supply. The preparation for the
first "Chemists' War" in those ten years was carried on with
characteristic Teutonic thoroughness. The chemical industry was
welded into a huge arsenal. The economic structures of the countries
which stood in Germany's way were corroded by systematic
infiltration of I.G.'s chemical patents. Germany in 1904 was
dependent on Chilean deposits for the nitrates used in fertilizers
and explosives. The outbreak of the war was delayed several years
until I.G. had perfected the Haber process for artificially fixing
nitrogen. Literally, I.G, plucked enough nitrates from the air to
feed German farms and cannon.
No sooner had war begun than the High Command cast about for a new
and secret weapon with which to surprise the Allies. I.G. placed in
the hands of the Kaiser's legions one of the most terrible of all
implements of war: poison gas, the use of which was suggested by the
same Professor Haber who had solved the nitrate problem.
Major Victor Lefebure, British Liaison Officer between Britain and
its Allies on Chemical Warfare, reported on the preliminary
research on gas at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute as follows:
... There is evidence that the
Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the physico-chemical institute near
by were employed for this purpose as early as August, 1914.
Reliable authority exists for the statement that soon after this
date they were working with cacodyl oxide and phosgene, both
well known before the war for their very poisonous nature, for
use, it was believed, in hand grenades. Our quotations are from
a statement by a neutral then working at the Institute.
"We could hear the tests that
Professor Haber was carrying out at the back of the
Institute, with the military authorities, who in their
steel-grey cars came to Haber's Institute every morning."
"The work was pushed day and
night, and many times I saw activity in the building at
eleven o'clock in the evening. It was common knowledge that
Haber was pushing these men as hard as he could."
Sachur was Professor Haber's
"One morning there was a violent
explosion in the room in which most of this war work was
carried out. The room was instantly filled with dense clouds
of arsenic oxide."
"The janitors began to clear the
room by a hose and discovered Professor Sachur."
He was very badly hurt and died soon
"After that accident I believe
the work on cacodyl oxide and phosgene was suspended and I
believe that work was carried out on chlorine or chlorine
"There were seven or eight men
working in the Institute on these problems, but we heard
nothing more until Haber went to the Battle or Ypres."
It should be pointed out that the
dyestuff plants required no "conversion" either to the manufacture
of gases or explosives. The basic and intermediate dyes are in
themselves the direct sources of numerous military products.
These efforts by I.G. were not so widely advertised as those of
Krupp, but were even more important, for without them Krupp's cannon
would have been useless.
Ludendorff, Chief of the German General
... supplements our information by
telling us how he discussed the supply of war material with Herr
Duisberg and Herr Krupp von Bohlen in Hal-bach, "whom I had
asked to join the train" in the autumn of 1916. The former was
the Chairman of the I.G., the great dye combine.
Even today we do not know exactly when
I.G. produced the new type of T.N.T. which was used in German
shells. Germany lacked aluminum for metal alloys and thermite bombs.
I.G. brought forth magnesium. If Germany finally succumbed, it was
not for want of anything that I.G. could do.
The force which I.G. added to the German drive was given even
greater impetus by the economic weakness of the Allies. Not only had
I.G. fortified Germany against blockade, but I.G.'s control of
patents and "know-how" made it almost impossible for England or the
United States to build and operate the chemical plants they needed
so desperately in the World War. In common with other German
international concerns, I.G. representatives had for many years
conducted the most complete industrial intelligence service then
The invaluable knowledge thus
accumulated was analyzed both by the German Government and by a
central industrial bureau. This mass of data, which included
geographic surveys, plant blueprints, working methods, and every
conceivable fact which might be relevant, was the original basis of
geopolitical science. The I.G. Sekretariat in Berlin has been, since
its formation, a clearing house for the observations of its
representatives, and undoubtedly possesses a quantity of such data
existing nowhere else on earth.
The value of I.G. to Germany in 1914-18 is summarized by Major Lefebure in "The Riddle of the Rhine" in prophetic language:
On broad lines, the pre-war and war
activities of the I.G. produced the same result as an attempt to
strangle the economic life of possible opponents, enfeebling
their resistance to the subsequent delivery of a hammer blow
designed to take maximum advantage of the situation thus
created. Twenty years or more under the regime of a forceful
economic policy, not without its sinister aspects, prepared the
ground by weakening us in the concentrated chemical warfare
The success of this policy maneuvered us into such
a position that we barely escaped defeat under the hammer blows
of German chemical aggression. This in fact appears to have been
the German conception of modern war in its relation to
German sources tell us very little of the war activities and future
significance of the I.G. A veil of secrecy seems to be cast over the
whole matter, but be- hind this veil must exist an acute realization
of the value of the I.G, as a trump card for the future. Krupp is
uncovered, the whole world was alarmed at its meaning for war, but
heard with a comfortable sense of security how Krupp was exchanging
the sword for the plough. But the gigantic I.G. controls in its
great hand a sword or plough for war or peace at will.
Germany lost the war, but neither by this loss nor during the period
of social unrest and inflation which followed was the strength of
the chemical combine vitiated. I.G. was stronger at the end of the
World War than at its beginning, because the war increased the tempo
of its production. While it ostensibly passed through a critical
period of reorganization, it actually lost no time in surveying its
future possible courses of conduct, and reforming its network of
commercial contracts with the markets of the victors.
The failure of the Allies to recognize that I.G. was not disarmed
was not only criticized by Lefebure but by all who had directly
suffered from the war activities of I.G. This oversight, whether due
to the political myopia of the Allies themselves or to the astute
dissemblance of the guiding interests in I.G. Farben, had
repercussions in the war to come. I.G. concealed from prying eyes
what it could of its real operations.
The British Chemical Mission in March
1920 reported that:
... the German manufacturers,
consisting of the powerful I.G. combination, were careful to do
all in their power to hinder the work of inspection.
An American observer, Lieutenant
McConnel of the United States Navy, states:
... Upon arrival at the plant the
Germans displayed a polite but sullen attitude. They seemed
willing to afford the opportunity of a cursory inspection, but
strongly objected to a detailed examination. On the third day of
the visit the writer was informed that his presence had become a
source of serious objection and that if his examination were
prolonged a formal complaint would be submitted to the Peace Conference.
A foreign representative of the duPont
company in 1920 said:
... Disarmament is a farce while
Germany retains organic chemical monopolies.
Late in 1925, the present I.G. Farbenindustrie was organized, including in its framework the
preponderant bulk of German chemical companies. At the time of its
renaissance, I.G. was capitalized at well over a billion marks and
became, by virtue of its enormous plant, working force, and
interests, one of the greatest industrial combinations in history.
The reborn I.G. launched at once upon a massive program to unify
control of the German economy. Krupp, Metallgesellschaft (the metal
trust, partly government-owned) and Siemens-Halske became willing
brothers-in-arms, under the aegis of I.G.
I.G. was now in position to begin its penetration of the chemical,
pharmaceutical, and metallurgical industries and markets of the
world. In particular, I.G. sought to form connections with the
industries of the United States, Great Britain, and other industrial
powers, at the same time that it extended its own distributing
outposts around the globe. As stated before the Temporary National
Economic Committee, the "colossal ramifications" of I.G.'s interests
cannot be exhaustively indicated.
It is probable that even after the
protracted investigations by students and by government which have
been under- taken in recent years, not all of I.G.'s links to
American industry or to South American markets have been brought to
light. It is even more certain that all of its relationships outside
this hemisphere have not been disclosed. Yet we know enough of them
to state that I.G. at the outbreak of war in 1939 surpassed any
single industrial group in the world in its scope of influence, in
the diversity and range of its interests, and in the magnitude and
comprehensiveness of its affiliations.
I.G. was and is by all standards of measurement the largest
corporation in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, ranking
below only the insurance and utility companies, and the colossal
Standard Oil (N.J.). As an industrial combine, however, it is
certain that I.G. is among the handful of truly world-wide
international industrial concerns.
The terms "monopoly" and "cartel" are inadequate when applied to I.G.
It is an agglomeration of monopolies and an aggregation of cartels.
Beyond German borders I.G. is an international monopolist and, by
reason of the number and size of international cartels in which it
is a leading, if not in all cases a dominant member, there is
justification for adding to the descriptions commonly employed to
indicate the scope of I.G.'s interests.
It is estimated that I.G. is a party to
or the actual promoter of several hundred international cartels.
Consequently there is sufficient excuse for coining a term which
conveys a more accurate impression than monopoly or cartel. Perhaps
by compounding the idea of universality and absolute control a term
such as "panopoly" would be more fitting. In any case,
represents the acme of pan-Germanism in the economic sphere.
I.G. in 1926 was the greatest combine ever formed in Germany, and
its destiny of larger significance than that of any predecessor. The
thrice-reincarnated I.G. was to become the chief advance agent of
the Third Reich in the latter's pre-war machinations, not only for
the pur-pose of hewing out the ultimate features of the autarchy so
long sought by Germany, but to sap the economic structure of the
In the Four Years' Plan promulgated in
1936, it was announced that,
"powerful factories will be built
according to their urgency. We shall begin with those for armament
purposes; that is most urgent. Then come factories which are in
other ways needed to make the Four Years' Plan a reality.... In a
world governed by reason this would not be necessary, but the world
Need it be said that the only world governed by reason,
in the view of the authors of this plan, would be ruled by Germany,
which has never quite comprehended why other countries were so
"insane" as to be unwilling to accept such rule?
Even before the "plan" was announced, I.G. stood at attention, with
six decades of service on its record, its hosts already deployed,
the terrain in its arena of action already surveyed, its lines
Werner Brack in 1938 said,
"The trust [I.G.] is a cornerstone
in Germany's plan for self-sufficiency as well as for armament."
He might well have added that its drive
for world-rationalization of the industries in which it was
interested fitted neatly into the new schemes of world-domination
nursed by German militarism.
As the story of I.G.'s cartel agreements with American, British,
and other national monopolies progresses, there is a certain
awesomeness in the sheer scale of its operations. The boldness and
orderliness of its management, combined with a refined subtlety and
political sophistication in business negotiations, command
admiration for their artistic and scientific perfection.
At the same time, it is clear that
I.G.'s chief reliance was placed on the political density and
financial greed of those with whom it dealt. The keenest business
instincts, when not modified by industrial wisdom, can become a
weakness, and on this weakness I.G. counted in nearly ail of its
transactions. Canny traders of the American type were to prove
almost naive when matched against the acuity and perspicacity of the
exponents of I.G.'s economic philosophy.
It is not too much to say that the direction of I.G.'s policies in
the years 1926-1939 was the work of genius, not burdened with
ethical conscience. The coupling of economic and political insight
in I.G.'s policies is clearly traceable in the fabric of cartel
agreements which I.G. wove in American industry.
The web of contracts in the dyestuffs
industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the oil industry, the
synthetic rubber industry, the magnesium industry, and others, all
promoted by I.G. with leading American concerns, affected the
military preparedness and economic independence of the United
States. Even today, they force us to do without materials,
processes, and industries which in the normal course of competition
would have been fully established at the outbreak of the war.
An outline of the actual corporate, physical, and capital structure
of I.G. will indicate the basis upon which its power is erected.
Each of the Big Six companies and the other major concerns included
in I.G.'s first unification in 1904, or in its reorganizations in
1916, 1919, and 1925, was in itself a merger of many, in some cases
scores, of smaller companies.
Each of the Big Six was in its own right
a cartel which represented not only the vertical integration of its
particular phase of the chemical or metallurgical industries, but a
horizontal association of smaller concerns operating in the same or
closely related fields. Consequently, when we speak of I.G. it must
be kept in mind that I.G. is at the same time a national cartel in
its broadest sense as well as the greatest of all international
The Armistice had hardly been signed before this multiple trust
undertook to expand its capital and plant. A dispatch in the New
York Times of December 1, 1919, from its Berlin correspondent,
The firms composing the German dye
trust have decided to increase their capital to an extent
without parallel, I believe, in the history of German industry.
The trust, which consists of three great and four minor concerns
in the industry, valued at, roughly, 15,000,000,000 marks, is
extending for two reasons: It is determined to reassert German
supremacy in the dye industry; in the second place, there is the
question of nitrate, so important for the agricultural life of
The trust is aiming at making the fatherland independent of
foreign supplies and to increase production so that it will be
able to export large quantities.
With this vastly increased capital the trust will at the earliest
moment begin a vigorous onslaught in the markets of the world.
The value of the mark at the time of this dispatch, while still
theoretically at its pre-war level, was perhaps equal to about 3c in
American money. On this basis, a value of 15,000,000,000 marks would
be roughly equivalent to $750,000,000. In 1926 the nominal
capitalization of the new I.G. was placed at some 800,000,000 marks,
and in 1929, I.G.'s annual report estimated its capitalization at
more than 1,000,000,000 marks.
These figures in themselves would not
entitle I.G. to the status and prestige which it occupies among the
financial titans of industry. There is, however, a major
qualification to such estimates. It is customary among German
cartels to underestimate, rather than overestimate, capital assets
in order to conceal their real size. It is probable that the real
capital assets of I.G. as they stood at the outbreak of war in 1939
were only slightly below those of Standard Oil, and were certainly
greater than the resources of any other concern in the same
* Liefmaim in "Cartels, Concerns, and
Trusts," places I.G.' assets ahead of the Royal Dutch Shell Oil
Within Germany, the plants and properties of I.G. are scattered from
one end of the country to the other. I.G.'s plants are located in
those very cities which have been among the primary bombing
objectives of the Royal Air Force, and in all probability provide
the specific targets for such raids. The names of many of the towns
in which the principal I.G. plants are located will therefore strike
a familiar note to those who follow the headlines.**
** See list in
is a good deal of geographic concentration of the I.G. plants, they
are sufficiently de-centralized from both an economic and military
stand-point to make the job of bombing them difficult and dangerous.
I.G.'s holdings in German and European industry have, of course,
been enormously increased by military conquest, and by the
unctuously legal means to which they have adhered in absorbing
conquered industry. An accurate, complete catalog of I.G.'s wholly
and partially owned subsidiaries cannot be given, because only the
I.G. Sekretariat could provide such a list.
Various experts have called the roll,
but never with final assurance. With similar reservations, the firms
which I.G. is known to own, or control, are set forth in the notes
below. In scanning this list, it becomes clear that I.G. is the
industrial ruler of Germany. Its non-German interests bulk almost as
The fields of operation of I. G. Farben are so broad, the array of
its products so vast, that the best-qualified investigators cannot
name them all. "Dye Industry" is a misnomer. It is true, of course,
that I.G. grew out of the dye industry, but in a larger sense, its
functions are as unlimited as the scientific application of physics
and chemistry to raw materials. In each of the broad areas
designated as a field of production there are nearly always a large
number of separate products and processes involved. In some cases,
such as that of coal tar dye-stuffs, there are tens of thousands of
different crude, intermediate, and finished materials which fall
within the general class.
There is a quality of Faustian alchemy in the rapidity with which
any development in one branch of the chemical or metallurgical
industries transforms or affects all other aspects of the field. I.G.
has not only taken advantage of the illimitable permutations of the
chemical industry itself, but has used the forces of science to
build what is probably the world's greatest system of industrial
Even if I.G. were confined exclusively
to the chemical industry, which it is not, the enormous
possibilities within that sphere would kindle the fantasy of any
writer of weird tales or horror stories. More important, however, is
the fact that throughout its entire domain I.G. always has the power
of choice to make products or to use processes which can benefit or
This duality of the industry is
graphically illustrated in the testimony given by Captain O. E.
Roberts, Chief of the Industrial Relations Section, Chemical
Warfare Service, United States Army, before the Judiciary Committee
of the United States Senate in 1922.
Speaking of the chemical
industry in general, Captain Roberts said:
It is a revelation to most people to
see the variety of products which this industry produces, and
the fact that we may make a delightful violet perfume, or a
wonderful dye, or an extremely effective medicine from such a
deadly war gas as phosgene, always stirs one's imagination.
The possibilities of this industry,
which may include any of the several hundred thousand known organic
chemicals or of the millions which are figured as possibilities, are
enough to stir anyone's imagination.
In a speech on July 9, 1921, before the House of Representatives,
Honorable Caleb R. Layton of Delaware, describing the development of
the chemical industry with regard to the increasing dependence of
medicine on chemotherapy, said:
I venture the prophecy at this point that the time will come, and is
not far distant, when the physician will be enabled to select out of
a single large group of synthetical medicines possessing
substantially one chief characteristic for his therapeutical use
with the same meticulous facility that the essayist employs who
chooses the proper synonym for the expression of his thought.
When it is recalled that I.G. produces synthetic medicines,
vitamins, hormones, serums, and specifics, some of which are not
even known in other countries, it is understandable that its success
in opening up new markets throughout the world and in penetrating
the markets of others is in part attributable to its consistent
policy of trying to lead the field. Knowledge, to I.G., means power.
I.G.'s physical plant includes mines, its own rail-roads which
connect with the state-owned lines, and large tracts of property
around its plants and in various German cities. The total number of
employees of I.G. and its direct subsidiaries is estimated at about
350,000. It is worth recording that I.G.'s labor policies are
paternalistic and, for the most part, predicated upon the native
docility and tractability of the German worker.
Many of I.G.'s employees live in what,
in the United States, would be called "company towns," and
historically, it has been part of I.G.'s policy to adopt the type of
"social reform" initiated by Bismarck. When the National Socialist
Workers' Party seized the government and incorporated all German
labor into an enormous company union with the state as ultimate
employer, I.G.'s workers were, of course, included. In fact, I.G.
personnel made up one of the first "Strength-Through-Joy" units.
The technical organization of I.G. is an intriguing topic, but it
describes only corporate superstructure. I.G. as another "big
business" would have little novelty. But I.G. as a politico-economic
entity, the embodiment of cameralist Germany, has the immediate
importance of an additional army or a fleet. Again, no demon-theory
is necessary in interpreting I.G.'s history from 1919 to 1939. I.G.
is supervised by a "doctorate" whose ranks include today, as in its
beginning, the scientific aristocracy of Germany.
Nearly all of I.G.'s directors are
doctors of chemistry, physics, engineering, or economics. For
personnel, I.G. has been able to draw upon a populace which has been
trained for generations in applied science. Herbert Hoover drew
attention to the fact that there were two and one-half times the
number of research workers in Germany that were engaged in
comparable callings in the United States in 1925.
The sequence of events must be considered in re-counting the part
which I.G. played in German rearmament in the Inter-War period,
beginning years before Hitler appeared. The World War had shown up
certain, weak spots in the German armor. Continuing the lines of
research begun before 1914 was not enough. The difficult task of
rearming would be futile, unless any new war could be started with a
wider margin of advantage than in 1914. This requisite superiority
required that Germany become an absolute autarchy, able to supply
all of its own domestic wants. Self-sufficiency, if complete, could
withstand indefinite blockade.
On this score, I.G.'s intentions from 1919 onward are easily
determined, and their fulfillment can be traced step by step. In
addition to self-containment, however, Germany needed assurances
that in her second gamble against the world, her former enemies
would feel the grip of technological inferiority with even greater
agony. I.G., whether it foresaw precisely the time and manner of the
present war or not, used old and new methods to create this
Patents were applied for and obtained
"en masse," in every country having a patent system, but largely in
Germany, England, and the United States. But patents were the oldest
and the least of I.G.'s tourniquets on the economic vigor of
Germany's likely antagonists. The improved cartel device was used
both to invade and to occupy strategic sectors in the economies of
the then disunited nations. The cartel was I.G.'s formula for
Here, it is helpful to pass in brief review the specific utility of
I.G. to the rebirth of German military prowess. I.G. had produced
synthetic rubber during the World War, in relatively small amounts,
but its quantity was insufficient and its quality unsatisfactory.
I.G. therefore worked incessantly to make synthetic rubber on a
The famous Buna rubbers were the reward
of these experiments. The Bunas are made from petroleum.* Germany
had little oil. I.G. hydrogenated coal into oil, and at a single
stroke made possible the mechanization of the Reichswehr. The German
Army at this very moment travels in tanks and trucks propelled by
I.G.'s synthetic fuels, and shod with Buna rubber.
* The essential ingredient of the
Bunas is butadiene, a refinery by-product. This component can also
be made from alcohol or coal.
The production of new alloys and light metals by I.G. and its
research colleagues, Krupp and Siemens-Halske, are the reason for
the uncanny speed and dimensions of German rearmament. New aluminum
and magnesium plants, and improved processes of production, largely
I.G.'s own, were ready when the time came to fabricate planes.
Beryllium, tungsten carbide, and new steels were forged to be used
in armor plate, shell tips, and machine tools. Since all metals are
precious in Germany, I.G. produced new plastics to take their place
in consumer goods, and replenish many munitions sup- plies.
From the most universal raw material of the temperate zone—wood—I.G.
produced substitutes for metals, cotton, wool, explosives, fuel for
vehicles, food-stuffs, medicines, and dyes. A whole new industry was
developed from the chemistry of wood—a branch of science totally
neglected in the United States.
Under the pressure of Allied blockade, the German disease rate had
risen sharply toward the end of the World War. I.G. compounded
vitamins and sulpha drugs to remove this danger in the
future. If Germany was to regain her lost colonies, geopolitical
that fighting would have to take place in the tropics. The quinine
of Java was far away, and German troops would risk jungle fevers.
I.G.'s answer to this prospect was atabrine—better than natural
quinine for the quick cure of a sick soldier.
Lest it be thought that the relation between I.G.'s research and
German aspirations is coincidental, the story of "Bayer 205" must be
told. The number 205, like 606, stands at the pinnacle of a tireless
series of experiments. Bayer 205 is a complex synthetic
hydro-carbon. It was first announced by I.G. in 1920 that Bayer 205,
rechristened "Germanin," was a cure for the dread sleeping sickness
which the tsetse fly scattered over Africa. Sleeping sickness
prevented the complete exploitation of Africa's wealth by the white
By indirect channels, I.G. made an offer to the British
Government—the secret of Germanin in exchange for the return of
Germany's lost colonies. I.G.'s adroitness is evident in the report
published in the British Medical Journal in 1922:
A curious illustration of the German
desire, not unnatural in itself, to regain the tropical colonies
lost by the folly of the rulers of the German Empire, is
afforded by a discussion which took place at a meeting of the
German Association of Tropical Medicine at Hamburg. The Times
correspondent in Hamburg reports that one of the speakers said
that "Bayer 205 is the key to tropical Africa, and consequently
the key to all the colonies. The German Government must,
therefore, be required to safeguard this discovery for Germany.
Its value is such that any privilege of a share in it granted to
other nations must be made conditional upon the restoration to
Germany of her colonial empire."
While no action by the British
Government was ever made public, and no official explanation ever
given, I.G.'s "bargain" was obviously not accepted. As it later
turned out, Germanin was not so effective in human sleeping sickness
as in mice or in test-tubes charged with the causal parasite. But
the motif of the episode ties into and connects the pattern and
purpose of I.G. research. Political control of Africa could not be
bought, but I.G. could still get economic colonies not only in
Africa, but elsewhere.
Whatever Germany needed, and modern science could make, I.G.
obtained for Germany, and tried to keep from others. The combined
effect of I.G. discovery and I.G. cartel restriction on the
development of other countries has only to be set forth to assume
its true proportions. Every time some government official or
industrial executive speaks of a scarcity of chemicals or metals,
the chances are abundant that somewhere along the line there was an
international cartel, and that the letters I.G. are inscribed on a
Although the internal organization of I.G. is an exciting subject,
it is in the sphere of international industry that I.G.'s policies
and practices assume their most sinister mask. The list of
affiliations, associations, contractual agreements, and
international cartels in which I.G. is either the promoter or at
least a principal party reads like a bluebook of world industry.
I.G. had cartel agreements:
with Standard Oil of New
with Aluminum Company of
with Dow Chemical Company
with E.I. duPont de Nemours
with Monsanto Chemical
with Pennsylvania Salt Co.
with Rohm & Haas
with Plaskon Corporation
with Hercules Powder Company
with Remington Arms
with the Unyte Company
and with numerous other
American companies which will be referred to later
I.G.'s cartel agreements with Imperial
Chemical Industries, with Norwegian, Dutch, French, Belgian,
Italian, Spanish, and Polish concerns were, until the outbreak of
the war, a true society of nations, industrially speaking.
In the Far East, I.G. was one of the principal sponsors of the
Japanese chemical industry, forming an Axis which existed long
before its political counterpart. It is interesting to note,
however, that as early as the first World War, products were sold in
the Australian market which bore the legend "Made in Germany,"
followed by a Japanese trademark.
Even greater weight must be attached to I.G.'s policies in this war
than in the last. I.G.'s plans for post-war reconstruction are
already provided for in its agreements with non-German concerns.
Reports from France and the other occupied countries of Europe
indicate that I.G.'s own staff has followed in the wake of Hitler's
armies for the purpose of acquiring outright ownership of the entire
European chemical industry.
Inasmuch as superficially legal methods
are used by I.G. in its acquisitions, as in the case of the
Etablissement Kuhlmann, the French chemical company, I.G. apparently
hopes to win its own war even though Hitler loses. In the case of
American industry, I.G.'s foresight provided for a modus vivendi
during the war and a settlement of claims afterward. American
industry has been victimized twice.
Will it be victimized in the
future by the resumption of the same enticing "collaboration" in
joint world-monopoly or by the "settlements" anticipated by I.G.?