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The Decartelization of I.G. Farben after 1945

 a  “German criticism broke loose like a cloudburst. It came as a complete surprise to the Allies as well as to Bonn. These were the sharpest shots launched at the occupation powers since 1945. […] The press and the industry organizations, particularly the chemical association and—as spokesman for the shareholders—the protection association [for security holdings] stated clearly that the anti-IG fanatics in Frankfurt and Washington had aimed a new blow at the German chemical sector.”

(W[erner]-O[tto] Reichelt: Das Erbe der IG Farben. With the collaboration of Manfred Zapp and a preface by Dr. Franz Reuter (Düsseldorf: Econ, 1956), p. 74. (Transl. KL))

After the four Allied powers failed in the attempt to establish a common military government for Germany, the Western allies proceeded with the “decartelization” of the I.G. combine starting around the end of 1948. This was undertaken in consultation with German experts, most of whom had themselves been I.G. executives or were otherwise linked to I.G. Farben.


Two orders to end the over-centralized concentration of German economic power had already been decreed by the US and Great Britain for their combined zones of occupation, the “Bizone,” on February 12, 1947.[1] The orders did not mandate a decentralization of economic power, however, but a decartelization at most. A body known as the Bipartite IG Farben Control Office (BIFCO) was established in the Bizone to proceed with the decartelization. It was advised by a group of German experts known as the Bizonal IG Farben Dispersal Panel (FARDIP). Members of the NS regime’s economic elite thus stood alongside officials of the British and US military governments, recognized as equal partners in meeting decisions about the future of I.G. Farbenindustrie.


The former “military economy leader” (Wehrwirtschaftsführer) Gustav Brecht served as the chair of the five-member FARDIP. Another seat was held by Oskar Löhr, a former I.G. director who during the war had, among other tasks, overseen the takeover of the chemicals industry in occupied France. FARDIP’s primary interest lay in the reestablishment of the West German chemicals industries’ competitiveness, and to this end they advocated the greatest possible preservation of the rationalization that I.G. Farben had achieved through its combination of many individual firms. In other words, in their dealings with BIFCO (which soon became the Tripartite IG Farben Control Group or TRIFCOG thanks to the addition of a French representative), the FARDIP men hoped to influence the decartelization effort so as to break up I.G. into as few individual large units as possible. FARDIP’s proposal of June 29, 1950, recommended that the I.G. be reorganized into three large successor companies based on the regional organization of the old I.G. These would be the Lower Rhine group (Bayer with its plants in Leverkusen, Uerdingen, Elberfeld, and Dormagen), the Maingau group (Hoechst with the chemical factory at Griesheim, the naphtha plant at Offenbach, the rayons plants at Bobingen, Cassella, and Knapsack) and the Ludwigshafen or Upper Rhine group (BASF). FARDIP also foresaw the creation of several independent units, but BIFCO’s original plans involved setting up 50 independent units.


US High Commissioner John McCloy on August 17, 1950, announced Law No. 35 on the “Dispersal of Assets of I.G. Farbenindustrie.” It stipulated that new companies resulting from dispersal should be viable and competitive, and that shareholders in the old I.G. could exchange their stock for shares in the successor companies. Nevertheless, the German business elite was appalled and highly critical of this new demonstration of Allied claims to authority over I.G. Farben.  a  In early 1951, the West German government under Konrad Adenauer (CDU) appointed a new advisory group on the I.G. decartelization. Alongside Gustav Brecht and Alexander Menne (president of the German Association of the Chemicals Industry), the group included Hermann Josef Abs and Helmuth Wohlthat, both of whom had worked with I.G. Farben in the “Third Reich,” as well as Hermann Gross, former director of the “economics department” at I.G.’s Vienna offices. At the Economics Ministry under Ludwig Erhard (CDU), another office dealing with the I.G. dispersal was staffed with two former I.G. executives, including Felix Prentzel, former head of the “executive department” of the Berlin I.G. headquarters, which had been one of the combine’s most important PR departments.


Three liquidators under German law were appointed for I.G. Farben on January 18, 1952: Fritz Brinckmann, Franz Reuter, and Walter Schmidt. They went to work in implementing the FARDIP demands. On May 23, the Allied High Commission issued a first execution order following on Law No. 35, which foresaw the founding of 12 formally independent I.G. successor organizations. The ban on trading in I.G. stock was lifted on June 20. In the interim, the I.G. liquidators had forced through “regroupings” of the planned successor companies, so that finally only four were left, each with equity capital in keeping with the scale of their operations. Bayer received 387.7 million DM, BASF 340.1 million DM, Hoechst 285.7 million DM and Cassella 34.1 million DM. The I.G. successor organizations thus inherited a shareholders’ equity of 1.64 billion DM, equivalent to 90 percent of I.G.’s “Western assets.”


“One of the largest security transactions ever to take place in Germany”[2] then followed on October 1, 1953. In exchange for each nominal 1,000 RM in I.G. Farbenindustrie stock, shareholders received 285 DM in Bayer stock, 250 DM in BASF stock, 210 DM in Hoechst stock and 25 DM in Cassella stock. They also got a “liquidation share certificate,” which represented a claim on the expected future “remainder of the settlement surplus”[3] after claims against I.G. Farben in Liquidation were settled. This last security was still denominated in reichsmark; Werner Otto Reichelt estimated that its value was 145 DM.[4] In short, for every 1,000 RM in I.G. Farben stock, the former shareholders received successor securities valued at 915 DM, representing an RM-to-DM exchange rate of .915. By contrast, in the West German currency reform of 1948, savings books account holders received 1 DM for every 10 RM.


With the West German government in agreement, the Allied High Commission on January 21, 1955, issued the I.G. Liquidation Conclusion Law,[5] which supplanted Law No. 35. As was noted positively in a report from I.G. Farben in Liquidation, the new law “in particular annulled Article 10 [of Law No. 35], which had forbidden renewed mergers among the successor companies and prevented former I.G. executives convicted in the Nuremberg trial from assuming leading roles in the successor companies.”[6]

(MN/PEH; transl. NL)


[pdf] Peer Heinelt_The Decartelization and Postwar History of IG Farbenindustrie AG



Greiner, Bernd: Die Morgenthau-Legende. Zur Geschichte eines umstrittenen Plans. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1995.

Gross, Hermann: Material zur Aufteilung der I.G. Farbenindustrie AG. Kiel: Institut für Weltwirtschaft, 1950.

Heinelt, Peer: ‚PR-Päpste’. Die kontinuierlichen Karrieren von Carl Hundhausen, Albert Oeckl und Franz Ronneberger. Berlin: Dietz, 2003.

I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft in Liquidation: Bericht über die Entflechtung und Liquidation. Vorgelegt aus Anlass der ordentlichen Hauptversammlung am 27. Mai 1955. Frankfurt am Main, 1955.

Kreikamp, Hans-Dieter: “Die Entflechtung der I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G. 1945–1952.” In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 25 (1977), No. 2, pp. 220–251.

Ludmann-Obier, Marie-France: Die Kontrolle der chemischen Industrie in der französischen Besatzungszone 1945–1949. Mainz: Hase & Köhler, 1989.

OMGUS: Ermittlungen gegen die I.G. Farbenindustrie AG. Nördlingen: Greno, 1986.

Reichelt, W[erner]-O[tto]: Das Erbe der IG Farben. With the collaboration of Manfred Zapp and a preface by Dr. Franz Reuter. Düsseldorf: Econ, 1956.

Sasuly, Richard: IG Farben. Berlin [GDR]: Volk und Welt, 1952.

[1] Bernd Greiner: Die Morgenthau-Legende. Zur Geschichte eines umstrittenen Plans (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1995), p. 307.

[2] W[erner]-O[tto] Reichelt: Das Erbe der IG Farben, with the collaboration of Manfred Zapp and a preface by Dr. Franz Reuter (Düsseldorf: Econ, 1956), p. 93. (Translated by NL)

[3] I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft in Liquidation: Bericht über die Entflechtung und Liquidation. Vorgelegt aus Anlass der ordentlichen Hauptversammlung am 27. Mai 1955 (Frankfurt am Main, 1955), p. 35. (Translated by NL)

[4] See Reichelt: Erbe, p. 93.

[5] The title in German was “Gesetz Nr. 84 der Alliierten Hohen Kommission – Beendigung der Entflechtung und der Liquidation der I.G. Farbenindustrie AG i. L. auf Grund des Gesetzes Nr. 35.” (“Law No. 84 of the Allied High Commission – Conclusion of the Decartelization and Liquidation of I.G. Farbenindustrie AG i.L. on the basis of Law No. 35.”) It is reproduced in I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft in Liquidation: Bericht über die Entflechtung, Appendix 5.

[6] I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft in Liquidation: Bericht über die Entflechtung, p. 72.