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Hans Kühne (1880–1969)

 a  The court acquitted Hans Kühne on the charge of plunder, since “the evidence has not sufficiently established the degree of affirmative action with knowledge of the details importing criminality to warrant a finding of guilt in the case of these three defendants.”

(Das Urteil im I.G.-Farben-Prozess. Der vollständige Wortlaut (Offenbach am Main: Bollwerk, 1948), p. 98. (Transl. KL))

Hans Kühne was born in Magdeburg on June 3, 1880.  His parents were Julius Kühne, a carbide dealer, and his wife, Elisabeth (née Erich). He attended school in Magdeburg and then did an apprenticeship as a pharmacist before entering the university in Leipzig in 1903 to study chemistry. After graduation in 1906, he accepted a position with the Chemische Fabrik Marienhütte in Langelsheim, and in the following years he changed jobs several times, switching first to the Chemische Industrie AG Gelsenkirchen-Schalke, and then moving to the Chemische Fabrik W. Feld in Höhningen as plant manager. Between April and September 1915, he served as a soldier in France. In 1916, he joined Bayer’s Inorganic Department in Leverkusen, where he developed the so-called Müller-Kühne process for producing sulfuric acid. In 1920, he was made an authorized signatory at Bayer. In 1921, he was named deputy director and chief of the Inorganic Department, and one year later he received his doctoral degree from the University of Cologne with a dissertation on the electrolysis of hydrosulphite. He married Helene Bucerius, with whom he had four children.


In 1923, Hans Kühne became an alternate member of the managing board of Bayer, and three years later he was named a full member of the managing board of I.G. Farben, a member of the Labor Committee of the managing board, and a member of the  Technical Committee and the Chemical Committee. In 1933, he took over the running of the Leverkusen plant. In 1938, he was appointed chairman of the Southeast Committee of the Economic Group Chemistry (Wirtschaftsgruppe Chemie). In addition, he was given positions on the supervisory boards and administrative boards of various  firms in southern and eastern Europe.[1]


Kühne retired in early 1945. In 1947, he was arrested by the U.S. military government and prosecuted in the I.G. Farben Trial at Nuremberg, but he was acquitted in 1948.  a  He was given a position at Bayer Elberfeld, where Ulrich Haberland helped many former I.G. Farben colleagues find new employment. Hans Kühne died in Lindau on February 18, 1969.

(SP; transl. KL)


Hans Kühne, curriculum vitae, March 11, 1948, Doc. No. Kuehne 6. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Case VI, reel 071, Defense Exhibits (e) Kühne Nos. 1–93, pp. 25–30.

Ernst Struss, affidavit, January 11, 1947, NI-5022. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Case VI, reel 018, pp. 48–49.

Ernst Struss, affidavit, February 15, 1947, NI-5129. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Case VI, reel 018, pp. 51–53.



Heine, Jens Ulrich: Verstand & Schicksal. Die Männer der I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G. Weinheim: VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, 1990.

Kühne, Hermann Hans: “Elektrolytische Darstellung von Hydrosulfit.” Dissertation, University of Cologne, 1921.

Das Urteil im I.G.-Farben-Prozess. Der vollständige Wortlaut. Offenbach am Main: Bollwerk, 1948.

[1] Chemische Werke Aussig-Falkenau GmbH (Reichsgau Sudetenland, the western regions of Czechoslovakia), Boc. Italiana del Litopone Mailand (Italy), Bosnische Elektrizitäts AG Jajce (Yugoslavia), A.G. Dynamit Nobel Bratislava (Protektorat Slowakei, “Protectorate of Slovakia”), Stickstoffwerke A.G. Maria Rast (Yugoslavia). Based on: Ernst Struss, affidavit, February 15, 1947, NI-5129. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Case VI, reel 018, pp. 51–53, here pp. 51–52.