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I.G. Farben in Liquidation from 1990 until creation of the foundation in 2003

The value of I.G. Farben in Liquidation share certificates tripled within one year, from 10 RM to 30 RM, after the joining of the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic in 1990. The investors were banking on the repatriation to I.G. Farben i.L. of forests, housing, vacation resorts, and businesses in East Germany covering a total area of 151 million square kilometers. But the Federal Administrative Court quashed that on February 13, 1995, with a ruling that confirmed the original expropriation of I.G. properties as ordered by the magistrate of East Berlin in 1949 because it had been legal under the laws governing the Allied occupation. Any hope that I.G. Farben i.L. shareholders would see gains from I.G.’s former properties in East Germany was thus abandoned.


In the meantime financial broker Karl Ehlerding had acquired a majority in I.G. Farben i.L. in the early 1990s through an entity under his control, Württembergische Cattunmanufaktur (WCM), itself a former subsidiary of I.G. Farben i.L. As of 1994 Ehlerding and WCM controlled 75 percent of shares. I.G. Farben i.L.’s capital holdings at that time totaled 160 million DM, of which 130 million DM was used for an “extraordinary payment” to the shareholders, meaning above all Ehlerding and his WCM. The remaining I.G. Farben i.L. money was used to buy real estate. Under the scheme WCM would take over this housing in 2001 and provide a down payment of 3 million DM (1.5 million euros), due by the end of 2003. WCM failed to pay on time, however, and I.G. Farben i.L. proved unable to meet current obligations and declared insolvency in November 2003.


During this same period, the I.G. liquidation officers were confronted with protests from Holocaust survivors, critical shareholders and anti-fascist organizations demanding that I.G. be dissolved and that all remaining assets be paid to the former forced laborers. A foundation for restitutions was proposed at the I.G. annual conference of 1999 by the two I.G. liquidation officers, Bundestag member Otto Bernhardt and the attorney Volker Pollehn, both of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The “I.G. Farben Industrie” Foundation (Stiftung “I.G. Farbenindustrie”) was founded in 2001 with an endowment of 500,000 DM and a stated mission of providing restitutions to former forced laborers. There were no payments, however, and in any case the interest from the endowment would never have produced a credible amount.

(MN/PEH; transl. NL)


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



Agenda of the general meeting of shareholders of I.G. Farben on August 18, 1999, agenda item no. 4: “Gründung einer Stiftung,” cited in: (accessed on June 13, 2008).

Bundesverwaltungsgericht – Verdict of February 13, 1995 (7 C 53.94).

“DDR belebt IG Farben.” In: Die Zeit, July 27, 1990, (accessed on June 24, 2008).

Reuter, Wolfgang / Tietz, Janko: “Von Blut und Börsen.” In: Der Spiegel, November 17, 2003, pp. 110–114.