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I.G. Farben in Works of Fiction

The chemical concern I.G. Farben and its history have been, and continue to be, the subject of a variety of cultural references. In addition to the firm’s official self-portrayals, there are novels and films that focus on a fictionalized or documentary presentation of I.G. Farben and its plants. What is striking, if not surprising, about them is the stamp left on the respective ways of dealing with the subject by their period of origin and the corresponding social matrix: While a few novels, such as Karl-Aloys Schenzinger’s Anilin– Roman der deutschen Farbenindustrie (Anilin—A Novel of the German Dye Industry; 1937) and Bei I.G. Farben (At I.G. Farben; 1953), derive their key features in terms of both content and style from the literature of the Third Reich and seek to deny the historical gulf separating the origins of the two books, Manfred Kühne’s novel Buna (1985) illustrates the state-sponsored antifascism and anticapitalism of the GDR.


In the world of the cinema, both documentary films and feature films continue to deal with this topic. Both German features dealing with I.G. Farben fluently speak the language of their origin: The (fictional) four-part television miniseries Väter und Söhne (Fathers and Sons, televised in the U.S. as Sins of the Fathers; FRG/Italy, 1986, directed by Bernhard Sinkel) attempts a reconciliation between “fathers and sons,” perpetrators and their descendants, in the context of West German society, while the DEFA film Der Rat der Götter (Council of the Gods; GDR, 1950, directed by Kurt Maetzig) depicts the harsh working conditions and poor treatment of the ordinary workers at the I.G. Farben plant. Both can be seen as attempts to come to grips with what occurred, but from a “contemporary” perspective in each case, that is, in retrospect. The fictional approaches to I.G. Farben addressed here are influenced by the historical perception of their circumstances of origin that prevails in each film, and they are extremely interesting to study from these standpoints.

(SP; transl. KL)




Anilin. Roman der deutschen Farbenindustrie


Bei I.G. Farben


Buna. Roman eines Kunststoffes


The Password Is Courage


The History of the Novel The Password Is Courage


“Tattoo Number 107,907”