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I.G. Farben Implements the Nazis’ Racial Policy in Its Plants

Many of the I.G. Farben managers and employees now identified as Jews by the Nazis’ racist anti-Semitism rightly saw themselves as longstanding pillars of the company. Especially at Agfa and Cassella, Jews had played key roles in founding and building the chemicals trust and its individual companies. After 1933 they remained as loyal as before to the strategic maneuvers of the corporate management. But due to their public stigmatization these people were now a “problem case” for the management, because on the one hand they stood in the way of implementing the business strategy of adapting to the Nazi regime and taking active part in the arms business, but on the other hand their firing and expulsion harmed the company’s international business and their potential emigration could cause an uncontrolled transfer of technological know-how.


In 1933 the I.G. Farben management tried out various strategies for “solving the problem.” Ernst Schwarz (1884–1957), head of the combine’s social commission, was transferred to the United States where he was actually promoted and became a leading manager of I.G. Farben’s American holding company. Kurt Hans Mayer, a full member of the board, decided to avert the predictable pressures by resigning and emigrating to Switzerland. Banker Max M. Warburg also vacated his director’s post silently and inconspicuously, just as the upper management preferred. The “handling” of his colleague on the board of directors, Fritz Haber, was not as smooth. Not content merely to deny him support, the corporation had a lawyer write to him that it would “dissolve all relationships” with him were he to “relocate to a university in a country that had stood with our enemies in the World War.”[1] In 1935 and 1936, three highly regarded co-founders of I.G. Farben, Arthur von Weinberg, Carl von Weinberg and Ernst von Simson, were forced to lay down their executive posts. They were then expelled from the board of directors altogether in 1937, together with Otto von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. The last top manager to be stamped as a “non-Aryan” and forced out of the directorate was Richard Merton, after the Central Committee decided during a meeting on April 25, 1938, at which no minutes were taken, to fire all “Jewish personnel.”[2]

(GK; transl. NL; based on: Karl Heinz Roth: Die I.G. Farbenindustrie AG von 1933 bis 1939)


[pdf] Karl Heinz Roth_IG Farbenindustrie AG from 1933 to 1939



Fritz Haber to Max Planck, undated, MPG-Archiv, V. Abteilung, Rep. 13, No. 944.



Gill, Manfred / Löhnert, Peter: Jüdische Chemiker aus Dessau in der Filmfabrik Wolfen. Dessau: Moses-Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft Dessau e.V., 1996.

Gill, Manfred / Löhnert, Peter: “The relationship of I.G. Farben’s Agfa Filmfabrik Wolfen to it’s Jewish scientists and to scientists married to Jews, 1933–1939.” In: John E. Lesch, ed.: The German Chemical Industry in the Twentieth Century. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2000, pp. 123–145.

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

Stolleis, Michael: “Wissenschaftler, Unternehmer, Mäzen, NS-Opfer. Zur Erinnerung an Arthur von Weinberg (1860–1943).” In: Forschung Frankfurt, 1/2007, pp. 94–98, (accessed on August 19, 2008).

[1] Fritz Haber to Max Planck, undated, MPG-Archiv, V. Abteilung, Rep. 13, No. 944.

[2] Company archive of Filmfabrik Wolfen, No. A 1656, p. 348, cited after Manfred Gill / Peter Löhnert: Jüdische Chemiker aus Dessau in der Filmfabrik Wolfen (Dessau: Moses-Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft Dessau e.V., 1996), p. 32.