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Militarization of the I.G. Farben Corporation

In the interests of the corporation, the I.G. Farben management vehemently advocated the militarization of the German Reich’s full economic potential, with an accompanying optimization of measures to prepare for “total” war. Called to serve on an armaments advisory committee to the Wehrmachtamt (the military’s civilian agency), Carl Krauch was asked to devise a position paper on how to organize economic preparations for war. He took the opportunity to present, in March 1935, a comprehensive plan that compared the I.G. Farben combine’s internal problems during the ongoing initial period of German rearmament with the historic experiences of I.G. managers in the First World War. Since late 1934, Krauch had also run a “Liaison Office” (“Vermittlungsstelle”) out of I.G. Farben’s Berlin headquarters to coordinate contacts between the corporate divisions and plant managers among the military and government agencies ramping up the war economy. In his paper, Krauch demanded the centralization of all aspects of economic rearmament, from resources to the “hard” war-gear acquisitions of the Wehrmachtamt. His vision was of a supreme steering agency merged with industry. All managers in sectors relevant to rearmament would be given titles as “War Economy Officers” (“Wehrwirtschafts-Offiziere”), to use Krauch’s term. They would act as military commanders within their plants and prepare for wartime mobilization of the personnel and production potentials. Parallel to this “new organization of war economy,” Krauch called for an accelerated expansion of the resource and synthetic resource base: rayons, plastics, light metals, synthetic rubber, fuels, and oils. His idea for helping the process along was a proposal that sales of these materials in the civilian economy be encouraged through price subsidies and requirements for their use (e.g., ratios for the use of synthetic resources).


These proposals from the summit of the I.G. Farben concern gave vital impetus to the ongoing debate about how best to prepare for war, but were not adopted at the time. Hjalmar Schacht was formally appointed as the “Plenipotentiary for the War Economy” and instead instituted a division between “hard” military and “soft” civilian war preparations. The Wehrmachtamt did not achieve a dominant position. This did not prevent I.G. Farben from instituting Krauch’s recommendations within the corporation itself, however. In September 1935 the combine called to life its own “Mediation Office W” (for Wehrmacht). This office undertook comprehensive preparations for mobilization with “planning games” at the main factories, deployed a corps of “military economy leaders” (Wehrwirtschaftsführer), organized the firm’s internal counterintelligence arm, evaluated all new patents with regard to their “defense economic” potentials, and otherwise took over the coordination of all functions and contracts that had any relation to armaments orders. Thus the combine’s self-Nazification of 1933 was followed two years later by a wave of self-militarization far more intense even than what was happening simultaneously at the weapons companies of heavy industry. I.G. Farben had become a model case.

(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



Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Case VI, PDB 6, 7, 8.

Carl Krauch: Antworten auf die Fragen an den Rüstungsbeirat. Kurze Zusammenfassung zu den Fragen I–V; Antworten auf die Fragen an den Rüstungsbeirat. Eingehende Stellungnahme zu der Frage II, März 1935. Reprinted in: Janis Schmelzer: Die Herren Generale. Bitterfeld: Elektrochemisches Kombinat, Kommission Betriebsgeschichte, 1966, pp. 39–41, 41–47.



Drobisch, Klaus: “Eine Denkschrift der IG Farben über die „Militarisierung der Wirtschaft“ vom März 1935.” In: Jahrbuch für Geschichte. Vol. 1. Ernst Engelberg et al., eds. Berlin (GDR): Akademie, 1967, pp. 261–281.