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Summations of the I.G. Farben Lawyers in the Trial Court

In his summation, Alfred Seidl made an attempt to rebut the arguments of the plaintiff’s side. Hellmuth Dix, in his concluding speech, argued against attribution of any legal liability to I.G. Farben on the basis of established law, once again invoking the concept of übergesetzlicher Notstand, a “supralegal state of emergency,”[1] to which I.G. Farben was subject and which allegedly required the firm to use forced laborers.


In addition to this, Jakob Wilhelm Flesch summarized I.G. Farben’s overall intentions: After emphasizing the inherent significance of the lawsuit both as a test case and for potential subsequent plaintiffs (formed forced laborers) and defendants (that is, German industrial concerns), he referred to existing legal provisions regarding the issue of compensation, in particular to intergovernmental agreements; he rejected the notion of any duty on the part of I.G. Farben to compensate for damages based on the BGB (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, German Civil Code), because “culpable behavior by leading I.G. Farben employees”[2] had not been proven. There also was no proof of “unjust enrichment” derived by I.G. Farben from prisoner labor, he asserted, as I.G. Farben had paid wages to the SS, which again was exclusively responsible for the housing of the prisoners: “I.G. Farben’s employment of prisoners is just as unobjectionable as a district administration’s hiring of laborers from a prison administration nowadays.”[3]

(SP; transl. KL)


Proceedings, 3rd Civil Chamber of the Frankfurt am Main Regional Court, May 11, 1953. HHStAW, Abt. 460, No. 1424 (Wollheim v. I.G. Farben), Vol. III, p. 422.



Rumpf, Joachim R.: “Der Fall Wollheim gegen die I.G. Farbenindustrie AG in Liquidation.” Unpublished dissertation, Leibniz University, Hanover, 2007.

[1] Report by Storkebaum and Brüstle, June 10, 1953, in: BAL 358/1, cited by Joachim R. Rumpf: “Der Fall Wollheim gegen die I.G. Farbenindustrie AG in Liquidation” (unpublished dissertation, Leibniz University, Hanover, 2007) p. 115. (Translated by KL)

[2] Rumpf: Der Fall Wollheim, p. 116.

[3] “Der große Prozeß gegen die IG-Farbenindustrie: Es geht um den Ausbeuterlohn.” In: Hamburger Wochenpost, May 17, 1953, cited in Rumpf: Der Fall Wollheim, p. 116.