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Exercise of Political Influence by I.G. Farben in the Weimar Republic

 a  “Hitler agrees that he will grant our gasoline production the necessary protection.”

(Heinrich Gattineau, affidavit, March 13, 1947, NI-4833. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Case VI, Prosecution Exhibits, reel 016, pp. 227–232, here p. 231. (Transl. KL))

From the beginning I.G. Farben sought to influence politics on behalf of its interests. Like many other large German firms, it did this in part through the various existing associations that lobbied on behalf of German industries. It also contributed funds directly to various political parties. The I.G. board of directors formed a subcommittee called the “Kalle circle” after its member, Ferdinand Kalle, with the goal of maintaining good relations with government in the course of representing I.G. interests.


A total of five I.G. managers won parliament seats in the Reichstag elections of May 1928. One of them, Jakob Hasslacher, was not part of the “Kalle circle,” and stood as a deputy of the far-right German National People’s Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP). Ferdinand Kalle and Paul Moldenhauer were elected as members of the liberal-nationalist German People’s Party (Deutsche Volkspartei, DVP). Moldenhauer served for a short time in 1929 as the national minister of economics, before taking over the treasury as finance minister. Two other members of the I.G. Farben directors board also took seats in the Reichstag: Clemens Lammers on behalf of catholic German Centre Party (Deutsche Zentrumspartei, “Zentrum”) and Herman Hummel of the German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DDP). Thus I.G. Farben had direct connections to each of the most important bourgeois parties. But the combine’s attempts to influence government were not restricted to any party. The I.G. directors sought to exert influence in a pragmatic fashion wherever they considered it important.


I.G. Farben members were also well-represented in the leading German industrial associations. Carl Duisberg for example was a prominent member in the Reich Association of German Industry (Reichsverband der deutschen Industrie, RDI) and other industrial associations, appearing often as a public speaker on their behalf. I.G. Farben was also a member in the “Association for the Preservation of the Interests of the Chemicals Industry of Germany.”


With the goal of exerting direct influence on key positions of political power, I.G. Farben began to finance parties as well as individual politicians along the liberal, bourgeois and right-wing spectrum. I.G. Farben provided annual contributions ranging from 30,000 to 200,000 RM to the DVP, DDP and Zentrum; these amounts tended to spike prior to elections to the Reichstag or regional parliaments. I.G. Farben always kept its distance from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), however.


Early in 1933, the banker Hjalmar Schacht (who would soon thereafter become president of the central Reichsbank) initiated a meeting of leading German industrialists, including Georg von Schnitzler, at the house of Hermann Göring, with the intent of raising funds for parties of the extreme right wing in the coming Reichstag elections. As a result, German businessmen contributed a total of 3 million RM to the NSDAP and the DNVP. I.G. Farben was the single largest contributor with 400,000 RM. The elections of March 5, 1933, returned 340 of 647 seats for the NSDAP and the allied “Fighting Front (Kampfbund) of Black-White-Red,” a coalition of the DNVP with the Landbund and Stahlhelm (paramilitary organizations of farmers and veterans).


I.G. Farben’s Heinrich Bütefisch, the technical director of Leuna, and Heinrich Gattineau had already met with Adolf Hitler in June 1932 to describe to him the synthetic fuels project at Leuna. Hitler had promised them political and financial support, since he believed I.G. Farben could help achieve his plans for German independence from crude oil imports.  a  Carl Bosch and Hermann Schmitz concluded the “Benzin Agreement” with representatives of the new Reich on December 14, 1933. I.G. Farben committed to expand its plants for coal liquefaction and production of synthetic fuels, while the state agreed to provide tax credits and pay a fixed price for fuels supplied to it for a period of ten years. In subsequent years the National Socialist government and I.G. Farben also established a partnership for Buna production. The latter was at first controversial due to the high costs, but the NSDAP government was determined to end dependence on natural rubber, and the I.G. Farben facilities for artificial rubber were expanded at an accelerated pace starting in 1936.

(DOP; transl. NL; based on: Karl Heinz Roth: Die Geschichte der I.G. Farbenindustrie AG von der Gründung bis zum Ende der Weimarer Republik)


[pdf] Karl Heinz Roth_The History of IG Farbenindustrie AG from Its Founding to the End of the Weimar Republic



Heinrich Gattineau, affidavit, March 13, 1947, NI-4833. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Case VI, reel 016, pp. 227–232.



Borkin, Joseph: The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben. New York: Free Press, 1978.

Hayes, Peter: “Zur umstrittenen Geschichte der I.G. Farbenindustrie AG.” In: Geschichte und Gesellschaft 18 (1992), pp. 405–417.

Plumpe, Gottfried: Die I.G. Farbenindustrie AG. Wirtschaft, Technik und Politik 1904–1945. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1990. 

Tammen, Helmuth: “Die I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft (1925–1933). Ein Chemiekonzern in der Weimarer Republik.” Ph.D. dissertation, Freie Universität Berlin, 1978.