IG Farben

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I.G. Farbenindustrie AG was a German chemical industry conglomerate. Its name is taken from Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG (lit. Community of interest of the dye industry). The company was formed in 1925 from a number of major companies that had been working together closely since World War I. During its heyday IG Farben was the fourth-largest company in the world, after General Motors, U.S. Steel and Standard Oil. During the planning of the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland, IG Farben cooperated closely with Nazi officials and directed which chemical plants should be secured and delivered to IG Farben.[1]

Contents

Founding members

IG Farben was founded on December 25, 1925, as a merger of the following six companies:[2]

  • BASF
  • Bayer
  • Hoechst (including Cassella and Chemische Fabrik Kalle)
  • Agfa
  • Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron
  • Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler Ter Meer

History

Predecessors of IG Farben

At the beginning of the 20th century the German chemical industry dominated the world market for synthetic dyes. The three major firms BASF, Bayer and Hoechst produced several hundred different dyes, along with the five smaller firms Agfa, Cassella, Chemische Fabrik Kalle, Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron and Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler-ter Meer concentrated on high-quality specialty dyes. In 1913 these eight firms produced almost 90 percent of the world supply of dyestuffs and sold about 80 percent of their production abroad.[3] The three major firms had also integrated upstream into the production of essential raw materials and they began to expand into other areas of chemistry such as pharmaceuticals, photographic film, agricultural chemicals and electrochemicals. Contrary to other industries the founders and their families had little influence on the top-level decision-making of the leading German chemical firms, which was in the hands of professional salaried managers. Because of this unique situation the economic historian Alfred Chandler called the German dye companies "the world's first truly managerial industrial enterprises".[4]

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