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In the five years since Bosch made his compact with Hitler to prepare Germany for war I.G.'s descent into the theory and practice of Nazi morality moved with accelerating speed. During that time I.G. had become the leading industrial-financial backer of the Nazi party; it cleansed itself of identifiable Jewish directors and executives; and the Aryan officials who remained joined the Nazi party and some the dreaded S.S. I.G. proclaimed the inviolability of Nazi doctrine as corporate policy. But I.G. had not even begun to plumb the depths of Nazi depravity.
In the spring of 1938 Hitler's program of military conquest took a great leap forward. Action was ready to replace rhetoric; the time for talk was over; the drive for territorial expansion by force was about to become reality. Terrified by Hitler's diplomatic onslaught, his opponents scattered in retreat. As country after country collapsed in the face of Hitler's "Operation Terror," I.G.'s embrace of the Nazis became progressively more passionate. As country after country fell to the Wehrmacht's assault, I.G. played the jackal to Hitler's lion.
Despite Hitler's apparent invincibility, I.G. continued to calculate the odds and prepare for all contingencies. The acquisitions, no matter how brutal, were inevitably accomplished with the color of legality, a charade designed to protect I.G.'s interests in the improbable event that Germany lost the war. But this veneer of lawfulness could not conceal the terror I.G.'s methods evoked in its victims. And those in I.G. who would challenge the wisdom of such a course were silenced not only by a fear of Nazi retribution but also by I.G.'s great success.
The invasion of Austria on March 11, 1938, marked the beginning of Hitler's policy to move beyond the borders of Germany by force. I.G. was ready within days after the troops started to march. It presented the Nazi occupation officials with a memorandum entitled "New Order for the Greater Chemical Industry of Austria." 1 Essentially, the "new order" plan was a request for government permission for I.G. to take over Skoda Werke Wetzler, the largest chemical concern in Austria. I.G. made sure to clothe its plea with the rhetoric of German national interests. The erstwhile Jewish company was now ready to goose-step with Hitler. The absorption of the Austrian concern, I.G. promised, would aid in the pursuit of the aims of the four-year plan as well as promote the elimination of Jewish influence in Austrian industry. Skoda Werke Wetzler was dominated by the Jewish Rothschild, and I.G. made the most of this fact.
The Rothschilds were not naive. Even before the Anschluss, they had recognized I.G.'s intentions. Through the general manager of Skoda, Isador Pollack, they tried to thwart I.G.'s acquisitive plans. 2 To this end, Pollack explored the possibility of merger with two other European chemical organizations, Montecatini of Italy and Aussiger Vereign of Czechoslovakia. But I.G. proved too formidable, and the mergers were never seriously entertained by either the Czech or the Italian company.
Hitler's move into Austria left terror in its wake, and the chemical industry was no exception. Immediately after the Anschluss, all the top Jewish personnel of Skoda were dismissed by government decree. I.G. filled the breach by supplying Aryan technicians. 3 However, to protect the takeover against possible future legal challenges, I.G. entered into negotiations with Josef Joham, the personal representative of the Rothschilds. 4 Joham, also a Jew and therefore personally vulnerable, was hardly in a position to oppose I.G.'s demands. These kept enlarging as the so-called negotiations proceeded. When necessary, I.G. was not reluctant to use the anti-Semitic threat to squeeze out the terms it considered suitable. After a series of annoying difficulties posed by the Nazi bureaucracy in Austria, I.G. finally in the fall of 1938 claimed Skoda as its own. 5 By that time Joham had fled the country 6 but Pollack, not so fortunate, was literally stomped to death by Nazi Storm Troopers before he could make his escape. 7
Czechoslovakia was next on Hitler's schedule. Anticipating another industrial meal, I.G. prepared a special study of the chemical plants of the Czech Sudetenland. 8 Particularly coveted by I.G. were two plants owned by Aussiger Verein, the largest chemical company in Czechoslovakia, a participant in the European dyestuff cartel dominated by I.G., and a respected member of the world's chemical community. 9 Once again I.G. looked forward to exploiting a special advantage in dealing with Aussiger Verein. Under the formula applied by the Nuremberg laws, Aussiger could be classified as a Jewish company. 10 Twenty-five percent of its directors were non-Aryan.
By the summer of 1938, the demands of Hitler upon Czechoslovakia with regard to the Sudetenland were becoming so outrageous that a general war seemed imminent. A terrified British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, with the assistance of Edouard Daladier of France, forced Czechoslovakia to capitulate to Hitler's terms. The humiliation of the democracies was certified on September 29 with the signing of the Munich agreement and the immediate occupation of the Sudetenland by German troops. To soften the blow, Hitler declared that this was his last territorial demand in Europe. The next day, in a telegram of congratulations, Hermann Schmitz, now the head of I.G., let Hitler know of I.G.'s interest in the Sudetenland: "Profoundly impressed by the return of the Sudetenland to the Reich which you, my Führer, have achieved. The I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G. puts a sum of half a million reichsmarks at your disposal for use in the Sudetenland territory." 11
Before long I.G. was engaged in negotiations with Aussiger Verein for the "purchase" of the Sudetenland plants. 12 Just about the only defense left to the Aussiger directors was to stall the so-called negotiations as long as possible in the hope that something would turn up to rescue them. Finally, Schnitzler proclaimed to the Aussiger representatives that as the result of their inflexible attitudes and unwillingness to negotiate in good faith, he was planning to send a complaint to the German government that "unrest and a breakdown of social peace" in the Sudetenland appeared inevitable. Schnitzler did not conceal the threat that Hitler might very well use this charge as an excuse to occupy the rest of Czechoslovakia. 13
In desperation the Aussiger directors appealed to the Czech government, which only confirmed the force behind Schnitzler's threat. The Aussiger men were advised to manage on their own as well as they could. No official help was possible. Accordingly, they decided the next day to "sell" the plants on I.G.'s terms. 14 However, it made little difference to the future of their country. A few months later, in March, Hitler's troops marched into Prague and soon occupied all of Czechoslovakia.
Poland was next on Hitler's timetable of conquest. Once again, I.G. made plans to be in on the kill. It compiled a list of prospective booty: "The Most Important Chemical Plants in Poland." 15 Three dyestuff companies in particular interested I.G.: Boruta, the largest; Wola, a small company owned by three Jews 16 ; and Winnica (of which Joseph Frossard was chairman), jointly owned by I.G.'s Swiss affiliate, I.G. Chemie, and Kuhlmann of France.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. This time the Allied countries resisted and World War II began. Schnitzler, who personally followed right behind the troops, wired the I.G. agent in Berlin to stay close to the Reich Ministry of Economics and keep informed as to the status of the Polish chemical industry. "The factories contain considerable and valuable stocks of preliminary, intermediate, and final products," telegraphed Schnitzler. ". . . we consider it of primary importance that the above-mentioned stocks be used by experts in the interests of the German national economy. Only the I.G. is in a position to make experts available [emphasis added]." 17
When Schnitzler returned to Berlin from Poland a week later, he called on the Ministry of Economics to make it clear that only I.G. was capable of operating the Polish plants. 18 The ministry, through General Hermann von Hanneken, agreed to I.G.'s provisional management of the three Polish companies. He was not, however, pleased with I.G.'s greed or methods. Undoubtedly aware of I.G.'s activities in Austria and Czechoslovakia, Hanneken warned I.G. not to expect to take over the Polish plants permanently. His words were as stern as they were unmistakable: "I expressly emphasize that there will be no changes in the condition of ownership of the concerned plants; and that also no preparations for a change in the ownership conditions are to be seen in this appointment." 19 Hanneken's attitude shocked Schnitzler. I.G. particularly wanted to control and operate the large Boruta plants with "a certain permanence." 20 Schnitzler thereupon went over Hanneken's head to I.G.'s friend Hermann Goering, who had just set up an organization to confiscate and dispose of Polish property in accordance with the needs of the four-year plan. 21
But Goering's power in Poland was under challenge by a rising star in the Nazi firmament, Heinrich Himmler, head of the S.S., who had his own ideas about the disposal of Polish property. When Goering's representative proved unable to help I.G., the reason soon emerged. I.G. discovered that Himmler's deputy in Poland, S.S. Brigadefuehrer Ulrich Greifelt, was vested with the power to veto any sale of confiscated Polish property authorized by Goering's office.
The change in political climate was not wasted on I.G.; it shifted its allegiance from Goering to Himmler and Greifelt. Greifelt was worthy of Himmler's trust and he exercised his authority in Poland with a ruthlessness that made his chief proud: among his accomplishments was the forced sterilization of Polish men and women, the kidnapping of children to be raised by the S.S., the enslavement of large segments of the population, and the mass shooting of hostages. 21a
Schnitzler was assigned the project of cultivating Greifelt. Not long thereafter, I.G. took over the Polish plants on its own terms, proving once again its ability to prosper in the world of Nazi intrigue. 22 This time I.G.'s choice of ally would have more than an ordinary effect on its future. A fateful step in the alliance with Himmler was already taking place in the small community of Auschwitz in Polish Silesia.
As I.G. and Hitler became more indispensable for each other's goals, Bosch's physical and mental decline became more noticeable. His recurrent depressions deepened as he brooded over the thought that the war itself was the direct result of his great achievements, the creation of the vital synthetics of nitrates, oil, and rubber. He refused to see anyone from I.G. except Krauch; alcohol became his only solace.
By February 1940, Bosch could no longer bear living in Hitler's Germany. He decided to move to Sicily and took with him as his only companion an ant colony from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, where his name was still revered. The change gave Bosch no relief and his physical condition worsened. In April he returned to Germany with no hope of recovery. As he lay dying, he predicted the coming defeat of France. But this he told his doctor would only be an interlude. Ultimately, Hitler's lunacy would result in the destruction of Germany and the end of I.G., which for him were equal disasters.
Bosch did not live to witness the accuracy of his prediction. On April 26, 1940, two weeks before the Wehrmacht launched its attack on France, Bosch, not quite sixty-six years old, died. 23
Without Bosch's towering reputation and personality hovering over the company, Hermann Schmitz assumed in fact a position he already held in name, the head of I.G. At the same time Krauch was elected to succeed Bosch as chairman of the supervisory board, 24 giving up all managerial duties to spend more time as a plenipotentiary of the four-year plan. Hereafter, Schmitz would call the I.G. tune.
On May 9 Hitler mounted his assault on France, and on June 22 it was all over. Except for England and the Soviet Union, all of Europe was firmly in Hitler's grip. I.G. was ready to share in the booty. It had already prepared a "new order" plan for the chemical industry of the world that would provide for the "recovery and securing of world respect for the German chemical industry." 25 I.G. spelled out in its detailed, written plans the absorption of the chemical industries of France, Norway, Holland, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Belgium. 26 But its appetite did not end there. I.G. also included in its scheme the Soviet Union, at the moment a friendly neutral; Switzerland, certainly not an unfriendly neutral; England, not yet conquered; and finally Italy, an ally. After only a brief interlude, the chemical industry of the United States, which was an unfriendly neutral, was added.
In I.G.'s view France was the key to controlling the chemical industry of Europe. Broadly stated, the "new order" plan for France recommended that I.G. and the German government enter into a partnership to own and control the French dyestuff industry, in line with the Third Reich's program of territorial and economic expansion. This offered "the best solution to bring about a uniform regulation of French production and marketing for all time to come [emphasis added] ." 27
I.G.'s plan for France was delivered to Gustav Schlotterer of the Ministry of Economics in early August. Schlotterer completely agreed with the necessity of restoring I.G.'s position of leadership under the so-called new order and said that in his opinion I.G.'s proposal for France was not at all excessive and would probably fit into the coming peace plans. 28
While I.G.'s "new order" plan was under consideration, a shortage of coal and electric power brought the French dyestuff plants to a standstill. 29 The executives of the French industry realized quite early that I.G. held the key not only to the resumption of production but also to the future of the French industry. They began to press for a meeting with the I.G. officials to be arranged through the armistice commission in Wiesbaden. 30 Mistakenly, the French anticipated favorable treatment from their former cartel partner. Schlotterer, a high official in the Ministry of Economics, who agreed in principle to a meeting between I.G. and French industry officials, nevertheless suggested to I.G. that delay was in their best interests. Actual negotiations, he advised, should not begin until the French realized that they were not coming to bargain for a favorable ownership status but rather to cede "first place" to the German dyestuff industry. 31 A period of uncertainty, coupled with despair, would soften the French. Hans Hemmen, chief of the economic delegation of the German armistice commission, echoed this advice. He also counseled a policy of delay rather than premature action, specifically suggesting that I.G. should stall at least until late fall or early winter, when the situation in France would be more desperate. 32 I.G. agreed.
In the meantime, I.G. gathered intelligence from its employees in Paris about the leaders of the French industry with whom it would eventually have to deal. The most intriguing information concerned Joseph Frossard, Bosch's "trump card" at Versailles. He was now the leading figure in Kuhlmann, along with René Duchemin. Frossard, who was then in unoccupied France, with the rest of the directors of Kuhlmann told the I.G. people that he could not enter the German occupied zone because he would have to expect trouble as "a German deserter." 33 It was a strange fear for the acknowledged leader of the French chemical industry. As a Frenchman, how could Frossard be a German deserter? But neither the Germans nor the French have ever supplied an explanation for this unusual remark, which may be the clue as to why Bosch had referred to Frossard as a secret trump card.
Frossard and the other French industrialists continued to press the French armistice delegation to arrange a meeting with I.G. I.G., however, kept stalling. An I.G. official remarked, "We do not think that the time has come to initiate these negotiations--a view shared by both the government and military representatives in Paris, and by Hemmen." 34 Hemmen, acting out his role in accordance with I.G.'s scheme, informed the French armistice delegation that these negotiations would have to await the final settlement of the demarcation line between occupied and unoccupied France. 35
As I.G. planned, the French chemical situation continued to deteriorate. In early October Frossard sought out Hans Kramer, head of the I.G. sales agency in France. With Bosch dead, Frossard had been unable to make effective contact with I.G. Frossard beseeched Kramer to arrange a meeting between himself and a member of the I.G. hierarchy. The situation of the French chemical industry, he said, made collaboration at an early date imperative. It was absolutely clear to him that Germany would win the war and that the organization of the European economy must come under German leadership. Frossard offered the support of the entire French chemical industry in Germany's war against England. 36 In his view the end was a foregone conclusion. England was doomed.
Frossard added that he regretted the actions taken against the German chemical industry before the 1927 cartel agreement was signed, explaining that these were measures forced by French government pressure. (He was referring to Kuhlmann's efforts to keep I.G. from taking over the French dyestuff industry in 1926.) Now Frossard suggested a secret collaboration with the French industry under I.G. leadershipa clandestine "marriage" in the dyestuff and chemical fields. 37
Frantically, Frossard pleaded with Kramer to find out whether I.G. would enter negotiations. I.G. could depend on him for anything it wished. If I.G. objected to any Kuhlmann executive, he would be dismissed. 38 All Frossard needed was a sign and he would become a trump card ready to be played again.
In the meantime, political events of great moment were taking place. On October 24, Hitler and Pétain met at Montoire, where French collaboration with Germany was settled. According to their secret agreement, "The Axis Powers and France have an identical interest in seeing the defeat of England accomplished as soon as possible. Consequently, the French government will support, within the limits of its ability, the measures which the Axis Powers may take to this end." 39 In return, France was to be given the place in the new Europe "to which she is entitled." 40 The "collaboration" principle now was presumably to be extended to the entire private economic sphere. Hitler and Pétain agreed in essence to what Frossard had privately urged for I.G. and the French industry two weeks earlier. The German government should not confiscate French industries but rather permit German and French companies to deal with each other on a private, voluntary basis. The change in direction was welcomed by I.G. It would be free to act without entering a partnership with the Reich in the exploitation of French industry. Since I.G.'s partners would now be private French firms, it could truly assert its claim to leadership and demand a controlling ownership in the French dyestuff industry. 41
I.G. was now ready to "negotiate" with the French. Within a week after the Montoire agreement was reached, Hemmen, with I.G.'s consent, informed the French armistice delegation that the time had come for the conference sought by the French chemical industry. In anticipation, I.G. engaged in preliminary meetings in Paris with Frossard and René Duchemin, both of whom were becoming openly known collaborationists. According to an I.G. file note on these conferences, "the situation had already been prepared and clarified to the greatest extent in line with German ideas." 42 The French dyestuff companies would be merged into a company to be called Francolor, in which I.G. would own fifty-one percent and the French forty-nine percent. Francolor would be confined to the French market and prohibited from exporting to the rest of Europe. 43
With all the basic questions apparently agreed upon privately, it was time for official negotiations to begin. Schnitzler decided that the meeting should take place at Wiesbaden under the direct aegis of the armistice commission because "it is quite obvious that our tactical position towards the French will be far stronger if the first fundamental discussion takes place in Germany and, more particularly, at the site of the Armistice
Delegation; and if our program as outlined, is presented, so to speak, from official quarters." 44
As planned, the meeting was held at Wiesbaden on November 21, 1940. Schnitzler and Ter Meer led the I.G. delegation; Duchemin represented the French. Frossard was missing; his French colleagues were informed that he was home sick in bed. 45
Schnitzler miscalculated. Matters did not run as smoothly as the preliminary meetings in Paris with Frossard and Duchemin had promised. An I.G. official noted, "The transfer to Wiesbaden gave the French cause an opportunity for a 'change of tactics' and necessarily encouraged the hope in them of achieving something better in 'official surroundings' than what had been prepared unofficially, so to speak, in Paris." 46
The French delegation proposed that the parties revive the Franco-German dyestuff cartel of 1927. French legal experts, they said, had advised them that the cartel agreement had not been abrogated by the outbreak of war in 1939 but was merely in temporary abeyance. With peace restored, the agreement could be put back in force. The industrialists, they pointed out, should follow the direction of the collaboration agreed to by Pétain and Hitler at Montoire. After all, they were now allies and collaborators, not victor and vanquished. 47
The French were stunned by the German response to their proposal. Hemmen interrupted the French with a violent tirade. Pounding the table, he shouted that it was an insult to insist that the 1927 cartel agreement still was valid after the German victory in 1940: the cartel was merely the product of the Versailles treaty. Hemmen forbade any discussion of such an amazing proposal. The French must come to their senses and recognize that they had lost the war and that the time had come to accept the leadership of I.G. in the chemical field. Hemmen left no doubt in the minds of the Frenchmen that I.G.'s demands were fully backed by the Reich. 48
Schnitzler then spoke in a modulated voice but in equally hard terms. The French suggestions, he said, ignored political and economic realities. After all, France had declared war on Germany and now French industry would have to pay the price of defeat and accept I.G.'s leadership. It was, in truth, a relationship of victor and vanquished. 49
One of the French representatives mustered the courage to ask a final question. Exactly what did I.G. "leadership" mean? Schnitzler did not equivocate. Leadership meant that I.G. would have unrestrained financial, industrial, and ownership control of the French chemical industry. 50
Hemmen concluded the session with the announcement that the French and I.G. representatives would meet the next day without the armistice officials to work out the details of their agreement. It was the German ambassador's wish that the parties come to an agreement that would serve as a model for all German-French industrial relations. 51
That evening Schnitzler wrote to Hermann Schmitz.
We have just returned from the first conference with the French dye-stuff industrialists in Wiesbaden. Thanks to the very methodical and energetic chairmanship of Minister Hemmen, we were able to get down to business at once and shall now hear tomorrow morning what the French dyestuff industry . . . thinks of our "claim to leadership." 52
At the scheduled meeting the next day Schnitzler pressed I.G.'s ultimatum. I.G. was to own fifty-one percent of a new Franco-German dye-stuff company; the French were to abandon the export market and accept I.G.'s control of all elements of production and sales. 53 The French vigorously protested. I.G.'s terms were too severe. However, they realized that the entire French chemical industry could cease to exist at the whim of German authorities under I.G. influence. The hard attitude of Hemmen and Schnitzler underscored the reality of this alternative. 54 The French, hoping to salvage what they could, stalled, saying they would have to go home and get the advice of their government.
In Paris a few days later, Kramer again met with Frossard, who "talked fairly openly about the whole problem of the agreement." 55 Frossard assured Kramer that he himself had "the deepest understanding" of I.G.'s position. As Kramer later reported to I.G., "Not only did he think to a certain extent along German lines because of his origin and education, but he was now facing the fact that Germany had won the war. It was true that not all of his colleagues thought as he did." 56 Apparently Frossard was ready to come to an agreement. The French hesitated to accept a joint manufacturing company under I.G. control, he said, since it would mean officially abandoning the character of a "national" dyestuff industry headed by a Frenchman. Frossard suggested that an exclusive sales company jointly owned but under I.G. control would accomplish the same thing and still preserve French pride.
As soon as the French industrialists returned to Paris from the Wiesbaden conference, they took up I.G.'s proposals with the French government. It was agreed that many obvious difficulties would attend the German takeover of the French dyestuff industry. Plants indispensable to French national defense would be in the hands of the Germans. Moreover, a dangerous precedent would be established, and the Germans could then demand control of other French industries. 57
The French industry representatives realized that care must be taken, however, to avoid too brusque a rejection of I.G. demands. They feared that if the negotiations were broken off, I.G. would see to it that their plants, already in a precarious state, would be compelled to close down permanently for lack of raw materials, coal, and power. Nevertheless, despite these anxieties in December the French government emphatically rejected the German demand for a controlling, fifty-one percent interest. 58
The French industrialists then prepared a counterproposal. They returned to the suggestion of a joint "marketing organization" or sales agent rather than a joint manufacturing company. Only forty-nine percent of the stock would be assigned to the Germans, a majority interest of fifty-one percent to the French. A president would be selected who would be agreeable to both the French and the Germans. Each group would have the right to select an equal number of directors. With French government approval, it was agreed that the new plan be submitted to I.G. 59
Duchemin met with Kramer and others at the headquarters of the German occupation forces. He tentatively presented the French counterproposal. The Germans stated that it was absolutely unacceptable. 60 Duchemin, with a surprising show of backbone, replied that so long as negotiations between the German and French industries continued on a free, voluntary basis, the French would never consent to a fifty-one percent participation by the Germans: "I would rather see my hand cut off than sign such an agreement." 61
Under these circumstances, Kramer said, there was no point to further negotiations. He pointed out, however, that breaking off negotiations could have "detrimental" consequences. Then, changing his tune, Kramer introduced a new element into the discussion. He would use the carrot rather than the stick. Would the French industrialists change their mind if I.G. offered some sort of compensation? Duchemin was intrigued. In that case, he replied, the transaction might be more bearable. 62 For the moment the kind or the amount of the compensation was not specified.
Kramer hardened his appearance of reasonableness with the warning that Duchemin and his associates avoid any instructions from the French government restricting their freedom to act. This would keep the negotiations within the area of "private enterprise." Otherwise, he added sternly, the matter would go back to the armistice commission and the "mercies" of Ambassador Hemmen. 63
Negotiations were resumed on January 20 in Paris. Despite Kramer's warnings to Duchemin, the French once again pressed their counterproposal of a joint sales company in which the French would hold a majority interest. They claimed that they would make no further concessions. 64 I.G. continued to demand that only a majority interest would be acceptable. At this point, the I.G. representatives officially offered their "carrot" hinted at by Kramer to Duchemin. I.G. would turn over to the French industrialists one percent of I.G.'s stock. 65
I.G.'s "generosity," however, was coupled with a very meaningful threat. Duchemin was told that if he was not willing to accept the I.G. plan, Kuhlmann would be classified as a Jewish concern and all of its plants would be confiscated by the Germans. The fact that Raymond Berr, a Jew, had been a managing director of the Kuhlmann plants before the German occupation was sufficient to have it so classified. 66 In the face of pressures that were becoming progressively uglier and more intense, the resistance of the French industrialists began to crumble. They reluctantly agreed in principle to I.G.'s demand for a joint manufacturing company, still protesting, however, I.G.'s demand for a majority of the stock. They declared that the French government would have to approve that concession. 67
All protestations were in vain, however. At a "peace conference" on March 12, it was officially revealed that a new company, Francolor, was to be formed for which I.G. would compensate the French with one percent of its stock; in return, I.G. would receive a controlling interest of fifty-one percent in Francolor. To reassure the French government that this agreement would not become an example to pave the way for German takeovers of other French industries, it was agreed that the Francolor case was to be regarded as a special circumstance and not as a precedent for future German action. 68
Both I.G. and the French shareholders would have the right to nominate an equal number of administrative officials. And, in what on its face appeared to be a major concession, I.G. agreed that the president of Francolor would always be a Frenchman. 69
By May, however, the Germans began to realize that French capitulation would not be quite as easy as they had been led to believe. The French were complicating their surrender with a number of counterproposals. Kramer complained to Schnitzler, "The French are going back on practically all matters which are essential for us. . . . Thus, in our next meeting, we will have to tackle anew these problems." Duchemin himself admitted to Kramer that the French were stiffening their position. 70
Once again Kramer sought out Frossard. At their meeting Frossard explained apologetically that the various countersuggestions from his French colleagues did not represent his views. He went on to describe the difficulty of his position. Less flexible elements in the French chemical industry, particularly within Kuhlmann, Frossard said, had "gained momentum." From what Frossard told Kramer, the resistance of the French chemical industry was going to be somewhat more formidable than the March 12 understanding indicated. 71
Despite the fact that I.G. could exercise an ultimate power to break French intransigence, the negotiations dragged on. Nevertheless, Frossard assured I.G. that as far as he was concerned, the establishment of Francolor was a reality and that he would not engage in any important transactions without the approval of I.G. 72
To prove his devotion, Frossard now involved himself in the Aryanization of the French plants as Duchemin himself temporarily assumed the duties of Raymond Berr, the highest ranking Jewish victim. 73 Even in this performance Frossard remained an ambiguous figure. He made a real effort to prevent "miscarriages of justice" caused by faulty or mistaken information as to who was Jewish. In at least two cases Frossard made strong protests to the Nazis on behalf of two Kuhlmann employees accused of being Jews. One was Serge de Kap-Herr, whose son had married the daughter of the French writer André Maurois (whose name, Frossard volunteered, was really Herzog). 74 Frossard insisted that Kap-Herr was Aryan. The Germans were convinced, and Kap-Herr was not dismissed from his job. The other case involved Frossard's longtime associate and close personal friend M, Rhein. Like Frossard, Rhein was born in Alsace when it was part of Germany. Unlike Frossard, he had remained in Germany as a chemist for BASF before and during World War I. After the war, as an Alsatian, he chose to become a French citizen and joined Frossard in the government-owned Compagnie Nationale Française. Rhein had been with the French dyestuff industry ever since.
Frossard told I.G. that Rhein's father was not a Jew, as had been charged, but a Christian clergyman from Hamburg and he insisted that Rhein had "no Jewish blood at all in his veins and is in no way affected by the laws concerning Jews." 75 Frossard's efforts were fruitless, however, and Rhein was dismissed. 76
By mid-summer of 1941, the resistance of the French dyestuff men was broken and most of the details of a final agreement were worked out. I.G. was to assume majority control of the dyestuff plants in France and of all the French company's foreign properties that were in German-occupied territory. 77 This included the French interest in Winnica, the Polish dyestuff plant, which Frossard headed as chairman of the board. Although I.G. agreed to surrender one percent of its own stock to the French, even this concession carried a severe condition. The stock was so restricted that it could not be sold to any buyer outside the French dyestuff group and could never be pledged as collateral. 78
One last problem remained to be resolved. I.G. objected to the French version of the preamble to the Francolor agreement because it emphasized "the fact that the French Government surrendered participation in the French dyestuff industry . . . under pressure." 79 In the unlikely event that Germany failed to win the war, I.G. was concerned that "the preamble as it now stands might. . . prove of great disadvantage to us." 80 It could provide the basis for the French to "annul the convention" when a "change in conditions" arose. 81 To avoid the possibility that the French might "demand the termination of the convention" sometime in the future on the ground of duress, the I.G. lawyer insisted upon wording that indicated consent by the French government. The preamble as finally agreed upon satisfied I.G. It included the sentence: "The French Government is to recognize the legality . . . of the present contract, which may be contrary to present or future laws of France." 82
During one of the last conferences at which the details of the agreement were being worked out, Ter Meer unconsciously expressed the atmosphere of the negotiations. On a folder titled "France, 1940-41: German-French Dyestuff Discussion," he doodled a line from a ditty popular in Germany, "For in the woods there are robbers." 83
On November 18, 1941, one year after the Wiesbaden conference, the Francolor agreement was signed in Paris by Schnitzler and Ter Meer for I.G. and by Duchemin, Thesmar, and Frossard for the French dyestuff industry. 84 Frossard was elected president of Francolor by agreement of both contracting parties. This was expected. Schnitzler had already proclaimed earlier: "Of course, there cannot be any doubt that Frossard would be president." 85
As agreed, too, the supervisory board of Francolor was equally divided between French and Germans: Schnitzler, Ter Meer, Ambros, and Hermann Waibel from I.G.; Frossard, Duchemin, and two other Pétain collaborators from the French industry. 86
The signing of the agreement was celebrated at a luncheon for about a dozen or so key participants, both French and German. Ter Meer, who was present, reported that
Frossard got up and made a speech which, in my opinion, exceeded the form of mere politeness, for he was visibly touched and strongly impressed personally. He said then that he wanted to express his personal gratitude for the fine confidence and trust that was placed in him by appointing him president of the new firm. 87
In Frossard's opinion, the Francolor Contract could be called ideal. The annual meeting of Etablissements Kuhlmann, at which the agreement was to be ratified, took place in Vichy. When a stockholder rose to protest the surrender of the fifty-one percent stock interest in Francolor to I.G., it was explained to him that the transfer of a majority interest to the Germans was counterbalanced by the selection of a Frenchman, Frossard, as president. 88 The stockholders thereupon voted to approve the agreement, although a surprising 50 stockholders voted nay and another 406 abstained from voting. 89 The new order for the French chemical industry now had legal sanction.
I.G. was at the zenith of its power. From the Barents Sea to the Mediterranean, from the Channel Islands to Auschwitz, it exercised control over an industrial empire the likes of which the world had never before seen.
Frossard, the "trump card" played by Bosch with such success at Versailles, continued his special role for Krauch and I.G. In the summer of 1942, with Hitler's dreaded two-front war depleting the German labor supply, Nazi eyes turned to the conquered countries of Europe. In his post as plenipotentiary, Krauch tried to recruit foreign labor in France. At first this effort was a miserable failure. Of the expected 350,000 French workers, only 36,000 were sent to Germany. 90 To correct matters, Krauch called upon his successful experience in rebuilding the Oppau plant after the explosion of 1921. At that time, it will be recalled, he prevailed upon companies all over Germany to send complete units of workers to help reconstruct the destroyed plant.
In a letter to Schnitzler, Krauch, wearing the hats of both an I.G. official and a Nazi plenipotentiary, noted that the decision to invoke the "closed unit" system would increase the supply of workers from French factories for German industry. 91 He explained that the French workers "would remain employees of the French mother company and return to France after their work [was] completed." 92 He was delighted that Frossard approved the new approach.
Out of the negotiations which took place up to now I have learned that Mr. Frossard is entirely of the opinion . . . that the use of closed units is the right way to bring . . . French workmen [into] the German works on a broad basis. Mr. Frossard has, therefore, used his own initiative for the conclusion of the first unit work contract with the I.G. Ludwigshafen. I hope therefore that further workmen of Francolor will be sent to Germany. 93
Schnitzler replied that Frossard could be relied upon to help fulfill Germany's need for labor: "You can be convinced that General Director Frossard handles the question of sending workmen in closed units to works of the I.G. with just as much understanding as goodwill." 94
The French workers soon learned that "closed units" was a euphemism for forced labor. In a nasty bit of gallows humor, an I.G. official referred contemptuously to those Frenchmen with whom the company dealt in the recruiting of such labor battalions as "slave traders." 95 The crime of slave labor was now being committed with greater refinement and efficiency and in far greater numbers than it had been during World War I. But that was only the beginning. This practice was soon to reach proportions that the world could neither believe nor comprehend.
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