I.G. Farben: Testimony at Nuremberg

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I.G. Farben: Testimony at Nuremberg

– Part 1 –

“It was not until the prosecution staff reached the charge of slavery and mass murder that the critical point of the trial was reached…. The prosecution, in order to support these charges, introduced scores of eyewitnesses who had been in I.G. Auschwitz, including prisoners of war, Jewish and foreign inmates, physicians, and I.G. officials troubled by conscience, all of whom told stories that were incredible but still had the ring of truth. An effective prosecution witness was Norbert Jaehne, the son of defendant Friedrich Jaehne, and a certified engineer at I.G. Auschwitz from January 1943 to the end of the war. The elder Jaehne had made several trips to visit his son at the camp. Norbert Jaehne’s position at I.G. Auschwitz and his blood relationship with a defendant gave added force to his description of what went on at Auschwitz.

Of all the people employed in I.G. Auschwitz, the inmates received the worst treatment. They were beaten by the Kapos, who in their turn had to see to it that the amount of work prescribed them and their detachments by the I.G. foremen was carried out, because they otherwise were punished by being beaten in the evening in the Monowitz camp. A general driving system prevailed on the I.G. construction site, so that one cannot say that the Kapos alone were to blame. The Kapos drove the inmates in their detachments exceedingly hard, in self-defense, so to speak, and did not shrink from using any means of increasing the work of the inmates, just so long as the amount of work required was done.

Hardly less compelling was the testimony of the secretary of the I.G. managing board, Ernst A. Struss, who had visited I.G. Auschwitz several times.

COUNSEL: ‘The chief engineer of the Buna plant with whom you spoke in 1943, did he specifically tell you that people were being burned at Auschwitz?’

STRUSS: ‘Yes, I think he also told me that before the burning, they were gassed…’

COUNSEL: ‘And in the summer of 1943 you knew that people were being burned and gassed?’

STRUSS: ‘Yes.”

” (Borkin, 141-142)

Work Cited

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

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