150th anniversary / Countermotions to shareholder meeting
BAYER: Company History Whitewashed
BAYER is staging costly celebrations to mark its 150th birthday, yet the company´s numerous crimes are not mentioned at all in the commemorative publications. Instead of acknowledging responsibility for forced labor, poison gas and fatal pharmaceutical products, the company's history is wholly ignored. The Coalition against Bayer Dangers has introduced countermotions to the upcoming Bayer shareholder meeting to highlight the dark side of BAYER’s past.
For its 150th anniversary, BAYER is organizing numerous celebrations with prominent guests. An exhibition has been sent around the world and a specially built airship will promote the company on all five continents. However, the unpleasant periods of the company’s history have totally been omitted from the celebrations. Topics such as environmental contamination, pesticide poisoning, worker protests and collaboration with the Third Reich are simply ignored.
Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers said: “Being a part of the infamous IG Farben, BAYER was involved in the cruelest crimes in human history: A subsidiary supplied Zyklon B for the gas chambers, the company also built a giant new factory directly in Auschwitz. To accommodate the slave workers, the corporation even operated its own concentration camp. Tens of thousands of people died there.”
More facts from the corporation´s history:
- Every BAYER brochure includes a reference to the invention of ASPIRIN in 1898, but makes no mention of the fact that the company almost simultaneously introduced HEROIN onto the market as a cough treatment for children. Very shortly after its market launch, physicians pointed out the addictive potential of HEROIN. Nevertheless, BAYER carried out a global advertising campaign for 15 years.
- Carl Duisberg, the BAYER General Director for decades, was personally involved in the development of poison gas such as “Mustard Gas” in World War I and pushed for its use on the front – contrary to international law. Duisberg demanded the deportation of tens of thousands of Belgian forced laborers and encouraged the annexation of large areas of Eastern Europe.
- For many decades, Duisberg strongly supported the merging of the German chemical industry to create the IG FARBEN. The Group, which was founded in 1925, was the largest company in Europe. The firm rejected the Weimar Republic, large donations went to national conservative parties and later to the Nazis.
- IG FARBEN was closely involved in the war of conquest of the Third Reich. The company followed the armed forces into the conquered countries of Europe and took over considerable parts of the chemical industry there within a few weeks. It also took coal mines and oil production. The later Chairman of the BAYER Board of Management, Kurt Hansen, played a leading role in these robberies.
- In the war criminal trials in Nuremberg, IG FARBEN also faced a trial of its own. One section, for example, states the following: “It is undisputed that criminal experiments were undertaken by SS physicians on concentration camp prisoners. These experiments served the express purpose of testing the products of IG FARBEN.”
- The managers condemned in Nuremberg were able to continue their careers unhindered after sitting out their sentences. Fritz ter Meer, for example, became Chairman of the Supervisory Board of BAYER. During his interrogation in Nuremberg, he said that the slave laborers in Auschwitz had “not been made to suffer particularly badly as they were to have been killed anyway.” BAYER even named a foundation after him, the "Fritz ter Meer Foundation".
- In BAYER laboratories, research was carried out into chemical war gases. The inventor of SARIN and TABUN, Dr. Gerhard Schrader, was head of the BAYER pesticides department after WW II. During the Vietnam war, BAYER was involved in the development of AGENT ORANGE. Production was carried out at the firm MOBAY, founded jointly by BAYER and MONSANTO.
Symptomatic of the way BAYER handles its history is the bestowal of the Hansen Family Award in March 2013. The prize, presented by the Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers in Berlin, originally was donated by the former Chairman of the Board of Management, Kurt Hansen. Hansen joined the NSDAP in 1931. In the IG FARBEN, he became head of the “Central department for the procurement of raw materials,” which played a major role in the war (see above). In the person of Kurt Hansen, the seamless transfer from IG FARBEN to the BAYER Group once again becomes very clear. Until now BAYER has not undertaken any independent study of the company's history.According to the Coalition against Bayer Dangers, the BAYER Board of Management is responsible for the misleading portrayal of the company history. In the upcoming shareholder meeting in Cologne on April 26 its actions therefore should not be ratified. The Coalition has introduced countermotions which were published on BAYER´s website.