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American IG owes its genesis to a German business conglomerate, namely, Interessens-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG, or IG Farben for short. The business, along with the industrial empire that “IG” controlled and commanded, has been described as “a state within a state.”
The Farben cartel was created in 1925, when Hermann Schmitz, the master organizer, with Wall Street financial assistance, created the giant chemical corporation, combining six already giant German chemical companies — Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik Ludwigshafen (BASF), Bayer, Agfa, Hoechst, Weiler-ter-Meer, and Griesheim-Elektron. These six companies were merged into Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG or, IG Farben, for short.
In year 1928, the American holdings of IG Farben, namely, the American branches of Bayer Company, General Aniline Works, Agfa Ansco, and Winthrop Chemical Company, were organized into a Swiss holding company, which was named Internationale Gesellschaft für Chemische Unternehmungen AG or IG Chemie, in short. The controlling interest of this entity rested with IG Farben in Germany. In the following year, 1929, just a decade before the outbreak of the Second World War, these American firms merged to become American IG Chemical Corporation, or American IG, later renamed General Aniline & Film.
On the eve of World War II, IG Farben, the German chemical conglomerate, was the largest manufacturing enterprise in the world and exercised extraordinary economic and political clout in Nazi Germany. In 1936, it was the principal source for Zyklon B, the poison used in German concentration camps. From 1942-1945, the company used slave labor from Nazi concentration camps. After 1945, three members of the board of governors of American IG were tried and convicted as German war criminals. In 1952, IG Farben was split into BASF, Bayer, and Hoechst again.
As a result of its 1966 acquisition of Sawyer's, General Aniline & Film (or GAF) went on to produce the View-Master, a children's toy, made today by Mattel's "Fisher-Price" division. GAF today still exists as GAF Materials Corporation, mainly as a manufacturer of asphalt and building materials.
- Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler
- I.G. Farben in America: The Technologies of General Aniline and Film
- Mira Wilkins: The history of foreign investment in the United States, 1914-1945, Harvard University Press.