Comprehensive List Of German Companies That Used Slave Or Forced Labor During World War II Released

American Jewish Committee
Tuesday, 7 December 1999

The American Jewish Committee announced at joint press conferences in New York and Berlin today the release of a list of German companies that used forced labor and slave labor during the Nazi era. This is the most extensive list that has ever been published of companies still in existence that once used such labor. Many of the companies have never before been publicly named.

"These unnamed companies can not hide from history," said Eugene DuBow, the departing director of the AJC's Berlin office. He appealed to those companies on the list to face their historic responsibility.

"These companies, together with others whose participation historians are still documenting, bear a singular responsibility to compensate their former forced laborers and slave laborers. We hope the publication of this list will prompt more companies to join the planned compensation fund and move negotiations toward a satisfactory settlement."

The list includes major corporations as well as many of the medium-sized businesses that form the backbone of the German economy. The firms produce a wide range of products.

"We want to make clear that German companies in all branches of industry made use of forced and slave labor," said David Harris, AJC executive director. "Given the widespread involvement of German firms in the forced and slave labor system, compensation is a responsibility of German industry as a whole as well as of the German government."

None of the companies on the list have joined a proposed fund of German industry to provide compensation to hundreds of thousands of former forced and slave laborers, both Jews and non-Jews. So far, only 12 additional companies have joined the 12 founding members of the fund. The German government has also agreed to contribute funds.

In September, Mr. Harris and AJC President Bruce M. Ramer sent a letter to the chairman of the board of 117 companies, urging them to join the fund. Just 23 companies responded, and of these only three joined the fund.

The most recent round of negotiations in November in Washington, D.C. failed to produce a settlement on the fund. Both sides agreed to a moratorium on negotiations until December 8th. No further negotiations are scheduled.

Deidre Berger, director-designate of the AJC Berlin Office, oversaw the research on the list. "This list is far from complete," she said. "We hope its publication will prompt other researchers to add their information to our list. This will help reveal the full extent of participation by German industry during WWII in the exploitation of human labor."

The list is based on information collected by the International Tracing Service in Arolsen, Germany, which began under Allied supervision and in 1955 was put under the administration of the International Red Cross. The extensive information collected by the ITS on the labor camp system of the Third Reich was first published in 1949 to assist in the search of missing persons. The information combines research done by local and international search committees as well as documents from the Nazi and Allied governments.

The material is the most valuable source of archival material on Nazi labor camps, despite the difficulties in the collection of material. The information compiled by hundreds of researchers (by 1951 the ITS had about 1300 employees) did not include labor sites in the former Soviet occupation zone in eastern Germany. Information about labor camps that were dissolved before the end of the war is also inconsistent.

The Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and the German-Occupied Territories contains references to more than 2000 companies that used forced labor and slave labor. The names were checked the past few weeks against registers of existing companies in Germany.

The list was compiled for AJC by a team of researchers headed by Lydia Marhoff, a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Berlin. Other researchers were Axel Haling, Dietmar Mueller, Manuela Petzold, Elisa Johnson and Ulla Jung.

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