Military Wiki

This wiki's URL has been migrated to the primary domain.Read more here


Military Wiki

The defendants in the dock on the first day of the trial.

The United States of America vs. Carl Krauch, et al., also known as the IG Farben Trial, was the sixth of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany (Nuremberg) after the end of World War II.

Empty poison gas canisters of Zyklon B, found by the Allies at the end of World War II in death camps

The twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT). The IG Farben Trial was the second of three trials of leading industrialists of Nazi Germany for their conduct during the Nazi regime. (The two other industrialist trials were the Flick Trial and the Krupp Trial.)

The defendants in this case had all been directors of IG Farben, a large German conglomerate of chemical firms. The company had been a major factor already in World War I, when their development of the Haber-Bosch process for nitrogen fixation compensated for Germany's being cut off from the Chilean nitrate trade and allowed IG Farben to produce synthetic nitrate. (Nitrate is an important component for the fabrication of explosives such as gunpowder, dynamite or TNT.) In World War II, an IG Farben subsidiary, Degesch, manufactured Zyklon B, the poison gas used at the extermination camps (the other supplier of the gas was the firm Tesch & Stabenow). IG Farben also developed processes for synthesizing gasoline and rubber from coal, and thereby contributed much to Germany's ability to wage a war despite having been cut off from all major oil fields. The charges consequently centered on preparing to wage an aggressive war, but also on slave labor and plundering.

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal VI, were Curtis Grover Shake (presiding judge), former Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Indiana; James Morris from North Dakota; Paul M. Hebert, dean of the Law School of the Louisiana State University; and Clarence F. Merrell, a lawyer from Indiana, as an alternate judge. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor. The indictment was filed on May 3, 1947; the trial lasted from August 27, 1947 until July 30, 1948. Of the 24 defendants arraigned, 13 were found guilty on one or the other counts of the indictment and sentenced to prison terms ranging from one and one half to eight years, including time already served; ten defendants were acquitted of all charges. Max Brüggemann was removed from the trial and his case discontinued on September 9, 1947 due to medical reasons.


  1. Planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression and invasions of other countries.
  2. War crimes and crimes against humanity through the plundering and spoliation of occupied territories, and the seizure of plants in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, France, and Russia.
  3. War crimes and crimes against humanity through participation in the enslavement and deportation to slave labor on a gigantic scale of concentration camp inmates and civilians in occupied countries, and of prisoners of war, and the mistreatment, terrorization, torture, and murder of enslaved persons.
  4. Membership in a criminal organization, the SS.
  5. Acting as leaders in a conspiracy to commit the crimes mentioned under counts 1, 2, and 3.

All defendants were indicted on counts 1, 2, 3, and 5. Only Schneider, Bütefisch, and von der Heyde were charged on count 4, "Membership in the SS". The SS had been declared a criminal organization previously by the IMT.

Despite the extensive evidence presented by the prosecution that showed that the company had been deeply involved in Germany's rearmament after World War I from the onset, the tribunal rejected the charges for preparing an aggressive war and for conspiracy to that end. On count three ("slave labor"), the judgement "allowed the defendants the benefit of the defense of 'necessity'" (Telford Taylor, "The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials"; International Conciliation, No. 450, April 1949). Only in the case of Auschwitz, where IG Farben had constructed a plant next to the concentration camp with the clear intent to use inmates as slave workers, did the tribunal consider the evidence sufficient to prove that IG Farben acted on its own initiative. The tribunal concluded that the defendants could be held responsible only for this one case.

Judge Hebert filed a dissenting opinion, in which he argued that the defense of "necessity" did not apply and that all defendants should have been found guilty on count 3 of the indictment. He stated that:

"...the record shows that Farben willingly cooperated and gladly utilized each new source of manpower as it developed. Disregard of basic human rights did not deter these defendants." —[1]
"Willing cooperation with the slave labor utilization of the Third Reich was a matter of corporate policy that permeated the whole Farben organization... For this reason, criminal responsibility goes beyond the actual immediate participants at Auschwitz. It includes other Farben Vorstand plant-managers and embraces all who knowingly participated in the shaping of the corporate policy." —[2][3]

Judge Hebert filed his statement on December 28, 1948, nearly 5 months after the judgment.


Name Photo Function Charges Sentence
1 2 3 4 5
Carl Krauch Karl Krauch.jpg Chairman of the Supervisory Board;
member of Göring's Office of the Four-Year Plan
I I G   I 6 years, including time already served; died 1968
Hermann Schmitz Hermann Schmitz.jpg Chairman of the Managing Board (CEO);
member of the Reichstag
I G I   I 4 years, including time already served; died 1960
Georg von Schnitzler Georg Schnitzler.jpg Wehrwirtschaftsführer (Military Economy Leader);
Captain in the SA
I G I   I 2½ years, including time already served; died 1962
Fritz Gajewski Fritz Gajewski.jpg Director of AGFA I I I   I acquitted; died 1962
Heinrich Hörlein (de) Philipp Heinrich Hoerlein.jpg Head of chemical research I I I   I acquitted; died 1954
August von Knieriem (de) Chief Counsel; Head of the legal department I I I   I acquitted; died 1978
Fritz ter Meer Head of dept. II, which was in charge of the
chemical plant in Buna near Auschwitz
I G G   I 7 years, including time already served; died 1967
Christian Schneider Christian Schneider.jpg Head of dept. I, in charge of nitrogen and gasoline production;
head of personnel dept., "supporting member" of the SS
I I I I I acquitted; died 1972
Otto Ambros Otto Ambros.jpg Head of the chemical warfare committee at the war ministry;
production chief for Buna and Auschwitz
I I G   I 8 years including time already served; died 1990
Max Brüggemann Plant leader I I I   I Removed from trial due to medical reasons
Ernst Bürgin (de) Ernst Buergin.jpg Plant leader I G I   I 2 years including time already served
Heinrich Bütefisch Heinrich Buetefisch.jpg Production chief at Auschwitz, Obersturmbannführer in the SS I I G I I 6 years including time already served; died 1969
Paul Häfliger (de) Paul Haefliger.jpg Head of the metals department I G I   I 2 years including time already served
Max Ilgner Max Ilgner.jpg Head of intelligence and propaganda I G I   I 3 years including time already served; died 1966
Friedrich Jähne (de) Friedrich Jaehne.jpg Chief engineer I G I   I 1½ years including time already served; died 1965
Hans Kühne Plant leader I I I   I acquitted
Carl Lautenschläger Plant leader I I I   I acquitted; died 1962
Wilhelm Rudolf Mann Wilhelm Rudolf Mann.jpg Pharmaceuticals; member of the SA I I I   I acquitted; died 1992
Heinrich Oster Heinrich Oster.jpg Manager of the Nitrogen Syndicate I G I   I 2 years including time already served
Carl Wurster Plant leader I I I   I acquitted; died 1974
Walter Dürrfeld (de) Walter Duerrfeld.jpg Head of construction at Auschwitz plant;
head of construction at Monowitz (Auschwitz III)
I I G   I 8 years including time already served; died 1967
Heinrich Gattineau Heinrich Gattineau.jpg Intelligence and plant police I I I   I acquitted; died 1985
Erich von der Heyde Deputy of intelligence and plant police;
Hauptsturmführer in the SS, member of the OKW
I I I I I acquitted
Hans Kugler (de) Hans Kugler.jpg Head of sales for dyestuffs for south-eastern Europe I G I   I 1½ years including time already served.

I — Indicted   G — Indicted and found guilty

The defendants Ilgner and Kugler were released immediately after the judgement since they had already been in custody longer than their sentence.


External links[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).