What causes a cyclone

Warfare agents and Zyklon B

The I.G. Farbenindustrie AG produces poison gases during the Second World War. For example, through an operating company, Anorgana GmbH, based in Ludwigshafen, it produces the warfare agents tabun and sarin in the Dyhernfurth plant near Breslau (Silesia, now Poland) and the warfare agent mustard in Gendorf, Bavaria.

Zyklon B is a poisonous gas based on hydrocyanic acid that has been used in the gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps for the systematic murder of well over a million prisoners, most of them Jews, since September 1941. Originally developed as a pest control agent, Zyklon B is sold by the German Society for Pest Control mbH (Degesch) founded in 1919 and by its sales companies since 1930/31. After the start of the war (1939), the Wehrmacht and SS became major customers of Degesch and their sales companies - not only soldiers' quarters, but also the barracks of the concentration camps had to be de-defested to prevent the spread of disease-carrying vermin.

Since 1930 I.G. Farben holds a 42.5 percent stake in Degesch. Carl Wurster (1900-1974; 1952-1965 Chairman of the Board of Management of the newly founded BASF) has been a member of its Board of Directors since 1940. After the end of the war (1945) and especially in the context of the Nuremberg Trials, the question was asked whether those responsible at I.G. Farben knew that Zyklon B was used for the mass murder of people from September 1941. An answer cannot be given with absolute certainty. In any case, the documents and testimonies received do not give any indications that Carl Wurster knew about the improper use of the pesticide for industrial mass destruction. For him, like the other members of the Degesch board of directors, who had no insight into the current management, the sales figures for Zyklon B did not reveal an irregularity. Because more and more people were housed in camps during the war, it was to be expected that the demand for delousing agents and other pesticides would increase. In addition, the actual sales of Zyklon B after the killing operations began in Auschwitz in September 1941 were not significantly higher than before. Wurster was acquitted on all counts in 1948.

Furthermore, recent research comes to the conclusion that Degesch, even after the participation of other companies (1930) “remained an integral part of the Degussa Group and not, for example, of IG Farben, as was the case in the war crimes trials against the board of directors in the year 1947/48 was wrongly assumed and is still the current view today. "