Popular Pharmaceutical Company Bayer Bought Concentration Camp Victims in WWII

Auschwitz Concentration camp. PerSona77 - CC BY-SA 3.0 pl

Everyone has heard of Bayer, the pharmaceutical company that runs aspirin commercials on television. Not everyone knows, however, of Bayer’s dark past.

The successor of pharmaceutical conglomerate IG Farben, the company was a huge donor to Hitler’s electoral campaign and supporter of the Nazis.

IG Farben worked closely with the Nazi party to take over manufacturing plants when the Germans invaded other European countries. IG Farben also held stock in and was represented on the board of the company which produced the gas used in the Holocaust gas chambers.

Some historians have suggested that without IG Farben, Hitler could not have risen to power and there would not have been a second world war.

IG Bayer seen today, in Leverkusen, Germany
IG Bayer today, in Leverkusen, Germany.

The Beginning

After the end of World War I, chemical companies in Germany merged to form IG Farben. They produced everything from pharmaceuticals to manufacturing chemicals to explosives.

In 1932, representatives met with Hitler to ascertain if he would support their endeavors. They wanted to expand their plants and work on a synthetic gasoline program. Once Hitler officially came to power, they agreed on a formal Reich contract to enlarge their plant and produce gas, through a partnership with both the army and air force.

Concentration Camp Involvement

Auschwitz was much more than a concentration camp. It was also the setting for IG Auschwitz, a 100 percent subsidiary of IG Farben. It was the largest complex in the world manufacturing gasoline and rubber.

It was also where IG Farben tested its products. Prisoners who were considered appropriate candidates were sent to the IG Auschwitz factory. There they were used for human experiments of new vaccines being developed. The unlucky individuals sent to the gas chambers were privy to another kind of IG Farben invention – the synthetic gas Zyklon-B.

The IG Auschwitz factory was not the only place where human testing was being conducted on victims. IG Farben had its own concentration camp. There, tested vaccines and chemicals were applied to both sick and healthy individuals, in the form of injections, pills, enemas and powders. Many fell seriously ill or died as a result of these tests.

Fritz ter Meer was on the board at IG Farben and planned satellite camps of Auschwitz. After his short prison stay (three years), he became a supervisory board chairman at Bayer.
Fritz Ter Meer was on the board at IG Farben and planned satellite camps of Auschwitz. After his short prison stay (three years), he became a supervisory board chairman at Bayer.

Bayer bought many of these prisoners from the Auschwitz camp. Letters have been found written between the two organizations regarding the buying of 150 inmates, who were to be used for the testing of a new sleeping pill. The women were bought at 170 RM (Reichsmark) each, and records show they were in a satisfactory condition, despite being emaciated.

Later, follow-up messages indicate all prisoners died, and they required to buy a further shipment.

An Auschwitz resident testimonial states there was a large ward where all tuberculous patients were kept. Bayer sent unmarked medicines to this ward. These were injected into the test subjects, causing them all to die.

IG Farben’s other branches dealing with pharmaceuticals conducted experiments too, including typhus fever. They were not successful. It was decided the tests were invalid, as the subjects tested were in poor condition, and the laboratories provided were not ideal.