Chapter 8: A First Attempt At Labor Cost Reductions

Carl Duisberg

In September 1916 - one month after consolidating I.G. - Carl Duisburg came up with yet another vision. He proposed that the war ministry "open up the Belgian labor basin." Apparently, sending all of German's best and brightest to the front lines had caused a labor shortage. Less than two months later, the German army began the forced deportation of Belgian workers to German factories. (29) IG indeed gave the Belgians "work rather than phrases" - and rather than wages and freedom, too.

The Belgian enslavement

The Belgian clergy and journalists filled the world's newspapers with the horrors of the enslavement. The US government sent their German counterparts a note about the forced labor, complaining of a "contravention of all precedents." The deported Belgians, now 40,000 strong, refused to work. Faced with worldwide condemnation, the German power structure abandoned their "free-labor" idea (30) at least until they could figure out a way to avoid worldwide condemnation.

Duisberg and fellow war-gas pioneer Fritz Haber both put on fake beards and hid in Switzerland after the war. (31) As it turns out, Duisberg's name never appeared on any list of war criminals - post-war anti-communist sentiments were strong enough to overshadow a serious look at capitalist war-crime sponsorship.

On February 3rd, 1920, less than six months after receiving his Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Fritz Haber was charged with war crimes. The actual trials, taking place the next year, were a joke. No major criminals were tried, and Haber's name was dropped from the list before testimony began. During the WW2 Nuremberg war-crimes trials, defendant Albert Speer lamented that the failure of the war crimes trials in WW1 only encouraged the criminals to try again. (32)

Gold Medal honoring Carl Duisberg


(29) "The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben," p. 29

(30) ibid, pp. 29-30

(31) "A Higher Form of Killing," p. 32. See also "The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben," p.36

(32) "The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben," pp. 45-46

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