BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 19 August, 1999, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Ford rejects Auschwitz allegations
Demonstrators outside the shareholders meeting
Protesters say "No forgiveness" for German company IG Farban
The head of a Polish-German organisation that represents victims of Nazi slave labour has played down earlier reports of new-found evidence that the American Ford Motor company used forced labour from Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War.

The man, Jan Parys, told the BBC that the documents recently released from Russian archives did not include definite proof of Ford's involvement.

Mr Parys said Ford's name appeared in a list of companies that had contact with Auschwitz, but that it was too early to draw conclusions about the nature of the contact.

Ford officials say the documents only show that vehicles produced by Ford were used at Auschwitz, and that there were no suggestions whatsoever that the company itself was involved in the use of slave labour there.

They also say that the American company did not control its European operations in Nazi-occupied Europe.

The list, obtained by Auschwitz museum officials, represents only a fraction of the entire Auschwitz archive, which was taken from Poland by the postwar Soviet authorities to the USSR.

Fund for Nazi slave labourers

Protest scene
Shareholders have bowed to pressure
On Wednesday, shareholders of the German chemical company, IG Farben, which appeared on the list, voted to go ahead with plans for a compensation fund for former slave labourers under the Nazis.

The chemical giant made Zyklon-B, the gas used to kill Jews in the concentration camps.

Shareholders at a meeting in Frankfurt voted to set up a million-pound fund to pay several hundred survivors.

The first payments will go to former slave labourers over 80 who were at Auschwitz.

Auschwitz scene
Former slave labourers will get the first payments
But Holocaust survivor groups called the company's offer "ridiculously low".

Peter Gingold, an 83-year-old survivor, said: "Regardless of the fund, there will be no peace with IG Farben. The company's shares are sticky with blood."

Although it is no longer trading, protesters want the company wound up and its assets, worth more than $11m, distributed between the victims of its wartime activities.

Shareholders' meetings have sparked regular protests in recent years.

After the war, the allies split the firm up into several other chemical companies but IG Farben remained, dealing mainly in property.

At Auschwitz, IG Farben ran a slave labour plant using 83,000 people at its peak in 1944.

Pressure on IG Farben has grown since last year when major German companies set up a compensation fund in the hope of stopping legal action in the United States.

The BBC's Mary Sibirsky: "The list is the first of its kind"
The BBC's Sanchia Berg investigates into the documents
See also:

21 Jun 99 | The Company File
Holocaust insurance pay-out
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories