IG Farben / Poelzig Building

 

At the end of the 1920s the IG Farben (Interessengemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG), an affiliation of German chemical companies founded in Frankfurt in 1925/1926, was seeking a representative office building as its headquarters. In the Frankfurt district Westend IG Farben acquired the Grüneburg real estate, which had been owned by the Rothschild family since 1837 and since 1864 was the site of the “City Lunatic Asylum” (also known as “Monkey cliffs” or “Monkey rock”). The competition publicized was won by Hans Poelzig and his design was Europe’s most modern and largest office complex up until the 1950s.

After the Nazis seized power the IG Farben became a National Socialist state and warfare concern. During the years of the war IG Farben manufactured for the war economy and profited from the Aryanization and integration of companies. From 1942, near the Polish city Monowitz, the concern operated a factory to produce Buna, a synthetic rubber intended to make the armaments industry independent from imported natural rubber. In order not to rely on prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp the plant was linked to its own labour camp, the concentration camp Buna/Monowitz, from which the concern recruited workers for forced labour.

IG Farben was also a 42.5% shareholder in Degesch (German Company for Pest Control), which produced the pesticide Zyklon B. In autumn 1941 at Auschwitz, Zyklon B, produced from hydrocyanic acid, was first tested on the systematic killing of humans. In the ensuing years it was used to murder hundreds of thousands of inmates in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, Stutthof, Mauthausen and Neuengamme.

At the end of the War the Poelzig Building became the American headquarters under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was the scene of significant historical occasions and remained in American possession until 1995. The property was then returned to the ownership of the State of Hessen and it was established as the new campus of the university. To keep alive the volatile history of the location the Norbert Wollheim Memorial was installed in the park to pay tribute to the forced labourers of the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp.

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Campus Westend - IG Farben-Haus (Poelzig-Bau)
Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1
60323 Frankfurt am Main
Phone +49 (0) 69 79822472
Fax +49 (0) 69 79828530