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Ikea used East German prison labour: report

Published: 02 Sep 2011 18:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Sep 2011 18:12 GMT+02:00

During the 1970s, Ikea developed a strong manufacturing presence in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), establishing operations in 65 locations across the country to produce parts and furniture, according to a report by German public broadcaster WDR.

Citing documents taken from the Stasi archives, the broadcaster found evidence of deep cooperation between Ikea and East German authorities.

According to the Stasi files, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad stated that, while he had no official knowledge of the use of prison labour, if it did indeed exist, “in the opinion of Ikea it would be in society's interests”.

One factory, where Ikea's popular Klippan sofa was produced, stood beside a prison in the town of Waldhiem.

A former prison chief told WDR that prison labour was an expected part of furniture production.

And Hans Otto Klare, who was imprisoned for trying to flee East Germany, told WDR of miserable working conditions at a factory in Naumberg where Ikea fasteners and hinges were produced.

“Our team of workers lived in the upper part [of the factory], where the windows were covered. In the lower part of the building were the machines,” he told the broadcaster.

“The machines were like this: they had no proper seats, no hearing protection, no gloves. It was even more primitive than conditions that already existed in the GDR economy. It was slave labour.”

In an interview, Sabine Nold, a spokesperson for Ikea in Germany, told the programme she had no comment on the revelations.

On the day the programme was broadcast in early Auguest, Ikea also issued a statement claiming they hadn't found any evidence of prison labour, but was nevertheless sorry if it did indeed occur.

The report came just prior to the publication of a new book by Swedish journalist Elisabeth Åsbrink, entitled "And in Wienerwald the trees remain" (”Och i Wienerwald står träden kvar), which includes revelations that Kamprad was more active in Swedish Nazi circles than previously known.

Among other things, Kamprad is believed to have actively recruited new members to Sweden's main war-time Nazi movement the National Socialist Workers' Party (Svensk Socialistisk Samling - SSS).

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:15 September 2, 2011 by Grokh
if sweden is gona complain about stuff like this then they have to also pursue fanatic religious people no matter their religion... i see no difference between a nazi saying racist stuff and a muslim saying racist stuff and a christian saying racist stuff. They are all "political views" if one is defended then they have to all be, or heres a good idea get rid of all their lunatic asses ;D
19:47 September 2, 2011 by Tysknaden
Yes. After WW 2, Eastern Germany became a Russian hostage. It became the real-socialist paradise named "GDR" :-(

@Grokh: All this has nothing to do with races.
06:53 September 3, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
Mr. Kamprad is so old. The 1970s and '80s are long ago. Can we just move on with REAL news? I realise that it's important to learn from history so that mistakes are not repeated, but this is sensationalist journalism, nothing can be substantiated or proven.
07:30 September 3, 2011 by Decedo
Yeah it did happen a long time ago (...but the '70s and '80s aren't that long ago), and IKEA can try and plead innocent by forgetting and not finding evidence in their records, but blood money is still blood money.
12:35 September 3, 2011 by rybo1
Maybe IKEA should use Swedish prison labour.
09:30 September 4, 2011 by calebian22
There doesn't need to be an agenda. Justice doesn't always have a convenient timetable.
11:53 September 4, 2011 by Tysknaden
@tompaine: To break the national pride. To weaken self defense - making Sweden easier game. It is some kind of education. And money; it's about money, too.
20:50 September 4, 2011 by jack sprat
@tompaine

They are being pointed out right now because most of the world knew very little about these things at the time they happened and the ones who did know obviously didn't care.

The media no longer have any major nazi war criminals to pursue so lesser evils such as kamprad can now be considered fair game
22:41 September 4, 2011 by Tysknaden
@jack sprat: Kamprad is an importent and prominent figure of business. Ikea is a national symbol.

Those informations about Kamprad have been on ice for a special use. This day of use has come: Education and punishment of Swedish voters. Warning to other important persons with a stained past. The next election result shall be different. So a little shock has been placed in the media. A bigger shock amongst many smaller ones.

Do you really think, the intelligence services of several modern countries did not know about Kamprad's and Ikea's history? - For so many years?

With the same methods Germany has been made a lapdog and the EU money torrent for many years.

Buying the politicians and brainwashing the voters.
09:06 September 5, 2011 by rise
I wasn't even aware of this being a secret? Because already when I was a small child in the 1970's I was being told that prisoners are making IKEA-stuff..!
09:41 September 5, 2011 by isenhand
Isn't this just good business? Making profits?Just looks to me like the free market in action at its best. Don't we all want such wonders of the free market?
09:57 September 5, 2011 by Tysknaden
@isenhand: In this case the slaves have been made and delivered by socialists. And stop, please, using computer and Internet; both are products of the free market.

Oh! - And free speech... is only possible in countries with a free market.
10:32 September 5, 2011 by isenhand
@Tysknaden

And that's what I was getting at. Both a free market and the socialist system of Eastern Europe both produce human suffering one way or the other (look at the tramps and beggars in Stockholm for example) Both justify the suffering one way or the other. Both as bad as each other. Nether the drive towards a free market nor the type of socialism implement last century are the way to go.

And no, free speech is not only possible in countries with a free market, that's a non sequitur.
12:30 September 5, 2011 by Tysknaden
Not non sequitur in history and in practical daily life.
12:48 September 5, 2011 by isenhand
@Tysknaden

Its a non sequitur because it does not follow that just because you see freedom of speech only in countries that have free markets that only freedom of speech can only occur in those countries that have free markets. For example, you have no idea of any future system that might occur that doesn't rely on a free market but still has freedom of speech. Also, we have not had many place that have implemented a real free market anyway. A few examples would include Somalia and Singapore in its early years and those places did not have much in the way of freedom of speech.

Have a look here:

http://www.uq.edu.au/economics/johnquiggin/news01/CIS0109.html

" Freedom of speech, in universities, public spaces and elsewhere, is ultimately incompatible with privatisation and unfettered freedom of action for corporations. "
13:11 September 5, 2011 by Tysknaden
@isenhand: I am not that much into spiritismn and religion.

And the future will bring only slavery and death.
02:01 September 6, 2011 by waffen
There could be Rovism plants from the United States on this blog to keep up the same level of disinformation that pollutes the blogs in the United States.

Isenhand's last comment hit the nail on the head with his quote, because the University system in the United States follows the Powell Doctrine whereby the Corporate Oligarchy in the United States is hand-in-glove with the University system, to the point that the only thing that matters is the freedom of action for coporations to drain the Universities of talented people who keep the Oligarchy fat, rich and happy,

That is especially so under the present scheme of Republicans now in power who are doing everything in their power to thwart the United States President and to hold the working people down,

The only religion that the quote represents is that of the Republicans like Limbaugh, Rove, Nyquist, and those others both in and out of government, like Cheney and Fife, et al, of that crowd. who began the Depression in the United States under policies that kept them rich.. .
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