• Sweden edition
 

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

Swedish furniture giant Ikea used East German political prisoners in the 1970s and 1980s to help build sofas at a factory that sat adjacent to a prison, according to German media reports.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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.. .
Today's headlines

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'

The Swedish government has announced plans to beef up its defence forces by fitting its fleet of Gripen fighter jets with long-range cruise missiles. READ () »

Elections 2014
Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote
The Green Party is one of only two parties devoting their websites to the EU elections. Here campaign manager Emma Rung presents the party's posters. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote

The majority of Swedes feel the country's political parties are not doing enough to inform them about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Only two of the eight parties have dedicated their homepages to the May 25th polls. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping Brawl
Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders
Swedish police on the scene following Monday's fatal brawl. File: TT

Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders

The Syrian-Orthodox Church in Ektorp had tried to quell tensions between two rival families just hours before bad blood spilled into a massive brawl and two brothers lost their lives. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'
The bridge that connects Sweden to the European continent. File: L.E. Daniel Larsson/Flickr

'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'

The Swedish agency that helps Europeans fight impediments to the EU principle of free movement has revealed an increase in complaints, including one from a foreign citizen unable to open a bank account in Sweden. READ () »

Eurovision 2014
Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip
Sanna Nielsen in the new clip. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip

Sweden's Eurovision hopeful Sanna Nielsen released the official video for the song Undo on Wednesday, a clip featuring leather, slow motion destruction, and a frozen pig's heart and some violence. READ () »

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds
Swedish apartments. File: The Local

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds

A Swedish landlord suspects that a property fixer has set up a software robot to sign up for new flats on the market within seconds, and is charging house hunters to use the service. READ () »

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'

Twenty-five fire fighters were on hand on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in a southern Sweden animal park. The vast majority of the animals were unharmed, but the cluster of spiders wasn't so lucky. READ () »

Sweden Investor group posts sharp profit drop
File photo: Simon Cunningham/Flickr

Sweden Investor group posts sharp profit drop

Swedish investment giant Investor on Wednesday said its first-quarter profits slumped by a quarter, underlining Sweden's vulnerability to international instability. READ () »

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 23
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
Advertisement:
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

720
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com