• Sweden edition
 
Ikea admits using East German prison labour

Ikea admits using East German prison labour

Published: 16 Nov 2012 14:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Nov 2012 15:27 GMT+01:00

Ikea apologized on Friday after a report confirmed that East German political prisoners were used in the Swedish furniture giant's factories in the 1970s and 1980s.

"We are deeply sorry that this could happen," Jeanette Skjelmose, head of sustainability at Ikea of Sweden, said in a statement.

Following revelations that surfaced in April this year on Sveriges Television's (SVT) Uppdrag Granskning programme, the furniture company initially rejected the claims, but on Friday admitted that prisoners had been used to make its products.

Ikea had commissioned an investigation into the claims by auditors Earnst and Young which concluded that Ikea furniture had been built using East German prisoners.

Releasing a report, Ikea said there were "indications that political prisoners and convicts were partly involved in producing parts or pieces of furniture that were delivered to Ikea 25 or 30 years ago."

"In addition, the investigation showed there were Ikea managers who were aware of the possibility that political prisoners would be used to manufacture Ikea products in the former East Germany," the report added.

While the firm took steps to ensure this did not occur, "it is now clear that these measures were not effective enough," the furniture giant acknowledged.

"At the time, we did not yet have the well-organised control system we have today and clearly did not do enough to prevent this type of production method," the firm said.

Meanwhile, Skjelmose explained a similar incident could not occur given the company's current control systems.

"Using political prisoners in production has never been accepted within the group. During this time, we did not have the well-developed control system and it's clear that it was not enough to prevent the incident," she told the paper.

The Ernst and Young report examined documents from the Ikea archives as well as from the German historical files.

The auditors also carried out some 90 interviews with a variety of Ikea employees, prisoners and witnesses.

But the report has already come under fire.

Klaus Schroeder, a political scientist at Berlin's Free University, said: "It would have been simpler to come and ask us because we are the experts on this subject.

Roland Schulz, vice-president of an association representing victims of the Communist regime in East Germany, dismissed the report as "unscientific."

"Ikea as the guilty party is itself conducting the investigation rather than leaving it to unbiased sources. Therefore we strongly doubt the validity of the results," he added.

He called for historians and political scientists to carry out a more thorough investigation.

According to media reports, Ikea was far from being the only company to employ forced labour in the former Communist East, noting that the mail-order companies Neckermann et Quelle are also alleged to have observed similar practices.

But Rainer Wagner, the president of the UOKG group representing "victims of communist tyranny" told the Berliner Zeitung daily on Friday that Ikea's efforts were "a start" and called on other firms to investigate their past.

The UOKG and other victims' groups have called for a compensation fund to be set up for former forced workers under the East German communist regime.

AFP/The Local/og

Follow The Local on Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

18:08 November 16, 2012 by Mb 65
There's nothing wrong in that it's better than sitting in a cell all day and prisoners should work for their keep.
21:48 November 16, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
So what's the problem? Back home in the USA countless companies use prison labor as workers. I assumed this was a common thing the world over.
22:41 November 16, 2012 by Emerentia
@ Mb 65 @ Spuds MacKenzie Nothing wrong?! Are you serious? To use the work force of political prisoners in a regime like that was is to indirectly support that system. Do you really compare people who protested againt the regime or tried to flee to the west as criminals?
Today's headlines
Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV
Grossed out Ica woman at Easter dinner. Screengrab from Ica

Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV

A Swedish supermarket has decided to withdraw its Easter commercial, after Christians complained it made a mockery of communion - "They crossed the line." Sweden's advertising watchdog will now look into the case. READ () »

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut
The search and rescue operation in northern Sweden. File photo: TT

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut

The 22-year-old man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in northern Sweden had his sentence reduced on Wednesday, in part due to his "peculiar personality". READ () »

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

An elementary school in southern Sweden was evacuated on Wednesday and dozens of pupils were taken to hospital after the smell of gas spread through the rooms. READ () »

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock
The Flymen Church weathercock in all its newly gilded glory. Photo: TT

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock

A Swedish churchwarden has reacted with joy upon finding out the parish has Sweden's nicest weathercock. READ () »

Greens push rich tax to finance schools
Per Bolund of The Greens. File photo: TT

Greens push rich tax to finance schools

Sweden's third largest party The Greens revealed its shadow budget on Wednesday, targeting schools and youth employment. High earners would have to pitch in more. READ () »

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'
Ibiza, you say? File photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'

Mythbusting Swedish researchers have found no link between gushing about your upcoming holiday online and returning to an emptied house. They told The Local that a trip to Ikea could be much more dangerous. READ () »

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft
The people in this picture are not those from the story. Photo: TT

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft

A woman in Gothenburg who accused a beggar of robbing her has been charged with fraud and false accusations. READ () »

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
Photo: Kungahuset

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess

Sweden's royal family has set the date for the baptism of Princess Leonore. READ () »

The Local List
Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

With Swedish Game of Thrones fans frothing at the mouth at the season four premiere, The Local revisits its list of ten reasons why the hit books and show are (probably) based in Sweden. READ () »

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers
The Kockums Malmö shipyard and FMV headquarters. Files: TT

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers

After the Swedish military raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp, a military expert tells The Local why recent Russian aggression means Sweden's Saab needs to take control of national submarine production. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Advertisement:
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
TT
Society
VIDEO: Leaked 'Save Slussen' film goes viral
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching, March 28-30
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
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 »

745
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