United States v. Krauch (“The I.G. Farben Case”)

8 Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals 1081 (1952)

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United States v. Krauch (“The I.G. Farben Case”)

United States Military Tribunal VI, Nuremberg, 1948
8 Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals 1081 (1952)

Facts

Carl Krauch and various other corporate officials of I. G. Farben (defendants) were indicted by the United States (plaintiff) on charges connected with the crimes of the Nazi regime, including exterminating inmates at concentration camps and medical experimentation on inmates without consent. I. G. Farben was a vast company, owning 400 firms in Germany and 500 around the world. According to an indictment against various company officials, I. G. Farben made a poisonous gas, Cyclon-B, which was shipped to concentration camps in significant quantities for use in mass exterminations in places such as Auschwitz by Degesch, a company in which I. G. Farben had a 42.5 percent interest. Some of the defendants served on Degesch’s supervisory board, and there was a question relating to their knowledge, if any, of the shipments and their illegal use. However, it was also true that Cyclon-B was an insecticide, and the need for insecticides in places where great numbers of people were confined in unsanitary conditions was well-known. There was testimony that the true use of the poisonous gas was held in the strictest of confidence under penalty of death and that the defendants had no such knowledge. I. G. Farben was also accused of experimenting on people to evaluate vaccines and other medicines. Inmates in the camps were unwillingly infected with typhus and then given drugs made by I. G. Farben to test the drugs. Many people died. This was clearly a violation of international law. Thus, the question was whether there was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants were aware of or somehow aided in this crime. The spread of typhus was of great concern at the time. I. G. Farben had developed a method of mass producing a typhus vaccine that needed to be tested, and it had met with government health departments urging testing. The prosecution alleged that the defendants had guilty knowledge because Nazi physicians conducted the experiments on inmates to test I. G. Farben’s products, and some experiments were conducted by I. G. Farben’s own physicians, whose reports revealed the illegal experiments. The prosecution alleged that the German word used in the reports meant experiment, but the defendants stated that it simply meant test in that context. Also, the prosecutor argued that the drugs were shipped to the camps in quantities that indicated a criminal purpose. However, I. G. Farben stopped sending the drugs as soon as it suspected improper use.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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