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Carl Bosch and Carl Krauch: Chemistry and the Political Economy of Germany, 1925–1945

  • Peter Hayes (a1)

Carl Bosch and Carl Krauch, accomplished scientists and prominent executives in the BASF and IG Farben chemical corporations, were drawn together by mutual admiration and common technical interests. In the Nazi era, however, they came to embody competing liberal and nationalist conceptions of German political economy. This article examines their relationship, the reasons for their divergent stances, and their individual contributions to the economic and productive power of the Third Reich. Ironically, Bosch's understanding of his industry, his nation, and scientific progress led him to oppose the Nazis, but also to lay the basis for their recruitment of Krauch and the German chemical industry for their expansionist purposes.

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1 For a polite, contemporary description of this pattern, see Schwarz, , Goldschmidt & Co., Die I.G. Farbenindustrie und ihre Bedeurung (Berlin, 1926), p. 6.

2 See Gross, Hermann, Further Facts and Figures Relating to the Deconcentration of the I.G. Farbenindustrie Akriengesellschaft (Kiel, 1950), pp. 3540, on Farben's relative size. For fuller treatments of the industry's long consolidation process, see Hayes, Peter, Industry and Ideology: IG Farben in the Nazi Era (New York, 1987), pp. 716, and the sources cited there.

3 On Bosch's career, see the rather worshipful account of Holdermann, Karl, Im Banne der Chemie. Carl Bosch, Leben und Werke (Düsseldorf, 1953).

4 Beike, Heinz, “Zur Rolle von Fritz Haber und Carl Bosch in Politik und Gesellschaft,” Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Technischen Hochschule für Chemie Leuna-Merseburg, 3 (19601961), p. 65. I have converted Beike's Reichsmark figures according to the 01 1919 rate of 9: 1.

5 Office of the Military Government for Germany (U.S.), I. G. Farben Control Office [ Kugler, Hans], The Activities of I. G. Farbenindustrie in the Dyesruffs Industry (n.p., 1946), p. 27.

6 On Farben's total fuel investments, here converted at the prevailing official rate of 4RM:$l, see Tammen, Hellmuth, Die I. G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft (1925–1933) (Berlin, 1978), pp. 5052.

7 Quoted in Winschuh, Josef, Männer, Traditionen, Signale (Berlin, 1940), pp. 5052.

8 Quoted by Krauch, Carl in United States National Archives, Record Group 238, M892, Records of the United States of America vs. Carl Krauch et al. (Case VI), Reel 15, p. 5122.

9 Unternehmensarchiv der BASF AG, Signatur W1, Bosch's remarks in Vienna upon receipt of the Exner Medal, December 16, 1932.

10 Holdermann, Im Banne der Chemie, pp. 266–67, quoting Bosch's speech to the Association of German Chemists in May 1921.

11 See fn. 9.

12 The quoted remarks appear in Rauschning, Hermann, The Voice of Destruction (New York, 1940), pp. 24, 191. On Nazi economic thought, see Turner, Henry A., “Hitlers Einstellung zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft vor 1933,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 1 (1976), pp. 89117; Peter Kruger, “Zu Hitlers ‘nationalsozialistischen Wirtschaftserkenntnissen’,” Turner, Henry A., “Hitlers Einstellung zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft vor 1933,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 1 (1976), pp. 89117;., 6 (1980), pp. 263–82; and the three excellent publications of Avraham Barkai: “Sozialdarwinismus und Antiliberalismus in Hitlers Wirtschaftskonzept,” Ibid., 3 (1977), pp. 406–17; “Die Wirtschaftsauffassung der NSDAP,” Aus Politik und Zeirgeschichte, Beilage 9 (1975), pp. 3–16; and Das Wirzschaftssystem des Nationalsozialismus (Köln, 1977).

13 Hayes, Peter, Industry and Ideology, chap. 2.

14 Ibid., chaps. 3–5, for detailed documentation.

15 Holdermann, Im Banne der Chemie, pp. 293–97, 301–2, 305–7.

16 On Krauch's career, see the entry in Neue Deutsche Biographie, vol. 12, pp. 679–81.

17 BASF, Im Reiche der Chemie (Düsseldorf, 1965), p. 94;Borkin, Joseph, The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben (New York, 1978), pp. 2627.

18 The description is from Knickerbocker, H. R., The German Crisis (New York, 1932), p. 83. When the author visited the factory, its 600 buildings were spread over an area measuring just under 1 by 3 miles.

19 According to a memoir in my possession, pp. 165–66, written decades later by Krauch's chief assistant in the 1930s and furnished me by his family on the condition that I not cite the author by name during his lifetime.

20 This characterization by Glum, Friedrich appears in his memoir, Zwischen Wissenschaft, Wirrschaft und Politik (Bonn, 1964), p. 490.

21 U. S. National Archives, RG 238, T301, Reel 82, NI-10044, Affidavit by Bässler, H., August 4, 1947, and Reel 66, NI-7956, Affidavit by H. Bässler, July 17, 1947, which detail the membership of the Working and Central Committees, respectively. Krauch's appointment to the Central Committee did not take formal effect, however, until 1934, since the concern delayed “in consideration of the political conditions.” See Duisberg to Krauch, May 2, 1933, in Krauch's personal file at the I. G. Farbenindustrie in Abwicklung office, Frankfurt.

22 Hayes, Industry and Ideology, chaps. 4–5.

23 Ibid., pp. 36–42, which supersedes the nonetheless excellent and path-breaking work of Hughes, Thomas Parke, “Technological Momentum in History: Hydrogenation in Germany 1898–1933,” Past & Present, 44 (08 1969), pp. 106–32.

24 Hayes, Industry and Ideology, pp. 66–67, gives a detailed discussion of this meeting and the available evidence concerning it. See also Turner, Henry A. Jr, German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler (New York, 1985), pp. 248–49.

25 For evidence that IG did not, in fact, recover its costs by 1945, see Birkenfeld, Wolfgang, Der synthetische Treibstoff, 1933–1945 (Göttingen, 1964), pp. 3334, and U.S. National Archives, RG 238, M892, Bütefisch Defense Document 159, Affidavit by Hartmann, K., January 12, 1948. On the concern's strategic response, see RG 238, T301, Reel 38, NI-5 187, affidavit by Fritz terMeer, April 15, 1947, and terMeer, Fritz, Die I. G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft (Düsseldorf, 1953), p. 82.

26 Holdermann, Im Banne der Chemie, pp. 291–92.

27 U.S. National Archives, RG 238, M892, Krauch Defense Document 87, Affidavit by Krauch, Carl, December 29, 1947;Petzina, DieterAutarkiepolitik im Dritten Reich (Stuttgart, 1968), pp. 183, 185. I have converted the Reichsmark figures to dollars on the basis of the nominal 4: 1 ratio, rather than the 2.5: 1 ratio current just before the war or the 1.5: 1 ratio, based on relative purchasing powers, that IG Farben's financial officers favored.

28 See Petzina Aurarkiepolirik, Table 2, p. 83.

29 U.S. National Archives, RG 238, M892, Krauch's testimony at his postwar trial, pp. 5115–17.

30 See U. S. National Archives, RG 238, T301, Reel 18, NI-5184, Affidavit by terMeer, Friz, April 29, 1947, pp. 16–17; Reel 18, NI-6120, Affidavit by Carl Krauch, March 28, 1947; and Schmitz to Krauch, May 31, 1940, in Krauch's personal file at the I.G. Farben in Abwicklung office, Frankfurt.

31 I have estimated IG's share in investments under the Four Year Plan from the data provided in Petzina, Autarkiepolitik, p. 183; U.S. National Archives, RG 238, T301, Reel 82, NI-10001, Affidavit by Deichfischer, H., June 11, 1947; and these documents in the Firmenarchiv der Hoechst AG, Frankfurt-Hoechst, File TEA 393: Mittelaufwendungen: Rundfrage der Reichsstelle für Wirtschaftsausbau, January 21, 1939; Ausgaben auf Neuanlagen für die Z.A.-Sitzung, January 25, 1939; and Erlauterungen zum Ausgabenplan der IG-Werke, May 11, 1939.

32 See Hayes, Industry and Ideology, pp. 317–20; and Morris, Peter J. T., The Development of Acetylene Chemistry and Synthetic Rubber by I. G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft: 1926–1945 (dissertation, University of Oxford, 1982), pp. 321–42.

33 Berlin Document Center, Personalakten Krauch, contains the records of Krauch's membership in the NSDAP.

34 See U.S. National Archives, RG 238, M892, Reel 6, Krauch's testimony, pp. 508748; T301, Reel 53, NI-6768, Interrogation of Krauch, April 29, 1947; T301, Reel 7 NI-8840, Krauch to Koerner, July 22, 1938; Petzina, Autarkiepolitik, pp. 124–25.

35 See U.S. National Archives, RG 238, T301, Reel 60, NI-7241, Schnitzler and ligner to Göring, August 19, 1937. The government decree that amounted to a rejection of Farben's proposals is in the Werksarchiv der Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Direktions-Abteilung, Bd. 377, and dated January 22, 1938.

36 Bundesarchiv, Koblenz, R25/14, Krauch's speech to the General Council of the Four Year Plan, April 20–21, 1939, p. 14.

37 Bundesarchiv, Koblenz, R25/13, Notizen für die Besprechung mit Herrn Staatssekretär Körner, May 16, 1939.

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