IG Farben (short for Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG) was a German conglomerate of companies formed in 1925 and even earlier during the First World War. IG Farben held nearly a total monopoly on the chemical production in Nazi Germany. Farben is german for "colors", and initially many of these companies produced dyes, but soon began to embrace more and more advanced chemistry. The founding of the IG Farben was a reaction to Germany's defeat in the First World War. Before the war the dyestuff companies had a near monopoly in the world market which they lost during the conflict. One solution for regaining this position was a large merger.
IG Farben consisted of the following major companies:
IG Farben committed so many war crimes during the World War II that the allies considered confiscating and putting all of IG Farben out of business. However, in 1951 the company was split up in the original former companies. The four largest quickly bought the smaller ones, and today only Agfa, BASF, Bayer and Hoechst remain. The parent company remained in existence as a trust, holding a few real estate assets, until it was declared bankrupt on November 10, 2003.
During the planning of the invasion of Poland and Czechoslovakia, IG Farben cooperated closely with the Nazi officials, and directed which chemical plants should be secured and delivered to IG Farben.
IG Farben built a factory for producing synthetic oil and rubber (from coal) in Auschwitz, which was the beginning of SS activity and camps in this location during the holocaust. The gas Zyklon B, which was used in the gas chambers for mass murder, was manufactured by Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung), a company owned by IG Farben.
Several of the company officials were sentenced to prison during the Nuremberg Trials.