in full Interessengemeinschaft Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft (German: “Syndicate of Dyestuff-Industry Corporations”), world's largest chemical concern, or cartel, from its founding in Germany in 1925 until its dissolution by the Allies after WorldWar II. The IG (Interessengemeinschaft, “syndicate” or, literally, “community of interests”), partly patterned after earlier U.S. trusts, grew out of a complex merger of German manufacturers of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and dyestuffs (Farben). The major members were the companies known today as BASF Aktiengesellschaft, BayerAG, Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, Agfa-Gevaert Group (Agfa merged with Gevaert, a Belgian company, in 1964), and Cassella AG (from 1970 a subsidiary of Hoechst).
The movement toward association had begun in 1904, with the merger of Hoechst and Cassella—a merger that immediately prompted a rival merger by BASF and Bayer, laterjoined by Agfa. (This latter group was called the Dreibund, or “Triple Confederation.”) In 1916, at the height of World War I, the rival groups joined forces and, with the addition of other firms, formed the Interessengemeinschaft der Deutschen Teerfarbenfabriken (“Syndicate of German Coal-Tar Dye Manufacturers”). This “little IG” was no more than a loose association: member companies remained independent, while dividing production and markets and sharing information. In 1925, after protracted legal and fiscal negotiations, the “big IG” was formed: assets of all constituent companies were merged, with all stock being exchanged for BASF shares; BASF, the holding company, changed its name to IG Farbenindustrie AG; headquarters were set up in Frankfurt; andcentral management was drawn from the executives of all constituent companies. (Cassella at first held out and was not absorbed by IG Farben until 1937.)
Policy-making was fused, but operations were decentralized. Regionally, production was split into five industrial zones—Upper Rhine, Middle Rhine, Lower Rhine, Middle Germany, and Berlin. In terms of vertical organization, the company's production was split among three “technical” commissions, each governing a different range of products. Marketing was split among four sales commissions. In the course of the late 1920s and '30s, IG Farben also became international, with trust arrangements and interests in major European countries, the United States, and elsewhere.
During World War II, IG Farben established a synthetic oil and rubber plant at Auschwitz in order to take advantage of slave labour; the company also conducted drug experiments on live inmates. After the war several company officials were convicted of war crimes (nine being found guilty of plunder and spoliation of property in occupied territory and four being found guilty of imposing slave labour and inhumane treatment on civilians and prisoners of war).
In 1945 IG Farben came under Allied authority; its industries (along with those of other German firms) were to be dismantled or dismembered with the stated intent “to render impossible any future threat to Germany's neighbours or to world peace.” In the western zones of Germany, however, especially as the Cold War advanced, this disposition toward liquidation lessened. Eventually the Western powers and West Germans agreed to divide IG Farben into just three independent units: Hoechst, Bayer, and BASF (the first two being refounded in 1951; BASF in 1952).
Bayer AG, German chemical company, which makes aspirin, synthetic rubber, insecticides, and many other products. Bayer AG originated as Friedrich Bayer & Co., founded in 1863 in Barmen (now Wuppertal), Germany, but based in Wiesdorf (now Leverkusen), Germany, from 1893. The company became well known for its development and production of aspirin—discovered by Felix Hoffman, a Bayer employee—and for its synthetic rubber, introduced in 1910. During World War I (1914-1918) the German government restricted Bayer's exports to enemy countries. The United States government confiscated and auctioned off all of Bayer's American assets, including the names “Bayer” and “aspirin” and associated trademarks. These remained outside the German company's control until it bought them back from SmithKline Beecham in 1994.
In 1925 Bayer merged with BASF, Hoechst, and other companies to form IG Farbenindustrie AG. Under the leadership of Carl Duisberg, formerly head of Bayer, IG Farben became the largest company in Europe, its subsidiaries producing rayon, dynamite, synthetic dyestuffs, and nitrogen. During the Nazi period it took over chemical companies in German-occupied territories, used slave labor in many of its plants, and produced the Zyklon-B gas used for the mass murder of Jews and others. Some of its directors, including the former Bayer personnel, were convicted of war crimes in 1947. The group was then controlled by the Allied occupation authorities until 1952.
Bayer was reestablished in that year as Farbenfabriken Bayer AG, taking its present name in 1972. It now has units and subsidiaries in many countries, producing synthetic rubber, dyes, polyurethane, pharmaceuticals, insecticides, and other chemicals. Its subsidiary Agfa-Gevaert AG produces color and monochrome film.
German chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in 1863 by a chemical salesman, Friedrich Bayer (1825–80), and now operating plants in Germany and more than 30 other countries. Company headquarters, originally in Barmen (now Wuppertal),have been in Leverkusen, north of Cologne, since 1912.
The company was originally called Friedr. Bayer et comp. and manufactured dyestuffs; in 1881 it was incorporated as Farbenfabriken vormals Friedr. Bayer & Co. In 1912 CarlDuisberg (1861–1935), a chemist, became Bayer's general director and soon began spearheading the movement that would result in 1925 in the consolidation of Germany's chemical industries known as IG Farben (q.v.); Duisberg was IG Farben's first chairman, and Bayer remained within the cartel until it was dissolved by the Allies in 1945. In 1951 an independent Bayer was reestablished as Farbenfabriken Bayer Aktiengesellschaft; the current name was adopted in 1972. In 1981 Bayer acquired a controlling interest in the Agfa-Gevaert Group, a German and Belgian corporate group producing photographic equipment and film, magnetic tape, and photocopying and duplicating machines.
The company's trademark, the Bayer cross, is internationally famous. Scores of pharmaceuticals, dyes, acetates, synthetic rubbers, plastics, fibres, insecticides, and other chemicals were first developed by Bayer. Notably, it was the first developer and marketer of aspirin (1899); of the first sulfa drug, Prontosil (1935); and of polyurethane(1937), the base material for synthetic foams, paints, adhesives, fibres, and other goods.