• Germany's news in English
 

Ikea investigates Stasi prisoner labour claims

Published: 01 May 2012 10:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 May 2012 23:37 GMT+02:00

The claims, which will be aired on Swedish public television’s (SVT) Uppdrag Granskning programme on Wednesday, first emerged in a German television documentary aired on WDR in July 2011.

The world’s largest furniture retailer said it had previously investigated the claims when they were aired on WDR and found no evidence to support them, according to an Ikea statement released on Friday.

But on Saturday the company said it had requested documents from the former East German secret police or Stasi archives and is “interviewing people at Ikea who were around back then,” according to Ikea's social and environmental manager Jeanette Skjelmose.

"So far there are no indications that we would have asked that prisoners be used in manufacturing or known about it," she told the Swedish news agency TT.

"What we're looking into now is whether it could have happened anyway, without our knowledge," she said.

The show claims there is evidence to support the allegation that political prisoners were used. A reporter for the show found documents supporting the claim in the Stasi files, according to a trailer for the show on SVT’s website.

"After the German documentary, Ikea examined the issue to get a more complete picture of what happened. We have so far found no evidence to suggest that political prisoners were used in production," the firm wrote in its Friday statement.

Ikea claimed in its statement that it takes the issue seriously and stated that regular inspections were made of the firm's factories in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

"We were clear in our demands then as we are now," the firm stated.

During the 1970s, Ikea developed a strong manufacturing presence in the GDR, establishing operations in 65 locations across the country to produce parts and furniture.

The 2011 WDR documentary detailed claims, citing Stasi documents, that Ikea had a thorough cooperation with the East German authorities.

The programme illustrated the example of one factory, where Ikea's popular Klippan sofa was produced, and which was located beside a prison in Waldheim.

A former prison chief told WDR that prison labour was an expected part of furniture production.

Ikea, an unlisted, family-owned company, is the world's largest furniture retailer, with sales of €25 billion in 2011 and 131,000 employees at the end of its last fiscal year in August 2011.

AFP/The Local/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:41 May 1, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
You want it cheap.. are you ready to live with the consequences?

Not to excuse anyone, but check out WIKIPEDIA on other companies that made their livelihood out of abuse (in no way a
07:06 May 2, 2012 by danclarkie
"Swedish furniture giant Ikea is investigating claims that its factories East German political prisoners for labour during the 1970s and 1980s." - What does this even mean??
Today's headlines
Robots woo crowds at Hannover trade fair
Photo: DPA

Robots woo crowds at Hannover trade fair

Collaborative robots and intelligent machinery may have wowed the crowds at this year's Hannover Messe, but experts see German industry as having some way to go towards incorporating them on factory floors in what could become the fourth industrial revolution. READ  

Thousands protest EU-US trade talks
Photo: DPA

Thousands protest EU-US trade talks

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Europe on Saturday to oppose the world's biggest free trade pact between the US and European Union. READ  

EU-US trade talks prompt German ire
Photo: DPA

EU-US trade talks prompt German ire

In much of Europe any mention of TTIP might receive a blank stare, in Germany the proposed US-EU free trade pact is likely to prompt a volley of angry words. READ  

Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record
Photo: DPA

Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record

Oskar Gröning, 93, a former Nazi known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz", goes on trial in Germany on Tuesday in what could be the last Nazi war crimes trial while an expert calls the country's judicial record 'miserable'. READ  

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots
Photo: DPA

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots

The general manager of Turkish Airlines has urged single pilots to marry, after the Germanwings tragedy blamed on a pilot with psychological problems. READ  

Germany and Greece
'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'
Thanasis Glavinas outside one of the German parliament's buildings. Photo: Private

'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'

With the war of words – and cashflows – between Greece and Germany showing no sign of dying down, The Local meets one young Greek who's come to see what the Germans have to teach about running a country successfully. READ  

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations
'Loitz doesn't need any asylum seekers' reads the graffiti. Photo:DPA

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called on Friday for state governments to speed up deportations of failed asylum applicants, in the latest round in a war of words between the federal government and the states. READ  

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours
Photo: DPA

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has dodged a broadside from company chairman Ferdinand Piech which many thought would unseat him from the troubled car maker. Instead, the steering committee has offered him an extension to his contract. READ  

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola
Tension on the touchline: Guardiola, Schweinsteiger and Müller-Wohlfahrt Photo: DPA

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola

The resignation of iconic club doctor Hans-Willhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt on Thursday evening threatens to unleash internal chaos at Bayern Munich after their Champions League humiliation at the hands of FC Porto. READ  

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline
An InterCity train in Hannover's main train station. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn has until 3 pm on Friday to respond to demands from the Train Drivers' Union (GDL) for a "reasonable provisional result" in talks over pay, conditions and union representation. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,264
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd