• Germany edition
 
Ikea 'also used Cuban prison labour'
Photo: DPA

Ikea 'also used Cuban prison labour'

Published: 03 May 2012 12:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 May 2012 12:49 GMT+02:00

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) said it has seen East German files about a deal for Ikea furniture to be made in Cuban prisons.

The deal was struck in September 1987, after a delegation of East Germans went to Havana for talks with the Cuban Interior Ministry. East German documents show that they also spoke with Enrique Sanchez, who headed the Cuban company Emiat – responsible for furnishing the holiday and guest homes of the Cuban political elite.

The East German files say production sites were “incorporated in the prison facilities of the Interior Ministry” in Cuba.

A contract was later signed with East Berlin-based “Ikea Trading Berlin”, the paper said, for up to 4,000 “Falkenberg” three-piece suites and then 10,000 tables for children and 35,000 dining tables, all to be made in Cuba.

Problems arose in early 1988, when the first delivery of “Falkenberg” sofas was halted because of poor quality, prompting the East Germans to take another trip to Cuba to ensure production was up to Ikea quality standards. Only then, the documents show, could, “a direct shipment from Havana to Sweden be undertaken.”

The claims will increase pressure on the Swedish retail firm, which has already said this week it will look into allegations that East German prisoners were forced to make its products in the 1970s and 1980s. A spokesman told the FAZ it knew nothing about the Cuban production claims.

But this was also the initial response to the East German prison labour claims – and early this week the company said it planned to examine Stasi secret service files from the time to check for evidence.

“We take this matter extremely seriously,” said Ikea spokeswoman Jeanette Skjelmose on Monday.

“We have requested documents from the old Stasi archive and are speaking with people who were with us at that time.”

The FAZ said it was possible that political prisoners were made to build Ikea furniture in East Germany without the company knowing about it. It said many prisoners had to work for companies, without the prisoners knowing where the stuff they made was destined for, nor the firms themselves knowing who had been involved.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

20:58 May 3, 2012 by MeinSchwanz
Pssst. If people are barred from leaving Cuba, or East Germany for that matter, isn't the whole place kind of like a penal colony? I am sure the Governments thanks IKEA. Didn't Sweden also send its 'Journalists' to bomb the Sandanista's opponents in Nicaragua? Such

Chango, they were dropping off wood, and picking up cigars, sugar, bananas and political philosophy.
21:10 May 3, 2012 by Beachrider
So Chango wants to blame America for this?
21:16 May 3, 2012 by MeinSchwanz
@ Beachrider,

Isn't that 'Critical Thought 101'?
Today's headlines
Rocket Internet shares disappoint on first day
It was more of a bear than a bull market for Rocket Internet co-founder Oliver Samwer (centre). Photo: DPA

Rocket Internet shares disappoint on first day

Start-up platform Rocket Internet entered the Frankfurt stock market on Thursday, in what was hailed as a milestone for German online firms, but the company's share price immediately fell by more than ten percent. READ  

How good is Germany for the elderly?
Photo: DPA

How good is Germany for the elderly?

A study comparing quality of life for older people around the world has ranked Germany 5th out of 96 countries. How good a place is Germany for the elderly? READ  

Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight
A burnt out car on Alten Jakobstraße, Kreuzberg, on Thursday morning.

Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight

Ten cars were set on fire across Berlin on Wednesday night and Thursday morning in the second night of disturbances in the city. READ  

Organized crime on the rise in Germany
Police escort a motorcycle gang in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

Organized crime on the rise in Germany

Organized criminals are increasingly active in Germany, with the mafia as well as biker and international gangs making headway in the country, according to a government report. READ  

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'
Jerusalem's Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Efraim Zuroff at the launch of a campaign to find remaining war criminals last year. Photo: DPA

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'

The Israeli branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre on Wednesday urged Germany to prosecute alleged members of Nazi death squads during World War II, giving it a list of 80 suspects. READ  

Germany ranks third in world university list
Students at Munich's LMU. Photo: DPA

Germany ranks third in world university list

German universities have shot up the world's leading higher education rankings, with Germany now having more institutions among the world's best than any other country after the US and UK. READ  

The Local List
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Photo: Jan Perlich/Munich RFC

Eight expat groups to save you in Germany

Think you're the only English speaker in your town or region? Think again! The Local List this week runs through eight of the best expat groups and clubs in Germany. READ  

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost
Former GDR political prisoners Hartmut (l) and Gerda Stachowitz in a East Berlin prison which has stood empty for 20 years. Photo: DPA

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost

Benefit payments to former political prisoners of ex-communist East Germany (GDR) will be raised to send an "important message" 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government said on Wednesday. READ  

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises
Apartments in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises

Germany's cabinet agreed on Wednesday to cap ballooning property rents in high-demand urban neighbourhoods in a law set to come into force early next year. READ  

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find
Passengers are delayed at Tegel Airport. Photo: DPA

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find

UPDATE: The discovery of a US World War II bomb disrupted flights at Berlin’s Tegel Airport on Wednesday afternoon, with no flights taking off or landing for 30 minutes. The bomb has now been defused but later flights are still delayed. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Munich
Bavarian independence becomes a reality... (online)
Photo: DPA/Police
National
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,155
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd