• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Ikea 'also used Cuban prison labour'

The Local · 3 May 2012, 12:49

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

“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
Record 125k people file suit against Canada trade deal
A leader of one of the groups opposing the trade deal stacks another box full of lawsuit documents, presented to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday. Photo: DPA.

More than 125,000 Germans have filed the largest citizen lawsuit in German history against the controversial proposed CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU.

Evacuation at Frankfurt airport ended after security lapse
Travelers being evacuated from Terminal 1 of Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: Officials ended a partial evacuation of Frankfurt airport on Wednesday afternoon after police found and arrested a woman who had somehow evaded proper checks, prompting security concerns.

Merkel: 'Germany will remain Germany'
Photo: DPA.

One year after Angela Merkel first declared "we can do this," leading to a huge uptick in refugees applying for asylum, the Chancellor reflected this week on her policies and the future of Germany.

Nazi beach resort ruin turned into luxury playground
Prora. Photo: DPA

One of the biggest relics left behind by the Nazis is undergoing a radical transformation on a German island, harnessing a property boom to become a luxury tourist destination.

Berlin plans to be first state to arm police with tasers
Photo: DPA.

Berlin's plans to arm police patrols with taser guns would make it the first German state to implement extensive use of the electroshock weapon.

Far-right AfD leader injured by flying frozen cake
Jörg Meuthen and a cake. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right AfD party was attacked with a cake while attending a political event on Monday. But the fact the dessert was frozen made the act "dangerous", according to the politician.

Underwater pensioner hunts boats on famed Bavarian lake
A passenger boat on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

"I love chasing the ships, and what a great feeling it is when they sound the horn!" he gleefully exclaims.

What are Merkel's chances for remaining Chancellor?
Photo: DPA.

She's already held the Chancellery for over a decade, but infighting with political allies as well as a rocky response to her refugee policies may put a damper on Angela Merkel's staying power.

German EU commissioner doubts Brexit will happen
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Photo: EPA.

Germany's EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger raised doubts on Tuesday about whether Britain would leave the bloc, saying he wouldn't bet on "Brexit".

Merkel offers Russia a lifting of sanctions - if it behaves
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she has "the very greatest interest in stopping sanctions" against Russia, Reuters reports.

National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
7,567
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd