• 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
US adds voice to chorus telling Germany to spend
Jacob Lew and Sigmar Gabriel. Photo: DPA

US adds voice to chorus telling Germany to spend

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, in a meeting Wednesday with German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, called on Germany to boost public spending to stimulate stuttering eurozone growth, the Treasury said. READ  

Man leaps with son, 5, from third-floor window
Schönhauser Allee in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Man leaps with son, 5, from third-floor window

A father and young son are in serious condition after police and firefighters were called to their home in northeast Berlin early on Wednesday morning. READ  

North braces for storms and floods
Cars waiting to be loaded onto the ferry at Bremerhaven, Lower Saxony, were caught in flooding on Wendnesday. Photo: DPA

North braces for storms and floods

UPDATE: The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. The news followed a night of accidents caused by heavy winds in southern Germany. READ  

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall
US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited remnants of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday and warned that East-West tensions again threaten freedom in Europe, 25 years after its collapse. READ  

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Sonneborn in the EU Parliament. Photo: DPA

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train

Martin Sonneborn can’t believe his luck. The German comedian, leader of the political party “Die Partei”, managed to get elected to the European Parliament in May, and has found himself overwhelmed with fresh material. READ  

The Local List
Which high school cliche is your city?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock

Which high school cliche is your city?

This week's Local List takes a leap of imagination and finds German cities fit perfectly into high school cliche categories. Who's the class clown? Who's the nerd? READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt
A passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt

Three teenage girls from Colorado were arrested by German police at Frankfurt airport after running away from home, reportedly on their way to join Isis in Syria. READ  

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine
Tuesday night's rescue operation Photo: DPA

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine

Six people, including a family and two American tourists, were left dangling 40 metres in the air over the Rhine for hours late on Tuesday after Cologne's cable car came to a halt. READ  

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome
Arjen Robben celebrates the first goal against AS Roma. Photo: DPA

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome

Bayern Munich were elated on Tuesday night after securing a 7-1 victory against Roma in their group stage Champions League clash. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,510
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd