• Germany's news in English

Ikea investigates Stasi prisoner labour claims

The Local · 1 May 2012, 23:37

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd