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Did Political prisoners of in former East Germany built Ikea furniture?
Saturday, 28 April 2012
Swedish television has turned again on Ikea and revealed that in the
former East Germany (GDR) political prisoners were used to build
furniture in which the company Ikea sold in its various markets.
At that time prisoners where used to work to produce products cheaply
for mostly western companies. So among the companies that took
advantage of the cheap labour, was Swedish Ikea. The company rejects
The evidence for it, came from Swedish television whose reporter, Bjorn
Tunbäck, found in the East German secret police, Stasi archives, which
after going through more than 800 documents, claim that several reports
in the documents mentioned Ikea.
Swedish television’s investigative program that has been putting more
pain in various Swedish companies behaving unethically is reported to
have spoken to a jailer who guarded the prisoners who worked in a
factory where the famous sofa Klippan was manufactured. He confirmed
that there were both criminal and political prisoners in the jail. The
channel has also spoken to two political prisoners who now think they
made Ikea furniture in the GDR. In prison, the prisoners had no
information about who they worked for.
Swedish television reports that Wolfgang Welsch, one of East Germany's
most famous political prisoners made, among others, dressers and
bookcases in prison. He is quite sure that some of the furniture he
made were sent to Sweden.
“We worked in the GDR and the company sold to customers in the West. He
who sat on the delivery section saw the letter in Swedish, so it must
have found link with Sweden,” said Wolfgang Welsch to Swedish
It is known
that several companies during the time of GDR used its political
prisoners in their production but it was not known that a Swedish
company was involved. But Swedish television investigative program,
“Uppdrag Granskning” has found documents that show that when the
amnesty was granted to prisoners, it caused problems for the company’s
production that it had to hurt Ikea as a customer because the prisoners
were such an important part of the workforce.
Ikea said in a press release in reacting to the exposure that the
company in 1970s and 1980's carried out regular inspections of
factories in the GDR. "We were clear about our requirements then and
now. We have so far found no evidence to suggest that political
prisoners were used in the production, " the company writes and
continues: "Ikea has never accepted such a way of doing business."
Kamprad has admitted one case in 1984 but the documents Swedish
television exposed show that it was aware of this information already
in the early 1980's. Ingvar Kamprad denied the information in an
interview with the tabloid paper, Aftonbladet in 1984, when the
information from detainees that were released were talking about.
"It is totally wrong. We have 70 employees who only travels around the
world and follows the production at the factories that work for us.
Only once have they come up with a manufacturer who abused prisoners.
It was a lighting manufacturer in Halle, Germany, and then we
immediately broke contract. "
After a German television documentary last summer show that talks that
Ikea in particular had used political prisoners in Ikea's production,
came out without any evidence that this was the case.
The investigation is still ongoing, said Jeanette Skjelmose, Ikea's
sustainability director of screening, purchasing and logistics, said.
“We ask for documents from former Stasi Archives and interviews in Ikea
who were at that time. So far there are no indications that we would
have advocated the use of prisoners in the production or known it.”
“What we are digging in now is whether it would have taken place, without our knowledge,” says Skjelmose.
Just recently Swedish televion carried out a research which showed that
furniture giant Ikea contributes to the destruction of virgin forest in
By Scancomark.se Team
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