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The Devil’s Chemists – the International Farben Cartel by Joseph E DuBois 1952 P2

The Devil’s Chemists – the International Farben Cartel by Joseph E DuBois 1952 P2

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I G Farben trial
I G Farben trial

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A
NOBEL PRIZEWINNER
123
PART FIVE
MASTERS AND SLAVES
14.
A
Nobel Prizewinner
A
COLD WIND
KNIFED
THROUGH
ten thousand crannies, brokenwalls, shattered towers. Another few years of lifting and carryingbrick and beam, and nearly everybody would have a fairly decenthome. Meantime, only one room out of three was habitable. Somepeople slept on the streets. By the gate of the Old Town, severalfamilies lived underground in the three-level air-raid shelter nearthe monument to the painter, Albrecht Durer, once Nurnberg'smost famous resident. The women hung their wash on his statue.But not many public places offered refuge. The Rathskeller layin smithereens. Only two beer halls were open, outside the citywalls.Few citizens came to the Palace of Justice. Better to shiver overa little fire made of sticks than to be comfortable watching thebirth of an awful new tradition. Many had warmed their bones inthe attic-like courtroom when it had been a post exchange and theG.I.'s had used the judges' bench for a bar; one could accept LanaTurner in a sweater where the picture of Der Fuehrer used to hang.Then the following year
-
en feet from the spot where he'd beenthe swaggering accuser in the Reichstag-fire trial in
1933
-
er-mann Goering sat charged with
a
world conflagration. After abombastic tirade that reminded many of the glorious days, Goeringhad cheated the gallows. But he could not carry the others intomartyrdom with him. History littered the floor, and this room wasno place for those who liked orderliness as much as warmth.Though the place had been swept for the new tenants, the airof anticlimax remained. At the Goering trial, in the walls abovethe prisoners' dock, forty "still" and motion-picture photographershad perched behind glass. Only a few had stayed on.At nine o'clock this morning, the benches of the dock were bare.From the jail, the defendants walked the covered way to the Palace.Their hands were free to argue or wave. They filed in as
if
to
a
board meeting. The others pointed at Hermann Schmitz's stoopedback and shook their heads. Schmitz took his seat. His dirty-whitegoatee wilting on his chest, his bleary-blue eyes downcast in a sortof automatic concentration, he seemed a stupid caricature of hisold self. His counsel announced that Schmitz had elected to remainsilent. Then Baron von Schnitzler, accepting the Tribunal's impliedinvitation to say nothing more, also decided not to take the witnessstand.Nobel Prizewinner Hoerlein gathered up from his lap a sheafof papers. Hoerlein had a fox's face that Hermann Schmitz shouldhave been born with, a face that did not go along with the director-ship of Farben's pharmaceutical factories. In any other large drugenterprise, Professor Hoerlein, responsible for producing more than2000preparations, would have been president. As it was, his onlytechnical boss was the omniscient Dr. ter Meer. Buna rubber hadfirst taken Ter Meer to Auschwitz, but Professor Hoerlein had notgone with him.Though Hoerlein's expression was crafty, his paunchy bodymade the dominant impression. Limping past the others in thefirst row of the dock, he walked with an orderly respect for hislegs, mounted the witness box without pause as if he had calcula-ted the step many times. The Presiding Judge directed him to riseand take the oath.The oath
-
I
swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, tospeak the pure truth, to withhold and add nothing.
.
."
was read tohim in German, but he shook his head; the judges tapped their ear-phones, then observed that his lips had not moved. Finally, theoath escaped him like steam under heavy pressure.
Q.
Heinrich Hoerlein, how old are you?
A.
Sixty-five years old.
Q.
How long have you been living in Elberfeld?
A.
Since my
26th
year
-
he first of January,
1909.
I
was worried. The charges against him were the only chargesin the long indictment that
I
was not sure we had fully proved."What are you worried about?" Minskoff sounded confident."The judges are watching him as if he's an old woman caught inthe middle of traffic. And I must say I'm sympathetic myself.""He's acting, Joe. He's not that sick."''You're probably right,"
I
said. "But
if
I can't see it, I doubt
 
124
THE
DEVIL'S
CHEMISTS
A
NOBEL PRIZEWINNER
125
that the court will. They'll say, 'Even
if
this bent-over old man evergot to Auschwitz, he couldn't have got around and seen very much.'Let's just hear his story without objecting too much."Hoerlein winced. To this day, sometimes he relieved his achinglimbs with morphine, one of the drugs he had developed at Elber-feld. Forty years ago he had been engaged by Carl Duisberg to setup
a
pharmaceutical department at Elberfeld on the Rhine. Hehadn't known then that someday he would need morphine. In theglow of young health he had worked for the sick. There was animpressive inference that nothing during the Nazi years hadchanged him.When Hoerlein spoke, the fox's face disappeared. His eyes werebad, but his glance held an inner intentness that was more thannearsightedness. Thick lenses, like double mirrors, the inner givingback the edges of his own thoughts, the outer turning back eventhe giant Leverkusen factory that sprawled along the Rhine withinview of his Elberfeld laboratory window. His laboratory had beena gift to humanity of the Farben predecessor firm of FriedrichBayer and Company. "Counsel, there had been offers in Leverku-sen and abroad, but I rejected them.
I
was very fortunate to havefound an ideal place in Elberfeld for my life's content- to workin synthetic pharmaceutical research, and to help suffering humani-ty."Yes, more than his own infirmity separated him from the littlePolish town. In the huge mimeograph room down the corridor,the defense had been turning out the story of his eminence. He hadbeen the star pupil of the founder of synthetic drugs.His first dis-covery was luminal, still the best remedy for epileptic fits.Underhis direction, Farben's predecessor firms had led medicine's mostrevolutionary advance
-
he great German renaissance which gaveto the world novocain, phenacetin, sulfonal, the sedative veronal.To Hoerlein was due much of the credit for the use of dyestuffsto stain living and dead tissues. This had opened up a whole newfield in the study of cancer and genetics.
Q.
What did you personally know about the concentration camp?
A.
I
knew the name Auschwitz.
Q.
Did you know medical experiments were performed on theinmates?
A.
No,
I
did not.
Q.
What impression did you have of what went on there, atAuschwitz?
A.
I
had no exact idea.
I
thought that it would not be pleasant,because being locked up is never pleasant.
Q.
Did the plants under you ever send any drugs to concentrationcamps?
A.
The distribution of drugs was not my affair. The salesmen didthat.
Q.
But outwardly you had the responsibility?
A.
Yes, but all our preparations were sent first for testing to theLeverkusen plant, to the scientific department.
Q.
Who was head of this scientific department?
A.
Dr. Mertens. Dr. Mertens from time to time visited me at theElberfeld laboratories, and the necessary matters were discussed onthose occasions.Hoerlein fumbled over his papers for fully five minutes. Afterall, we did have a case he must answer.One of the Farben drugs, Methylene Blue, had been developed
in
the hope of curing people who had typhus. Dr. Mertens' depart-ment at Leverkusen had sent several hundred doses of this un-proved drug to faraway Auschwitz.There the shipment was re-ceived by a young doctor named Vetter who had lately worked forMertens. Vetter had chosen healthy concentration camp inmatesand injected the typhus disease, which struck the veins like a boltof fire. When the disease had reached its delirious stage, he hadinjected the drug. Vetter had sent a full report to Dr. Mertens.From Dr. Vetter's reports, Dr. Mertens must know that healthyinmates were being infected with typhus so as to test Farben'sMethylene Blue "cure."
But
what did Hoerlein know? Mertens'reports to him were weirdly brief, saying nothing of "patients" or"cases." But "experiments" were mentioned
-
lus the fact thatmany of the subjects of the "experiments" had died.Both the prosecution and the defense counsel realized that thequestion of Hoerlein's responsibility for Dr. Vetter's concentration-camp experiments might stand or fall upon the proof of the rela-tionship between Dr. Mertens and Dr. Hoerlein in the I.G. Farbenhierarchy.Hoerlein responded promptly and directly to the questions putto him by his defense counsel:
Q.
Did you know Dr. Vetter?
A.
Dr. Vetter was a young man who,
in
1938,
joined the scientificdepartment. Before the war,
I
saw him once or twice at a conference,and on one of these occasions he asked to be introduced to me.
Q.
Did you know that Dr. Vetter had contact with Dr. Mertens'
 
A
NOBEL PRIZEWINNER
127
scientific department in Leverkusen after he had been drafted into theWaffen
SS
and had become an
SS
doctor?A. It is possible that his name cropped up at a conference betweenDr. Mertens and myself, but I have no definite recollection of this.
Q.
Was it not at some conference between Dr. Mertens and your-self that it was reported to you that Vetter was a camp doctor atAuschwitz and was trying out
B-1034
(Methylene Blue) on concentra-tion-camp inmates?A.
I
am quite sure no.That would be an affair I would most cer-tainly remember now.Duke Minskoff was now cross-examining the Professor, who wasbacking away from responsibility so swiftly and so deftly that itwas not at all certain that he would admit that the chief of hisscientific department even worked for Farben
:
Q.
Dr. Hoerlein, let us go back to Dr. Mertens. I call yourattention to a portion of his affidavit and ask you whether it refreshesyour recollection as to the precise nature of his responsibility. Dr.Mertens says:
"In scientific matters,
I
was responsible to ProfessorHeinrich Hoerlein
. .
."
Now, were there conferences where theresults and' the reports which kept flowing in from the various placesof testing, were then discussed?
A.
Yes.
Q.
At these conferences Dr. ~ertens'ttended?
A.
Yes, sir.
Q.
And at that time were the results of the testing of the variousproducts discussed?
A.
That was his duty.
Q.
After the tests were discussed, it would be the function of theseconferences to decide whether the project was ready for the openmarket?
A.
It was not so definite whether we discussed this in the morningat the scientific central conference or in the afternoon at the mainconference.
I
don't know where the decision was actually made.
Q.
And you were chairman of both conferences?
A.
I was the chairman of both conferences.Minskoff persisted:
Q.
Dr. Mertens was the one man through whom all the clinicaltesting went?A. That is correct.
Q.
To whom in I.G. Farben did Mertens report?
A.
Professor Mertens under his own responsibility picked out themost able and appropriate
-
Q.
May I interrupt? The question was: To whom did Dr. Mertensreport?
A.
I
do not understand you.Professor Hoerlein saw to the very end of
the line,
answeringlater questions before they were asked, explaining unresponsiveanswers to past questions, questioning the prosecution himself,sparring with an evasiveness so furious that, taken alone, it was
no
useful criterion of his guilt. Hoerlein demanded that the vali-
dity
of each question be proved by a document.Q. This decision that a product was safe for the market could bemade only at the scientific conference, of which you were chairman,
or
by Dr. Mertens?
A.
Dr. Mertens was under Leverkusen. The sales at Leverkusenwere under Dr. Mann.Q. Then do I understand correctly that the scientific testing de-partment was under the defendant Mann?A.Only part of it. With a minor part of its activities, Dr. Mertenshimself was charged with responsibility.
Q.
Then here is part of Leverkusen which has no responsibilityto anyone in the
Vorstatzd?
This is the one part of I.G. Farben whichhas no responsibility to either the sales
Vorstand
member or the Tech-nical
Vorstand
member
-
s that your answer?A. That was Mertens' own responsibility.Q.Then
all
decisions on scientific research were finally made byDr. Mertens. Is that right?
A.
No, no. Mertens collaborated with us within the organization.
Q.
From whom does he receive his instructions? Who in I.G.Farben is above him in his own work? Or is he a law unto himself?A. I said that three times already.THE PRESIDENT:Do you have any objection to my asking him?MR. MINSKOFF:Not at all.THE PRESIDENT:Mr. Witness, the prosecution seems interested inone simple fact. Who, if anyone, was the immediate superior to Dr.Mertens in Dr. Mertens' field?HOERLEIN:Mr. President, organizationally, he was under Dr.Mann's jurisdiction. He had a small task, a second task, to be theliaison officer between the scientific laboratories in Hoechst and Elber-feld and the clinics. In this latter function, Dr. Mertens, as a physician,was himself responsible because Dr. Mann could not take this re-sponsibility from him; he was a businessman
-
nd I could not takeit from him because I was a chemist.THEPRESIDENT: think that answers your question, Mr. Prosecutor.
It
was Hoerlein's second day on the witness stand.Whether or not he had known Farben's drug Methylene Blue hadbeen tested on helpless inmates of concentration camps, the fact re-mained that the experiments had proved unsuccessful and the Ger-man government was still appealing to its scientists for an effectivemeans of combating typhus.The prosecution had conceded that by December
1941
there wasthought to be grave danger of typhus spreading throughout Ger-

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