An exhibition of the Fritz Bauer Institute
The exhibition was redesigned in 2018.
Design: Funkelbach. Büro für Architektur und Grafik, Leipzig
At the start of 1941, the chemical group IG Farben began construction of a chemical factory for the production of buna – a synthetic rubber important to the war economy – very close to Auschwitz concentration camp. The company wanted not only to employ German skilled workers but was relying on thousands of Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners, POWs and forced labourers from the whole of Europe to work on this huge construction site. The IG Farben management worked closely together with the SS, cooperating with it in 1942 to build the company’s own concentration camp Buna–Monowitz in order to accommodate the increasing number of camp prisoners. Thousands of prisoners died on the construction site as a result of the inhuman working conditions, or went sent to their death in the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau as soon as they were no longer capable of working. The average remaining life of those who were commissioned to slave labour in Buna-Monowitz was only three months.
The exhibition traces the construction, everyday life and dissolution of Buna-Monowitz concentration camp. Historical photographs document the perspectives of the SS and IG Farben on the construction site and in everyday life at the camp. These perspectives are set in juxtaposition to autobiographical texts of survivors, including Primo Levi, Jean Améry and Elie Wiesel, as well as testimonies given by former prisoners in the post-war trials. The exhibition is supplemented by information on the court proceedings and efforts on the part of survivors to obtain compensation after 1945; the exhibition is conceived as a travelling exhibition that is available for rent.
The original version of the exhibition Die IG Farben und das Konzentrationslager Buna/Monowitz. Wirtschaft und Politik im National Socialism (IG Farben and Buna/Monowitz concentration camp. Economy and politics in National Socialism) was created in conjunction with the international meeting of Buna-Monowitz survivors from 20 to 22 October 1998 in IG Farbenindustrie’s former administrative building, at what is now Goethe University Frankfurt am Main’s Westend campus. It was supported by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, New York. Conception by Gottfried Kößler, research by Werner Renz, and design by Werner Lott. The travelling exhibition was available for rent in this form until the end of 2015. The newly conceived exhibition was shown for the first time in January 2018.
Website with comprehensive information material and 24 video interviews with survivors of Buna-Monowitz concentration camp
Curator: Dr Nassrin Sadeghi
Project head: Gottfried Kößler