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New Revelation: Ikea Exploited East German Political Prisoners for Slave Labor

11:47 AM, Sep 6, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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WEEKLY STANDARD contributor Ron Radosh, one of the top anti-communist scholars in the country, reports this bombshell about one of America's most popular furniture brands:

It appears that the Swedish retail firm Ikea, that thousands of Americans go to in malls throughout our country to purchase cheap and poorly made but sometimes workable furniture, had a very special arrangement with the Stasi, East German’s notorious secret police. Ikea actually used political prisoners as slave labor to make its furniture, in particular, sofas manufactured in one plant that was conveniently situated next to a prison!

The plant was but one of various facilities Ikea had built in East Germany. Since the political prisoners composed 20 per cent of the prison population, the firm had a large labor force in waiting ready to be assigned by the jailers to do the firm’s work. The arrangement was justified by Ikea’s founder, Invar Kamprad, who actually said- according to a Stasi file- that if the arrangement did exist, and he claimed no knowledge of it, “in the opinion of Ikea it would be in society’s interests.” This is sort of what we call a non-denial denial, indicating that indeed, Ikea’s boss knew all about the deal.

One inmate, Hans Otto Klare, had been sent to Waldheim prison for the crime of trying to escape to the West. He described conditions in the factory in these words to the German television company called WDR:

Our labor team lived on the upper floor of the factory with the windows covered. The machines were on the lower floor, and you had little rest. On the factory floor you had no proper seating, no ear protection: no gloves. Conditions were even more primitive there then in the rest of the GDR. It was slave labor.

This is absolutely despicable corporate behavior, and Ikea should publicly apologize as well as atone to the East Germans it exploited.

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