Oral History

Belle Mayer Zeck describes the size and influence of IG Farben

Belle Mayer trained as a lawyer and worked for the General Counsel of the US Treasury, Foreign Funds Control Bureau. This bureau worked to enforce the Trading With the Enemy Act passed by Congress. In this capacity, Mayer became familiar with the German IG Farben chemical company, a large conglomerate that used slave labor during World War II. In 1945, Mayer was sent as a Department of Treasury representative to the postwar London Conference. She was present as representatives from the Allied nations outlined the principles of law for the prosecution and trial of Europe's major war criminals. Mayer reported to this commission as it prepared for upcoming war crimes trials. She was then among the attorneys (including her future husband William Zeck) who prepared the indictment against the IG Farben company at the Nuremberg trials.

Transcript

We felt that we had to show the size of I.G. Farben and demonstrate its worldwide influence for the purpose of indicating what a necessary partner they were to the entire Nazi enterprise. And I would just like to quote a few, two short sentences from Telford Taylor, who was our chief counsel of the subsequent proceedings. From the opening of the Flick case -- Flick was the coal baron -- he said, "At the threshold of this case and because of its unusual character, it is vital that these principles be clearly understood. The defendants were powerful and wealthy men of industry, but that is not their crime. We do not seek here to reform the economic structure of the world or to raise the standard of living. We seek rather, to confirm and revitalize the ordinary standards of human behavior embodied in the law of nations." So I think if you have any more questions, this was IG Farben preparing for war.


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  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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