sights / Architecture

IG-Farbenhaus information

Frankfurt am Main , Germany
Grüneburgplatz 1
Getting there
Subway: Holzhausenstrasse
Opening hours
7am-10pm Mon-Sat
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The monumental seven-storey-high IG-Farbenhaus was erected in 1931 as the headquarters of IG-Farben (pronounced ‘ee geh far-behn’), the mammoth German chemicals conglomerate whose constituent companies included Agfa, BASF, Bayer and Hoechst. After Hitler came to power, Jewish scientists and executives were fired, and the company’s products soon became central to the Nazi war effort.

Inside the Bauhaus-influenced building, you can check out an informative historical exhibit (in German and English).

From 1941 to 1944, staff based in this building kept the Final Solution running smoothly by carrying out the work of coordinating the production of the company’s most notorious product, Zyklon-B, the cyanide-based killing agent used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

After the war, IG-Farbenhaus served briefly as the headquarters of General Dwight D Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, and later as the headquarters of US occupation forces (‘the Pentagon in Europe’) and as a CIA bureau.

In 1995, with the Cold War over, US forces handed the building back to Germany’s federal government. After refurbishment, it became the focal point of the new Westend campus of Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität – and a bastion of the spirit of free inquiry and humanism that Nazism tried so hard to extinguish.

To get from floor to floor, you can hop (literally) onto one of the two paternoster lifts , whose open cabins keep cycling around like rosary beads. Signs warn that these historic elevators are not safe for children, pets and people wearing backpacks or skates.

About 50m from the southwest corner of the building (to the left as you approach the main entrance) stands the Wollheim Memorial in a little pavilion marked ‘107984’ (Norbert Wollheim’s prisoner number). Inside you can watch 24 video testimonials, a few in English, by survivors of IG Farben’s corporate slave-labour camp, Buna/Monowitz (Auschwitz III). IG-Farben slave labourers who lived to write about their experiences include Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.

Under the trees in front of IG-Farbenhaus, panels show photographs of German Jews, later sent to Buna/Monowitz, enjoying life in the years before the Holocaust, unaware of what was to come.