Carl Duisberg

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Carl Duisberg : biography

29 September 1861 – 19 March 1935

Friedrich Carl Duisberg


He was born in Barmen, Germany and from 1879 until 1882 he studied at the "Georg-August-Universität (Göttingen)" and Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and received his doctorate. After military service in Munich, which he combined with work at the laboratory of Adolf von Baeyer, he starts in 1883 his work at the Farbenwerke (dyes company) of Friedr. Bayer & Co. that later became Bayer AG. In his career he became confidential clerk (authorised signatory) and head of research. In 1900 he became CEO of Bayer. Inspired by Standard Oil on a US tour, Bayer became part of IG Farben, a conglomerate of German chemical industries. Duisberg was head of Supervisory board for IG Farben. 1935 Duisberg died in Leverkusen.

Carl Duisberg Society

The Carl Duisberg Society (Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft) was founded in 1949 and was helping Development aid with education programmes for people, especially from developing countries. From 1949 until its merger with the German Society for international Development (Deutschen Stiftung für internationale Entwicklung) in 2002 to form the InWEnt (Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung gGmbH) 300000 people took part in the programs of the society.


During WWI, the German army faced a great threat, ammunition-shortage. Indeed, the nitrates that were crucial for the production of gunpowder could not be imported anymore due to the blockade by British navy. As a result, the German chemical firms (BASF and Bayer among others) were pushed to successfully synthetise nitrates. However, because of the war, shortage in manpower arose and Carl Druisberg advised Max Bauer a new solution. In November 1916, on advice from Carl Druisberg, kaiser’s troops began the deportation of more than 60 thousands of people from occupied Belgium : taken from their homes at gunpoint, they were put in trains for transport to German mines and factories. Complaints from influential neutral countries, especially the USA, put an end to it. Also, in 1916, General Wilhelm Groener was appointed by General Ludendorff to reduce inflation. He proposed that increases in costs could be absorbed by the chemical community. When Duisberg heard the proposition, he successfully influenced the German government for Groener’s removal.

In the 1920s, dye industry leaders, led by Carl Duisberg of Bayer and Carl Bosch of BASF, successfully pushed for the merger of the dye makers into a single company. In 1925, the companies merged into the Interessengemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG or IG Farben (Syndicate of Dye Makers).

This huge corporation, which soon included related industries such as explosives and fibers, was the biggest enterprise in all of Europe and the fourth largest in the world, behind General Motors, United States Steel and Standard Oil of New Jersey.

In 1926, IG Farben entered into a non-competition arrangement with Jersey Standard for oil and chemicals while agreeing to cooperate on the development of synthetic rubber (though Jersey Standard later came under fire from the U.S. federal government because of evidence that the Germany company was impeding its progress in this crucial area).

Although Carl Bosch, the head of IG Farben’s managing board, opposed the anti-semitism of the Nazis, the company gave financial support to Hitler and (without Bosch, who resigned in 1935) became indispensable to the German military effort during World War II. The company used slave labor, locating one of its synthetic rubber facilities in Auschwitz to be near the captive labor supply of the infamous concentration camp. Lethal gas made by IG Farben was used in the death camps. After the war, a group of IG Farben executives were convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials. Several years later, in 1952, the company was divided into several independent firms, including BASF, Bayer and Hoechst. (IG Farben survived as a shell company and remains one today.) at