Ikea has said it ‘deeply regrets’ using political prisoners for forced labour in communist East Germany. An investigation by accountants Ernst & Young found that the Swedish company used political prisoners to make furniture and that key representatives at the time were aware that this was happening. The report also notes that IKEA disapproved of this practice and took steps to stop the use of political prisoners at around the same time

At the time East Germany was ruled by the communist government, with former political prisoners of the party’s secret police, known as the Stasi, claiming they worked on constructing furniture. Those former prisoners may now expect compensation.

A statement for Ikea’s sustainability manager, Jeanette Skjelmose, said:

"We deeply regret that this could happen. Using political prisoners in production has never been accepted within the Ikea Group."

Ernst & Young interviewed about 90 former and current IKEA employees and looked at 100,000 pages of documents from the company’s internal records and from the German federal and state archives.

Rainer Wagner, chairman of the victims' group UOKG, said that "Ikea is only the tip of the iceberg," and that many other companies used forced prison labour in East Germany.

 

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner