Sartorius During the Third Reich

A Generational Shift at a Family-owned Company between the Great Depression and Denazification

Dr. Manfred Grieger, historian and professor at the Göttingen University, has been conducting research on Sartorius' corporate and entrepreneurial activities during the Third Reich. He has documented his findings in a publication in cooperation with the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte (Business History Society) and our Corporate History Archives unit. So far, only fragmentary information has been available on this period, for example, on the involvement of Sartorius in armaments production or in the use of forced labor.

The Göttingen-based Sartorius family business during the Third Reich – an exemplary case of economic normality and adaptation to the regime

Established in 1870 by Florenz Sartorius as a precision mechanical workshop, the Sartorius Group today is a leading partner for biopharmaceutical research and the industry. The roots of the company’s two current divisions can be traced back to the firm’s early years, specifically the founding of the membrane filter company (Membranfilter-Gesellschaft m.b.H) in 1927. For the first time, Manfred Grieger examines the activities Sartorius and its entrepreneurs engaged in during the Nazi era. He reveals the relationship between the company and the government, as well as the actions of the leading players of the family-run business during the Nazi regime.

In doing so, he also focuses on the question of succession within the family of entrepreneurs since the transition from the second to the third generation falls within this period. The author explores the changing role of the company in the wartime economy, the decline in civil-sector production and the increasing importance of manufacturing finished products at Sartorius for the armaments industry, as well as the employment of forced laborers. Moreover, he examines which influence the firm’s key decisionmakers had on this development. Manfred Grieger also addresses the denazification process at management level, which sheds an exemplary light on the individual coming to terms with the past of economic elites, who experienced their own economic miracle in the Federal Republic of Germany.

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Manfred Grieger
Sartorius During the Third Reich
A Generational Shift at a Family-owned Company between the Great Depression and Denazification

197 pp., 16 illus., hard cover, with book jacket
€18.00 (DE); €18.50 (AU)
ISBN 978-3-8353-5212-4

About the author:

Manfred Grieger, born 1960, is a historian, as well as a member of the Historical Commission Bremen and Lower Saxony.

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