Sartorius During the Nazi Era

A generational change at the helm of a family-owned company straddling the Great Depression and denazification

Dr. Manfred Grieger, historian and professor at the Göttingen University, with the collaboration of the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte (Business History Society) and our Corporate History Archives unit, has been conducting research on Sartorius' corporate and entrepreneurial activities during the Nazi era and documented his findings in a publication. 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 Nazi era – an exemplary case of economic normality and adaptation to the regime

Established in 1870 by Florenz Sartorius as a precision mechanics 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 company in the Nazi system. 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 civilian production and the increasing importance at Sartorius of making finished products for the armaments industry, as well as the employment of forced laborers. Moreover, he examines what influence the firm’s key decision-makers had on this development. Manfred Grieger also addresses the denazification process at management level, which throws 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.

This study has been initially published in German in November 2019, and an English-language version will soon be available.

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Manfred Grieger
Sartorius During the Nazi Era
A generational change at the helm of a family-owned company straddling the Great Depression and denazification

Print (German):
206 pp., 16 illus., hard cover, with book jacket
€18.00 (DE); €18.50 (AU)
ISBN 978-3-8353-3587-5 

The English-language version will soon be available.

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Manfred Grieger
Sartorius During the Nazi Era
A generational change at the helm of a family-owned company straddling the Great Depression and denazification

E-book (German):
206 pages, 16 illustrations
€13.99 (DE)
ISBN 978-3-8353-4378-8 

The English-language version will soon be available.

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About the author:

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

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