Grünenthal hired a number of former Nazis after the Second World War, including war criminals. Among them was Otto Ambros. In the 1970s the German chemist served as chairman of Grünenthal’s supervisory board. During the war he advised Adolf Hitler on chemical weapons. He was also involved in the creation of the nerve gas sarin and supervised the construction of an IG Farben factory at Auschwitz. Tens of thousands of forced-labor workers died under his watch.
In 1948 Ambros was convicted of mass murder and slavery at the Nuremberg Trials and sentenced to eight years in prison. Released early in 1951, Ambros didn’t have a hard time finding new employment. As if nothing had happened, he was able to continue his career in post-war Germany, including at Grünenthal. As far as it is known, Ambros had little or nothing to do with Thalidomide (unlike Heinrich Mückter). However, it says a lot about the ethics of the company that, at the time, they had no qualms about hiring a convicted mass murderer. And there were many other former high ranking Nazi officials Grünenthal employed.
One German historian has looked at a short list of Grünenthal staff from the early sixties, and he said
it’s absolutely astonishing that a small company should have such a concentration of convicted war criminals on its staff, unusual even by the standards of post-war Germany.”
~ Martin Johnson, Thalidomide researcher
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