Recently researchers for the UK Thalidomide Trust uncovered a huge number of documents in the state archives of North Rhine-Westphalia, showing how the federal government tried to influence the judicial proceedings – a clear violation of the constitutional division of power.
The documents reveal how Grünenthal directors and their lawyers secretly met with the federal Ministry of the Interior on July 21, 1969, looking for an “overall solution” to end the trial. Hermann Wirtz, owner and managing director of Grünenthal, was apparently too sick to appear in court but obviously well enough to attend the secret get-together. A couple of months later, on September 18, another meeting took place, this time between Grünenthal representatives and four federal government departments. Neither the prosecutors nor the lawyers representing the Thalidomide families were informed about those talks behind closed doors.
During those meetings Grünenthal made it clear they were only willing to settle if the Thalidomide children dropped all their claims and understood they would never be allowed to sue the company again in the future.