Business History Conference 2014 (Day One)

15 03 2014

Day 1 of the BHC has been excellent. I’ve heard a number of good papers, including an excellent one on the early history of the Bank of Montreal. Frankfurt is a delightful city– easy to navigate, good food. It’s surprisingly diverse as well.

IGFarben

Most of the conference sessions are taking place in the former headquarters of IG Farben. I must admit that I was expecting the IG Farben headquarters building to have been larger. Based on Alfred Chandler’s description of the company, I was expecting the building to be massive, much like the headquarters of General Motors and Du Pont. In reality, it was modest, long but only three stories high. The building was the hq of the firm during the Third Reich. Given that the theme of this year’s BHC conference is corporate morality, the IG Farben building was a brilliant choice of venue. People who worked in this building supervised the IG Farben synthetic rubber plant at Auschwitz.After the war, the US zone of occupation in Germany was run out of this building. During the occupation, IG Farben was broken up by New Dealers who wanted to German chemical industry to be more competitive. The building now belongs to the university.
grahambroads book On a more personal level, one of the highlights of Day One was to see a book by Graham Broad, my grad school officemate, on the table at the BHC book auction.

 

 

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