Dutch companies used cheap DDR labor
Wehkamp, Philips, Shell, Hema and C&A used cheap labor from East Germany in the 70s and 80s.
TV program EenVandaag reported last night that archives from the Stasi show that there were several Dutch firms that used the services of companies in the German Democratic Republic (DDR), the Cold War era socialist state also known as East Germany. The people that worked for these companies were political prisoners, dissidents and people who were caught trying to flee the DDR. They earned little to nothing for their labor. Since the EenVandaag broadcast, Wehkamp and Hema have been the only companies that reacted to the story. “We regret these types of practices and we condemn them, because they absolutely do not fit the way we do business today as wehkamp.nl.” Store chain Hema said it would investigate the matter, a spokesperson said. “But it can be a difficult matter to investigate. It’s so long ago and our ownership has changed so many times. But with the knowledge of today it is clear that we would never approve of this,” she said. Last year it was reported that Ikea was having many of its products produced by prisoners in the DDR, as did West German companies Volkswagen, Aldi, Karstadt, Otto and Neckermann. The DDR used to earn some 200 million marks from these practices.