IKEA May Have Used East German Political Prisoners To Build Furniture, According To Swedish News Report [UPDATE]

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 05/02/2012 3:27 pm Updated: 05/04/2012 3:59 pm

East German Political Prisoners Ikea
A Swedish news report investigates the alleged relationship between IKEA and East Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall.

IKEA has been accused of allegedly using East German political prisoners to build furniture in the 1970s and 1980s, Agence France-Presse reports.

The news that the world's largest furniture retailer cozied up to East Germany’s Stasi secret police came from a trailer for an investigative news report by a Swedish broadcaster set to premiere this week, according to the Independent. The retailer is also facing allegations that it used Cuban prisoners to build its furniture in the 1980s, the Guardian reported Thursday.

The report, which will air Wednesday evening, will include an interview with IKEA's Jeanette Skjelmose, the company's social and environmental manager.

This post has been updated to include additional allegations.

According to the Daily Mail, IKEA is also launching its own internal investigation.

"'So far there are no indications that we would have asked that prisoners be used in manufacturing or known about it," Skjelmose told the Mail. "What we're looking into now is whether it could have happened anyway, without our knowledge."

This isn't the first time IKEA's relationship with East Germany has grabbed the spotlight. Just last year, a documentary by the German public television channel WDR revealed IKEA developed a strong manufacturing presence in the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s, establishing operations in 65 locations to produce parts and furniture, according to the Independent.

UPDATE: IKEA is investigating the allegations, the BBC reports.

UPDATE 2: The Swedish retailer is also facing allegations that it used Cuban prisoners to make its furniture in the 1980s, the Guardian reports. According to the report, IKEA made a deal to have its furniture built in Cuban prisons using East German trading connections.

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