Ikea, image from Shutterstock

IKEA says sorry for using East German forced labour

News: Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has apologised for selling products manufactured by East German political prisoners in the 1970s and 1980s.

The multinational chain released an independent report last week which investigated allegations made by a Swedish television documentary that IKEA and other businesses had benefited from the use of forced labour by their East German suppliers, the Guardian reports.

"We regret wholeheartedly that this happened," said Peter Betzel, head of IKEA in Germany. "It is not and never was acceptable to IKEA that it should be selling products made by political prisoners and I would like to express my deepest regret for this to the victims and their families.

"We took steps to ensure that prisoners were not used in production, but it's now clear to us that these were not decisive enough."

One former German Democratic Republic prisoner told the Guardian that it was no secret the furniture they were making was for IKEA.

"Their name was on the boxes which the products were packed into and the prison guards didn't keep it a secret from us. Everyone knew," said Alexander Arnold, who was imprisoned aged 22 for handing out "anti-communist" poems. "I'm glad that IKEA is taking responsibility but I'm sorry it took someone other than IKEA to bring this to light."

The company says it plans to donate funds to research projects on forced labour in the former GDR.

See all our stories about IKEA »

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.