Zyklon B Poison Gas
Not only was Neuengamme concentration camp situated in Hamburg, but it was from here that the poison gas Zyklon B was distributed to the various concentration and extermination camps, where it was used to murder millions of people.
The firm Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung mbH) in Frankfurt am Main produced and delivered Zyklon B. Degesch was controlled by I. G. Farben, and Tesch and Stabenow. The firm Tesch and Stabenow had their offices in the Meßberghof building in Hamburg.
Zyklon B was originally developed as a pesticide and was initially used as such. The SS then employed the poison gas in large quantities as the means to murder millions of individuals. Between 1942-43 the Hamburg firm delivered 19 tonnes of Zyklon B to Auschwitz II (Birkenau) alone.
In 1946, the firm's two managers were sentenced to death, by a British military court, and executed.
The history of the Meßberghof building is further blackened by having been renamed by the Nazis. It was originally called Ballin-Haus after Albert Ballin (1857-1918), the famous Jewish general director of the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt- Actiengesellschaft (Hapag), which in 1970 merged with Norddeutscher Lloyd (Bremen) to become Hapag-Lloyd. Because Ballin was a Jew the Nazis initially renamed Ballin-Haus "Bauhof", and then "Meßberghof".
It took until June 1997, before a memorial plaque was erected on the Meßberghof building. The
plaque that recalls this dark chapter in Hamburg's history was afixed only after conflict with
the owner of the building, a property company belonging to the Deutsche Bank. According to newspaper
reports the company feared that such a plaque would be detrimental to the letting of the building.
A spokesman for the Deutsche Bank later apologized for not initially showing the necessary
The memorial plaque, however, makes no mention of the original name of the building (Ballin-Haus) and its having been renamed by the Nazis.