By Allan Hall
PUBLISHED: 10:31 EST, 1 May 2012 | UPDATED: 19:18 EST, 1 May 2012
Furniture giant IKEA used political prisoners arrested by the dreaded Stasi secret police of former East Germany to make its products in the 1970s and 80s, it has been alleged.
The claims will be aired tomorrow on Swedish TV station Sveriges Television’s (SVT).
Initially the company denied the reports but then said it had requested documents from the Stasi archive.
Claims: IKEA used the labour of East German political prisoners to make its furniture, it has been alleged
It has now said it is ‘interviewing people at Ikea who were around back then,’ according to Ikea’s social and environmental manager Jeanette Skjelmose.
She said: ‘So far there are no indications that we would have asked that prisoners be used in manufacturing or known about it.
‘What we’re looking into now is whether it could have happened anyway, without our knowledge.’
The show claims there is evidence to support the allegation that political prisoners were used.
Terror: The Stasi secret police, the Berlin HQ of which is pictured here, allegedly forced political prisoners to work for the store
A reporter for the show found documents supporting the claim in the Stasi files, according to a trailer for the show on SVT’s website.
Ikea claimed in its statement that it takes the issue seriously and that regular inspections were made of the firm’s factories in the German Democratic Republic before the regime imploded in 1989.
During the 1970s, Ikea developed a strong manufacturing base in East Germany with 65 factories producing parts and furniture.
A 2011 doumentary in Germany cited documents claiming that IKEA had a ‘thorough co-operation’ with East German authorities.
Ikea’s popular Klippan sofa was produced in East Germany at a plant situated next to a prison in Waldheim.
A former prison chief said that prison labour was an ‘expected part of furniture production’.