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Did Ikea Once Force Political Prisoners to Make its Furniture?

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As if the maze of an Ikea store isn't maddening enough, now certain stops along that journey may be riddled with scandal, exploitation, and the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before: the Swedish retailer has been accused of using East German political prisoners to make some of its furniture during the years preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall. The allegations come at the hand of Swedish broadcast channel SVT, whose new documentary will unveil "evidence in Stasi files which pointed to the direct involvement of East German political prisoners in the Ikea manufacturing process during the 1970s and 1980s," according to The Independent.

Of course this isn't the first time the furnishings chain has been forced to respond publicly to such a stink. Last year, the German TV channel WDR aired a documentary in which a former prison guard admitted that inmates were forced to work in subhuman conditions; the prison happened to located next to a KLIPPAN sofa factory in the town of Waldheim. (Ikea cheerfully celebrated the 30th birthday of the KLIPPAN in 2010.)

Ikea is investigating the accusations internally. “So far there are no indications that we would have asked prisoners to be used in manufacturing or known about it,” said a spokesperson. Such an act would be "unacceptable," she maintains.

Perhaps it's something to think about next time you consider using the store, say, as a wedding venue?

· Ikea accused of using East German political prisoners to manufacture furniture [The Independent]