Woman with Ostarbeiter badge at the Auschwitz subsidiary IG-Farbenwerke factory
German notice from 30 September 1939 in occupied Poland with warning of death penalty for refusal to work during harvest
|Period||1939 – 1945|
|Total||At least 7.6 million foreign civilians in 1944|
Ostarbeiter (German: [ˈʔɔstˌaɐ̯baɪtɐ] , lit. "Eastern worker") was a Nazi German designation for foreign slave workers gathered from occupied Central and Eastern Europe to perform forced labor in Germany during World War II. The Germans started deporting civilians at the beginning of the war and began doing so at unprecedented levels following Operation Barbarossa in 1941. They apprehended Ostarbeiters from the newly formed German districts of Reichskommissariat Ukraine , General Government Distrikt Galizien , and Reichskommissariat Ostland . These comprised German occupied Poland and the conquered territories of the Soviet Union. According to Pavel Polian over 50% of Ostarbeiters were formerly Soviet subjects originating from the territory of modern-day Ukraine, followed by Polish women workers, approaching 30%. Among the Eastern workers were ethnic Ukrainians, Poles, Belarusians, Russians, Tatars, and others. Estimates of the number of Ostarbeiter range between 3 million and 5.5 million.
Central and Eastern Europe, abbreviated CEE, is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Southeastern Europe (Balkans), usually meaning former communist states from the Eastern Bloc in Europe. Scholarly literature often uses the abbreviations CEE or CEEC for this term. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also uses the term "Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs)" for a group comprising some of these countries.
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave-labour force for the Axis war effort, and to seize the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories.
During World War II, Reichskommissariat Ukraine was the civilian occupation regime (Reichskommissariat) of much of Nazi German-occupied Ukraine. Between September 1941 and August 1944, the Reichskommissariat was administered by Erich Koch as the Reichskommissar. The administration's tasks included the pacification of the region and the exploitation, for German benefit, of its resources and people. Adolf Hitler issued a Führer Decree defining the administration of the newly occupied Eastern territories on 17 July 1941.
By 1944 most new workers were very young, under the age of 16, as those older than that were usually conscripted for service in Germany; 30% were as young as 12–14 years of age when they were taken from their homes.The age limit was dropped to 10 in November 1943. Since about half of the adolescents were female, Ostarbeiter were often the victims of rape and tens of thousands of pregnancies due to rape occurred.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.
Ostarbeiter were often given starvation rations and were forced to live in guarded camps. Many died from starvation, overwork, bombing (they were frequently denied access to bomb shelters), abuse and execution carried out by their German overseers. Ostarbeiter were often denied wages but when they did get paid they received payment in a special currency which could only be used to buy specific products at the camps where they lived.
Following the war, the over 2.5 million liberated Ostarbeiterwere often repatriated and in the USSR they suffered from social ostracization as well as deportation to gulags for "re-education." American authorities banned the repatriation of Ostarbeiter in October 1945 and some immigrated to the U.S. as well as other non eastern-bloc countries. In 2000 the German government and thousands of German companies paid a one-time payment of just over € 5 billion to Ostarbeiter victims of the Nazi regime.
The official German records for the late summer of 1944 listed 7.6 million foreign civilian workers and prisoners of war in the territory of the "Greater German Reich", who for the most part had been brought there for employment by force.Thus, they represent roughly a quarter of all registered workers in the entire economy of the German Reich at that time.
A class system was created amongst the Fremdarbeiter (foreign workers) brought to Germany to work for the Third Reich. The multi-layered system was based on layers of national hierarchies. The Gastarbeitnehmer were the so-called guest workers, Germanic, Scandinavian and Italian. The Zwangsarbeiter, or forced workers included Militärinternierte (military internees), POWs, Zivilarbeiter (civilian workers); and primarily Polish prisoners from the General Government. They received reduced wages and food rations and had to work longer hours than the former, could not use public conveniences (such as public transportation, restaurants, or churches), were forbidden to possess certain items and some were required to wear a sign - the "Polish P" - attached to their clothing. The Ostarbeiter were the Eastern workers, primarily from Reichskommissariat Ukraine . They were marked with a badge reading "OST" (East, similar to Poles from Kresy) and were subject to even harsher conditions than the civilian workers. They were forced to live in special camps that were fenced with barbed wire and under guard, and were particularly exposed to the arbitrariness of the Gestapo and the commercial industrial plant guards. At the end of the war 5.5 million Ostarbeiter were returned to the USSR.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. The term Scandinavia in local usage covers the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The majority national languages of these three, belong to the Scandinavian dialect continuum, and are mutually intelligible North Germanic languages. In English usage, Scandinavia also sometimes refers to the Scandinavian Peninsula, or to the broader region including Finland and Iceland, which is always known locally as the Nordic countries.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.
At the end of 1941, a new crisis developed in Nazi Germany. Following the mobilization of men into its massive armies, the country faced a shortage of labour in support of the war industries. To help overcome this shortage, Göring decreed to bring in people from the territories seized during Operation Barbarossa in Central and Eastern Europe. These replacement workers were called Ostarbeiter. : literally: hay operation) was an acronym for allegedly homeless, parentless and unhoused children gathered in lieu of their guardians. After arriving in Germany, the children were handed over to Reichsarbeitsdienst or the Junkers aircraft works. The secondary purpose of these abductions was to pressure the adult populations further to register in place of children.The crisis deepened as the war in the East went on. By 1944, the policy turned into mass abductions of virtually anyone to fulfil the labour needs of the Organisation Todt among other similar projects; 40,000 to 50,000 Polish children aged 10 to 14 were kidnapped by the German occupational forces and transported to Germany proper as slave labourers during the so-called Heuaktion . The Heuaktion (German
Organisation Todt (OT) was a civil and military engineering organisation in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, named for its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi. The organization was responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in Nazi Germany and in occupied territories from France to the Soviet Union during World War II. It became notorious for using forced labour. From 1943-45 during the late phase of the Third Reich, OT administered all constructions of concentration camps to supply forced labor to industry.
The Heuaktion was a Nazi German World War II operation, in which 40,000 to 50,000 Polish children aged 10 to 14 were kidnapped by the German occupational forces and transported to Germany proper as slave labourers. The term "heuaktion" was an acronym for homeless, parent-less and unhoused. After arriving in Germany, the children were handed over to Organisation Todt and the Junkers aircraft works. The intention of the mass abduction was to pressure the adult populations of the occupied territories to register as workers in the Reich, and to weaken the “biological strength” of the areas of the Soviet republics which Germany had invaded.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Initially a recruiting campaign was launched in January 1942 by Fritz Sauckel for workers to go to Germany. "On January 28 the first special train will leave for Germany with hot meals in Kiev, Zdolbunov and Przemyśl", offered an announcement. The first train was full when it departed from Kiev on January 22.
The advertising continued in the following months. "Germany calls you! Go to Beautiful Germany! 100,000 Ukrainians are already working in free Germany. What about you?" ran a Kiev newspaper ad on March 3, 1942. Word got back however, of the sub-human slave conditions that Ukrainians met in Germany and the campaign failed to attract sufficient volunteers. Forced recruitment and forced labor were implemented,although propaganda still depicted them as volunteers.
With the news about the terrible conditions many Ostarbeiter faced in the Third Reich the pool of volunteers soon dried up. As a result, the Germans were forced to resort to mass round-ups, often using the ploy of targeting large gatherings such as church congregations and crowds at sporting events, with entire groups simply marched off at gunpoint to waiting cattle trucks and deported to Germany.
One special category was that of young women recruited to act as nannies; Hitler argued that many women would like to have children, and many of them were restricted by the lack of domestic help.(This was one of many efforts made to promote the birth rate.) Since the nannies would be in close company with German children as well as in a position where they might be sexually exploited, they were required to be suitable for Germanization. Himmler spoke of thus winning back German blood and benefiting the women, too, who would have a social rise through working in Germany and even the chance to marry there. They could be assigned only to families with many children who would properly train the nannies as well. These assignments were carried out by the NS-Frauenschaft . Originally, this recruitment was carried out only in the annexed territories of Poland, but the lack of women who passed screening extended it to all of Poland, and also to occupied territories in USSR.
Within Germany Ostarbeiter lived either in private camps owned and managed by the large companies, or in special camps guarded by privately paid police services known as the Werkschutz.They worked an average of 12 hours a day, six days a week. They were paid approximately 30% of German workers' wages; however, most of the money went toward food, clothing and board. The labor authorities, the RSHA Arbeitskreis, complained that many firms viewed these former Soviet civilian workers as "civilian prisoners", treated them accordingly, and paid no wages at all to them. Those who received pay got specially printed paper money and savings stamps, which they could use only for the purchase of a limited number of items in special camp stores. By law they were given worse food rations than other forced labor groups. Starvation rations and primitive accommodation were given to these unfortunates in Germany.
The Ostarbeiter were restricted to their compounds, in some cases labor camps. Being ethnically Slavic, they were classified by German authorities as the Untermenschen ("sub-humans"), who could be beaten, terrorized, and killed for their transgressions. Those who tried to escape were hanged where other workers could see their bodies. Leave without authorization or escape was punished by death.The Nazis issued a ban on sexual relations between Germans and the Easterners. On 7 December 1942 Himmler called for any "unauthorized sexual intercourse" to be punishable by death. In accordance with these new racial laws; all sexual relations, even those that did not result in pregnancy, were severely punished as Rassenschande (racial pollution). During the war, hundreds of Easterners were executed for their relations with German women, even though the main offenders by far – wrote Ulrich Herbert – were the French and Italian civilian workers who were not prohibited from social contacts with them.
Rape of female Ostarbeiter was extremely common and led to tens of thousands of pregnancies caused by rape.The victims began giving so many unwanted births that hundreds of special Nazi birthing centres for foreign workers had to be created in order to dispose of their infants.
Many Ostarbeiter died when Allied bombing raids targeted the factories where they worked and the German authorities refused to allow them into bomb shelters. Many also perished because the German authorities ordered that "they should be worked to death".[ citation needed ]
Nazi authorities attempted to reproduce such conditions on farms, ordering farmers to integrate the workers into their workforce while enforcing total social separation, including not permitting them to eat at the same table, but this proved far more difficult to enforce.Sexual relationships in particular were able to take place despite efforts to raise German women's "racial consciousness". When Germany's military situation worsened, these workers' conditions often improved as the farmers tried to protect themselves against a defeat.
Native German workers served as foremen and supervisors over the forced labour in factories, and therefore no solidarity developed between foreigners and German nationals. The German workers became accustomed to inequalities raised by racism against the workers and became indifferent to their plight.
During the German occupation of Central and Eastern Europe in World War II (1941–44) over 3 million people were taken to Germany as Ostarbeiter. Some estimates put the number up to 5.5 million. 452). Both of these statistics probably exclude the several hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from Halychyna, so a final total could be about 2.5 million.Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the over 3,000,000 Ostarbeiter were Ukrainians. Prof. Kondufor's statistic is that 2,244,000 Ukrainians were forced into slave labor in Germany during World War II. Another statistic puts the total at 2,196,166 for Ukrainian Ostarbeiter slaves in Germany (Dallin, p.
There were slightly more female than male Ostarbeiter. They were employed in agriculture, mining, manufacturing armaments, metal production, and railroads.Ostarbeiter were initially sent to intermediate camps, where laborers were picked out for their assignments directly by representatives of labor-starved companies. Ford-Werke in Cologne and Opel in Russelsheim and Brandenburg each employed thousands of such Ostarbeiter at their plants.
Some Ostarbeiter worked for private firms, although many were employed in the factories making armaments. These factories were prime targets for Allied bombing. The Ostarbeiter were considered to be quite productive and efficient. Males were thought to be the equivalent of 60-80% of a German worker, and women — 90-100%[ citation needed ]. Two million Ukrainians worked mostly in the armaments factories including the V-2 rocket factory at Peenemünde.
To prevent Rassenschande (violation of German racial laws by the native Germans), the farmers were given propaganda leaflets about miscegenation, which were completely ineffective.The rampant sexual abuse of Polish and Soviet female Ostarbeiters at the hands of their overseers led to tens of thousands of unwanted births. A staggering 80 percent of rapes occurred on the farms where the Polish girls worked. The newborns were secretly euthanized in Nazi birthing centres. At Arbeitslagers the infants were killed on site. The Western factory workers had brothels. Easterners did not. They were supposed to be recruited in equal numbers of men and women, so brothels would not be needed. Female labourers were always housed in separate barracks. Nevertheless, they were suspected by the SS of "cheating their way out of work" by conceiving. The earlier policy of sending them home to give birth, was replaced by the Reichsführer-SS in 1943 with a special abortion decree. Contrary to the Nazi law against German abortions, the Ostarbeiter women were usually forced to abort.
Occasionally, when the female worker and the baby's father were "of good blood" (for example, Norwegian), the child might prove "racially valuable." In such cases, the parentage was investigated and both parents tested. If they passed, the woman would be permitted to give birth, and the child was removed for Germanization.If the woman was found particularly suitable, she might be placed at a Lebensborn institution. However, when the born children did not pass, they were put in the Ausländerkinder-Pflegestätte facilities, where up to 90 percent of them would die a torturous death due to calculated abandonment.
In some rural areas, the authorities found that the German farm-wives were inclined to care for children born to their workers, along with their own children.Attempts were made to segregate these children and use ruthless propaganda to establish that if a worker of "alien blood" gave birth in Germany, it meant immediate and total separation from the child. Repeated efforts were made to propagate Volkstum (racial consciousness) in order to prevent Rassenschande between Germans and foreign workers, nevertheless, the arrival of trains with Polish girls in German towns and villages usually turned into medieval sex slave markets.
As a result of their abusive treatment Ostarbeiter suffered from high levels of psychological trauma and those admitted to psychiatric hospitals were often the victims of abuse and murder. The Nazi regime also sanctioned the use of Ostarbeiter in medical experiments.
On September 6, 1944 the Reichsminister of the Interior ordered the establishment of special units for Ostarbeiter in several psychiatric hospitals in the Reich. The reason given was: "With the considerable number of Ostarbeiter who have been brought to the German Reich as a labour force, their admission into German psychiatric hospitals as mentally ill patients has become more frequent ... With the shortage of space in German hospitals, it is irresponsible to treat these ill people, who in the foreseeable future will not be fit for work, for a prolonged period in German institutions. "The exact number of Ostarbeiter killed in these psychiatric institutions is as yet not known. 189 Ostarbeiter were admitted to the Ostarbeiter unit of the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Kaufbeuren; 49 died as a result of the starvation diet, or from deadly injections.
After the war many of the Ostarbeiter were initially placed in DP (displaced person) camps from which they were then moved to Kempten for processing and returned to their country of origin, primarily the USSR. The Soviets also used special Agit brigades to convince many Ostarbeiter to return.
Many Ostarbeiter were still children or young teenagers when they were taken away and wanted to return home to their parents. Others who became aware of or understood the postwar political reality declined to return. Those in the Soviet occupational zones were returned automatically. Those in the French and British zones of occupation were forced to return under the terms of the Yalta Agreement, which stated that "Citizens of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia were to be handed over to their respective countries, regardless of their consent".
In October 1945, General Eisenhower banned the use of force in repatriation in the American Zone. As a result, many Ostarbeiter began to escape to the American Zone. Some, when faced with return to Soviet reality, chose to commit suicide.
Upon return to the Soviet Union Ostarbeiter were often treated as traitors. Many were transported to remote locations in the Soviet Union and were denied basic rights and the chance to get further education. [ not in citation given ]Nearly 80 percent of [Russian workers and prisoners of war returning from Germany] were sent to forced labour, some were given fifteen to twenty-five years of "corrective labour", and others sent off to hard labour; all were categorized as "socially dangerous".
Those who returned home were also physically and spiritually broken. Moreover, they were considered by the authorities to have "questionable loyalty", and were therefore discriminated against and deprived of many of their citizenship rights.
Ostarbeiter suffered from state-sanctioned stigmatisation, with special references in their passports (and the passports of their children and relatives) mentioning their time in Germany during the war. As a result, many jobs were off-limits to anyone unlucky enough to carry such a status, and during periods of repression former slave labourers would often be ostracised by the wider Soviet community. Many victims have testified that since the war they have suffered a lifetime of abuse and suspicion from their fellow countrymen, many of whom have accused them of being traitors who helped the Germans and lived comfortably in the Third Reich while Ukraine burned.
When applying for jobs, travel abroad or for certain other, politically sensitive activities which needed sanction by the Party authorities or the KGB, people had to fill out questionnaires (ankety). If a person was deemed to be of the "wrong" nationality or "past", their chances of travel or work (and certain areas of study) were restricted.[ citation needed ]
In 2000 the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future", a project of the German Federal Government and 6,500 companies of the German Industry Foundation Initiative, was established, which disbursed 10 billion Deutsche Mark (5.1 billion €) to the former forced laborers. This is roughly one-off payment of €2,000 per worker, much less than the inflation-adjusted value of their work. Of the over 2 million Ostarbeiter in Ukraine,[ citation needed ] 467,000 received a total amount of €867 million, with each worker being assigned a one-time payment of 4,300 marks. The last payments were made in 2007.
Published eyewitness accounts of the Ukrainian Ostarbeiter experience are virtually non-existent in Ukraine although there were 2,244,000 of them from Ukraine,[ dubious ] according to Ukrainian historian Yuri Kondufor.[ citation needed ] The State Archival Service of Ukraine now has a collection of documents online showing official notices published by the German government of occupation in Ukraine. A total of 3,000,000 Ostarbeiter were taken to Germany, and it is estimated that Ukrainians constituted about 75% of the total. Ukraine, according to some sources, lost about 10 million people in World War II, which was one of the greatest losses of any country in the war.
Some Ostarbeiter survived the war and emigrated to the countries outside Europe, primarily to the United States, although a handful also made it to Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Brazil. Ostarbeiter who found themselves in the British or French zones were automatically repatriated. Only those who were in the American zone were not forced to return to their countries of origin. In comparison, Ukrainians from western Ukraine and the Baltic region were not forced to return to the Soviet Union, because the UK did not recognize those territories as part of the USSR.
In 1998, only two Ostarbeiter had been located in Canada for interviews for the audio and video archives of the Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre in Toronto.
Recently a film was made by Ukrainian television focusing on the plight of the Ukrainian Ostarbeiter who returned to the Soviet Union, demonstrating the harsh and inhumane treatment that they continued to receive after their repatriation.[ citation needed ]
The League of German Girls or Band of German Maidens was the girls' wing of the Nazi Party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only legal female youth organization in Nazi Germany.
The Generalplan Ost, abbreviated as GPO, was the Nazi German government's plan for the genocide and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale, and colonization of Central and Eastern Europe by Germans. It was to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II. The plan was partially realized during the war, resulting directly and indirectly in the deaths of 9.4 to 11.4 million ethnic Slavs by starvation, disease, execution or extermination through labor, including 4.5 million Soviet citizens, 2.8 to 3.3 million Soviet POWs, 1.8 to 3 million Slavic Poles, 300 to 600 thousand Serbs and 20 to 25 thousand Slovenes. Its full implementation, however, was not considered practicable during the major military operations, and was prevented by Germany's defeat.
Nazism and the acts of the Nazi German state profoundly affected many countries, communities, and people before, during and after World War II. While the attempt of the regime to exterminate several nations viewed as subhuman by Nazi ideology was eventually stopped by the combined efforts of the wartime Allies headed by Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
The German camps in occupied Poland during World War II were built by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945 throughout the territory of the Polish Republic, both in the areas annexed in 1939, and in the General Government formed by Nazi Germany in the central part of the country (see map). After the 1941 German attack on the Soviet positions in eastern Poland, a much greater system of camps was established, including the world's only industrial extermination camps constructed specifically to carry out the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.
Volksgemeinschaft is a German expression meaning "people's community". This expression originally became popular during World War I as Germans rallied in support of the war, and it appealed to the idea of breaking down elitism and uniting people across class divides to achieve a national purpose.
Blood and soil is a nationalist slogan expressing the nineteenth-century German idealization of a racially defined national body ("blood") united with a settlement area ("soil"). By it, rural and farm life forms are not only idealized as a counterweight to urban ones, but are also combined with ideas of a sedentary Germanic-Nordic peasantry as opposed to nomadism. The contemporaneous German concept Lebensraum, the belief that the German people needed to reclaim historically German areas of Eastern Europe into which they could expand, is tied to it.
Rassenschande or Blutschande was an anti-miscegenation concept in Nazi German racial policy, pertaining to sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans. It was put into practice by policies like the Aryan certificate requirement, and later the Nuremberg Laws, adopted unanimously by the Reichstag on 15 September 1935. Initially, these laws referred predominantly to relations between Germans and non-Aryans. In the early stages the culprits were targeted informally, and then later on punished systematically by a repressive legal apparatus.
Forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union was considered by the Soviet Union to be part of German war reparations for the damage inflicted by Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union during World War II. German civilians in Germany and Eastern Europe were deported to the USSR after World War II as forced laborers, ethnic Germans living in the USSR were deported during World War II and conscripted for forced labor. German prisoners of war were also used as a source of forced labor during and after the war by the Soviet Union and the Western Allies.
The National Socialist Women's League was the women's wing of the Nazi Party. It was founded in October 1931 as a fusion of several nationalist and National Socialist women's associations. Guida Diehl was its first speaker (Kulturreferentin).
Arbeitseinsatz was a forced labour category of internment within Nazi Germany during World War II. When German men were called up for military service, Nazi German authorities rounded up civilians to fill in the vacancies and to expand manufacturing operations. Some labourers came from Germany but exponentially more from roundups (łapanka) in the German-occupied territories. Arbeitseinsatz was not restricted to the industry sector and to arms producing factories; it also took place, for example, in the farming sector, community services, and even in the churches.
Crimes against the Polish nation committed by Nazi Germany and collaborationist forces during the invasion of Poland, along with auxiliary battalions during the subsequent occupation of Poland in World War II, consisted of the systematic extermination of Jewish Poles and the murder of millions of (non-Jewish) ethnic Poles. The Germans justified these genocides on the basis of Nazi racial theory, which depicted Jews as a constant threat and regarded Poles and other Slavs as racially inferior Untermenschen. By 1942 the Nazis were implementing their plan to kill every Jew in German-occupied Europe, and had also developed plans to eliminate the Polish people, through mass murder, ethnic cleansing, enslavement, and assimilation into German identity of a small minority of Poles regarded as racially valuable. During World War II the Germans not only murdered millions of Jewish and non-Jewish Poles, but ethnically cleansed millions more ethnic Poles through forced deportation, supposedly to make room for racially superior German settlers.
The Soldau concentration camp established by Nazi Germany during World War II was a concentration camp for Polish and Jewish prisoners. It was located in Działdowo, a town in north-eastern Poland, which after the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939 was annexed into the Province of East Prussia.
During World War II, the German institutions known as Ausländerkinder-Pflegestätte, or Ostarbeiterkinderpflegestätten for the so-called 'troublesome' babies according to Himmler's decree, also known as Säuglingsheim stations for the abandoned infants, were the new NSDAP facilities established in the heartland of Germany as the Nazi birthing centres, and the collection points, for the offspring born to foreign women and girls servicing the German war economy, including Polish and Eastern European female forced labour. The babies and children, most of them resulting from rape at the place of enslavement, were abducted en masse between 1943 and 1945. At some locations, up to 90 percent of infants died a torturous death due to calculated neglect.
The use of forced labour and slavery in Nazi Germany and throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II took place on an unprecedented scale. It was a vital part of the German economic exploitation of conquered territories. It also contributed to the mass extermination of populations in German-occupied Europe. The Nazi Germans abducted approximately 12 million people from almost twenty European countries; about two thirds came from Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Many workers died as a result of their living conditions – mistreatment, malnutrition, and torture were the main causes of death. They became civilian casualties of shelling. At its peak the forced labourers comprised 20% of the German work force. Counting deaths and turnover, about 15 million men and women were forced labourers at one point during the war.
Zivilarbeiter refers primarily to ethnic Polish residents from the General Government, used during World War II as forced laborers in the Third Reich. The residents of occupied Poland were conscripted on the basis of the so-called Polish decrees (Polenerlasse), and were subject to discriminatory regulation.
In the years following World War II, large numbers of German civilians and captured soldiers were forced into labour by the Allied forces. The topic of using Germans as forced labour for reparations was first broached at the Tehran conference in 1943, where Soviet premier Joseph Stalin demanded 4,000,000 German workers.
German military brothels were set up by Nazi Germany during World War II throughout much of occupied Europe for the use of Wehrmacht and SS soldiers. These brothels were generally new creations, but in the West, they were sometimes set up using existing brothels as well as many other buildings. Until 1942, there were around 500 military brothels of this kind in German-occupied Europe. Often operating in confiscated hotels and guarded by the Wehrmacht, these facilities served travelling soldiers and those withdrawn from the front. According to records, at least 34,140 European women were forced to serve as prostitutes during the German occupation of their own countries along with female prisoners of concentration camp brothels. In many cases in Eastern Europe, the women involved were kidnapped on the streets of occupied cities during German military and police round ups called łapanka or rafle.
The propaganda of the National Socialist German Workers' Party regime that governed Germany from 1933 to 1945 promoted Nazi ideology by demonizing the enemies of the Nazi Party, notably Jews and communists, but also capitalists and intellectuals. It promoted the values asserted by the Nazis, including heroic death, Führerprinzip, Volksgemeinschaft, Blut und Boden and pride in the Germanic Herrenvolk. Propaganda was also used to maintain the cult of personality around Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and to promote campaigns for eugenics and the annexation of German-speaking areas. After the outbreak of World War II, Nazi propaganda vilified Germany's enemies, notably the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, and in 1943 exhorted the population to total war.
The occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the Second World War (1939–1945) began with the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, and it was formally concluded with the defeat of Germany by the Allies in May 1945. Throughout the entire course of the foreign occupation, the territory of Poland was divided between Germany and the Soviet Union (USSR) with the intention of eradicating Polish culture and subjugating its people by occupying German and Soviet powers. In summer-autumn of 1941 the lands annexed by the Soviets were overrun by Germany in the course of the initially successful German attack on the USSR. After a few years of fighting, the Red Army drove the German forces out of the USSR and across Poland from the rest of Central and Eastern Europe.