Newsroom Veranstaltungen Team & Kontakt


The history of Nazi forced labor and its consequences are complex. Here you will find an introduction to the subject. Selected historical examples help to understand developments and contexts.

The picture shows a line of female Soviet forced labourers walking in front of a barrack towards the photographer. Their faces look dejectedly into the camera. They are carrying little luggage.

What was forced labor under Nazi rule? Introduction into the topic

During World War II, more than 20 million people were coerced into performing forced labor for Germany in occupied Europe and in the German Reich. The Germans profited from this exploitation, which by no means took place in secret but out in the open....

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The picture shows a bald man in uniform standing behind his desk in front of a portrait of Adolf Hitler.

Who was Fritz Sauckel? From Regional Leader to General Commissioner for Labor Deployment

Fritz Sauckel was an early member of the NSDAP and an ardent admirer of Adolf Hitler. In 1927 he became regional leader (Gauleiter) and in 1932 a leading secretary of state (Staatsminister) in Germany’s first National Socialist government. In March 1942...

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The picture shows men cutting peat with hand tools. They are being supervised by a man in a uniform on the right-hand side of the picture.

Forced Labor before the War 1933-1939. Accommodation to violence and exclusion

Under National Socialism, work did not mean the same thing for everyone. While "inferiors" had to perform humiliating forced labor, the work of "Aryan" Germans was considered an honourable service to the German people.

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The picture shows a crowd of people gathered in front of an entrance with a temporary sign saying "Labour Office".

Forced Labor in Occupied Europe Radicalization

Large areas of Europe came under the control of Nazi Germany during World War II. In the countries they subdued within the context of their conquests, the occupiers introduced the already long-rehearsed practice of excluding and exploiting all persons...

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Several men are sitting on the floor. They are wearing military uniforms. There are barracks in the background.

Forced Labor in the German Reich Mass phenomenon

The war economy and the living standards of the German people were only sustained through the use of millions of forced laborers.

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The picture shows the defendants during the Nünrberg trial. The dock on which they are sitting is guarded by soldiers.

End of the War. What next? Silence

Most Germans remained silent about the crime of forced labour or even denied it. Perhaps it was precisely their awareness of their complicity that led to defence and decades of silence.

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