Newsroom Veranstaltungen Team & Kontakt

Forced Labor before the War

Under National Socialism, work did not mean the same thing for everyone.
National Socialist social hierarchies categorized people as members of what propaganda called the "Volksgemeinschaft" ("people’s community") and individuals who were to be excluded from this community on the basis of politics or race.
Anyone who was not part of the "people’s community" faced social isolation, violence, and imprisonment. Often those excluded were forced to perform humiliating work. The work of "Aryan" Germans, in contrast, was considered an honourable service to the German people.

→ The German labor administration

The employment offices were a key tool used by the National Socialist state to steer the labor market. After compulsory service was instituted in 1938, the authorities could compel all Germans to accept job assignments, even against their will. Many of these jobs were in the armaments industry. Launched in 1936, the “Four Year Plan” administration sought to prepare the military and economy for war by 1940. They created a “labor deployment” board that drew upon employment office staff. They were given the assignment of preparing the labor market for war. The employment offices also played a central role in the exclusion of Jews. Beginning in 1938, it called up Jews for labor deployment in segregated units.

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