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Empire and Weimar Republic

Foreign Work Force under National Socialism

After the War: Displaced and Repatriated Persons

Foreign Manpower from other Nations

Due to the captures and contracts with allied nations civilian workers and POWs from numerous other countries arrived in the Reich.

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Italian officers are arrested by German paratroopers, September 1943

Source: Federal Archives, Bild 101I-304-0604a-27; Photograph: Otto

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The Italian held a special status, whose preferential treatment as immigrant workers from an allied Führer state reversed into the opposite, when Mussolini fell in 1943 and Italy surrendered. The 600,000 Italian solders, who were in the reach of the Germans, were taken prisoners of war facing tough and inhuman working and living conditions, unless they wanted to fight on as part of the German side. Soon afterwards some 450,000 of these so-called military internees were tranferred to the status of civilian workers by force. In fact, they had more rights but they were now beyond the protection of the Geneva Convention for prisoners of war.

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Jewish forced labourers involved in road construction in Yugoslavia, 1941 (Photo taken for Propaganda purposes)

Source: Federal Archives, Bild 101I-185-0135-03; Photograph: Franke

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In addition to the deployment in the Reich, there was also forced labour in the home country or any other occupied territory. There has only been little investigation so far.