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Empire and Weimar Republic

Foreign Work Force under National Socialism

After the War: Displaced and Repatriated Persons

Ideological Conditions

The National Socialist racial ideology divided humans into groups of different social value, which was based on ethnic preconditions of the individual and prejudice patterns that had been passed on. At the top of this value pyramid was the Germanic race and in it the “thoroughbred“ German, which was classified as “superior master race“ followed by those belonging to the remaining Germanic nations, then the Anglo-Saxon followed by Romanic and Slavic nations and finally the Jews of all nationalities.

Although the ideal of "purity of breeding" of the German nation can hardly be reconciled with the fact that a large number of foreigners were actually brought into the German Reich, economic needs overruled the ideologic resistance and with the beginning of the war led to brutal deportations into the Reich, primarily from the Eastern occupied territories in the interest of the German economy.

Großansicht des Bildes

Frick and Himmler at concentration camp Sachsenhausen (betw. 1936 and 1943)

Source: Federal Archives, Bild 183-H0403-0201-003;

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The conflict of racial ideologies of mainly high-ranking party officials and SS-leaders headed by Heinrich Himmler with economic pragmatists from defence and deployment administration did not cease until the decline of the Third Reich. While some feared sabotage by the foreign workers, Communist infiltration and "blood mingling", there was on the other side the unbeatable argument of the major significance of the deployment of foreigners for the "business" side of the war. Associated with this was the image of the deployment as a temporary phenomenon for the duration of the war.

The economic needs did not only lead to the deployment of Soviet population considered to be Slavic Bolshevik "subhumans" as so-called "Workers from the East" from 1941 but also the deployment of Jewish concentration camp prisoners on a large scale in a Germany "purified of Jews".

Großansicht des Bildes

Concentration camp Auschwitz: Arrival of Hungarian Jews, summer 1944

Source: Federal Archives, Bild 183-N0827-318

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The deployment of Jews forced to hard labour in its consequence has to be considered in connection with the Holocaust and therefore from a totally different perspective than the so-called "deployment of foreigners". An introductory depiction can be found on the Internet at shoa.de.