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Empire and Weimar Republic

Foreign Work Force under National Socialism

After the War: Displaced and Repatriated Persons

History of Forced Labour under National Socialism

The history of forced labour in the National Socialist state is not solely restricted to the actual German Reich (later “Greater German Reich“) in its spatial reflection but likewise affects all territories occupied by the Germans and their Allies during World War II. Thus it reaches an international European dimension. It is the history of forced migrations of a formerly unprecedented extent under inhuman, even brutal conditions. It is a history of misdoings which were committed in broad daylight to foreign forced labourers by superiors and those in charge.

This was not only facilitated by the National Socialist ideology - in fact the existing pattern of prejudices amongst Germans against foreigners and ethnic groups allowed the system of forced labour to flourish without being questioned in the slightest. Forced labour was a permanently publicly committed injustice, however, it was not considered to be wrong among large parts of the population. Almost 60 years had to pass before the broad public of German society dealt with this topic, started feeling guilty and stopped blaming only employers and authorities.