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Forced Labor in the National Socialist System

© Fritz Bauer Institut (APMO/Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum)
© Fritz Bauer Institut (APMO/Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum)

In the German Reich, unfree labor had been one of the mechanisms of the state system of labor-market regulation since the final years of the Weimar Republic. Under the National Socialist regime, forced labor was imposed under increasingly poor conditions, at first to campaign against and reprimand people who did not go along with the ideology of the Volksgemeinschaft, the “people’s community.” By the start of the war, however, this had become a tool for systematic exploitation and extermination of people who were viewed in the Nazis’ ideology of race as “unworthy of life.” Those most seriously affected were inhabitants of the conquered areas of Eas tern Europe, Russian prisoners of war, and large numbers of Jews, who were forced to do heavy labor under dreadful conditions until, completely exhausted, they were murdered.



Forced Labor at I.G. Farben