The term "extermination through labour" (Vernichtung durch Arbeit) was not generally used by the Nazi SS, but the phrase was notably used in late 1942 in negotiations between Albert Bormann, Joseph Goebbels, Otto Georg Thierack, and Heinrich Himmler, relating to the transfer of prisoners to concentration camps. Thierack and Goebbels specifically used the term. The phrase was used again during the post-war Nuremberg trials.
In the 1980s and 1990s, historians began debating the appropriate use of the term. Falk Pingel believed the phrase should not be applied to all Nazi prisoners, while Hermann Kaienburg and Miroslav Kárný believed "extermination through labour" was a consistent goal of the SS. More recently, Jens-Christian Wagner has also argued that not all Nazi prisoners were targeted with annihilation.
The Nazis persecuted many individuals because of their race, political affiliation, disability, religion, or sexual orientation. Groups marginalized by the majority population in Germany included welfare-dependent families with many children, alleged vagrants and transients, as well as members of perceived problem groups, such as alcoholics and prostitutes. While these people were considered "German-blooded", they were also categorized as "social misfits" (Asoziale) as well as superfluous "ballast-lives" (Ballastexistenzen). They were recorded in lists (as were homosexuals) by civil and police authorities and subjected to myriad state restrictions and repressive actions, which included forced sterilization and ultimately imprisonment in concentration camps. Anyone who openly opposed the Nazi regime (such as communists, social democrats, democrats, and conscientious objectors) was detained in prison camps. Many of them did not survive the ordeal.
While others could possibly redeem themselves in the eyes of the Nazis, there was no room in Hitler's world-view for Jews, although Germany encouraged and supported emigration of Jews to Palestine and elsewhere from 1933 until 1941 with arrangements such as the Haavara Agreement, or the Madagascar Plan. During the war in 1942, the Nazi leadership gathered to discuss what had come to be called "the final solution to the Jewish question" at a conference in Wannsee, Germany. The transcript of this gathering gives historians insight into the thinking of the Nazi leadership as they devised the details of the Jews' future destruction, including using extermination through labour as one component of their so-called "Final Solution".
Under proper leadership, the Jews shall now in the course of the Final Solution be suitably brought to their work assignments in the East. Able-bodied Jews are to be led to these areas to build roads in large work columns separated by sex, during which a large part will undoubtedly drop out through a process of natural reduction. As it will undoubtedly represent the most robust portion, the possible final remainder will have to be handled appropriately, as it would constitute a group of naturally-selected individuals, and would form the seed of a new Jewish resistance. — Wannsee Protocol, 1942.
In Nazi camps, "extermination through labour" was principally carried out through a slave-based labour organization, which is why, in contrast with the forced labour of foreign work forces, a term from the Nuremberg Trials is used for "slave work" and "slave workers".
Working conditions were characterized by: no remuneration of any kind; constant surveillance of workers; physically demanding labour (for example, road construction, farm work, and factory work, particularly in the arms industry); excessive working hours (often 10 to 12 hours per day); minimal nutrition, food rationing; lack of hygiene; poor medical care and ensuing disease; insufficient clothing (for example, summer clothes even in the winter).
Torture and physical abuse were also used. Torstehen ("Door standing") forced victims to stand outside naked with arms raised. When they collapsed or passed out, they would be beaten until they re-assumed the position. Pfahlhängen ("Post Attachment") involved tying the inmate's hands behind their back and then hanging them by their hands from a tall stake. This would dislocate and disjoint the arms, and the pressure would be fatal within hours. (Cf. strappado.)
Imprisonment in concentration camps aimed not merely to break, but to destroy inmates. The admission and registration of the new prisoners, the forced labour, the prisoner housing, the roll calls — all aspects of camp life — were accompanied by humiliation and harassment.
Admission, registration and interrogation of the detainees was accompanied by scornful remarks from SS officials. The prisoners were stepped on and beaten during roll call. Forced labour partly consisted of pointless tasks and heavy labour, which aimed to wear down the prisoners.
Many of the concentration camps channeled forced labour to benefit the German war machine. In these cases the SS saw excessive working hours as a means of maximizing output. Oswald Pohl, the leader of the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt ("SS Economy and Administration Main Bureau", or SS-WVHA), who oversaw the employment of forced labour at the concentration camps, ordered on April 30, 1942:
The camp commander alone is responsible for the use of man power. This work must be exhausting in the true sense of the word in order to achieve maximum performance. […] There are no limits to working hours. […] Time consuming walks and mid-day breaks only for the purpose of eating are prohibited. […] He [the camp commander] must connect clear technical knowledge in military and economic matters with sound and wise leadership of groups of people, which he should bring together to achieve a high performance potential.
Up to 25,000 of the 35,000 prisoners appointed to work for IG Farben in Auschwitz died. The average life-expectancy of a slave laborer on a work assignment amounted to less than four months. The emaciated forced-labourers died from exhaustion or disease or they were deemed to be incapable of work and killed. About 30 percent of the forced labourers who were assigned to dig tunnels, which were constructed for weapon factories in the last months of the war, died. In the satellite camps, which were established in the vicinity of mines and industrial firms, even higher death-rates occurred, since accommodations and supplies were often even less adequate there than in the main camps.
The phrase "Arbeit macht frei" ("work shall set you free"), which could be found in various places in some Nazi concentration camps (for example, on the entrance gates) seems particularly cynical in this context. The Buchenwald concentration camp was the only concentration camp with the motto "Jedem das Seine" ("To each what he deserves") on the entrance gate.
Likewise, the Atlantic slave trade resulted in a vast and as yet still unknown loss of life for African captives both inside and outside America. Approximately 1.2 – 2.4 million Africans died during their transport to the New World. More died soon after their arrival. The number of lives lost in the procurement of slaves remains a mystery, but it may equal or exceed the number of Africans who survived only to be enslaved.
Estimates by Patrick Manning are that about 12 million slaves entered the Atlantic trade between the 16th and 19th century, but about 1.5 million died on board ship. About 10.5 million slaves arrived in the Americas. Besides the slaves who died on the Middle Passage, more Africans likely died during the slave raids in Africa and forced marches to ports. Manning estimates that 4 million died inside Africa after capture, and many more died young. Manning's estimate covers the 12 million who were originally destined for the Atlantic, as well as the 6 million destined for Asian slave markets and the 8 million destined for African markets.
In the period from 1885 to 1908, a number of well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a colony under the personal rule of King Leopold II of Belgium. These atrocities were sometimes collectively referred to by European contemporaries as the "Congo Horrors", and were particularly associated with the labour policies used to collect natural rubber for export. With the majority of the Free State's revenues derived from the export of rubber, a labour policy (known by critics as the "Red Rubber system") was created to maximise its extraction. Labour was demanded by the administration as taxation.[a]
This created a "slave society", as companies became increasingly dependent on forcibly mobilising Congolese labour for their collection of rubber. Workers who refused to supply their labour were coerced with "constraint and repression". Dissenters were beaten or whipped with the chicotte, hostages were taken to ensure prompt collection and punitive expeditions were sent to destroy villages which refused. The policy led to a collapse of Congolese economic and cultural life, as well as farming in some areas. Together with epidemic disease, famine, and a falling birth rate caused by these disruptions, the atrocities contributed to a sharp decline in the Congolese population. The magnitude of the population fall over the period is disputed, but it is thought by multiple historians that 10 or more million[b] Congolese perished during the period, mostly due to disease.
One of the enduring images of the Free State was the severed hands which became "the most potent symbol of colonial brutality". The practice of hacking the hands off corpses in the aftermath of punitive expeditions became common as evidence (pièces justificatives) that government supplies had not been misused. When soldiers did misuse their equipment, they cut hands from living people to cover their activities.
The Soviet Gulag is sometimes presented as a system of death camps, particularly in post-Communist Eastern European politics. This controversial position has been criticized, considering that with the obvious exception of the war years, a very large majority of people who entered the Gulag left alive. Alexander Solzhenitsyn introduced the expression camps of extermination by labour in his non-fiction work The Gulag Archipelago. According to him, the system eradicated opponents by forcing them to work as prisoners on big state-run projects (for example the White Sea-Baltic Canal, quarries, remote railroads and urban development projects) under inhumane conditions. Roy Medvedev comments: "The penal system in the Kolyma and in the camps in the north was deliberately designed for the extermination of people." Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev expands upon this, claiming that Stalin was the "architect of the gulag system for totally destroying human life". Writer Stephen Wheatcroft argues that the scale and nature of the Soviet Gulag repressions need to be looked at through the perspective of the greater populations of the USSR.
Hannah Arendt argued that although the Soviet government deemed them all "forced labor" camps, this in fact highlighted that the work in the camps was deliberately pointless, since "forced labor is the normal condition of all Russian workers, who have no freedom of movement and can be arbitrarily drafted for work at any place and at any time." The only real economic purpose they typically served was financing the cost of supervision. Otherwise the work performed was generally useless, either by design or made that way through extremely poor planning and execution; some workers even preferred more difficult work if it was actually productive. She differentiated between "authentic" forced-labor camps, concentration camps, and "annihilation camps". In authentic labor camps, inmates worked in "relative freedom and are sentenced for limited periods." Concentration camps had extremely high mortality rates and but were still "essentially organized for labor purposes." Annihilation camps were those where the inmates were "systematically wiped out through starvation and neglect." She criticizes other commentators' conclusion that the purpose of the camps was a supply of cheap labor. According to her, the Soviets were able to liquidate the camp system without serious economic consequences, showing that the camps were not an important source of labor and were overall economically irrelevant.
According to formerly secret internal Gulag documents, some 1.6 million people must have died in the period between 1930 and 1956 in Soviet forced labour camps and colonies (excluding prisoner-of-war camps), though these figures only include the deaths in the colonies beginning in 1935. The majority (about 900,000) of these deaths therefore fall between 1941 and 1945, coinciding with the period of the German-Soviet War when food supply levels were low in the entire country.
These figures are consistent with the archived documents that Russian historian Oleg Khlevniuk presents and analyzes in his study The History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror, according to which some 500,000 people died in the camps and colonies from 1930 to 1941. Khlevniuk points out that these figures don't take into account any deaths that occurred during transport. Also excluded are those who died shortly after their release owing to the harsh treatment in the camps, who, according to both archives and memoirs, were numerous. The historian J. Otto Pohl estimates that some 2,749,163 prisoners perished in the labour camps, colonies and special settlements, although stresses that this is an incomplete figure. Though the death toll is still widely debated, no state or national institution has recognized the Gulag system as a genocide.
Like the Soviet system, Mao Zedong's rule of China also installed an extremely deadly forced labor and prison system known as the Laogai or "reform through labour". According to Jean-Louis Margolin during the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, the harshness of the official prison system reached unprecedented levels, and the mortality rate until 1952 was "certainly in excess" of 5 percent per year, and reached 50 percent during six months in Guangxi. In Shanxi, more than 300 people died per day in one mine. Torture was commonplace and the suppression of revolts, which were quite numerous, resulted in "veritable massacres". One Chinese priest died after being interrogated for over 100 hours. Of the 20,000 inmates who worked in the oilfields of Yanchang, several thousand were executed.
In Mao: The Unknown Story, the Mao biographer Jung Chang and historian Jon Halliday estimate that perhaps 27 million people died in prisons and labor camps during Mao Zedong's rule. They claim that inmates were subjected to back-breaking labor in the most hostile wastelands, and that executions and suicides by any means (like diving into a wheat chopper) were commonplace. Frank Dikötter estimates that 1 to 3 million Chinese citizens committed suicide during the Great Leap Forward, likely referring in part to suicides in the labor camps.
Writing in The Black Book of Communism, which describes the history of repressions by Communist states, Jean-Louis Margolin claims that perhaps 20 million died in the prison system. Professor Rudolph Rummel puts the number of forced labor "democides" at 15,720,000, excluding "all those collectivized, ill-fed and clothed peasants who would be worked to death in the fields." Harry Wu puts the death toll at 15 million.
Anti-Semitic abuse in early SA and SS camps took many forms. Like other torturers, Nazi guards oversaw acts of ritual humiliation and desecration.
anyone who has not filed an application for rehabilitation, or whose application for rehabilitation has been denied, is subject to placement in seclusion (a camp) for an unspecified period of time and subject to forced labor, and forever loses public and honorary citizen rights and all property.
The Budapest Ghetto was a Nazi ghetto set up in Budapest, Hungary, where Jews were forced to relocate by a decree of the Hungarian Government during the final stages of World War II. The ghetto existed only from November 29, 1944 - January
17, 1945.Central Committee of the Liberated Jews
The Central Committee of the Liberated Jews (ZK) was an organization which represented Jewish displaced persons in the American Zone of the post-World War II Germany, during 1945-1950.Originated on July 1, 1945 through the efforts of Dr. Zalman Grinberg, former director of the Kovno ghetto hospital, rabbi Abraham Klausner, a chaplain of the US Army, and others, on September 7, 1946 the Committee was recognized as "the legal and democratic representation of the liberated Jews in the American zone" by the American military government in Germany.The first Chairman was Zalman Gringberg, succeeded by David Treger (in 1946) after Grinberg's emigration to Palestine and then by Abraham Treger. Abraham Treger served as the Committee's chairman between 1946 to 1948 and then emigrated with his wife Ida to Haifa, Israel.Forced labour under German rule during World War II
The use of forced labour and slavery in Nazi Germany and throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II took place on an unprecedented scale. It was a vital part of the German economic exploitation of conquered territories. It also contributed to the mass extermination of populations in German-occupied Europe. The Nazi Germans abducted approximately 12 million people from almost twenty European countries; about two thirds came from Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Many workers died as a result of their living conditions – extreme mistreatment, severe malnutrition, and worst tortures were the main causes of death. Many more became civilian casualties from enemy (Allied) bombing and shelling of their workplaces throughout the war. At its peak the forced labourers comprised 20% of the German work force. Counting deaths and turnover, about 15 million men and women were forced labourers at one point during the war.The defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 freed approximately 11 million foreigners (categorized as "displaced persons"), most of whom were forced labourers and POWs. In wartime, the German forces had brought into the Reich 6.5 million civilians in addition to Soviet POWs for unfree labour in factories. Returning them home was a high priority for the Allies. However, in the case of citizens of the USSR, returning often meant suspicion of collaboration or the Gulag. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), Red Cross, and military operations provided food, clothing, shelter, and assistance in returning home. In all, 5.2 million foreign workers and POWs were repatriated to the Soviet Union, 1.6 million to Poland, 1.5 million to France, and 900,000 to Italy, along with 300,000 to 400,000 each to Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Belgium.Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations
The Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations was a statement issued on December 17, 1942, by the American and British governments on behalf of the Allied Powers. In it, they describe the ongoing events of the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Europe.
The statement was read to British House of Commons in a floor speech by Foreign secretary Anthony Eden, and published on the front page of the New York Times and many other newspapers. It was made in response to a 16-page note addressed to the Allied governments on December 10 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Polish government-in-exile, Count Edward Raczynski, titled The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland and his official Raczyński's Note addressed to western governments.KZ Walldorf
KZ Walldorf was a subcamp of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp and existed from 22 August to 24 November 1944 near the village of Walldorf in Hesse. Erected after the deportations of the Jews in Hungary as part of the Nazi extermination through labour plan, about 1,700 female inmates were assigned to work on the first paved runway of the nearby Rhein-Main Airport.List of Nazi ghettos
This article is a partial list of selected Jewish ghettos created by the Nazis for the purpose of isolating, exploiting and finally, eradicating Jewish population (and sometimes Gypsies) on territories they controlled. Most of the prominent ghettos listed here were set up by the Third Reich and its allies in the course of World War II. In total, according to USHMM archives, "The Germans established at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone." Therefore, the examples are intended only to illustrate their scope across Eastern and Western Europe.Mass murders in Tykocin
The Mass murders in Tykocin occurred in August 25, 1941, during World War II, where the local Jewish population of Tykocin (Poland) was killed by German Einsatzkommando.Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp complex
The Mauthausen–Gusen concentration camp complex consisted of the Mauthausen concentration camp on a hill above the market town of Mauthausen (roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Linz, Upper Austria) plus a group of nearly 100 further subcamps located throughout Austria and southern Germany. The three Gusen concentration camps in and around the village of St Georgen/Gusen, just a few kilometres from Mauthausen, held a significant proportion of prisoners within the camp complex, at times exceeding the number of prisoners at the Mauthausen main camp.
The Mauthausen main camp operated from the time of the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany in 8 August 1938, to 5 May 1945, at the end of the Second World War. Starting with the camp at Mauthausen, the number of subcamps expanded over time and by the summer of 1940 Mauthausen and its subcamps had become one of the largest labour camp complexes in the German-controlled part of Europe. As at other Nazi concentration camps, the inmates at Mauthausen and its subcamps were forced to work as slave labour, under conditions that caused many deaths. Mauthausen and its subcamps included quarries, munitions factories, mines, arms factories and plants assembling Me 262 fighter aircraft. In January 1945, the camps contained roughly 85,000 inmates. The death toll remains unknown, although most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex.
Mauthausen was one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and the last to be liberated by the Allies. The two largest camps, Mauthausen and Gusen I, were classed as "Grade III" (Stufe III) concentration camps, which meant that they were intended to be the toughest camps for the "incorrigible political enemies of the Reich". Mauthausen never lost this Stufe III classification. In the offices of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) it was referred to by the nickname Knochenmühle – the bone-grinder (literally bone-mill). Unlike many other concentration camps, which were intended for all categories of prisoners, Mauthausen was mostly used for extermination through labour of the intelligentsia – educated people and members of the higher social classes in countries subjugated by the Nazi regime during World War II. The Mauthausen main camp is now a museum.Neuengamme concentration camp
The Neuengamme concentration camp was a network of Nazi German concentration camps in Northern Germany that consisted of the main camp, Neuengamme, and its over 85 satellite camps. Established in 1938 near the village of Neuengamme in the Bergedorf district of Hamburg, the Neuengamme camp became the largest concentration camp in Northwest Germany. Over 100,000 prisoners came through Neuengamme and its subcamps, 24 of which were for women. The verified death toll is 42,900: 14,000 in the main camp, 12,800 in the subcamps, and 16,100 in the death marches and bombings during the final weeks of World War II. Following Germany’s defeat in 1945, the British Army used the site as an internment camp for SS and other Nazi officials. In 1948, the British transferred the land to the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg, which summarily demolished the camp’s wooden barracks and built in its stead a prison cell block, converting the former concentration camp site into two state prisons operated by the Hamburg authorities from 1950 to 2004. Following protests by various groups of survivors and allies, the site now serves as a memorial. It is situated 15 km southeast of the centre of Hamburg.Neugraben-Fischbek
Neugraben-Fischbek is a quarter of Hamburg, Germany belongs to the borough Harburg. The quarter consists of the old settlements Neugraben and Fischbek, and the more recently constructed area Neuwiedenthal.Rudy Kennedy
Rudy Kennedy (born Rudi Karmeinsky October 24, 1927 – November 10, 2008) was a British rocket scientist, Holocaust survivor, and a protester for Jewish causes. He spent a substantial period of his youth in German concentration camps of Auschwitz, Mittelbau-Dora, and Bergen-Belsen. After liberation, he worked as a rocket scientist and led the campaign for compensation for the survivors of the German policy of "extermination through labour".Szczuczyn pogrom
Szczuczyn pogrom was the massacre of some 300 Jews in the community of Szczuczyn carried out by its Polish inhabitants in June 1941 after the town was bypassed by the invading German soldiers in the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The June massacre was stopped by German soldiers.
A subsequent massacre by Poles in July killed some 100 Jews, and following the German Gestapo takeover in August 1941 some 600 Jews were killed by the Germans, the remaining Jews placed in a ghetto, and subsequently sent to Treblinka extermination camp.The Holocaust in Luxembourg
The Holocaust in Luxembourg refers to the persecution and near-annihilation of the 3,500-strong Jewish population of Luxembourg begun shortly after the start of the German occupation during World War II, when the country was officially incorporated into Nazi Germany. The persecution lasted until October 1941, when the Germans declared the territory to be free of Jews who had been deported to extermination camps and ghettos in Eastern Europe.The Holocaust in the USSR
The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (USSR) refers to the German persecution of Jews, Roma and homosexuals as part of The Holocaust in World War II.
It may refer to:
The Holocaust in Russia
The Holocaust in Belarus
The Holocaust in UkraineIt may also refer to The Holocaust in the Baltic states, annexed by the Soviet Union before the war:
The Holocaust in Latvia
The Holocaust in Lithuania
The Holocaust in EstoniaUckermark concentration camp
The Uckermark concentration camp was a small German concentration camp for girls near the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Fürstenberg/Havel, Germany and then an "emergency" extermination camp.Victims of Yalta
Victims of Yalta (British title) or The Secret Betrayal (American title) is a 1977 book by Nikolai Tolstoy that chronicles the fate of Soviet citizens who had been under German control during World War II and at its end fallen into the hands of the Western Allies. According to the secret Moscow agreement from 1944 that was confirmed at the 1945 Yalta conference, all citizens of the Soviet Union were to be repatriated without choice—a death sentence for many by execution or extermination through labour.Wąsosz pogrom
The Wąsosz pogrom was the World War II mass murder of Jewish residents of Wąsosz in German-occupied Poland, on 5 July 1941.Yizkor books
Yizkor books are memorial books commemorating a Jewish community destroyed during the Holocaust. The books are published by former residents or landsmanshaft societies as remembrances of homes, people and ways of life lost during World War II. Yizkor books usually focus on a town but may include sections on neighboring smaller communities. Most of these books are written in Yiddish or Hebrew, some also include sections in English or other languages, depending on where they were published. Since the 1990s, many of these books, or sections of them have been translated into English.