Conditions of Deportation & Slave Labor (Part 2 of 4)
Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter X
Many of the foregoing documents, it will be noted, consist of complaints by functionaries of the Rosenberg ministry or by others concerning the conditions under which foreign workers were recruited and compelled to live. These documents establish not only the facts therein recited, but also show that the Nazi conspirators had knowledge of such conditions. Notwithstanding their knowledge of these conditions, however, the Nazi conspirators continued to countenance and assist in the enslavement of a vast number of citizens of occupied countries. Once within Germany, slave laborers were subjected to treatment of an unusually brutal and degrading nature. The character of Nazi treatment was in part made plain by the conspirator's own statements. Sauckel declared on one occasion: "All the men must be fed, sheltered and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure." (016-PS)
Force and brutality as instruments of production found a ready adherent in Speer who, in the presence of Sauckel, said at a meeting of the Central Planning Board: "We must also discuss the slackers. Ley has ascertained that the sicklist decreased to one-fourth or one-fifth in fac- [Page 899] tories where doctors are on the staff who are examining the sick men. There is nothing to be said against SS and police taking drastic steps and putting those known as slackers into concentration camps. There is no alternative. Let it happen several times and the news will soon go round." (R-124) At a later meeting of the Central Planning Board, Field Marshall Milch agreed that so far as workers were concerned, "The list of the shirkers should be entrusted to Himmler's trustworthy hands." (R-124)
Milch made particular reference to foreign workers by stating: "It is therefore not possible to exploit fully all the foreigners unless we compel them by piece-work or we have the possibility of taking measures against foreigners who are not doing their bit." (R-124) The policy as actually executed was even more Draconian than the policy as planned by the conspirators. Impressed workers were underfed and overworked. They were forced to live in grossly overcrowded camps where they were held as virtual prisoners and were otherwise denied adequate shelter. They were denied adequate clothing, adequate medical care and treatment and, as a result, suffered from many diseases and ailments. They were generally forced to work long hours up to and beyond the point of exhaustion. They were beaten and subjected to inhuman indignities. An example of this mistreatment is found in the conditions which prevailed in the Krupp factories. Foreign laborers at the Krupp Works were given insufficient food to enable them to perform the work required of them.
A memorandum upon Krupp stationery to Mr. Hupe, director of the Krupp Locomotive Factory in Essen, dated 14 March 1942, states: "During the last few days we established that the food for the Russians employed here is so miserable, that the people are getting weaker from day to day. "Investigations showed that single Russians are not able to place a piece of metal for turning into position for instance, because of lack of physical strength. The same conditions exist at all places of work where Russians are employed." (D-316) The condition of foreign workers in Krupp workers camps is described in detail in an affidavit executed in Essen, Germany, on 15 October 1945 by Dr. Wilhelm Jager, who was the senior camp doctor. Dr. Jager makes the following statement: "*** Conditions in all these camps were extremely [Page 900] bad. The camps were greatly overcrowded. In some camps there were twice as many people in a barrack as health conditions permitted. At Kramerplatz, the inhabitants slept in treble-tiered bunks, and in the other camps they slept in double-tiered bunks. The health authorities prescribed a minimum space between beds of 50 cm, but the bunks in these camps were separated by a maximum of 20-30 cm.
"The diet prescribed for the eastern workers was altogether insufficient. They were given 1,000 calories a day less than the minimum prescribed for any German. Moreover, while German workers engaged in the heaviest work received 5,000 calories a day, the eastern workers in comparable jobs received only 2,000 calories. The eastern workers were given only 2 meals a day and their bread ration. One of these two meals consisted of a thin, watery soup. I had no assurance that the eastern workers, in fact, received the minimum which was prescribed. Subsequently, in 1943, when I undertook to inspect the food prepared by the cooks, I discovered a number of instances in which food was withheld from the workers. "The plan for food distribution called for a small quantity of meat per week. Only inferior meats, rejected by the veterinary such as horse meat or tuberculin infested was permitted for this purpose. This meat was usually cooked into a soup. "The clothing of the eastern workers was likewise completely inadequate. They worked and slept in the same clothing in which they had arrived from the east. Virtually all of them had no overcoats and were compelled, therefore, to use their blankets as coats in cold and rainy weather. In view of the shortage of shoes many workers were forced to go to work in their bare feet, even in the winter. Wooden shoes were given to some of the workers, but their quality was such as to give the workers sore feet. Many workers preferred to go to work in their bare feet rather than endure the suffering caused by the wooden shoes. Apart from the wooden shoes, no clothing of any kind was issued to the workers until the latter part of 1943, when a single blue suit was issued to some of them. To my knowledge, this represented the sole issue of clothing to the workers from the time of their arrival until the American forces entered Essen. "Sanitary conditions were exceedingly bad.
At Kramerplatz, where approximately 1,200 eastern workers were crowded into the rooms of an old school, the sanitary conditions were [Page 901] atrocious in the extreme. Only 10 childrens' toilets were available for the 1,200 inhabitants. At Dechenschule, 15 childrens' toilets were available for the 400-500 eastern workers. Excretion contaminated the entire floors of these lavatories. There-were also few facilities for washing. The supply of bandages, medicine, surgical instruments, and other medical supplies at these camps was likewise altogether insufficient. As a consequence, only the very worst cases were treated. "The percentage of eastern workers who were ill was twice as great as among the Germans. Tuberculosis was particularly widespread among the eastern workers. The T. B. rate among them was 4 times the normal rate of (2 percent eastern workers, German .5 percent). At Dechenschule approximately 2 1/2 percent of the workers suffered from open T. B. These were all active T. B. cases. The Tartars and Kirghis suffered most; as soon as they were overcome by this disease they collapsed like flies. The cause was bad housing, the poor quality and insufficient quantity of food, overwork, and insufficient rest.
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A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
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