Arbeitseinsatz

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Memorial for three executed Polish forced laborers on Finkenberg mountain, Bonn.
Personnel document from the time of the German occupation of Lithuania.

Arbeitseinsatz (labour deployment) was forced labour (Zwangsarbeit) during World War II when German men were called up for military service and German authorities rounded up labourers, some from Germany but more from the occupied territories, to fill in the vacancies. Arbeitseinsatz was not restricted to the industry sector and to arms factories; it also took place, for example, in the farming sector, community services, and even in the churches.

There were many affected populations, who can be grouped by various (often overlapping) variables (such as geographic, ethnic, religious, political, and medical). They included political prisoners of the SA, Gestapo, and SS; civilian men and women from occupied territories of Eastern Europe (Ostarbeiter); prisoners of war; institutionalized people (mentally or physically disabled people, or medical and psychiatric patients); and various ethnic, religious, or ethnoreligious groupings (for example, Jews, Sinti, Romani, Yeniche, and Jehovah's Witnesses). They lived in various kinds of camps, called labor camps (Arbeitslager in German) and concentration camps (Konzentrationslager [KZ] in German). Nazi concentration camps were often meant not only for forced labor but also extermination. In 1945 about 7.7 million workers in the German industry were of non-German origin. Many of them were very young, and about half of them were women.

In reports of the Warsaw Ghetto, the arbeitseinsatz is described as "voluntary" (freiwillig/freewilling).

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