Intro to German Slave Camps 1940-1945

Sponsored by the Michigan Family History Network

Intro to German Slave Camps 1940-1945
These files are all compiled by different groups: Slave camp list.pdf download Another slave camp list - download ZA_Eng.pdf list in Germany, Poland & other nations in Excel format firmen_lager.xls. Provided by alan newark   Types of slave labor camps

Arbeitslager definition: Work camps for forced labor were guarded and movement of inmates restricted.

Arbeitsziehungslager definition: Workers' Education camps - for those who broke their contracts or didn't produce their quota, needed to be re-educated. Basically punishment. Death rate high

Concentration camp definition:
1) a guarded enclosure for the detention or imprisonment of political prisoners, prisoners or war, aliens, refugees
2) an area for the assembly of military personnel. The Nazis established 15,000 camps in occupied countries.

Konzentrationlager- Under this heading, these camps were under the command of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA).
All types of prisoners were committed: Nacht and Nebel (NN), political, Jehovah's Witness who refused to go into war labor, homosexuals, habitual criminals, Jews, and Ukrainians who helped the Jews. Later in the war workers and prisoners were treated equally poor. Death rate high.

Forced labor Zwangsarbeiter - Information from the Nuremberg trials estimated that there were 12 million forced laborers.
Prisoners from concentration camps and workers conscripted in occupied Poland, and Ukraine were compelled to work, on starvation rations, in agriculture, highway building and factories for the German state during World War II. Labor was also viewed as a form of killing by attrition. Forced labor was introduced for Sinti and Roma inside Nazi Germany in 1936, and after 1938.

The situation of the slave laborer
From the west they came from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Franch, Denmark and Norway..From the east they came from Poland, Soviet Union, the Baltic states, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia. Die Situation der Zwangsarbeiter website in German, plus photos.

Dutch / Netherlands slave labour

Ostarbeiters (Workers from the East) / Arbeitsbuch (Workbook)

All Ostarbeiters had to have an employment identification document, called an "Arbeitsbuch" (work book) in German. Persons from Ukraine were classified as subhuman or "untermenshen" under Nazi racial ideology. The Ostarbeiters were required to wear the 'OST' sign on the right lapel. Stefan Lemieszewski

Ostarbeiter worker from the East wore OST badges

SEARCH data base Polish version for VICTIMS OF OPPRESSION:
Eyewitness accounts of the Ukrainian Ostarbeiter (worker from the East) are virtually non-existent although there were 2,244,000 of them from Ukraine (according to historian Yuri Kondufor). A total of 3 million Osarbeiters were taken to Germany so Ukrainians constituted about 75 percent of the entire total. Ukaine according to some sources, lost about 10 million people in World War II, which was the greatest loss of any country in the war.

More on Ostarbeiter:

OST-Arbeiter (German: Ostarbeiter, English: Eastern Workers) was a designation for slave workers gathered from Eastern Europe to do forced labor in Germany during World War II. The Ostarbeiters were mostly from the territory of Reichskommissariat Ukraine (eastern Ukraine). Ukrainians made up the largest portion although many Belarusians, Russians, Poles and Tatars were also present.[1] Estimates put the number of OST-Arbeiters between 3 million and 5.5 million.[2] Some estimates place the number as high as 8.5 million workers. [who?]

Most were very young, under the age of 16, as those older than 16 were usually conscripted. 30% were as young as 14 years of age when they were taken to Germany.[2] By November 1943 the age limit was dropped to 10.[2] 50% of those taken from Ukraine were girls and women.

OST-Arbeiters from Reichskommissariat Ukraine were forced to wear a dark blue and white badge with "OST", the German word for East.

Gemeinschaftslager - Civilian Worker Camps were unguarded communities, usually foreign workers.

Internierungslager - Civilian Internment Camps

Jews were not the only ones earmarked for death in Hitler's Plan. All those labled at untermensch (subhuman) would be worked to death. The death count was huge in most of the concentration camps. The Nazis would require the slaves to dig ditches, trenches and the "undesirables" would be thrown in and burned. Others were sent to crematoriums. Many died of illness. Many were executed. Many starved. Some were buried alive.The undesirable were not just Jews, but Ukrainians, Polish, gypsies, homosexuals, aged, ill, intellectuals, and the list goes on. If you were of value to the Nazi's; you weren't executed, but could be worked to death. If they didn't kill you, hunger, the bitter cold, bad living conditions and typhus took its toll.

Soviet prisoners of war: (computer translation) Of the 5.6 million Soviet prisoners of war, approx. 60,000 were kidnaps to Schleswig-Holstein. They stood also here in the lowest place, as in the entire Nazi ideology and in the German Reich, . They were considered as Untermensch (subhuman) absolutely, on an equal footing with the Jews, whose only existence authorization consisted of if at all, the 'dominant race' to serve up to death (i.e, worked to death). From the minutes of a general staff discussion of 13.11. 1941 over warfare against the Soviet Union.

Prisons - Inmates were sent from the judicial courts, such as people's court, Volksgerichtshof.

Sicherungslager / Security Camps - persons held while awaiting trial; if not cleared would be rerouted to a concentration camp or prison.

Sonderlager / Special Camps - segregated for special treatment. Sentences were supposed to be short term; however, many prisoners served very long terms. Death rate high.

Straflager and Strafgefangenenlager - penal or punishment camps, such as Emsland camps, more severe, similar to Konzentrationlager.

Uniform Identification tags

German and foreign political opponents of the Nazi regime were frequently arrested and sent to jails, labor and concentration camps. Their prisoner uniform had a red triangle, often with the initial for their country of origin (P for Poland, I for Italy, OST for east, ).

Wohnlager - unguarded housing communities.

Death Rate Chart

From Univerisity of Hawaii

Russians or Ukrainians? Stats are misleading: Although the Nizkor Project lists 4 million Russians in slave labor, it is well to *remember that Ukrainians were listed as Russian while under USSR rule. Hitler occupied Ukraine for 3 years (1941-1944) going door to door, ordering Ukrainians into conscripted servitude, prior to any direct invasion on Russia proper. Statistics from the Nizkor Project

Approximate number of foreigners put to work for the German war effort in the Old Reich -
January 1945


Russians *













Others 50,000

















----------- 4,795,000






------- 1,873,000






------ 23,200
















---------- 6,691,000

Other Lists:
Partial list of concentration camps: estimated prisoners and death rate

Concentration camps chart:

Statistics Jews only:

Concentration camp list:

nazi recruiting poster

Nazis Recruiting Ukrainians:
Here is poster calling Ukrainians to come work in Germany for the war effort. It wasn't so difficult for Ukrainians to work for Germany because they hated Stalin. Previously in 1932-33 Stalin killed off 10 million Ukrainians in the orchestrated Famine-Genocide, denying the famine and not allowing food to come in. Nazi's promised them an independent Ukraine. The posters shows the Nazi army pushing back the Reds.

About camplife in Nazi Germany

These poems are taken from my book, Language of Mules: MY MOTHER TALKS ABOUT THE SLAVE LABOR CAMPS
By John Guzlowski

She has the peasants' view of the world: Disorder and chaos, roads that end
In marshy fields, chickens that begin
To bleed from the mouth for no reason.
Nobody makes movies of such lives
She says, and begins to tell me the story
Of when the Americans first came,
Of the sergeant who stood with a suitcase
In the yard between the barracks.

He was shouting, screaming.
They didn't know what he wanted
And feared him. One of the women
Came out (first, she hid her children
Under the bed) and then another.
They knew he wasn't a German.
When fifteen of them stood in the yard,
He opened the suitcase, emptied
Its deutsche marks on the ground,
Said in broken German, "This is for you,
Take it, this is the money they owe you."
And then the British came,
And put them in another camp,
Where the corpses still had not been buried,
Where the water was bad, where my mother
Got sick, where her stool was as red
As the beets she had to dig everyday.
And my father worked hard, sawing
The wood, getting ready for winter,
Like he did in Poland. He knew this work
And did it for her and the children,
My sister and me. But the British
Moved them again, to another camp,
And they had to leave the wood, even though
My father tried to carry some on his back.
And it was cold in the new place, and some
Of the babies died, and my sister was sick,
Maybe from drinking the dirty water.

We were always being moved around.

Sometimes, my mother says, her home
West of Lvov comes back to her in dreams
That open in grayness with the sounds
Of a young, flowered girl in white
Singing a prayer of first communion,
The dirt streets around the church pure
With priests and girls and boys.

The singing prayer leads her to the grave
Where her mother and her sister Genja
And her sister's baby daughter lie,
The marshy grave where the hungry men
Dropped them after shooting them
And cutting them in secret places.
My mother says, these men from the east
Were like buffaloes: terrible and big.

She wonders if God will remember
Her labors. She wonders if there is a God.

She waves the dreams away with her hand
Starts again, talking of plowing the fields
Of cutting winter wood, of that time
When the double-bladed axe slipped
And sank a wound so deep in her foot
That she felt her heart would not
Jar loose from its frozen pause.

She tells me of the beets she dug up
In Germany. They were endless, redder
Than roses gone bad in an early frost,
Redder than a big man's kidney or heart.

The first beet she remembers,
She was alone in the field, alone
Without her father or mother near,
No sister even. They were all dead,
Left behind in Lvov. The ground was wet
And cold, but not soft, never soft.

She ate the raw beet, even though
She knew they would beat her.

She says, sometimes she pretended
She was deaf, stupid, crippled,
Or diseased with Typhus or cholera,
Even with what the children called
The French disease, anything to avoid
The slap, the whip across her back
The leather fist in her face above her eye.

If she could've given them her breasts
To suck, her womb to penetrate
She would have, just so they would not
Hurt her the way they hurt her sister
And her mother and the baby.

She wonders what was her reward
For living in such a world. It was not love
Or money. She can't even remember
What happened to the deutsche marks
The American sergeant left that day
In the spring when the war ended.

My mother learned that sex is bad,
Men are worthless, it is always cold
And there is never enough to eat.

She learned that if you are stupid
With your hands you will not survive
The winter even if you survive the fall.

She learned that only the young survive
The camps. The old are left in piles
Like worthless paper, and babies
Are scarce like chickens and bread.

She learned that the world is a broken place
Where no birds sing, and even angels
Cannot bear the sorrows God gives them.

She learned that you don't pray
Your enemies will not torment you.
You only pray that they will not kill you.

I've started a blog about my parents and their experiences in the slave labor camps in Germany, and later their experiencs in the US as DPs. I've posted about why I write about them, about how they came to America, about what it was like in the DP camps after the war.

I thought you might like to see the blog. Here's the link:
Dr. John Z. Guzlowski
Professor Emeritus
Eastern Illinois University

Nazi Records Given to Holocaust Groups
By MATT MOORE – Mar 25, 2008

BERLIN (AP) — The names of some 3.5 million people displaced after World War II have been provided to Holocaust memorial groups and museums in the United States, Israel and Poland by a recently opened archive of Nazi-era documents.

The International Tracing Service of the International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday that it had handed over a third round of digitally copied documents to the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Warsaw-based National Institute of Remembrance.

The archive, based in Bad Arolsen, Germany, said the transfer involved copies of index cards that feature the names of people who were freed from Nazi concentration and labor camps as well as prisoners of war.

"It is essential that we can share, thanks to the opening of the archives, our documentation on the fate suffered by the victims of the Nazi regime," said Reto Meister, the ITS director. "This will facilitate access to the information that is of such great value to the victims and their families, irrespective of whether they live in Europe, Israel or America."

There are millions of index cards, documents and files in the ITS archive, some of which contain detailed family histories. The archive made its first distribution of copied documents late last year, to make access easier for family members, friends and now researchers.

For more than 60 years, the information was locked away in the secretive archive, which houses records scooped up by Allied troops from concentration camps, Nazi SS offices and postwar displaced-persons compounds.

It will take the ITS two more years to finish copying onto hard drives the 16 linear miles of papers that fill a half dozen buildings. So far, around 67 million images of documents have been transferred to the memorials and museums.

Sharing the files will allow survivors and victims' relatives to see true images of documents — transportation lists, Gestapo orders, camp registers, slave labor booklets, death books — that demonstrate their tortures and that may have determined whether they lived or died.

On the Net:
* International Tracing Service:
* U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:
* Yad Vashem:
* Institute of National Remembrance:

Submitted by Laurence
Many historians make a distinction between slave labor, usually performed by POWs or concentration camp victims and including severe abuse, and forced labor, frequently performed by foreign civilians working against their will, but under somewhat more humane conditions

The characterization of forced labor as more humane than slave labor is a relative one: for example, while female forced laborers at Volkswagen were treated better than concentration camp inmates, forced laborers' infants were taken from them and kept in an unheated, bug-infested nursery, where nearly all of them died from neglect. Because Calif. Stats. 1999, Ch. 216, covers companies using both slave and forced labor, the Social Issues Service uses the term forced labor as an inclusive term, describing labor that may have been forced or slave. The term forced appears in this report only in cases where companies described their laborers as slave laborers to the Social Issues Service; however, in some cases this may be the result of the language barrier rather than an indication that slave, as opposed to forced, labor was used.

The Slave Labor Program Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Notes from 23 May 1939 meeting held in Hitler's study at the Reichs Chancellery:

The raw materials as well as the fertility of the conquered territories and their human labor power are to be used completely and conscientiously to the profit of Germany and their allies." (016-PS) The theory of the "master race," which underlay the conspirators' labor policy in the East, was expressed in the following words by Erich Koch, Reichskommissar for the Ukraine, at a meeting of the National Socialist Party on 5 March 1943 in Kiev:

"2. I will draw the very last out of this country. I did not come to spread bliss. I have come to help the Fuehrer. The population must work, work, and work again *** for some people are getting excited, that the population may not get enough to eat. The population cannot demand that, one has only to remember what our heroes were deprived of in Stalingrad *** We definitely did not come here to give out manna. We have come here to create the basis for victory. [Page 877]

What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us.

Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interests me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished ***." (1919-PS)

Polish Forced Labor in Nazi Germany 

Hitchcock and the Holocaust: "Memory of the Camps" PBS film: FRONTLINE-Feb 2, 2015
Night Will Fall, a documentary that recently aired on HBO, tells the story behind what has been called “Alfred Hitchcock's lostHolocaust film” ...Vimeo film: Memory of the camps: Bergen-Belson and others
54:28 --- Aushwitz,
55::?? --- Here 4 million people were starved to death (Men, Women ad Children) ALL dead?
55:?? --- Sound stoppes
55:30 --- The final reels were filmed by Russian cameraman and the Film/reels are MISSING? But the script is in tact.
55:52 --- Sound returns

Submitted by: Alan Newark,

Holocaust Researchers Catalog 42,500 Nazi Ghettos, Camps; Numbers Are 'Unbelievable'
Posted: 03/02/2013

Researchers from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have concluded that over 40,000 Nazi camps and ghettos existed during Hitler's reign of terror between 1933 to 1945.

The total is far higher than most historians had previously estimated, according to The New York Times.
Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean, the lead editors of the project, have compiled the thousands of sites in a multivolume encyclopedia that is being published by the Holocaust Museum. Each volume catalogs thousands of sites, providing a comprehensive history of the "living and working conditions, activities of the Jewish councils, Jewish responses to persecution, demographic changes, and details of the liquidation of the ghettos."

The Holocaust Museum team also created maps of the sites, which were scattered across Europe, and which imprisoned or killed between 15 and 20 million people [not just Jews].

Essentially, this study shows the Holocaust was far more extensive than even historians comprehended.Hartmut Berghoff, director of the German Historical Institute, said the research is simply astounding, reports The Times. "We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was," he said, "but the numbers are unbelievable." The researchers' work may also help Holocaust survivors attempting to sue insurance companies or recover stolen property.

"How many claims have been rejected because the victims were in a camp that we didn't even know about?" said Sam Dubbin, a lawyer who represents survivors.

Over the years, many scholars have worked to uncover the lost or unknown victims of the Holocaust, and some have insisted the death toll is higher than what the textbooks say. The number of Jews killed is often listed at around six million.

Father Patrick Desbois told the London Times in 2009 that after years of investigating mass graves in Ukraine, [Olga's note: mass graves in Ukraine include ten million of Ukrainians killed by Nazis and Stalin and not just Jews.] he feels the death toll should be revised upward.

This latest research is yet another piece of evidence that can be used to refute the fringe movement that continues to deny the Holocaust took place, or that its terrible legacy has been exaggerated for political gain.

World War II - Germany and Japan Use Slave Laborers to Produce Weird Weapons

Overlooked Millions: Non-Jewish Victims of the Holocaust

Continue to slave camps page A

This page is sponsored by the Michigan Family History NetworkDonate