Table 3.2: Male and female civilian foreign workers in the Third Reich, September 1944
The women to whom I talked worked in a range of different sectors, including munitions and agriculture. Many of them told me of the hardships they had suffered, forced to undertake forms of manual labour of which they had no previous experience. ‘The Germans came round the camps and all the young people were asked to go, like, in the army or to work in the factories. We had to go and we had to leave our parents. I was only 16 then’ (Eva). It was probably in the forced labour camps that the Latvian women found conditions at their worst. Three distinct types of camps seemed to have existed in 1944. The first category included camps where forced labourers and sometimes prisoners of war worked either as voluntary recruits or as the victims of intimidation and terror tactics. The second were camps where prisoners of war worked for limited periods as required by the task for which they were established and the final category was
Nationality Men Women % female % of all Foreign workers
Belgium 170,058 29,379 14.7 3.4 France 603,767 42,654 6.6 10.8 Italy 265,030 22,317 7.7 4.8 Yug and Croatia 294,222 30,768 9.5 5.6 Netherlands 233,591 20,953 8.2 4.3 Slovakia 20,857 16,693 44.4 0.6 Hungary 17,206 7,057 30.0 0.4 Soviet Union 1,062,507 1,112,137 51.1 36.4 Poland 1,115,321 586,091 34.4 18.5
Total 3,986,306 1,990,367 33.3 100
the concentration camps (Karay 1996). As well as working within these camps, forced/slave labourers were hired out by the SS to private employers. Workers who were inmates of the first two categories were usually released when the task was finished and the camp dismantled. This was not the fate of workers in Jewish labour camps. They were destined for obliteration through the extermination of the entire population: the chief purpose of the camps, rather than to meet economic goals. Even in the first two categories of camp, however, workers were treated differently ‘in accordance with ideological-racist and political criteria, that is in line with the German attitude to each of the enslaved nations’ (Karay 1996, p xvi).