Forced Labor
# Introduction
Racial discrimination

Almost a million foreign and native individuals were forced to perform forced labor on Austrian territory during the World War II. On principle the forced laborers were subject to different kinds of treatment and subjected to differing degrees of coercion and restrictions of their freedom of movement. The coercion involved was to a considerable degree determined by the racist ideology of the Nazis. Accordingly, persons were subject to different labor, police, or social welfare regulations on account of their origin, gender, and the reason for persecuting them. The conditions under which persons from all over Europe had to work for Nazi Germany varied greatly from region to region, between cities and the countryside, between industry sectors, companies, and factories they were used in, and according to the period their forced labor began.

The most important categories of forced laborers were:

  • Austrian Jews inside and outside of forced labor camps
  • Roma and Sinti (»Gypsies«) in forced labor camps 1938-1945
  • People sentenced by the courts
  • Prisoners of war
  • Civilian foreigners (called »Foreign workers« by the Nazis)
  • Locals and foreigners in »Educational Labor Camps«
  • Concentration camp prisoners
  • Hungarian Jews in Jewish camps in Vienna, Lower Austria, Burgenland, and Styria

The largest group of forced laborers were the so-called »civilian foreigners.« By deploying them the Nazis revealed their long-term goal, namely the creation of a European society along racist lines. The use of foreigners, KZ-inmates, or POWs for slave labor was not done secretly but within society and thus apparent to all. Practicing racism became a daily habit, even if the individual Austrian was not conscious of participating directly in it. The Nazi leaders held forced labor as they practiced it to be a success. A functioning racist system allowed the war industry to be kept at a high level of output, and even to extend production, despite the departure of the majority of the native male population for military service. The consent to or the toleration of the forced labor policies on the part of the Austrian population was an important factor in this connection.


Arrival of »Eastern Workers«
» click see larger image

Arrival of »Eastern Workers«
» click see larger image

Arrival of »Eastern Workers« in Vienna.

Forced Labor