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History - war and civilian employees

When Sauckel became the General Plenipotentiary for Manpower in March 1942, he had the resources to deport forced labourers from all over Europe towards Germany.

The issues concerning forced labourers are, even after 60 years, still not completely resolved. Many former forced labour camps and sites are still undiscovered. The story of the forced labourers starts with deportation and continues through the labour itself, until liberation and repatriation.

During the Nuremberg War Trials, Sauckel declared that, although Third Reich propaganda admitted numerous "volunteers", as few as 200,000 had actually come on a voluntary basis.

In total there were over 7,000,000 forced labourers in the Third Reich.

In April 1944 the first forced labourers, from Italy, arrived at the "REIMAHG" factory. The former Allies were considered as a cheap labour force and it became very hard for the Italians to survive.

In the numerous camps of the "REIMAHG" there were also differences between the forced labourers, especially between the Eastern and Western labourers. Even children from Eastern Europe were brought in as forced labourers, whereas labourers from Western Europe belonged mostly to the age group born before 1920.

The forced labourers involved in constructing the factory and tunnels were subjected to much harsher conditions than those who worked in the production area.

The living conditions of all the forced labourers rapidly deteriorated. The harsh winter of 1944/1945 was one of the reasons that the number of deaths rose very rapidly in January 1945.

As well as the numerous forced labourers, there were also prisoners of war and German civilian labourers present. Even some voluntary labourers from Europe were part of the work force. They lived in Camp No. 4, in the Leubengrund Valley or in private quarters in Kahla.