When Adolf Hitler unleashed the Second World War, he was confident that the resources of his state, including human resources, would be sufficient. And although quite soon many factors began to indicate the fallacy of this belief, the German command continued to neglect the potential of the occupied territories. And this omission very quickly began to bear fruit, which were by no means good for the Third Reich.
The complete conviction of the invincibility of the German army after the first months of the war on two fronts played a cruel joke with Hitler: in Germany, neither the weapons nor the soldiers of the Soviet Union were clearly underestimated. The Barbarossa plan was drowned out by the winter of 1942. This situation quickly affected both the German army and the economic situation of the Third Reich itself - neither the Moscow offensive nor the Kursk Bulge had yet happened, and Hitler's troops had already had to "tighten their belts." In particular, older industrial workers fell under the mobilization, but this did not help either. At the factories themselves, the situation was no better - more than a third of the workers at the machines were women.
The situation required urgent action. It was at this time that Fritz Sauckel took over as Labor Commissioner of the Third Reich. He was an inveterate Nazi of the "old spill" - he joined the party back in 1923. This decision eventually cost him his life - in 1946, by the verdict of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, he was hanged for crimes against humanity.
Before he came to this position, the share of prisoners of war and those deported to Germany to work in the occupied territories was only 8, 4 percent. Moreover, for the most part, they used labor in agriculture. But then the crisis struck, and the shortage of workers began to be acutely felt in industry.
Then Sauckel set in motion a huge machine for the supply of "Ostarbeiters" - citizens of the occupied countries of Eastern Europe to Germany. The scale of this activity is striking: according to Novate.ru, in the period from January 1942 to June 1943, about three million people were sent to work in the Third Reich. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of them are young people from 12 to 25 years old. Until 1944, the number of "arbeiters" from the entire occupied territory increased by almost four million more.
The attitude towards these people was not much better than towards prisoners of war and prisoners of concentration camps. Nobody cared about the life and health of the driven workers, and if one of them could no longer do his job or died from unbearable conditions, he was simply replaced by another. Such a disregard for the hands of workers quickly showed that if this continues in the future, the shortage of human resources will not diminish, but, on the contrary, will only become more noticeable.
But even the deepening economic crisis did not force the command of the Third Reich to reconsider its attitude towards the Ostarbeiters. Sometimes there were cases when the Germans, reacting negatively to such "newcomers", could aggravate the situation to such an extent that people were simply returned to their homeland. The conditions of this transportation were no better than those that prevailed on the trains going to the concentration camps, so many former workers did not get home, but died on the way.
Meanwhile, the problem of the shortage of workers was becoming more and more acute. However, the Germans still rejected the idea of using prisoners of war for labor in enterprises, who died en masse in inhuman conditions in the camps. At the same time, in Germany, they did not hide at all the difficult working conditions for the Ostarbeiters and their unenviable fate. With such a policy, very quickly the propaganda in the occupied territories, which offered a voluntary move to the Reich to work "side by side" with the Germans, ceased to give the desired effect, and the recruitment of people from that moment was carried out exclusively by force.
The crisis situation, however, has not changed. In order to increase the productivity of workers without increasing their rations, the so-called "food by production" was introduced. So, the one who fulfilled the daily norm received food in the usual proportions. Those who failed to work “shared” their rations with those who exceeded the norm.
On the other hand, prisoners of concentration camps began to be attracted to work. However, the working conditions there were so unbearable that people died in larger numbers than the Germans could make up for. Subsequently, the level of medical care and rations for the prisoners was improved, up to the issuance of additional ones for processing. They could give out tobacco as bonuses.
As a result, a deep economic crisis became one of the factors that did not allow the Third Reich to fight on two fronts anymore. And this happened, in particular, because when the German misanthropic ideology faced the opportunity to use the same Jews, Gypsies or Slavs in work, the first one usually won.
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