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The Memories of Germans and of Forced Laborers

September 27, 2010: 65 years after the war a major exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin remembered forced laborers.

On this occasion we show three excerpts from interviews with former forced laborers talking about the German culture of remembrance and how they themselves remember their forced labor. The video is in Polish and Russian with German subtitles.

The Memories of Germans and of Forced Laborers. Excerpts from the video interviews with Sinaida B. ("OST-Arbeiter" from the Ukraine), Barbara Sz. (Polish woman deployed in Karlsruhe) and Iossif G. (Jewish forced laborer from Belarus), Archive "Forced Labor 1939-1945", language: Polish and Russian with German subtitles, duration: 3:40 minutes, cut: Tobias Kilgus, Alexandra Neumann, Cord Pagenstecher, © Freie Universität Berlin 2010

The Memories of Germans and of Forced Laborers

From September 27, 2010, until January 31, 2011, a major exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin remembered forced labor under National Socialism. The international traveling exhibition "Forced Labor. The Germans, the Forced Laborers and the War" is an important milestone in collective memory: Ten years after the start of compensation payments for forced laborers, the Federal President officially opens a comprehensive exhibition on the long-forgotten period of Nazi forced labor.

Many survivors have carefully observed the public remembrance in Germany. In the interviews of the Online Archive "Forced Labor 1939-1945. Memory and History", conducted in 2005 / 2006, former forced laborers describe their different experiences of memory in Germany and in their home countries. The three short excerpts illuminate different assessments of collective and individual memory.

The exhibition "Forced Labor. The Germans, the Forced Laborers and the War" was developed by the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation and supported by the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future". The exhibition includes excerpts from twelve interviews from the Online Archive "Forced Labor 1939-1945". More»

Biographical Information

Sinaida B., "OST-Arbeiter" (Eastern Worker) from the Ukraine

  • 1914: Born in Belgorod

  • 1938: Works as an engineer in Kharkov

  • 1942: Deported to Berlin for forced labor, works at the cosmetic company “Schwarzkopf”, later in a private household

  • 1943: After the air raids she goes to Hesse with the German family

  • 1944: Works in WASAG munitions factory in Allendorf / Hesse

  • 1945: Liberation by US troops, Soviet “Filtrierlager” in Magdeburg, returns to Kharkov

  • 1978: Retirement

Barbara Sz., Polish Woman Deployed in Karlsruhe

  • 1929: Born near Konin

  • 1939: German occupation, Polish schools closed, farm labor

  • 1944: Deported via Posen to Karlsruhe, forced labor at the German Weapons and Munitions Factory (DWM) in Karlsruhe (today the Centre for Art and Media Technology – ZKM) and Grötzingen, injured in a bombing raid

  • 1945: Liberation, thereafter goes to school and works in her own hair salon

  • 2004: Visit in Karlsruhe

Iossif G., Jewish Forced Laborer from Belarus

  • 1926: Born in Minsk

  • 1941: Moves with his family to the Jewish Ghetto, Minsk; Forced labor in a nearby radio factory; supports partisans (provision of food, medicine, weapons)

  • 1942: Relocates from the ghetto to barrack camps at the Minsk radio factory

  • 1944: Liberation, thereafter attends school and goes on to study electrical engineering, later working as an electrical engineer

  • 1986: Retirement