The German war machine could never have been maintained without the labor of millions of conscripted men and women, including many minors, from beyond its borders. Foreign forced civilian laborers included those who were imprisoned in the SS camp system, as well as those forcibly transferred and compelled to work in Germany without being held in a prison camp. Those men and women in the former category received no compensation for their labor and were often worked to death. The latter category received minimal wages and worked under discriminatory and often dangerous conditions. The majority came from Eastern Europe, but as this map shows, Western Europeans were also forced to labor in the Nazi war economy. At the start of the war, the majority was employed in agriculture, though over time the emphasis shifted to war-related manufacturing. Mining also relied heavily on forced labor. Many POWs were also forced to work while in captivity. The map only reflects the numbers that could be verified based on the state of research and documentation at the time of the publication of this volume. There were, for example, thousands of forced laborers from Spain (left blank on this map), who were forced to work for the Germans in occupied France. Historical research into the fate of forced laborers, including those from Spain, continues.

Forced Laborers by National Origin (1944)


Source: Source and cartography: “Die nationalsozialistische Zwangsarbeit – Hintergrundinformationen.“ Zwangsarbeit 1939-1945: Erinnerungen und Geschichte, n.d., https://www.zwangsarbeit-archiv.de/zwangsarbeit/zwangsarbeit/zwangsarbeit-hintergrund/index.html (last accessed June 2022). Cartography by Gabriel Moss, 2021.