Volunteer Workers from Serbia in Germany 1941–1944 Cover Image

Dobrovoljni radnici iz Srbije u Nemačkoj 1941–1944.
Volunteer Workers from Serbia in Germany 1941–1944

Author(s): Zoran Janjetović
Subject(s): History
Published by: Institut za noviju istoriju Srbije
Keywords: Third Reich; work; workers; volunteers; coersion

Summary/Abstract: The topic of volunteer workers from Yugoslavia and Serbia in Nazi Germany was not popular during socialism because it could destroy the black and white picture of WWII. All work for the enemy had to be depicted as compulsory so as to create the picture of exploitation which was used for propaganda purposes, but also in order to exact reparations from Germany. The paper deals with Serbian volunteer workers in Germany during WWII. It is based on archival sourc es from Germany and Serbia and it deals with matters of recruitment, numbers, living conditions and perceptions. The Third Reich evinced interest in Yugoslav labor force already before WWII. After dismemberment of Yugoslavia the occupiers strove to extract as many workers for voluntary labor in the Reich as possible. In order to achieve that, they used propaganda, intimidation and enticement. Until October 1944 between 60.000 and 80.000 workers from Serbia applied, although not all of them were at work at the same time. It is also more than likely that some forced laborers were also included in this total. German employers didn’t expect the same efficiency from Serbian workers as they did from their German colleagues. Sometimes they found fault with the Serbs as undisciplined, lazy and prone to drink. On the other had, Serbian workers sometimes thought they were short-changed or cheated of their freedom. Many of them found it difficult to accommodate the severe disciplinary rules prevailing in the wartime Germany. The Serbian puppet-government tried to mediate between Serbian workers and the German authorities, but could do little to better the conditions of its nationals.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 46-73
  • Page Count: 28
  • Language: Serbian