Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sabotage II.

This is coolbert:

Continuing with the topic of forced and impressed labor during the Second World War.

"Sabotage by forced labour"

[all spellings of labour in the British manner!]

Svetlana has written or is writing a fictional novel the setting of which is Germany at the very end of the Second World War. The role of the impressed or forced laborer an integral aspect of the novel.

As researched by Svetlana and as extracted from entries to the forum:

"I've [Svetlana] been researching forced labor (Ostarbeit, Zwangsarbeit but not KZ or POW) in Berlin for my novel. One of my protagonists is an Ostarbeiterin who worked at Rheinmetall-Borsig in Berlin-Tegel. Here are some of my findings."

"For all their fears and antipathy, foreign labourers were to become the very cornerstone of the German wartime economy. They served almost every business in Berlin, from the largest industrial concerns - such as Daimler-Benz, AEG and Bosch - down to the smallest independent tradesman or shopkeeper. In the summer of 1943, the number of foreign and forced labourers in Berlin topped 400,000, comprising one in five of the capital's total workforce. Siemens, for instance, employed nearly 15,000 foreign labourers in the capital, housed in over 100 camps. German Railways employed a further 13,000, Speer's Berlin Building Inspectorate 10,000 and AEG, 9,000." - - "Berlin at War" by Roger Moorhouse

"At that time, Berlin was covered with wooden barracks. In even the tiniest space in the capital, there were rows of brown, wooden blocks, covered in roofing felt. Greater Berlin resembled a single camp, which had been scattered between the sturdy buildings, the monuments, the office blocks, the rail stations and the factories" - - "Berlin at War" by Roger Moorhouse

"From the information I have collected on forced labor at Rheinmetall-Borsig it appears that the low-level sabotage was fairly common at that factory."

"Although sabotage was very dangerous (as a German worker put it, it would be a suicide), it was present nevertheless. A Russian former labourer from Kiev recounted his work in the construction team at Borsig. When they poured in a concrete foundation for heavy equipment, they would make a weak concrete mix. The foundation would then deteriorate faster from the vibration and shocks when the machinery was in operation. His opinion was that the low-key sabotage was common among the forced laborers."

"A Dutch former laborer, who was a university student prior to coming to Borsig, stated that the productivity among his fellow Dutch students was 20%-30% lower than of German workers. But they got away with it for a long time because they were considered 'amateurs' and the management didn't expect much of them, although the work hours and conditions were grueling. There were some tricks like dropping a precision part so it would deform a tiny bit and malfunction down the line. In the end the Dutch worker was transferred to a quality control post because his work performance at the machine was not improving. At the quality control post the supervisor told him to watch out for sabotage because it was all too common. In the end, the Dutch worker himself got arrested and sent to KZ Sachsenhausen, a mere few weeks before it was liberated by the Soviet Army."

"Another personal account of a Russian former Ostarbeiterin describes how some Russian young women laborers sabotaged work at Borsig. She worked on a lathe which required the cutting tool to be positioned precisely. Although she had had experience operating machinery at her pre-war factory job in the Soviet Union, she intentionally mis-positioned the tool. It would get damaged when the equipment was in operation, and she would have to sit and wait for a replacement. With the supervisors she played dumb, pretending to be unable to understand the process. The usual punishment was being left without her food ration for the day. In the barracks, the Russian girls pooled their rations to share with friends left without food because of their poor work performance."

"a Russian woman recalled how she stuffed paper in artillery shells at a munitions factory in Germany. Then she and a few more Russian girls ran away from the factory, got caught and sent to a concentration camp."

Thank you Svetlana!

See more on Svetlana and her historical novel!


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