Forced labor in Nazi Germany at the Krupp plants
Nazi Germany was responsibile for some of the worst and most shameful atrocities in world history. Among the most brutal were those committed against concentration camp inmates deemed "racially unacceptable" by the Fuhrer and his National Socialist henchmen. For the victims of the extermination camps, death was often swift, leaving little time for victims to wonder what was happening or to suffer. For those in the Reich's work camps, there was all too much time to think and all too much time to suffer. While the Reich-controlled concentration camps have been studied in great detail, little attention has been paid to the camps owned and operated by private businesses. These enterprises, often in conjuction with the Gestapo, the SS, and the Wehrmacht, owned and supervised camps every bit as atrocious as those controlled by the government.
The camps contained workers fi"om all over Europe who involuntarily found themselves slaving for huge German conglomerates. Many industries participated in the utilization of such labor. Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Jews, prisoners of war, and political prisoners found themselves in the factories and workshops of world-famous firms like Messerschmitt, I.G. Farben, and Alfi^ed Krupp. These, and other German businesses, took full advantage of the cheap and plentiful sources of workers offered by the regime's conquests. They demanded more and more workers, often with little knowledge of how many were actually needed or could be effectively employed. Companies with long traditions of friendliness to workers and an almost family-like atmosphere became slave masters over laborers whom they considered to be less than human.