Arbeitseinsatz (Nazi Germany, forced labour)
More than 500,000 Dutch citizens were forced to work
n Germany during WWII.

Adriaan Kloosterman, 1944, BerlinThis webbage is not just about my fathers story of forced labour in Germany, he survived, but first of all dedicated to all the Holocaust victims who suffered and died due to the Nazi regime.

On February 28, 1941, the German Reichskommissar in Holland, Seyss-Inquart, proclaimed an ordinance concerning the “duty for the performance of services.” This ordinance provided for the forced employment (Arbeitseinsatz) of Dutch citizens in Nazi-Germany and its occupied territories. The recruitment took place initially through regional Dutch government employment offices who possessed the means for enforcement, specifically in the case of unemployed persons.

The national-socialist Ausländer-Einsatz (deployment of foreigner) between 1939 and 1945 represents the largest mass utilization of forced labour in history since the end of slavery during the 19th century. More than 10 million forced labourers were deported to Germany and occupied territories between 1939 and 1945. Among these were more than 500,000 Dutch citizens of which, based on Red Cross estimates, 30,000 perished in Germany. An unknown number returned with permanent physical en psychological scars.

Reports show that in August 1944, 7.8 million foreign workers and prisoners of war were involved in the Arbeitseinsatz (labour deployment) in Germany and, in addition to these, approximately 500,000 mostly foreign concentration camp inmates. As a result some 30 percent of the white-color workers and labourers in the entire German economy were foreigners who had been brought into the country mostly by force. The worst lot to befall a forced labourer was to be sent to an Arbeitserziehungslager, sometimes called “concentration camps for forced labourers”. In May 1944, Kaltenbrunner, head of security police in nazi-Germany said about Arbeitserziehungslager: “The working and living conditions for the inmates are generally worse than in a concentration camp.”

In 1943 the German fortunes had started to wane and more of their men were needed at the front.For occupied territories the German misfortunes translated into recruitment of labour for their factories. From Russia, the Ukraine, France, Belgium, Holland, and other countries, trainloads of young men and women, some as young as 13, were rounded up and transported to labour camps near German factory towns.
As in France, the slave hunt in Holland was accompanied by terror and abduction. The “Statement of the Netherlands Government in view of the Prosecution and Punishment of the German Major War Criminals”, (1726-PS)contains the following account of the deportation of Netherlands workmen to Germany:

“Many big and reasonably large business concerns, especially in the metal industry, were visited by German commissions who appointed workmen for deportation. This combing out of the concerns was called the “Sauckel-action”, so named after its leader, who was charged with the appointment of foreign workmen in Germany. “The employers had to cancel the contracts with the appointed workmen temporarily, and the latter were forced to register at the labour offices, which then took care of the deportation under supervision of German ‘Fachberater.’ “Workmen who refused (relatively few) were prosecuted by the Sicherheitsdeinst (SD).

If captured by this service, they were mostly lodged for some time in one of the infamous prisoners camps in the Netherlands and eventually put to work in Germany. “In this prosecution the Sicherheitsdienst was supported by the German Police Service, which was connected with the labour offices, and was composed of members of the N.S.B. and the like. “At the end of April 1942 the deportation of working labourers started on a grand scale. Consequently in the months of May and June the number of deportees amounted to not less than 22,000, resp. 24,000 of which many were metal workers. “After that the action slackened somewhat, but in October 1942 another top was reached (2,60).

More than 500,000 Dutch citizens were forced to work in Germany during WWII.

More than 30,000 perished through hunger, sickness, maltreatment and acts of war.

US Air Force over Berlin, 19 May 1944

My father was among them in 1943. At that time, it was in January 1943, he was working as a metalworker in the EMF engine factory in Dordrecht. He had just turned 22 and city employees whose names were readily available were among the first contingents. With the cooperation of Dutch employers and officials in government employment offices, summonses were issued.

He received such summons and was placed on a train of the Netherlands Railways under armed guard, eventually arriving in Berlin. He stayed with others forced labourers from all over Euope in the Sophienstrasse 17/19 and was put to work at the Karl Jung Maschinen Fabrik in Berlin, 19-01-1943. He told me that there was apart from those he worked with, there was virtually no contact with German civilians. The designation Ausländer (foreigner) had the same connotation as DP (displaced person) had after the war, or the word foreigner has in some circles today. In short they were shunned and disliked by the German population and certainly no different from what the Germans experienced in Holland.

Adrie became ill (TBC??) in Berlin, was medically discharged and was send back 19-02-1943 to Holland. That probably saved his life. He was lucky to escape the horrors of the real concentrationcamps. The worst lot to befall a forced labourer was to be sent to an Arbeitserziehungslager, sometimes called “concentration camps for forced labourers”. His nephew Cornelis Jan Kloosterman, the son of my grandfathers brother Leendert, was not so lucky and died in 1944 in the Concentrationcamp Neuengamme.

In November 1944 the Germans started once more ruthless campaign for man-power, passing by the labour offices. Without warning, they lined off whole quarters of the towns, seized people in the streets or in the houses and deported them. “In Rotterdam and Schiedam where these raids (razzia’s) took place on 10 and 11 November, the amount of people thus deported was estimated at 50,000 and 5,000 respectively. “In other places where the raids were held later, the numbers were much lower, because one was forewarned by the events.

The exact figures are not known as they have never been published by the occupants. “The people thus seized were put to work partly in the Netherlands, partly in Germany My father escaped the razzia’s and went into hiding for the rest of the war together with his brother Jan. They both survived.