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Polish Forced Labour (Zwangsarbeiter/Fremdarbeiter) collection

Article about: by A.J. Zawadzki Hi Stefan, yes, very perceptive of you. Definitely the efforts of a left leaning group. You'll quickly spot the less-than-subtle hammer and scythe imagery on the cover: Atta

  1. #401

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    A column of Varsovian Jews being marched through the streets of Warsaw 1939 carrying shovels for forced labour in clearing up bomb damaged buildings around the city.



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    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  2. #402

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    A little something to add to post #399. I don’t believe the Medal of Merit of Polish Victims of the German Third Reich has yet been covered in this fine thread.

    The Gold Medal of Merit complete with award document:

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    The SPP Medal of Merit exists in two types. The two at the top are classified as Type 1, in gold and silver grades. The Type 2 medals added a bronze class.
    (image excerpt from ORDERY I ODZNACZENIA POLSKIE)

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    Regards,
    Tony
    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  3. #403

    Default Polish workers for Organisation Todt (OT) in Finland in WWII


    Polish workers for Organisation Todt (OT) in Finland in WWII

    by Emilia Denkiewicz-Szczepaniak

    The Organisation Todt (OT) was a paramilitary construction organisation in the Third Reich. It was named after Doctor Fritz Todt (1891-1942), the founder of the organisation. OT performed various construction projects for the German Army (Wehrmacht) in almost every country occupied by Germany, including those in Scandinavia. As a consequence of the German attack on the Soviet Union, OT was ordered to set up operations in Denmark and Norway in April 1940, and in Finland in the fall of 1941.

    The Finnish branch of the OT was called Einsatz Finnland (Working Force Finland), and had its main office in Rovaniemi. Einsatz Finnland was, in practice, subordinated to Einsatz Jacob, the OT organisation for the Eastern front. In the course of 1943, the administration and structure of the OT in the Nordic countries was strongly developed with the establishment of Einsatzgruppe Wiking (Working Force Group Wiking), which consisted of Denmark and Norway. At the same time, some of the construction departments (Bauleitung. BL)) situated near the main construction department (Oberbauleitung, OBL) in Kirkenes were integrated into EG Wiking. These construction departments were BL Liinahamari, BL Jarfjord, and the Holzeinslag Stelle Inari (Lumber plant Inari).

    OT was strategically important in the Far North, as there were only few roads and no railroads in the area. The largest and most important construction projects dealt with improving and maintaining the so called “Ice Sea Road” (Eismeerstrasse), a 531 kilometrelong road running from Rovaniemi to Liinahamari. Equally important were two other roads: first, the road from Inari through Norwegian Karasjok (Kaarasjoki) to Lakselv at the Porsanger fjord; second, the road along the Finnish-Swedish border from Karesuanto to Norwegian Skibotn at the Lyngen fjord. Another important project was the construction of the 320 kilometre-long railroad line running from from Hyrynsalmi, through Kuusamo, to Soviet Kiestinki near the front line. The Germans also had plans to build a railroad between Ivalo and Inari, as well as bridges and other constructions in the area. In the middle of 1943, OT mainly focused on conducting a series of construction projects aimed to protect the nickel plant at Kolosjoki in Petsamo from possible Soviet air attacks.

    In 1944, OT was commissioned to supervise the roads between Inari-Lakselv and Karesuanto-Skibotn, and to construct defence lines on the road section Ivalo-Karesuanto.Guidelines and procedures for recruiting Polish workers into the OT were mutually divergent, and also differed depending on the region of recruitment. During the German occupation, Poland was divided in two: the greater part, which was incorporated into Germany, and the rest, called The General Gouvernement by the Germans. This latter area was also governed by the Germans, and further divided into two areas (Gau): Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen in the north, and Reichsgau Wartheland in the west. However, the western part of the Krakow-Katowice areas was, together with the Tatra Mountains in the south, incorporated into the Province of Oberschlesien. The northern part of the Polish Mazovien area was designated Regierungsbezirk Sichenau, and later incorporated into the German Ostpreussen.

    This division of Poland into areas affected the way Polish workers were recruited for the OT. Poles from territories incorporated into German were recruited by German or other domestic construction companies that had contracts with the OT. This was the most common way for Polish workers to join the OT: indirect, and without the active consent of the recruits. The aforementioned recruits were called “Stammarbeiter” (regulars) in the documents. The other mode of recruitment was through independent recruitment offices (Nebenstelle) within the OT administration, or through the OT’s recruitment enterprises in the General Gouvernement. This latter way gave the workers an opportunity to report themselves more or less voluntarily for service, and these workers were designated as “Duty volunteers” (Freie-Dientsverplichtet) in their documents. The third and most common way of recruitment overall was through “Duty” (Dienstverplichtung): the affected workers were ordered to report themselves to one of the many German Manpower or Labour Offices.

    The Polish workers who were recruited by the OT for Finland were often transported by train to either the OT joint camp in Berlin-Vannsee, or the one in Berlin-Grünewald. Stammlager Eichkamp and Lager Schlachtensee were other sorting camps where Poles working for the OT were sent. After several weeks of waiting, the workers were transported to Finland. There were two main routes: 1.) Stettin-Reval-Helsinki-Rovaniemi, and 2.) Stettin-a Northern harbour in the Gulf of Bothnia–Rovaniemi. After being transported by sea, the workers were loaded into trains or trucks for the remainder of the journey. About 3 630 Polish workers were sent to Finland altogether. Of these, 2164 were from the General Gouverment, and approximately 1,390 from Polish territories incorporated into the Third Reich. These represented almost 50 % of the approximately 7,100 Poles registered by EG Wiking. All Poles transported to Finland were placed in North Finland.

    Poles were used at almost every major OT construction project in Finland. One of the largest of these was the Ice Sea road, which connected Rovaniemi with the Barents Sea. Of similar significance were also the road construction projects Karesuanto-Skibotn and Inari- Lakselv, roads connecting the Ice Sea Road with Highway 50 in Norway. The road running from Salmijärvi in Petsamo to Kirkenes in Norway was also strategically important. The Petsamo and Kirkenes areas were so close to each other, that the workers were often moved over the Finnish-Norwegian border and vice versa. It is difficult to acquire detailed information on the number of Polish workers who worked on the road sections between Petsamo and Kirkenes, but overall the Poles were the biggest group of foreign workers in the area.

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    The construction of the field rail road Hyrynsalmi-Kuusamo represented a different kind of OT commission in Finland. This project was very important, but difficult to carry out, due to the swampy terrain and large forests in the area. With the exception of lumber, the project was also short of building materials, as well as manpower. It was impossible to build the railroad without large amounts of workers, and of the approximately 4 000 men employed for the job, about 1 000 were Poles, and all of these were assigned to Einsatz Finnland by the Landes Armbeistamt (Regional Manpower Office) in Posen (or Poznan).

    In mid-1943, OT was engaged to carry out a series of construction projects aimed to protect the nickel production facilities at Kolosjoki, in Petsamo. Thus, they erected a 3,5 metre thick concrete wall around the most vital part of the Jäniskoski power plant in order to protect it from air attacks. Approximately 500 Poles worked in Kolosjoki, and Poles were also used for clearing away snow, and for constructing snow tunnels during the German retreat from Finland in the fall of 1944.

    The working conditions and payment terms for the Poles differed from the corresponding arrangements for German workers. The Polish OT workers lived in block houses or barracks of different sizes, but which were usually wooden huts designed for 22 people. A so called Foreign Construction Tariff for Poles (Polen-Auslands-Bautarif) was used from early 1943 onwards, which effectively lowered the Poles’ salary by 15 % in comparison to the German OT workers. The German workers also had, according to the rules of the organization, daily rations that had 500-800 kilocalories more than those given to the foreign workers.

    At the end of the war, many of the Poles working for OT in Finland succeeded in escaping over the border to Sweden. Only some of them ended up in the repatriation camps set up by the Norwegian authorities after the German capitulation. Together with other repatriates, these were sent back to Poland.
    Last edited by StefanM; 12-12-2014 at 06:56 PM.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  4. #404
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    Stefan,

    What a thorough narrative on the subject. Do you have any information on Poles in the Todt Corps in Italy?

    bardzo dziekuje,

    Piwo

  5. #405

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    Quote by Piwo2 View Post
    Stefan,

    What a thorough narrative on the subject. Do you have any information on Poles in the Todt Corps in Italy?

    bardzo dziekuje,

    Piwo
    Emilia Denkiewicz-Szczepaniak did a fine piece of research on a subject I knew little about.

    I have not come across a similar piece on Poles conscripted in the OT working in Italy but would also be interested to learn more.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  6. #406

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    This unusual photo appears to show a group of Polish workers undertaking "silver service" training for working in the hotel trade?

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    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  7. #407

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    Hopefully a worthwhile addition here (?). I found it interesting, but not entirely surprising, that these “P’s” are being reproduced for the collector market. Of course, the original mass produced crude printed versions produced for the Polish Zivilarbeiters are a far cry from this deluxe version boasting four-part construction with premium grade materials.

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    Regards,
    Tony
    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  8. #408

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    Here is my new find Something like this is really hard to find
    I think that this is a great peace of history
    All comments are welcome.
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  9. #409

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    A lovely and amazing set of documents and items! thank you all for sharing these amazing items here with us!!!

  10. #410

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    I found these photographs today while going through my Great Grandparents' belongings, whom passed away some time ago. Their names were Jozef Szybkowski and Antonina Jeremenko, both participated in forced labor during the war. My G-Grandfather served in the 37th Infantry and was captured at Ilow on the 18/9/39, interned at Stalag XA and released as a civilian worker in '41. Spent the rest of his time as a farn laborer in Handewitt. My G-Grandmother lived on the Polesie region, which was occupied by both the Soviets and the Germans over the subsequent years. In 1943, at the age of 19, she was deported to Germany as an 'Ostarbeiter' and became a domestic worker for the farm owner in Handewitt. They were married in Flensburg just a few days following the end of the war in Europe, entering into various DP camps. From '45 - '49 they had three children, he served as a watchman in the CMLO and she remained at home. They had planned to return to Poland but the Soviet presence deterred them, they left for Australia in July of 1950. Contact with family had been lost since initial deportation. My Great Grandfather returned in 1973 but my Great Grandmother was not able to discover the fate of her family, we know very little about both. My Great Grandfather is in the bottom left of the first photograph, there is no inscription and I initially thought this was a Post-War photograph, but he looks much younger here in comparison to late 40s/early 50s photographs, I believe they are wearing the 'P' patch. The next photograph has apparently been removed from an Arbeitsbuch or similar from the occupied territory of Poland. the visible portion of the stamp seems to read 'General Gouvernment' although the last few letters are cut off, sadly I don't know who this person is, but it was one of very few possessions of that time that they held onto, perhaps it was one of their parents, there is no way of knowing anymore. Any insight on these would be great, just wanted to share as I believe these are relevant to the topic.
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