United States Holocoust Memorial Museum
In German-occupied areas, the Nazis singled out Jewish laborers for cruel treatment. Jewish laborers were also subjected to humiliating treatment, as when SS men forced religious Jews to submit to having their beards cut. The ghettos served as bases for utilizing Jewish labor, as did forced-labor camps for Jews in occupied Poland. In the Lodz ghetto, for example, the Nazis opened 96 factories. The ability to work could save one’s life, but most often only temporarily. Jews deemed unproductive by the Nazis were often the first to be shot or deported. Jewish labor, even forced labor, was considered expendable. The extermination of the Jews became the singular priority of the Nazis.