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The Holocaust: Forced (Slave) Labor

The Jewish Virtual Library (JVL)

The term forced labor (Zwangsarbeit) is not well defined. Forced labor is commonly understood as an employment relationship of a member of a persecuted political or a specific ideological (weltanschauliche) grouping, or an ethnic group, or a people, a relationship arisen by force, and indissoluble, that did not consider the abilities, age, or sex of the forced laborer, that meant defenselessness concerning legal rights and a high rate of mortality due to bad living and working conditions as well as National Socialistic persecution. In Anglo-Saxon usage the term forced labor is distinguished from slave labor that ghetto and concentration camp prisoners and Jews in specific Forced Labor Camps (FLC) had to perform. Among other things slave labor is characterized by a considerably higher rate of mortality. In German-speaking usage the term slave labor has not become common, because slaves were without rights and they were exploited, but unlike SS and other NS organizations, the slaveholder ordinarily was interested in keeping the slave alive.