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Were Those Deployed in Norway Compensated for Forced Labor?

20/04/2021

 

The answer is yes. However, only those who survived the compensation paid after 1999. Applicants for compensation had to apply in person, and it was not possible to apply retroactively for family members who died before February 1999.

At the beginning of the research, we were not clear on the question of whether compensation was given to those deployed in the occupied countries, and not directly in Germany within its pre-war borders. We got the first mention of compensation for forced labor in Norway thanks to the archives of the Temporary Secretariat of Norwegians, which organized meetings of those deployed in the 1990s and provided survivors with information on compensation for all those forced to work during World War II.

A clear answer came only after we established cooperation with the Czech-German Fund for the Future, a foundation fund that was responsible for receiving applications and processing compensation for Czech citizens.

In the years 2000–2003, the Czech-German Fund for the Future supported 38,564 applications in the category of forced labor. These applicants were deported from their home country to the German Empire, including the occupied Czechoslovak border, and were forcibly deployed in the war industry or agriculture, but also in German construction projects of the Todt Organization and other so-called paramilitary organizations. Among the applicants were workers sent by the German occupation authorities to work in the occupied countries - for example, Poland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and finally Norway.

Among the applications concentrated in the archives of the Czech-German Fund for the Future, we found 239 cases in which applicants listed Norway as a place of forced labor.

Compensation for forced labor was financed by German companies and the federal government as a moral gesture to the long-neglected victims of the Nazi regime. The earmarked funds were invested in the German Reminder, Responsibility Foundation (EVZ Foundation). It then distributed them among the victims from various countries of the world through its partner organizations, which also included the Czech-German Fund for the Future. States where forced laborers worked during the war did not participate in compensation.

In determining the amount of compensation, the EVZ Foundation distinguished between so-called slave and forced labor. The slave labor mainly concerned the prisoners of the concentration camps - they were in a practically lawless position, in appalling conditions, without the right to a wage, with minimal hygienic and medical security. In this comparison, the conditions used for forced labor were better, they were paid for their work, they had secured access to medical care and they also enjoyed certain, albeit limited, rights. However, neither prisoners nor forced laborers had the opportunity to influence the type or place of work, and they could not freely leave it. Slave and forced labor were a manifestation of the will of the occupying power.

During the compensation procedure, the Czech-German Fund for the Future collected in its archive a number of period materials, which used the deployment to document forced labor. Some of them were subsequently used in publications and exhibitions, which acquainted the public with the extent of forced labor of the inhabitants of the protectorate.

The Fund allowed our research team to look into its non-public archive and obtain period materials for research that document the fate of Czechoslovaks in Norway. Photographs, correspondence and official documents will make it possible to reconstruct the fate of Czechs forcibly deployed in Norway.

Due to the origin of the protection of personal data of applicants, the Fund does not disclose in any case the names of the compensated. Therefore, all materials were made available to us for research in anonymized form. Here is a sample of photos from a work deployment in Norway.

We will continuously publish captions for the photos.

Photographs: © archive of the Česko-německý fond budoucnosti (Archive of the Czech-German Fund for the Future), an endowment fund

Resources:

Compensation 2000-2006. Czech-German Fund for the Future and Payments to Victims of Slave and Forced Labor. Prague: CNFB, 2007

Archive of the Czech-German Fund for the Future, an endowment fund

Photo:

© Archive of the Czech-German Fund for the Future, a foundation fund

The Future Fund approved our project on the basis of a written agreement with the publication of period photographs and other materials. These materials may not be further disseminated or published without the consent of the fund.

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