Selection in a Prisoner of War Camp

Recruitment for Mining

In the summer of 1942, Soviet prisoners of war were selected from the prisoner of war camp Zeithain to perform forced labor in Belgian mines.

Source: Gedenkstätte Ehrenhain Zeithain

Letter from Paul Pleiger, Reich Coal Commissioner, to the Wehrmacht High Command, 30 June 1941 (excerpt).

Pleiger called for 83,000 Soviet prisoners of war to work in the coal mines.

Source: Bundesarchiv, Freiburg

Memorandum on a lecture to Wehrmacht armaments experts, 20 February 1942.

Werner Mansfeld, ministerial director in the Reich Ministry of Labor, spoke at the Wehrmacht office of military economics and armaments about the deployment of Soviet civilians and prisoners of war.

Source: Bundesarchiv, Freiburg

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Selection in a Prisoner of War Camp

In the summer of 1942, Karl Schmitt – head of the Wehrmacht mining division in Liège, Belgium – went to Berlin on vacation with his wife. On the way, he visited the Zeithain prisoner of war camp in Saxony. The Soviet POWs were ordered to present themselves for inspection with the aim of deploying them to Belgian mines under German control. They were accordingly checked for physical fitness. Karl Schmitt decided who was to be transported to Belgium and who was not.

Soviet prisoners of war were frequently put to work in mines. The Reich Security Main Office had ruled that they could be employed only in work gangs kept separate from German workers. The authorities considered the mines particularly suitable in that respect.