"Just like free laborers, but under police supervision" : German forced labor policy in Belgium, 1916-1917 and 1942-1944 / by David M. Watts.
This dissertation is a comparative history of German forced labor deportations from Belgium during the two World Wars. It examines forced labor recruitment for Germany in Belgium, which was the one nation from which Germany deported forced laborers during both wars. At issue is the effectiveness of forced labor conscription for replacing skilled workers conscripted into the German military. Further, it examines how the First World War experience shaped subsequent German and Belgian policies during the Second World War. Additionally, given that Germany's First World War Belgian conscript labor policy was not successful and was quickly replaced, why was labor conscription reintroduced into Belgium during 1942? Lastly the dissertation examines the national legacies left by conscript labor and places labor conscription in the larger context of German foreign labor history. The research for this work based on the holdings of the Royal Belgian Archives, the Federal German archives, the Center for Victims of the War in Brussels, the Center for Second World War Research, and the North Rhine Westphalian Business Archives in Cologne, as well as the Bayer, Krupp, and Mannesmann Archives. The dissertation demonstrates that during World War I deportation was an economic and political debacle which failed to increase German production. During the Second World War, however, Germany initially applied lessons in voluntary labor recruitment from the First World War to good effect. This initially made Belgium one of the most productive, best administered regions in German-occupied Europe. Later, as the tide of war changed, forced labor was again imposed in occupied Belgium causing an increasingly unproductive drain on German resources.
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