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#1 duby

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 12:08


is there any info if work prisoners were into automotive industry in the Nazi era ?
mainly with relations to the race teams...



#2 bradbury west

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 15:02

Several years ago Doug Nye posted a photograph on TNF taken when C&G, IIRC, were dismantling an Auto Union, and they had found a Star of David punched onto one of the inner components of the engine. I imagine the picture will have gone by now, with the software changes on TNF, but if you Search under C&G/Au etc or Jew/Star of David you might find the posting.
Roger Lund

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 15:04

I doubt slave workers would have been let anywhere near the racing shops - notwithstanding the picture Doug has shown us in the past of a Star of David scratched onto an Auto Union racing engine - and as far as I can tell, Daimler Benz didn't start using slave labour until some time in 1940.

There's a history of Daimler Benz in the Third Reich by Neil Gregor which seems to go into some detail on this subject:


#4 Tim Murray

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 17:47

Here’s Doug’s photo, from this thread:

Apropos of nothing at all really - other than having just rediscovered this pic - this is the most chilling thing I can recall seeing in my 40 years plus of being in thrall to racing cars: We found this -apparently hammered with a nail point - when sandblasting off the grime of decades on the carburettor body of one of the Auto Unions retrieved from Russia by Paul Karassik.

Posted Image

It made the short hairs on the back of the neck stand up...

What poor, brave, defiant, bastard - in what salt mine - might have hammered out this mark of defiance into this iconic symbol of the regime which was snuffing out his life????

Photo copyright: Doug Nye/GP Library

#5 duby

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 18:37

thanks for the pic and the link

#6 DogEarred

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 18:41

I think quite a few people would argue that you could experience this topic's subject matter today, working for one particular F1 technical director, who shall remain nameless...

#7 IrishMariner

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 18:54

Here’s Doug’s photo, from this thread:

That's just incredible.

Thank you for posting it, and thanks, too, to Doug Nye for the original post back in '02.

#8 elansprint72

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 20:14

I doubt slave workers would have been let anywhere near the racing shops.....

They worked in the V2 rocket factory under the Harz mountains. Some reportedly flew less than straight.

#9 D-Type

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 20:41

This isn't a subject I know much about. But I do know that there were different types of Nazi camps which are all covered by the generic term "concentration camp". These included internment camps for those opposed to the regime, extermination camps, prison camps for criminals and labour camps etc. Sometimes there could be two types of camp on the same site and sometimes political internees and holocaust victims were forced to work as slave labour. So the distinctions become blurred with time although historians who have studied the era do have an idea of the full picture.

I believe that the work camps or slave labour camps were mainly instituted after the outbreak of the war hence it is unlikely that there was any direct interaction with the racing teams.

However, many manufacturers did use slave labour from the camps or used components sourced from factories that employed slave labour. These could have included those who raced prewar, Daimler-Benz, Auto Union, BMW, Adler etc, but I have no idea whether they did.

We have no idea when or where the Star of David mentioned previously was punched onto the Auto Union's carburettor.

#10 duby

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 03:41


in Nazi Germany, the first camps were built in 1934 - i think the first one was Dachao, not far from Munich.
it was built "for" those who opposed the Nazis and there are more in Germany that were built - before - 9/1939 - WW2.


#11 Allan Lupton

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 13:13

Anent slave labour don't be too hard on the factories (and their owners) where slave labour was used. It is very hard for those of us who were not adult during wartime to appreciate how much was done here (UK) under direct orders from the government and as for Germany there was, of course, far more.
A factory making armaments had to use whatever labour it could get and normal recruiting procedures were not available. Willy Messerschmitt had some poor publicity post-war for using slave labour and the record as set out in Frank Vann's 1993 biography does show him to be willing and includes a letter from WM extolling the quality of the work done by the prisoners at Augsburg and at the Dachau camp.

Edited by Allan Lupton, 13 May 2011 - 13:14.

#12 Tuboscocca

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 16:15

Just a remark:

'Zwangsarbeiter' (forced worker) is the German term ,for what is here discussed. These were mostly prisoners taken in occupied countrries after the war started and were 'offered' to German firm's to compensate for the workers who were now soldiers. Mainly in the war-relevant industry . And that started in the 1940s.

Of course there were 'work prisoners' in the KZ too-which were forced to work.

As racing ceased in 1939 ,just before WWII, I think that no 'Zwangsarbeiter' worked with the two racing teams...

Regards Michael

#13 lanciaman

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 00:24

The Nazis didn't begin using slave labor until the war's manpower drain effected the workforce. As the Wehrmacht conscripted workers, they had to be replaced, and replaced they were, the first from Poland (not highly regarded) and then from France, and so on.

Jews were as a general rule not put in the slave labor category. They were in the extermination category. They were put to work, often literally worked to death, but this work was done in the camps. Some of them in skilled trades were retained in the camps, diverted from the gas chambers for a time.

Slave laborers were more generally put to work in manufacturing plants such as Krupp. I cannot imagine any Jewish camp inmate being allowed anywhere near a race car during the racing years prior to 1939. Dachau of course was a "concentration camp," not a death camp, being organized for the confinement of enemies of the state, which included communists, labor unionists, journalists, intellectuals and others. The fact it wasn't a "death camp" is a matter of small degrees since many died there, but Dachau's official business wasn't murder, it was but a byproduct.

As Germany's manpower needs grew more dire with the war's downward spiral, there were some allowances made for slave laborers. Russians were still treated quite badly, being untermenschen. But Jews remained in their own category, that of being in Goebbels' words, vermin deserving only of extinction.

What a time, what a place, what people.

#14 duby

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 07:01

Lanciaman thanks

so, was there any prisoners from places like Dachao that worked or forced to work in the automotive industry ?

#15 lanciaman

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 11:38

Lanciaman thanks

so, was there any prisoners from places like Dachao that worked or forced to work in the automotive industry ?

It's not an impossibility. But there was no automotive industry per se after the invasion of Poland. The Peoples' Car was a fantasy, morphed into the Kublewagen for the military.

One of the ironies of the German military machine was how heavily they depended on horses. Millions of horses were casualties of war because there simply wern't enough machines to move the Wehrmacht. The US sent a vast number of Studebaker trucks to the Russians, enabling them to move men quickly to hot spots, and some historians credit these trucks with being instrumental in makign victory possible in the East.

But to your point: yes, slave labor could have been used in an automobile factory early on, though German "slave laborers" would not have been publically visible prior to the war.

It's a bit complicated. (So much so that sexual congress between, say, a Polish slave worker and German woman could mean death for both.)