Labor Reparations

June 2, 1945

Report Outline
Repair of War Damage by German Workers
Labor Reparations Question After Last War
Conflicting Factors in Use of Enemy Labor

Repair of War Damage by German Workers

Payment of Reparations in Form of Labor Service

Repair of the vast material damage inflicted on Europe by six years of war will require the labor of millions of men for a long period of time. Continental countries which resisted Nazi aggression are determined that Germany shall supply a substantial part of the manpower needed to rebuild their ruined cities, restore their wrecked transportation systems, reconstruct destroyed dams and power installations, and clear ravaged farm lands.

Widespread destruction in Germany itself has drained the nation's capacity to pay war reparations. The attempt to squeeze money payments out of the Reich after the last war proved a fiasco. A renewal of that attempt is foreclosed, for all practical purposes, by the intention of the Allies sharply to restrict the restoration of Germany's industrial power. Reparations, therefore, will have to be confined largely to provision of raw materials and other stocks and to provision of workers. Germany under the Nazis had no compunctions about forcing foreigners to work in the Reich. Many persons in Allied countries think it would now be only just to turn the tables and subject Germans to the same policy, shorn of the brutalities with which the Nazis applied it.

Question of Labor Reparations at Yalta Conference

Use of German labor to help repair war damage was first publicly suggested by Eugene Varga, economic adviser to the Soviet government, in a lecture at Moscow, Sept. 1, 1943. As the war in Europe drew to a close, the proposal was advocated with increasing emphasis in Soviet publications. On May 6, 1945, War and the Working Class asserted that “labor reparation is not only an expedient but a justifiable form of compensating the damage.” It added that “the use of German labor for restoration in the countries ruined by her will naturally effectively help in the economic disarmament of Germany.” Two weeks earlier the Soviet trade-union newspaper Trud had said:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
World War II Reparations
Jun. 22, 2001  Reparations Movement
Mar. 26, 1999  Holocaust Reparations
Jun. 02, 1945  Labor Reparations
Oct. 19, 1944  War Reparations
Aug. 15, 1931  Revision of the Treaty of Versailles
Nov. 17, 1930  Reparation and War Debt Payments
Nov. 15, 1928  War Debts and Reparations
Sep. 10, 1925  The Disposal of Alien Property
Apr. 08, 1924  Reparations Calendar
Oct. 31, 1923  The New Reparations Situation
Outsourcing and Immigration
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
War and Conflict
World War II