“Dear Papa! I have been conscripted into a living grave. . . .” So began a letter in the West Berlin newspaper Der Sozialdemokrat in March 1948. The young man had been sent to work in the Soviet occupation zone's uranium mines, near Aue in the Saxon Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), and had written to his parents in despair. The news article that accompanied the letter explained, “The uranium mines… are not in the Urals, but in the Erzgebirge. But reports from [the Erzgebirge] are as hard to come by as [ones] from the Urals.” Other newspapers in Germany's Western zones of occupation also published reports of “slave conditions,” and “forced labor” in the mines.
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