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A Gulag in the Erzgebirge? Forced Labor, Political Legitimacy, and Eastern German Uranium Mining in the Early Cold War, 1946–1949

  • Caitlin E. Murdock (a1)

Extract

“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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1 The Allies divided Germany into Soviet, British, and American occupation zones. In this article I refer to the Soviet occupation zone as the Soviet Zone or the Eastern Zone.

2 Bundesarchiv (BArch) DQ2 1964, Der Sozialdemokrat, March 24, 1948.

3 BArch DQ2 1964, Der Sozialdemokrat, Feb. 21, 1948; BArch DQ2 1964, Deutsche Verwaltung für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge (DVAS)-Abt. I, press report, Feb. 17, 1948; Landesarchiv Berlin (LAB), C Rep 118 (Magistrat von Berlin/Gesundheits- und Sozialwesen) Nr. 893, article from Der Telegraf, Feb. 14, 1948; BArch DQ2 1964, article from Der Abend, Feb. 29, 1948. The terms slave labor (Sklavenarbeit) and forced labor (Zwangsarbeit) were used interchangeably.

4 Wildenthal, Lora, “Human Rights Activism in Occupied and Early West Germany: The Case of the German League for Human Rights,” Journal of Modern History 80, no. 3 (2008): 515.

5 Signatories included Great Britain and France, but not Germany, the United States, or the USSR. See International Labour Office (ILO), Report of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office on the Working of the Convention (No. 29) concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour, 1930 (Geneva, 1949), 3.

6 Ibid.

7 Fink, Carole, Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878–1938 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Lauren, Paul Gordon, The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 206–7; Kott, Sandrine and Golb, Joel, “The Forced Labor Issue between Human and Social Rights, 1947–1957,” Humanity 3, no. 3 (2012): 324.

8 Betts, Paul, “Germany, International Justice and the Twentieth Century,” History and Memory 17, no. 1/2 (2005): 57. Human rights began as an alternative vision to Nazism during the war. See Moyn, Samuel, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 44.

9 Moyn, The Last Utopia, 45; Kott and Golb, “The Forced Labor Issue,” 324–25. Anti-communism emerged soon after World War II as a key political theme in the West German zones. See Holian, Anna, “Anticommunism in the Streets: Refugee Politics in Cold War Germany,” Journal of Contemporary History 45, no. 1 (2010): 135–36.

10 Sopade. Querschnitt durch Politik und Wirtschaft, vol. 2 (Hanover: Sozialdemokratische Partei, May 1947), 23. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, West German politicians equated victims of Nazism with those of communism, including people fleeing the Eastern Zone, as well as POWs whom the Soviets used as forced labor. See Moeller, Robert, War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 33.

11 Boldorf, Marcel, “Brüche oder Kontinuitäten? Von der Entnazifizierung zur Stalinisierung in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1952,” Historische Zeitschrift 289, no. 2 (2009): 292.

12 Maul, Daniel Roger, “The International Labour Organization and the Struggle against Forced Labour from 1919 to the Present,” Labor History 48, no. 4 (2007): 483–84; Carruthers, Susan L., Cold War Captives: Imprisonment, Escape, and Brainwashing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 98135.

13 Carruthers, Cold War Captives, 119.

14 Ibid., 122.

15 Knop, Werner, Prowling Russia's Forbidden Zone: A Secret Journey into Soviet Germany (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1949), 137.

16 Black, Monica, “Death and the Making of West Berlin, 1948–1961,” German History 27, no. 1 (2009): 12.

17 Palmowski, Jan, Inventing a Socialist Nation: Heimat and the Politics of Everyday Life in the GDR, 1945–1990 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 2324; Brinks, J. H., “Political Anti-Fascism in the German Democratic Republic,” Journal of Contemporary History 32, no. 2 (1997): 207–17; Biess, Frank, “‘Pioneers of a New Germany’: Returning POWs from the Soviet Union and the Making of East German Citizens, 1945–1950,” Central European History 32, no. 2 (1999): 144.

18 Vogt, Timothy R., Denazification in Soviet-Occupied Germany: Brandenburg, 1945–1948 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), 97.

19 BArch DQ2 1964, article from Der Abend, Feb. 29, 1948.

20 East and West Germans traded accusations of human rights abuses, but international debates associated forced labor and mistreatment of POWs with the Soviets and the East. See Betts, “Germany, International Justice,” 63.

21 BArch DQ2 2138, article from Thüringer Volk, July 22, 1947. The French used German POWs for mining. See Wehler, Hans-Ulrich, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, vol. 4, Vom Beginn des Ersten Weltkriegs bis zur Gründung der beiden deutschen Staaten, 1914–1949 (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2003), 943. The USSR frequently charged that Western human rights accusations were hypocritical. See Betts, Paul, “Socialism, Social Rights, and Human Rights: The Case of East Germany,” Humanity 3, no. 3 (2012): 410.

22 Roseman, Mark, Recasting the Ruhr, 1945–1958: Manpower, Economic Recovery, and Labour Relations (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 1992), 2393; Control Council Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945–1955, U.S. Zone), Enactments and Approved Papers of the Control Council and Coordinating Committee. Allied Control Authority, Germany, 1945–Feb. 1946; Oct. 1946/Mar. 1947-Jly 1947/Fe 1948 (sic) (Berlin: Legal Division, Office of Military Government for Germany [U.S.], 1946). The ILO exempted military service, normal civic obligations, and emergency cases. It allowed compulsory labor that benefited the community in which it took place. See ILO, Report of the Governing Body concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor (No. 29).

23 Engeln, Ralf, Uransklaven oder Sonnensucher? Die sowjetische AG Wismut in der SBZ/DDR, 1946–1953 (Essen: Klartext, 2001), 80; Roth, Karl Heinz, “Unfree Labour in the Area under German Hegemony, 1930–1945,” in Free and Unfree Labour: The Debate Continues, ed. Brass, Tom and van der Linden, Marcel (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), 130–31.

24 Norman Naimark stresses the role of forced labor in the mines; see Naimark, Norman M., The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 239–48. Several scholars describe a shift to volunteers in 1948, but note that indirect coercion continued. See Karlsch, Rainer and Zeman, Z. A. B., Urangeheimnisse. Das Erzgebirge im Brennpunkt der Weltpolitik, 1933–1960 (Berlin: Ch. Links, 2002), 190–91; Engeln, Uransklaven, 99–104. Others suggest that DWK regulations from June 1948 largely ended labor conscription. See Schütterle, Juliane, Kumpel, Kader und Genossen. Arbeiten und Leben im Uranbergbau der DDR. Die Wismut AG (Paderborn: Schoeningh, 2010), 34.

25 Zeman, Z. A. B. and Karlsch, Rainer, Uranium Matters: Central European Uranium in International Politics, 1900–1960 (New York: Central European University Press, 2008), 203, 207; Hoffmann, Dierk, “Arbeitsmarkt, Zweijahresplan und Wirtschaftsverwaltung,” in Das letzte Jahr der SBZ. Politische Weichenstellungen und Kontinuitäten im Prozess der Gründung der DDR, ed. Hoffmann, Dierk and Wentker, Hermann (Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag, 2000), 128.

26 The intrazonal border outside Berlin closed in 1952. For discussion of changes in border dynamics, see Sheffer, Edith, Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

27 By mid-1947, North Rhine-Westphalia reduced the number of conscripted workers to 1,100, whereas the Eastern Zone still had 34,000. See BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS meeting minutes, Aug. 29, 1947. The Eastern Zone reduced conscription in 1947 and 1948; by July 1948, it had fallen to 4.9 percent of labor in most industries, but remained at 60 percent in the uranium mines—before dropping dramatically in 1949. See Engeln, Uransklaven, 89; Roseman, Recasting the Ruhr, 59–64.

28 Holloway, David, Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939–1956 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 116, 148–49; Sacharow, Wladimir W., “Uran für das strategische Gleichgewicht. Die SAG/SDAG Wismut im sowjetischen Atomkomplex,” in Uranbergbau im Kalten Krieg. Die Wismut im sowjetischen Atomkomplex, ed. Boch, Rudolf and Karlsch, Rainer (Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 2011), 3798.

29 Engeln, Uransklaven, 82.

30 BArch, DQ2/2138, letter from DVAS section head Kreil to Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (FDGB), Aug. 25, 1947.

31 Wille, Manfred and Kaltenborn, Steffi, eds., Die Vertriebenen in der SBZ/DDR. Dokumente. Massentransfer, Wohnen, Arbeit. 1946–1949 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1999), 429.

32 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from Land Thüringen-Ministerium für Wirtschaft und Arbeit (LT-MWA) to DVAS, May 23, 1947; BArch DQ2 2054, memo by the Amt für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge Halle, April 5, 1946; Hoffmann, Dierk, “Die Lenkung des Arbeitsmarktes in der SBZ/DDR, 1945–1961,” in Arbeiter in der SBZ-DDR, ed. Hübner, Peter and Tenfelde, Klaus (Essen: Klartext, 1999), 42.

33 Control Council Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945–1955, U.S. Zone), Enactments and Approved Papers of the Control Council.

34 Authorities in all of the occupation zones used conscription in a variety of industries, but especially in mining. See Roeling, Rob, “Arbeiter im Uranbergbau. Zwang, Verlockungen und soziale Umstände (1945 bis 1952),” in Strahlende Vergangenheit. Studien zur Geschichte des Uranbergbaus der Wismut, ed. Karlsch, Rainer and Schröter, Harm G. (St. Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae, 1996), 102; Engeln, Uransklaven, 89.

35 Roseman, Recasting the Ruhr, 59–64.

36 Ibid., 68.

37 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from FDGB central office to district offices, Oct. 2, 1947; BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS meeting minutes, Aug. 29, 1947.

38 BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS press release, Aug. 26, 1947. This argument reached the public through the press. See Sächsisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden (HStAD), Landesregierung Sachsen-Ministerium für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge (LRS-MAS) No. 391: 6, “Das Problem der Arbeitsverpflichtungen für den Erzbergbau,” Sächsische Zeitung, Sept. 9, 1947.

39 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from FDGB central office to district offices, Oct. 2, 1947. The Soviets ignored their promises to end conscription in 1947.

40 BArch DQ2 2054, report from Deutsche Wirtschaftskommission (DWK) to Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD), June 12, 1948; BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS meeting minutes, Aug. 29, 1947.

41 BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS press release, Aug. 26, 1947; BArch DQ2 2138, internal report by Grodecki, Aug. 4, 1947.

42 BArch DQ2 1995, DVAS report on Grodecki trip to returning POW station in Frankfurt/Oder, Aug. 16, 1947; BArch DQ2 2138, letter from the DVAS to LRS-MAS, Aug. 13, 1947.

43 Zeman and Karlsch, Uranium Matters, 200–1.

44 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from FDGB central office to branch offices, Oct. 2, 1947.

45 This pattern continued in the early 1950s. See Andrew Port, “When Workers Rumbled: The Wismut Upheaval of August 1951 in East Germany,” Social History 22, no. 2 (May 1997).

46 Biess, Frank, Homecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006): 116–17.

47 Gienow-Hecht, Jessica, Transmission Impossible: American Journalism as Cultural Diplomacy in Postwar Germany, 1949–1955 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999), 133–34; Kanig, Christian, “Literature and Reeducation in Occupied Germany, 1945–1949,” in Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War, ed. Barnhisel, Greg and Turner, Catherine (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010), 80, 83.

48 BArch DQ2 2138, article from Thüringer Volk, July 22, 1947. Some Germans were sent to Siberia as forced labor in 1946, but not in connection with the uranium mines. See Boldorf, “Brüche oder Kontinuitäten?,” 293.

49 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), RG 466 (High Commissioner for Germany), P1, Box 27, Folder B-43-d, Uranium Mining (and Conscription of Workers) Soviet Zone, testimony gathered by the U.S. occupation authority's Civil Censorship Division.

50 ThHStAW, Land Thüringen-Ministerium für Wirtschaft und Arbeit (LT-MWA) 3737: 172, report on the Saxon uranium mines, July 23, 1947.

51 Karlsch and Zeman, Urangeheimnisse, 169–71.

52 Sächsisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden (HStAD), LRS-MAS 390: 5, minutes of a meeting of the Betriebsvorsitzenden of the Erzbergwerke Schneeberg and Johanngeorgenstadt, March 1, 1947; BArch DQ2 1987, transcribed letter from a miner, June 15, 1948. The western press echoed such accusations. See BArch DQ2 1987, article in Die Welt, May 9, 1949.

53 Officially, ex-Nazis were banned from the mines. East German officials did not want mine work to be perceived as political punishment. See HStAD, LRS-MAS 62: 224–25, memos from the Landesarbeitsamt Sachsen about fascists in the Johanngeorgenstadt mine.

54 BArch DQ2 2138, article from Thüringer Volk, July 22, 1947; ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 175, “Arbeitskräfte für den Bergbau im Land Sachsen”; ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3735: 23, meeting minutes, Amt für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge Arnstadt, Aug. 31, 1948.

55 The eastern and western German press used comparisons with the Nazis to discredit each other. See Black, “Death and the Making of West Berlin,” 12; Kufeke, Kay, “‘Man sagt, dass wir der NSDAP gleichkamen und eine Russen-Partei sind’. Stimmungs- und Informationsberichte von KPD und SED aus Berlin (1945–1949),” Zeitschrift fur Geschichtswissenschaft 56, no. 11 (2008): 917–18. Western authorities also worried that material conditions could undermine their authority and boost that of the Soviets. See Grossmann, Atina, “Grams, Calories, and Food: Languages of Victimization, Entitlement, and Human Rights in Occupied Germany, 1945–1949,” in The Human Rights Revolution: An International History, ed. Iriye, Akira, Goedde, Petra, and Hitchcock, William I. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 117–18.

56 Antifascism and self-government were KPD (Communist Party of Germany) policy in 1945 and SED policy after 1946, as the parties sought political legitimacy unfettered by prewar Communist traditions or Soviet policy. See Weitz, Eric D., Creating German Communism, 1890–1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 313–18; Port, “When Workers Rumbled,” 148, 162–63.

57 Biess, “Pioneers,” 148; HStAD, LRS-MAS 390: 5, meeting minutes of the Betriebsvorsitzenden of the Erzbergwerke Schneeberg and Johanngeorgenstadt, March 1, 1947.

58 BArch DQ2 2138, LRS-MAS, “Über die allgemeine Lage und den Fraueneinsatz im Erzbergbau,” April 17, 1947; see also Hoffmann, “Die Lenkung des Arbeitsmarktes,” 52.

59 BArch DQ2 1995, memo from the DWK central office, Aug. 12, 1948; HStAD, LRS-MAS 303: 119, letter from Karl Kirschner to the Landesarbeitsamt, Jan. 21, 1947.

60 NARA, RG 466, P1, Box 27, Doc 4, testimony collected by U.S. occupation authorities.

61 NARA, RG 466, P1, Box 27, Doc 24, testimony of Nuremberg resident collected by U.S. occupation authorities.

62 Hoover Institution Archives (HIA), William Sander Collection, Box 1, Folder 3, “Monatlich 150 Arbeiter,” personal report on conditions in the Soviet Zone; Hoffmann, “Die Lenkung des Arbeitsmarktes,” 56.

63 LAB, C Rep 118 Nr. 893: 18, letter from Sozialamt staff to Berlin Stadtrat Margarete Ehlert, Feb 17, 1948.

64 BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS-Abt. I b, meeting minutes, Aug. 29, 1947.

65 Engeln, Uransklaven, 81.

66 Andrew Port has observed that East German authorities continued to court workers' cooperation with a mix of incentives and coercion in the early 1950s. See Port, “When Workers Rumbled,” 160. Port has expanded upon this point in Conflict and Stability in the German Democratic Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

67 BArch DQ2 1987, report on uranium mining area to the Saxon Minister of Labor, Walter Gabler, Aug. 18, 1948.

68 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from W. Reinhold to Arbeitsamt Jüterbog, June 6, 1948.

69 BArch DQ2 1964, LAS report on food and housing shortages in the Saxon uranium mines, Jan. 26, 1948.

70 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from LRS to Hauptverwaltung für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge (HVAS), May 31, 1949.

71 BArch DQ2 2138, letter from Arbeitsamt Aue to LRS, Aug. 2, 1947.

72 HStAD, LRS-MAS 391: 25, report on conditions in the Glauchau district for the Saxon Ministry of the Interior, July 2, 1947; HStAD, LRS-MAS 62: 224–25, memos from Landesarbeitsamt Sachsen about labor supply in Johanngeorgenstadt, Nov. 1946.

73 BArch DQ2 2138, letter from Arbeitsamt Aue to LRS-MAS, Aug. 19, 1947.

74 BArch DQ2 1964, letter from Rudolf Möllerhenn to Arbeitsamt Eisenach, Nov. 13, 1947.

75 BArch DQ2 1987, letter from M. Höntsch in Schwarzenberg to a radio station, Aug. 16, 1948.

76 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from G. Falkenhagen to Arbeitsamt Grabow, April 12, 1949.

77 Major, Patrick, “Going West: The Open Border and the Problem of Republikflucht,” in The Workers' and Peasants' State: Communism and Society in East Germany under Ulbricht 1945–71, ed. Major, Patrick and Osmond, Jonathan (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2002).

78 Such negotiation was central to relations between uranium miners and the East German state in the early 1950s. See Port, “When Workers Rumbled,” 149.

79 BArch DQ2 2138, meeting minutes of the DVAS-Abt. I b, Sept. 19, 1947.

80 BArch DQ2 1964, article in Der Sozialdemokrat, Feb. 21, 1948.

81 HStAD, LRS-MAS 390: 19, letter from a miner to the SED central office in Dresden, Sept. 20, 1947. Andrew Port finds that miners often continued to have negative views of the SED in the early 1950s. See Port, “When Workers Rumbled,” 163.

82 BArch DQ2 2138, letter from Arbeitsamt Schwerin to DVAS, Sept. 4, 1947.

83 BArch DQ2 1995, report from Arbeitsamt Ückermünde, Oct. 26, 1948.

84 Ross, Corey, “Before the Wall: East Germans, Communist Authority, and the Mass Exodus to the West,” The Historical Journal 45, no. 2 (2002): 473–74; van Melis, Damian and Bispinck, Henrik, eds., “Republikflucht”. Flucht und Abwanderung aus der SBZ/DDR 1945 bis 1961 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2006), 37. For more on the 1950s, see Major, “Going West.”

85 Engeln, Uransklaven, 80.

86 BArch DQ2 1964, letter from DVAS to LRS-MAS, Oct. 17, 1947.

87 HStAD, LRS-MAS 391: 13, letter from Kreisrat Annaberg to LRS Aussenstelle Zwickau, Aug. 16, 1947; Reinisch, Jessica, “Refugees and Labour in the Soviet Zone of Germany, 1945–9,” in The Disentanglement of Populations: Migration, Expulsion and Displacement in postwar Europe, 1944–9, ed. Reinisch, Jessica and White, Elizabeth (New York: Palgrave, 2011), 185209; Engeln, Uransklaven, 80, 86.

88 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from HVAS to Magistrat Gross Berlin, Feb. 1, 1948; BArch DQ2 2138, meeting minutes of the DVAS, Sept. 10, 1947.

89 BArch DQ2 1964, letter from DWK to HVAS, Feb. 14, 1949; BArch DQ2 1964, DVAS-Abt. I, report on a trip to Dresden and Aue, Sept. 24, 1948; see also Engeln, Uransklaven, 80.

90 BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS-Abt. I b, meeting minutes, Aug. 29, 1947.

91 HStAD, LRS-MAS 390: 37, 49, 52, 66, transcripts of western German newspaper articles; BArch DQ2 2138, letter from FDGB to DVAS, Nov. 5, 1947; BArch DQ2, 1964, letter from Oberregierungsrat to LRS-MAS re: Hamburger Echo article, Nov. 1, 1947.

92 HStAD, LRS-MAS 390: 64, report on press coverage of uranium mines, Oct. 28, 1947.

93 Western news stories prompted Eastern labor officials to seek more information. See BArch DQ2 1964, letter from LRS-MAS to Sonderabt, Erzbergbau Aue, Oct. 28, 1947; BArch DQ2 1964, letter from Oberregierungsrat to LRS-MAS re: Hamburger Echo article, Nov. 1, 1947.

94 This marked a change. Until mid-1947, labor officials from outside the mining region were not allowed in the area. See HIA, William Sander Collection, Box 2, Folder 4, “Bergwerkseinsatz,” personal report on conditions in the Soviet Zone.

95 BArch DQ2 2138, report by Landesarbeitsinspektion on a visit to the uranium mining district, June 17, 1947. Thuringia sent an investigator in the summer of 1947. See ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 172–74, internal reports on the Saxon uranium mines, July 1947.

96 BArch DQ2 1964, report by Fritz Specht on a trip to Aue for DVAS, Jan. 13, 1948.

97 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from HVAS to SMAD, May 6, 1949.

98 Knop, Prowling Russia's Forbidden Zone, 137.

99 NARA, RG260, Analysis and Research Branch, Box 15, Folder 350.09, vol. 2, testimony of Paul Werner collected by U.S. occupation authorities.

100 BArch DQ2 1995, testimony from a miner to the Arbeitsamt Horsmar, Nov. 21, 1947.

101 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from LRS to HVAS, March 29, 1949; BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS press release, Aug. 26, 1947.

102 BArch DQ2 1995, DWK memo about a miner's testimony to the Arbeitsamt Güstrow, Aug. 12, 1948.

103 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from the VEB Metallwarenindustrie, Zwickau, to the DWK in Berlin, Dec. 30, 1948; BArch DQ2 1995, letter from the Arbeitsamt Forst to the Landesregierung Brandenburg-MAS, March 11, 1948.

104 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3735: 87, report for Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge Saalfeld by Walck on uranium mining district Aue, Nov. 7, 1947.

105 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from Landesregierung Mecklenburg (LRM) to HVAS, Dec. 17, 1948.

106 BArch DQ2 1964, letter from DWK to HVAS, Feb. 14, 1949.

107 BArch DQ2 1964, DVAS-Abt Ia, memo “Entlassung… aus dem Erzbergbau Aue,” June 1, 1949.

108 LAB, C Rep 118 Nr. 893: 26, “Zwangsverpflichtungen aus Berlin,” Telegraf, Feb. 2, 1948.

109 The Berlin city council fell under SED control in December 1948. See Elkins, T. H. and Hofmeister, Burkhard, Berlin: The Spatial Structure of a Divided City (New York: Methuen, 1988), 4142.

110 BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS report on Grodecki trip to returning POW station in Frankfurt/Oder, Aug. 16, 1947; Biess, “Pioneers,” 164–65.

111 BArch DQ2 2138, meeting minutes of the DVAS, Sept. 10, 1947.

112 LAB, Rep 118 Nr. 893: 3–4, “Arbeitsvermittlung für Umsiedler und Heimkehrer im Hauptsozialamt Berlin.”

113 Ibid., 2, letter from Abteilung für Sozialwesen Berlin to Stadtrat Margarete Ehlert.

114 Ibid., 17, letter from Sozialamt staff to Berlin Stadtrat Margarete Ehlert; Ibid., 33, “Nicht mehr nach Aue,” Die Neue Zeitung, March 2, 1948.

115 Ibid., 17, letter from Sozialamt staff to Berlin Stadtrat Margarete Ehlert; Ibid., 3–4, “Arbeitsvermittlung für Umsiedler und Heimkehrer im Hauptsozialamt Berlin.”

116 Ibid., 10, DVAS press release, “Mehr Objektivität!”

117 Ibid., 29–32, newsclippings of articles from western German papers.

118 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 181, meeting minutes for the Amt für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge Erfurt about labor for Aue, Feb. 11, 1948.

119 HIA, William Sander Collection, Box 1, Folder 3, report on conditions in the Soviet Zone, Jan. 5, 1948.

120 BArch DQ2 1995, DVAS-Abt. Ib, “Werbetätigkeit für Aue,” Aug. 13, 1948.

121 BArch DQ2 2138, “Bergarbeiteransiedlung im Erzgebirge,” report by DVAS Vizepräsidentin Jenny Matern, Aug. 14, 1947.

122 ILO, Report of the Governing Body concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor (No. 29).

123 BArch DQ2 2138, meeting minutes of the HVAS, Aug. 6, 1947.

124 BArch DQ2 2054, DVAS Abt. I b, “Geschichtliches vom Erzgebirge,” Dec. 12, 1947.

125 Ibid.

126 BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS-Abt. I b, meeting minutes, Aug. 29, 1947. Eastern Germans resisted reparations work. See Zeman and Karlsch, Uranium Matters, 166–69; Naimark, The Russians in Germany, 196.

127 BArch DQ2 2138, DVAS-Abt. I b, meeting minutes, Aug. 26, 1947. The DVAS argued that uranium was only part of the mining project, and that the mines contributed to postwar recovery. See BArch DQ2 2054, DVAS Abt. I b, “Geschichtliches vom Erzgebirge,” Dec. 12, 1947. The FDGB later argued that the mines made a contribution because they paid reparations debt. See Zeman and Karlsch, Uranium Matters, 204.

128 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 180, letter from the Thuringian FDGB to the LT-MWA, Feb. 13, 1948; similar complaints were made in 1949. ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3738: 44, meeting minutes of LT-MWA, Aug. 18, 1950.

129 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3735: 18, meeting minutes, Amt für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge Arnstadt, Nov. 12, 1948.

130 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 86, newspaper clippings about the uranium mines, Nov. 1949.

131 HStAD, LRS-MAS 390: 77, “Die Wahrheit über den Bergbau im Erzgebirge” Sächsische Zeitung August 6, 1947; Traci Heitschmidt, “The Quest for Uranium: the Soviet Uranium Industry in Eastern Germany, 1945–1967,” (Ph.D. diss., University of California–Santa Barbara, 2003), 55.

132 HStAD, LRS-MAS 390: 75–76, article from Berliner Zeitung, Oct. 8, 1947.

133 Ibid., 54 Sächsische Zeitung article, Sept. 28, 1947.

134 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from HVAS to Grodecki, Oct. 19, 1948.

135 HStAD, LRS-MAS 390: 73, “Zusammenbruch der Lügen über den Erzbergbau,” Sächsische Zeitung, Oct. 11, 1947.

136 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from HVAS to Telegraph, Aug. 7, 1948.

137 Engeln, Uransklaven, 89; Roseman, Recasting the Ruhr, 59–64.

138 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from HVAS to SMAD/Morenow, Dec. 21, 1948; BArch DQ2/1995, letter from LRS to FDGB-IG Bergbau, March 5, 1949.

139 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from IG Bergbau to FDGB Aue, March 24, 1949.

140 ThHStAW, LRT-MWA 3737: 8, newspaper advertisement.

141 ThHStAW, LRT-MWA 3737: 18, 38, 34, 90, recruitment posters and fliers; ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3735: 54, recruitment flier.

142 BArch DQ2 1995, DVAS-Abt. I b, internal report by Grodecki, Sept. 13, 1948. The Saxon metalwork industry made similar complaints. See BArch DQ2 1995, letter from Vereinigung VEB Metalwaren Zwickau to DWK, Dec. 30, 1948.

143 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 86, newspaper clippings about the uranium mines, Nov. 1949.

144 Ibid., 19, transcript of “Schluss mit der Lügenhetze gegen Aue,” Freie Presse, July 29, 1949.

145 Ibid., 87, newspaper clippings about the uranium mines, Nov. 1949. The Soviet Zone began emphasizing local Heimat identities in 1948. See Palmowski, Inventing a Socialist Nation, 46–62.

146 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 110, “Tatsachen widerlegen Lügen.”

147 Ibid., 98. Miners' testimony collected by local labor offices. Ibid., 103, transcript of a miner's letter; Ibid., 125, miner's report to the ministry about popular rumors.

148 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3735: 23, meeting minutes of Amt für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge Arnstadt, Aug. 31, 1948.

149 Ibid., 54, recruitment flier; ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 80, recruitment flier with miners' testimonies.

150 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3735: 2, letter from the LT-MWA press representative to the Weimar radio station; ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 149, internal memo, March 30, 1949.

151 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 21, 28, photos of recruitment advertising; Ibid., 81, memo from the Amt für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge Suhl to LT-MWA, Oct. 29, 1949.

152 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3738: 76, circular letter form LT-MWA to Amt für Arbeit und Sozialfürsorge, July 1, 1949.

153 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 150–55, radio play script.

154 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 82, press clippings from the Thüringer Volk, Oct. 1949. Thanks to Eric Oberle for this translation.

155 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 120, transcript of newspaper article from the western paper Der Tag, March 2, 1949. Such claims were inaccurate because the NKVD had been replaced with the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1946.

156 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from Vereinigung VEB Metalwaren Zwickau to DWK, Dec. 30, 1948; BArch DQ2 1995, report by Oberpostdirektion Leizig on personnel issues in the Erzgebirge, March 27, 1949.

157 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from E. Scheerschmidt to HVAS, Feb. 1, 1949.

158 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from IG Bergbau to FDGB Aue, March 24, 1949; BArch DQ2/1995, DVAS report to SMAD, May 10, 1949; BArch DQ2 1995, transcript of a letter from a miner about his experience in Aue, April 12, 1949.

159 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3737: 217–26, reports from the Thuringian Kommission zur Werbung für den Erzbergbau; Schütterle, Juliane, “Das Personal in Zahlen. Eine Soziografie der Wismut-Belegschaft,” in Uranbergbau im Kalten Krieg. Die Wismut im sowjetischen Atomkomplex, ed. Boch, Rudolf and Karlsch, Rainer (Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 2011), 509.

160 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3738: 109, letter from Studzinski of LT-MWA to Proschljakow of SMAD, June 15, 1949.

161 BArch DQ2 1995, letter from LRM to HVAS, Feb. 1, 1949.

162 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3738: 22, “Kräftegestellung für den Erzbergbau Sachsen, Aug. 21, 1950; Ibid., 42–43, meeting minutes of LT-MWA, Aug. 18, 1950.

163 Ibid., 22.

164 BArch DQ2 1964, DVAS-Abt Ia, “Entlassung… aus dem Erzbergbau Aue,” June 1, 1949.

165 ThHStAW, LT-MWA 3738: 37–47, meeting minutes of LT-MWA, Aug. 18, 1950.

166 Curt Heymann, “Russian Slave System—Forced Labor Colonies Spread across the Red Empire,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1952.

167 Betts, “Socialism, Social Rights,” 410.

168 Port, “When Workers Rumbled,” 160.

Many thanks to Keith Allen, Astrid Eckert, Pieter Judson, Barbara Murdock, Gordon Murdock, Eric Oberle, the Southern California German Studies Workshop, and the anonymous readers at Central European History for their comments on earlier versions of this article. Thanks also to Norman Naimark for sparking my interest in the subject and to the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin for funding the research for this article.

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