The author discusses the question of whether concentration camp prisoners can be characterized as slaves during the period of their intensified exploitation as forced labourers in the German war economy after 1942. Recent research has negated this question. This finding rests, however, primarily on the fact that the form of slavery practised in the southern United States was chosen as a reference system and that certain differences are posited as too absolute. The author analyses differences and similarities in selected subject areas between slavery as it was practised in the American South and the forced labour demanded of concentration camp prisoners. Subsequently, an attempt is made to explain the apparent differences and similarities from a global-historical perspective, and hypotheses towards a history of slavery in the age of globalization are elaborated. The goal here is to criticize the central positioning of slavery in the American South as the normative slavery system and to raise once again the question of the various forms of unfree labour under capitalism.