Does NIOD have material on forced labour under German rule?
The NIOD archives generally do not allow checking where and when someone was stationed as part of the Arbeitseinsatz or forced labour in Germany. During the German occupation, the registration of forced labourers was carried out by the regional employment offices (arbeidsbureaus) in the Netherlands. In so far as the archives of these offices have been preserved, they have usually been transferred to municipal, regional, or provincial archives. Information about individual forced labourers may perhaps be obtained from the relevant local archives.
During the war, forced labourers were obliged to join a German health insurance fund, the so-called Krankenkasse. The war archives of the Netherlands Red Cross, which have been incorporated into the National Archives in The Hague, contain incomplete documents relating to this Krankenkasse. These may also have personal details of individual labourers. The website of the National Archives explains how to submit a request for information from the Dutch Red Cross’ war archive. See the finding aid for Dwangarbeid (‘Forced Labour’) on the site of the National Archives.
Much of this information may now also be retrieved digitally through the Arolsen Archives website, which can be searched by name.
NIOD also has documents from the Krankenkasse (see below). In addition to the publications, NIOD also has several archives related to the Arbeitseinsatz. The following collections are the most relevant:
- Collection 294 concerns the archive of the former Vereniging Ex-Dwangarbeiders Nederland (VDN, ‘Association of Former Forced Labourers from the Netherlands’). In addition to documents concerning the organisation of the Arbeitseinsatz, this archive also contains data on locations and a series of ego documents written by former forced labourers. These reports can be retrieved by name.
- Collection 260 contains the files B.A. Sijes used for his book De Arbeidsinzet: De gedwongen arbeid van Nederlanders in Duitsland 1940-1945 (‘The Arbeitseinsatz: The forced labour carried out by Dutch men in Germany 1940-1945’, The Hague 1966).
- Collection 258 contains the files B.A. Sijes used for his book De razzia van Rotterdam - 10-11 november 1944 (‘The Raid in Rotterdam - 10-11 November 1944’, The Hague 1951)
- Collection 091, the archive of the Deutsche Krankenkasse für die Niederlande. The Krankenkasse was in charge of health insurance for frontier workers and Dutch nationals working in Germany.
- Collection 249 (‘Documentation II - Cases’). This collection contains a series of files with records on various topics, including some on various aspects of the Arbeitseinsatz.
- Collection 216j contains the archives of the Department of Social Affairs. Numbers 90-125 contain a modest number of documents from various Regional Employment Offices in the Netherlands.
Forced labourers in German uniform
Some Dutch forced labourers were made to wear German uniforms against their will. Sometimes because they were deployed as uniformed auxiliary soldiers in the German anti-aircraft defences. And sometimes because they had joined the NSKK (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps) as drivers - either voluntarily or involuntarily. The NSKK was an organisation that handled all transports related to the construction of defence lines such as the Westwall, and that provisioned the Wehrmacht. Finally, thousands of Dutch labourers were employed by the Germans as so-called ‘SS-Front labourers’ (SS Frontarbeiter, SS-FA). This was an administrative term used by the Germans for workers assigned to ‘Eastern Construction’, SS construction projects in the occupied part of the Soviet Union, and later also in Poland and Germany. Some of them were volunteers, others were forced labourers who were made to work for the SS-FA. For more information on this group of workers, see the article ‘Nederlandse SS-Frontarbeiders’ (Dutch SS Front Workers’) by drs. E. Fraenkel-Verkade, published in Studies over Nederland in oorlogstijd (‘Studies on the Netherlands in wartime’), vol. 1, edited by drs. A.H. Paape (The Hague 1972).
Information on individual forced labourers who served in German uniform may be obtained from the National Archives in The Hague, which houses the Centraal Archief Bijzondere Rechtspleging (CABR, ‘Central Archives for Special Criminal Jurisdiction’). See the website of the National Archives for more information about the CABR.