Forced Labour in Serbia
Producers, Consumers, and Consequences of Forced Labour 1941-1944.

is a historiographic publication on forced labour in Serbia during the World War Two produced by CHRE in cooperation with the Humboldt University Berlin, and kindly supported by the "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future“ Foundation. This collection presents papers by seven authors on subjects ranging from the role of forced labour in the Holocaust, the aspects of forced labour in occupying National-socialist and Serbian collaborationist economy, the export of forced labourers to the Reich and occupied Norway, through the local use of labour, to the post-war return of labourers to Yugoslavia. Available in print in Serbian and German, web edition in English, available below as 158 page PDF with active links. Free to download and use under CC license, 11mb, approx. 15 sec. loading time. 

Excerpts from the Introduction by
Sanela Schmid and Milovan Pisarri

(...) In Germany, the pioneering work on foreign workers conducted by Ulrich Herbert from 1985 was the first milestone in the historiographic analysis of this topic of National Socialism. A widespread and intense study began in the 1990s, and was initiated due to big lawsuits from former forced labourers of the Jewish community and the debate over their compensation. In such a context, the Foundation “Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft” (“Remembrance, Responsibility, Future”) was founded which initially paid the compensation that the industry and the Federal Republic of Germany had made available for former forced labourers. When this task was completed, the Foundation continued to promote, among other things, scientific research into the subject of forced labour through various scholarship programs.

Since then, numerous studies have been published on many aspects of forced labour, both in Germany and in the countries once occupied by Germany. The works related to Germany in particular show on the one hand an abundance of regional and local studies, and on the other studies dedicated to individual industries or companies. Many historians have explored the fate of the two largest groups of forced labourers, the so-called Eastern workers and Poles. Eastern workers were civil workers from the Soviet Union, (with the exception of the Latvians and the Estonians), who with 2.5 million people represented the largest, but most heterogeneous, labour force contingent. They were subject to particularly discriminatory regulations. The fate of Serbian forced labourers was barely addressed in Germany.

(...) Essays on individual kinds of forced labour in Serbia and the forced labour of Serbs outside Serbia are included in this edition. Milovan Pisarri focuses on the Holocaust and forced labour, and Zoran Janjetović takes a detailed look at forced labour in Banat. This region differs from the rest of Serbia due to the fact that numerous Volksdeutsche (the ethnic Germans who lived there) won autonomy from the collaborationist government of Serbia. Milan Koljanin considers the issue of the camp at Sajmište from the perspective of forced labour; and lastly Sabine Rutar compares the conditions of life in the mines in Slovenia and the Bor copper mine in Serbia, focusing on the food and labour supply regimes. Outside of Serbia, Sanela Schmid examines in the example of Nuremberg the conditions of life and work of Serbian civilian workers in Germany, while Tomislav Dulic monitors the fate of Serbian prisoners deported as forced labour to the camps of the “Todt” organization in northern Norway. Finally, Thomas Porena shows the policy of repatriation of the Yugoslav government after 1945.

In the selection of topics for this collection, the editors have attempted to follow the main currents on forced labour in, or related to Serbia, aware that because of the lack of attention given to the subject in South-Slavic and post-Yugoslav historiography, every paper in the publication should be approached with care. Priority was given to authors who have already had the opportunity to deal with the issue; at the same time, the pioneering studies - as in the case of the repatriation to Yugoslavia after the war - open up the possibility for new research and new discussions not only in historiographical circles, but also among cultural actors dealing with memorialization or secondary school teachers who are willing to specifically give time to these subjects in the classroom.

The fact that the authors live and work in various European cities and have very different research backgrounds is a great asset to this publication. The reader will have a rich selection of historical sources, literature, newspaper articles and testimonies that illustrate the correlation between all the themes of the collection.

In the study of the issue of forced labour in Serbia itself, the collections of the Historical Archives of Belgrade (the fonds of the municipality of Belgrade, as well as the fonds of the districts of Belgrade Municipality, Gestapo - BdS, Memoirs) were used in the works whose contents in some way gravitate towards the capital of Serbia: in forced labour in Banat, administered by the local German community and the Holocaust. Thanks to the sources from the Archives of Yugoslavia (primarily the fonds 110 - the Land Commission for the Determination of the Crimes of the Occupiers and their Collaborators, the Emigrant Government), it has been possible to monitor the sending of workers to the Third Reich or Germany, as well as to the Bor mine. With the help of local, regional and state archives (Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, Federal Archives of Germany, Nuremberg City Archives, State Archives of Hessen, State Archives of Bavaria, Carinthian Archives), important aspects of their stay in these countries could be clarified. The fonds of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from the Archives of Yugoslavia as well as material from a series of fonds of the Archives of Yugoslavia, the Croatian State Archive and the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia showed how very important the issue of repatriating workers to Yugoslavia still is for understanding the post-war context in the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia .

Literature in several languages - in Serbian, or better still, in Serbo-Croatian, English, German, French - showcases the scientific work published as monographs or articles in scientific journals, both recently and in the period of socialist Yugoslavia, when for example, the first coherent work on the Bor mine was published. The decision to include a bibliography at the end of each paper was made so that the reader can immediately advance towards further reading if he/she takes an interest in the subject.

Photographs also form an integral part of the publication, and the goal of publishing them is not simply as an embellishment of the scientific papers, but the desire to bring the reader as close as possible to these themes. That is the reason they are grouped into several sections for easier study, as a historical source of particular value. Finally, the decision to publish the collection in three languages - Serbian, German and English - and, in addition to a printed edition (in Serbian and in German), to make it available as an e-book in English in a digital format, is the result of a common search for the best way to spread new knowledge and experiences, thus becoming the source of new exchanges and research for the wider audience.

In addition to the authors who participated in this paper, archivists, librarians, special thanks should go to all of those who have engaged in the project “Producers, Consumers and Consequences of Forced Labour. Serbia 1941-1944”, as well as the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, which has enabled this important step in the study and understanding of this, no longer, neglected topic.


Forced Labour in Serbia
Producers, Consumers and Consequences of Forced Labour 1941-1944

Published by:
Center for Holocaust Research and Education

Nikola Radić

Sanela Schmid and Milovan Pisarri

Tomislav Dulić
Zoran Janjetović
Milan Koljanin
Milovan Pisarri
Thomas Porena
Sabine Rutar
Sanela Schmid

Marija Šapić, Marc Brogan

English translation:
Irena Žnidaršić-Trbojević

German translation:
Jovana Ivanović

Graphic design:
Nikola Radić

Belgrade, 2018.

Project partners:
Center for Holocaust Research and Education
Humboldt University Berlin

The project is supported by:
„Remembrance, Responsibility and Future“ Foundation
„Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft“ - EVZ


Published with the kind support of the Foundation: “Remembrance, Responsibility And Future“ - EVZ.

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License:

ISBN 978-86-81246-05-4


Center for Holocaust
Research and Education - CHRE

Luke Vojvodića 35/4,
11000 Belgrade, Serbia
[email protected]

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher CHRE, or the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future“ - EVZ.

Responsibility for the content is borne by the authors.