Training prisoners of war as miners during the Second World War. On the initiative of mine operators or part of a planned economy?
The training and retraining of prisoners of war, civilian forced labourers, Italian military internees, and Jewish prisoners in German factories has been a subject touched on in recent years in several scholarly studies. It has, however, always remained a sub-chapter of research into forced labour, especially in mining, that has recently been fundamentally and comprehensively intensified. The evaluation of training and retraining has remained more or less marked by uncertainty and in the most important studies either ascribed solely to the policies of Fritz Sauckel and Albert Speer or - diametrically opposed to this - interpreted as an initiative taken by each individual industrial operation. It seemed to prove itself to be an indicator for the hierarchization of groups of nationalities and racist ideology, as well as evidence of the growing economic rationale for the deployment of foreigners during the Second World War.
In mining operations, training seemed not to have taken place to anywhere near the extent as in armaments factories. Hans-Christoph Seidel attributes training to those companies which had already had long experience with retraining, and counts among them Volkswagen as well as the aviation and armaments industries. Was there freedom of action with regard to training, or was it an instrument in a planned economy wielded by the universal agent for the deployment of labour? Up until now, a chronologically coherent sequence has been lacking in the literature, and with the present article this sequence is to be reconstructed.