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Slovakia - slave labour

A story from the occupation

Like many students and youngsters in general, I was transported during the war far away from my home to work for Germany on cleaning-up after the allied carpet bombings of towns along the North and Baltic Seas. It was 1944/45, the last winter of the war and war operations were still a daily occurrence.

It is not easy, removing ruins of residential buildings and military installations by hand in a most primitive way. The whole daily regime meant a military way with very little food. We could barely move from exhaustion. A little relief was brought when sirens signalled the oncoming of aerial attacks. Then we dispersed, formed small groups (there were not bunkers to hide) and in the open we were making cigarettes from collected cigarette butts using pieces of old newspapers, glued them with our own saliva and passed it around. We were thankful even for an offer of any butt as we were convinced that cigarette smoke would suppress the craving of the stomach for food. And after the warning we continued removing concrete and masonry debris. It was true slavery.


Weeks and months went by and the eagerly expected end of war finally came. There was no command, the unit just dispersed and every one tried to get home somehow. It was not easy nor simple. We went through several transit camps and waited for some means of transport. It took another several months. Those suffering from many illnesses caused by unknown working conditions were treated in poorly equipped insanitary barracks. Many did not survive and never managed to return to their homeland.

Markus Gall
Born in 1924
April 2002

Markus has written another story about forced labour.

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