GHDI logo

Martin Bormann’s Circular of May 5, 1943, which included a Memorandum on the General Principles Governing the Treatment of Foreign Laborers Employed in the Reich (dated April 15, 1943)

The situation on the Eastern Front worsened after the defeat of the German army near Stalingrad. As a result, Goebbels decided at the beginning of 1943 that his propaganda needed a change of course – in the future, it would emphasize that all of the countries of Europe had a common stake in the struggle against Bolshevism. With this move, he hoped not only to influence the states that had remained neutral thus far, but also to create the basis for rapprochement with the Western Allies and to win the loyalty of all foreign workers in the Reich. Therefore, in a directive dated February 15, 1943, Goebbels put forth new guidelines for the treatment of European peoples. The practical application of these guidelines vis-à-vis foreign workers was discussed a month later at a meeting between members of the Ministry of Propaganda and the Reich Security Main Office [Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA]. Goebbels’s call for the equitable treatment of workers from Eastern and Western Europe met with particular resistance from the RSHA, since up to this point the RSHA had pursued a policy of discrimination that based itself on the so-called Eastern Workers' Decree and targeted Polish and Russian forced laborers above all. The RSHA thus regarded Goebbels’s directive as an infringement upon its authority. In the end, the ministries agreed upon the guidelines laid down in the following “memorandum.” The guidelines did, in fact, call for a fundamentally equitable treatment of Eastern and Western European workers, but they did so without necessitating a change in the security policies of the RSHA. And while in theory, military objectives now took precedence over ideology, little had changed in practice when it came to the racial hierarchy within work camps, which were increasingly controlled by local representatives of the regime.

print version     return to document list previous document      first document in next chapter

page 1 of 4

National Socialist German Workers’ Party
Party Chancellery

The Head of the Party Chancellery
Führer’s Headquarters, May 5, 1943

Circular No. 70/43

Subject: Memorandum concerning the general principles governing the treatment of foreign workers employed in the Reich.

The Reich Propaganda Ministry and the Reich Security Main Office have issued a joint memorandum on the treatment of foreign workers employed in the Reich.

Please use the enclosed copy to educate party members and German compatriots about the need to take a firm but just approach to the treatment of foreign workers.

This memorandum is not to be made public.

Signed: M. Bormann.

Distribution: Reichsleiter,

Concerning the general principles governing the treatment of foreign workers employed in the Reich. [April 15, 1943]

The Reich’s struggle against the destructive forces of Bolshevism is increasingly becoming a European affair. For the first time in the history of this continent, the outlines of a European solidarity are beginning to emerge, albeit only in small measure in some countries. One practical result of this [emerging European solidarity] can be seen in the fact that millions of foreign workers, from almost all the countries of the European continent, are employed in the Reich. This group includes a large number of members of defeated enemy forces. This fact imposes upon the German people special obligations; these derive primarily from the following principles:

first page < previous   |   next > last page