Sunday the 2nd of December – a guided tour is organised at the Dokumentationszentrum NS-Zwangsarbeit (Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre) in Berlin-Schöneweide. During the 2-hour tour, one is told about the forced labour in Nazi Germany, where 11 or 12 million foreigners were forced to work during the War – of which 500.000 in Berlin only.
As a forced labourer – one was unequally treated by his/her race. West European labourers were allowed to use public transport and go to bars – if they had the energy to do so. For the same work as their ‘free’ German collegues, they earned around 75% of the wages. Forced labours by Eastern European origin received less money and food – while they had to work more hours. The worst treated were the Ostarbeiter (Eastern worker), who were generally from the USSR. They earned barely any money and had were given vouchers. The camp in Schöneweide – which was only one of the 3000 camps for forced labourers in Berlin – shows that forced labour existed openly in the near surrounding of Berlin’s population. The site was under continuous surveillance and hosted 2000 forced labourers from 20 different countries. The thirteen barracks and its administration house were all amidst an average neighbourhood. How the forced labours and Berlins ‘free’ population interacted during tough situations – such as pregnancy and childcare – is explained during the tour.
The tour leads to the Baracke 13 – which is reasonably in its original state. Here, each of the sixteen rooms are given a theme (for example ‘Friendship’ or ‘Hygiene’). For each theme, three panels are erected on which quotes by forced labours are written – who were asked about their experiences. Furthermore, the tour leads to the shelter underneath the barrack – where forced labourers found shelter during the air raids. Eventually, the tour guides you to the Spree bank – where many fabrics for the forced labourers were situated.
The tour is in German – as well as the translation of each citate in the Baracke 13. There is no entrance fee to take part of the tour – nor is a reservation required – and it starts both the days at 3pm. I can also recommand you to see the excellent exhibition beforehand, about forced labour in Berlin (no entrance fee). The meeting point for the tour is located here. At this exhibtions, one can easily spend an hour or two!
Dokumentationszentrum NS-Zwangsarbeit Berlin-Schöneweide
Britzer Straße 5