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Exploitation, Criminality, Resistance. The Everyday Life of Foreign Workers and Prisoners of War in the German Town of Osnabrck, 1939-49

Panikos Panayi
Journal of Contemporary History
Vol. 40, No. 3 (Jul., 2005), pp. 483-502
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30036339
Page Count: 20
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Exploitation, Criminality, Resistance. The Everyday Life of Foreign Workers and Prisoners of War in the German Town of Osnabrck, 1939-49
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Abstract

This article examines the experience of foreign workers and prisoners of war in the medium-sized German town of Osnabrck in Lower Saxony during the years 1939-49. It begins with an introduction to the historiography, public and civic memory of foreigners in Germany and Osnabrck during these years, as well as providing details about Osnabrck and the arrival of foreigners after 1939. The article then outlines the experience of exploitation, focusing upon living conditions, work, nutrition, life under Allied bombs and lack of freedom. During and immediately after the war, foreigners in Osnabrck became involved in criminality. The article asks whether such behaviour during the war originated in the exploitation which they suffered and whether the criminality amounted to resistance. It then moves on to examine the violence and looting which broke out immediately after the war, explained essentially by a desire for revenge. This had died down by the autumn of 1945, after which repatriation began in earnest. The article concludes by asserting that exploitation largely explains the criminality which occurred between 1939 and 1949.

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