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This article examines how Danish cement factories and building contractors, in particular F. L. Smidth & Co. A/S and its business partner Højgaard & Schultz A/S, used forced and slave labor in Estonia, the Polish General Government, and Serbia as they worked for the German authorities during the Second World War. The article presents new evidence on the use of forced and slave labor inside the European "New Order" and emphasizes the willingness of the companies to expand and engage in morally questionable behavior. The findings illuminate the close connection between political and economic collaboration and contribute to the discussion about the relationship between business and politics during dictatorship, war, and occupation.
Business History Review 84 (Autumn 2010): 479–499. © 2010 by The President
and Fellows of Harvard College.
Joachim Lund
Building Hitler’s Europe: Forced Labor
in the Danish Construction Business
during World War II
This article examines how Danish cement factories and build-
ing contractors, in particular F. L. Smidth & Co. A/S and its
business partner Højgaard & Schultz A/S, used forced and
slave labor in Estonia, the Polish General Government, and
Serbia as they worked for the German authorities during the
Second World War. The article presents new evidence on the
use of forced and slave labor inside the European “New Or-
der” and emphasizes the willingness of the companies to ex-
pand and engage in morally questionable behavior. The nd-
ings illuminate the close connection between political and
economic collaboration and contribute to the discussion about
the relationship between business and politics during dicta-
torship, war, and occupation.
uring the last twenty- ve years, historical research on the relations
between business and dictatorship in Europe during the Nazi
epoch of 1933 to 1945 has taken a great step forward, and the ow of lit-
erature on the subject has been constant. Business and other historians
have conducted intensive research on almost every related area: Ger-
man macroeconomic policy during the Nazi years, German rms adapt-
ing to—or actively supporting—the new regime, the behavior and de-
velopment of large- and small-scale rms in countries under German
occupation, and German investments and Auftragsverlagerung (order
placements) in occupied territories have all been covered, at least in
On the other hand, rms from German-occupied western Europe
JOACHIM LUND is associate professor at the International Center for Business and Poli-
tics, Copenhagen Business School.
Classics include Alan S. Milward, The German Economy at War (London, 1965); Avra-
ham Barkai, Das Wirtschaftssystem des Nationalsozialismus (Frankfurt am Main, 1988);
Richard J. Overy, War and Economy in the Third Reich (Oxford, 1994); J. Adam Tooze, The
Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (London, 2006).
Joachim Lund / 480
operating in occupied eastern and southeastern Europe have received
little attention. The phenomenon does not t the typical picture of busi-
ness collaboration, and there is a serious lack of source material.
These cases of “foreign economic collaboration” provide us with in-
sights into corporate strategy in a war economy and enhance our under-
standing of the relationship between collaboration and occupation pol-
icy. Corporate collaboration allowed a rm to cross the physical borders
of its native country and enter the “New European Order” then under
construction by the National Socialists. A company’s main goals during
the war were holding onto the market shares and economic assets that
it had tried to defend during the depression. Between 1939 and 1942, a
company’s success depended on its ability to adapt to a new Europe
under Nazi German leadership and, if possible, take advantage of the
opportunities offered by the new regime. Doing business with the Nazis
outside one’s national borders made it possible for companies to survive
the dif cult war years and, for some, to even pro t and expand. Danish
construction rms, such as F. L. Smidth & Co. A/S and its business part-
ner Højgaard & Schultz A/S, were internationalized and technologically
advanced enterprises that actively cooperated with the Nazis and used
forced and slave labor in Estonia, the Polish General Government, and
probably Serbia. The activities of these rms contradict the widespread
postwar narrative of Danish reluctance to adapt to Nazi German rule.
Historians have covered the use of forced labor in the German war
economy. Business history studies dealing with the Nazi period often
include in-depth case studies of the circumstances in which speci c
companies employed Jewish and/or other forced labor at their plants.
The amount of literature on German business during the Nazi period is too vast to be
dealt with in detail here, but see Lothar Gall and Manfred Pohl, eds., Unternehmen im Na-
tionalsozialismus (Munich, 1998); Harold James and Jakob Tanner, eds., Enterprise in the
Period of Fascism in Europe (Aldershot, 2002); Christopher Kobrak and Per H. Hansen,
eds., European Business, Dictatorship, and Political Risk, 1920–1945 (New York, 2004);
and Joachim Lund, ed., Working for the New Order: European Business under German
Domination, 1939–1945 (Frederiksberg, 2006).
There is a steadily growing number of national studies of the local conditions of industry
throughout Europe during the Second World War; e.g. the works of Hein Klemann (Nether-
lands), Dirk Luyten and Patrick Nefors (Belgium), and Hervé Joly (France). See also Richard
J. Overy, Gerhard Otto, and Johannes Houwink ten Cate, eds., Die “Neuordnung” Europas:
NS-Wirtschaftspolitik in den besetzten Gebieten, vol. 3 of Reihe NS-Besatzungspolitik in Eu-
ropa, 1939–1945 (Berlin, 1997); Dietrich Eichholtz, ed., Krieg und Wirtschaft: Studien zur
deutschen Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 1939–1945, vol. 9 of Reihe NS-Besatzungspolitik in Europa,
1939–1945 (Berlin, 1999).
In Denmark, research in this eld has been undertaken during the last decade, partly via
commissioned investigations, partly as spin-offs to a still ongoing national project on Danish
agriculture and industry during the German occupation of 19401945.
The SS economic empire, which was based on forced and slave labor, is accounted for in
Michael Thad Allen, The Business of Genocide: The SS, Slave Labor, and the Concentration
Camps (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2002).
Building Hitler’s Europe / 481
Other scholars have approached the theme from a macro perspective.
Research on forced and slave labor until recently was almost exclusively
directed at development within the borders of the German Reich. There
has been new interest in the deployment of forced labor in the Polish
General Government and the occupied territories of the Soviet Union,
but there is still much to be done; as Wolf Gruner points out, while the
Lublin district has received much attention, “no comparable works have
been published on the other districts of the General Government.”
search on forced and slave labor in the occupied Soviet territories as
well as in southeastern Europe is almost entirely lacking. Another pio-
neer in forced-labor research, Mark Spoerer, asserts that “nobody has
the slightest idea how many non-Germans were coerced to work for
German public or private bodies outside the borders of the Reich, and
we are largely ignorant on their conditions of life and work . . . The
number and fate of forced laborers in German-occupied Europe is, in
my view, the largest gap in the eld.”
Spoerer also notes that postwar historical researchers have had to
construct a de nition of exactly what “forced labor” was.
According to
Spoerer, forced labor was characterized by the worker’s inability to end
his/her employment relationship in the short-term and his/her inability
to enforce legal standards concerning living conditions or work. Slave
labor in addition included the lack of ability to complain about living
Let it suf ce to mention Ulrich Herbert’s classic, Fremdarbeiter: Politik und Praxis des
“Ausländer-Einsatzes” in der Kriegswirtschaft des Dritten Reiches (Bonn, 1985).
Felicja Karay, Death Comes in Yellow: Skarzysko-Kamienna Slave Labor Camp (Am-
sterdam, 1996); Thomas Sandkühler, “Endlösung” in Galizien: Der Judenmord in Ostpolen
und die Rettungsinitiativen von Berthold Beitz, 1941–1944 (Bonn, 1996); Bogdan Musial,
Deutsche Zivilverwaltung und Judenverfolgung im Generalgouvernement: Eine Fallstudie
zum Distrikt Lublin, 1939–1944 (Wiesbaden, 1999); Dieter Pohl, Von der “Judenpolitik” zum
Judenmord: Der Distrikt Lublin des Generalgouvernements, 1939–1944, Münchner Studien
zur neueren und neuesten Geschichte, vol. 3 (Frankfurt am Main, 1993); Dieter Pohl, Na-
tionalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien, 1941–1944: Organisation und Durch-
führung eines staatlichen Massenverbrechens, Studien zur Zeitgeschichte, vol. 50 (Munich,
1997); Dieter Pohl, “Die grossen Zwangsarbeiterlager der SS- und Polizeiführer für Juden im
Generalgouvernement, 19421945,” in Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager:
Entwicklung und Struktur, ed. Ulrich Herbert, Karin Orth, and Christoph Dieckmann (Göt-
tingen, 1998), 41538; Mark Spoerer, Zwangsarbeit unter dem Hakenkreuz: Ausländische
Zivilarbeiter, Kriegsgefangene und Häftlinge im Dritten Reich und im besetzten Europa,
1939–1945 (Stuttgart, 2001); Christopher R. Browning, Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, Ger-
man Killers (New York, 2002); Wolf Gruner, Jewish Forced Labor under the Nazis: Eco-
nomic Needs and Racial Aims, 1938–1944 (New York, 2006). For an overview of the litera-
ture, see Mark Spoerer, “Recent Findings on Forced Labour under the Nazi Regime and an
Agenda for Future Research,” in Forced Labourers and POWs in the German War Economy
(Bologna, 2003), 37388.
For quotation see Gruner, Jewish Forced Labor, xiii. Dealing also with Poland, Gruner
mainly discusses conditions in the annexed territories and Lublin district.
Spoerer, “Recent Findings,” 386–87.
Ibid., 376–83.
Joachim Lund / 482
conditions and work. Less-than-slave labor had the lowest probability
of surviving of all workers. Since few factual details can be established
as to the day-to-day work conditions of the laborers at the Danish build-
ing sites in Germany and German-occupied territories, it would be wise
not to engage in discussions on whether or not to characterize those
workers as forced, slave, or less-than-slave laborers. Many years after
the war, in 1993, one former engineer at the F. L. Smidth plant in Esto-
nia, for example, would recall that the company’s Jewish and Gypsy la-
borers were given the same food and cigarette rations as everybody else.
And in 2001, the CEO of the second company examined in this paper,
Højgaard & Schultz, in an interview with the author claimed that the
workers at the H&S building sites in Poland during the war were “prob-
ably better off than the ones working directly for the Germans.” Al-
though it is not clear what this statement means precisely, it would be
fair to suggest that the racist, ideological approach was probably lack-
ing in the Danish companies. But today we cannot know if humanitar-
ian considerations or motives ever entered the picture, and it should be
added that outdoor construction work and mining was physically de-
manding and exhausting, and that the labor force was guarded by the
German SS or police, not by well-meaning Danes.
The idea that non-German companies could employ slave labor has
not been part of research agendas. And the sources to illuminate this
dark corner are indeed scarce. Company archives are reluctant to pro-
vide information about wartime collaboration with the enemy, and they
are completely silent on the question of forced labor. Family archives are
either nonexistent or not accessible. In order to examine the operations
of Danish transnational companies in Germany and German-controlled
areas, one is therefore left with archival material on the foreign and eco-
nomic ministries of Denmark and the Third Reich, local German authori-
ties of the occupied territories and, not least, postwar trials.
Foreign companies’ dealings with the Nazi occupier were important
to the relations between German authorities and the local administra-
tion. Denmark, although occupied, had not been at war with Germany
and was therefore allowed to handle internal affairs itself with an intact
government and civil administration, although this peculiar, ctive sov-
ereignty steadily disappeared between the occupation of April 1940 and
the liberation of May 1945. If the outbreak of war in 1939 was a disaster
for Denmark’s business life, the German occupation of Denmark seven
months later, on the other hand, turned out to be of some relief to cer-
tain branches. During the rst months of the occupation, a deal was ne-
gotiated between German and Danish authorities, according to which
Germany would supply fuel and raw materials to Denmark, especially
to industries that would take on German orders. Along with signi cant
Building Hitler’s Europe / 483
deliveries of food for the Wehrmacht and the German home front,
German-Danish economic collaboration went on throughout the war,
providing the political relations of the two countries with stability and
External relations were handled by the foreign of ces of the two
states. In contrast to the big business of other occupied countries,
which the Germans would regard as enemy companies to take over or
otherwise control, Danish companies came to be seen by the Germans
as representatives of a friendly nation. Thus, Danish companies were
often treated similarly to their German competitors, allowing them to
operate in territories otherwise closed to non-German companies. Often
they were even acknowledged as Einsatz rmen (action companies)
with special privileges regarding allocation of labor and raw materials.
To the local population and probably a majority of the workforce at the
building sites, the foreign companies in charge were simply regarded as
Construction companies have received some attention in the inves-
tigation of German industry during the Nazi period. So far it has been
established that leading players like Philipp Holzmann, Hochtief, Dyck-
erhoff & Widmann, and Siemens Bauunion all used forced labor.
For foreign companies actively engaged in countries occupied by
Germany, the acceptance of some kind of forced labor was simply a pre-
condition for operating there, since normal labor market relations were
cancelled by the occupiers. The local workforce would be controlled by
civilian authorities like the German labor of ces or by the SS, police,
Wehrmacht or the semi-military construction service, Organisation Todt.
Examining the use of Jewish forced labor in Germany, Wolf Gruner has
pointed to the fact that a great many institutions that have not tradition-
ally been considered part of the persecution of the Jews were actually
deeply involved; these include city councils, highway and Reichsbahn
(national railways) authorities, dike, dam, and soil melioration authori-
ties, and water construction and forestry administrations. Gruner con-
cludes that thanks to Jewish labor, such institutions were able to carry
out infrastructure projects until late in the war that would otherwise
have been abandoned because of a lack of manpower or money. In the
private sector, countless small and large construction companies and
Mark Spoerer, “Pro tierten Unternehmen von KZ-Arbeit? Eine kritische Analyse der
Literatur,” Historische Zeitschrift 268, no. 1 (1999): 82–83; Wilfried Feldenkirchen, Sie-
mens, 19181945 (Munich, 1995), 369. See also Karl Heinz Roth, “Zwangsarbeit im Siemens-
Konzern (1938–1945): Fakten—Kontroversen—Probleme,” in Konzentrationslager und
deutsche Wirtschaft, 19391945, ed. Hermann Kaienburg (Opladen, 1996), 149–68; Man-
fred Pohl, Die Strabag 1923 bis 1998 (Munich, 1998) and Philipp Holzmann: Geschichte eines
Bauunternehmens, 18491999 (Munich, 1999).
Joachim Lund / 484
producers of building materials were eager exploiters of Jewish forced
Gruner’s conclusion would also apply to the Danish companies.
The Internationalization of the Danish Building Industry:
F. L. Smidth & Co. A/S and Højgaard & Schultz A/S
Portland cement is the most common type of chalk-based binding
material used in the mixing of concrete, among other purposes. It is
produced in a process in which chalk and clay are mixed at a xed ratio,
then burned and dried at high temperatures, and nally crushed to
powder. Different minerals are added, depending on which qualities
one wishes to enhance. When the cement construction technique was
invented in the nineteenth century, Denmark, built on chalk, suddenly
found itself rich in a desirable natural resource other than clay and peat.
Tile working was no longer the only market for Danish chalk. Here was
an opportunity to meet demand for the new building material.
The centralization of the Danish cement industry began in the 1880s.
F. L. Smidth & Co.—today a major industrial concern with a national
monopoly on cement machine production and one of the biggest sup-
pliers of cement plants for the world market—was founded in 1882 as a
builder of grain mills and tile works.
Five years later, the successful
construction of a complete cement factory in southern Sweden led to a
sharp rise in the demand for F. L. Smidth cement machines. In a classic
move towards vertical organization, the success of the Swedish factory
also drew the rm’s attention to cement production. Systematically buy-
ing up its competitors in a horizontal move, the rm quickly monopo-
lized Danish cement production as well as tile works beginning with the
establishment of the Danish Aalborg Portland Cement Factories in 1889–
90 and completed during the rst decade of the twentieth century.
Technological innovation was always the company’s top priority,
and its acquisition of the patented pipe mill in 1893 was a signi cant
part of this strategy. The introduction of the rotary kiln in 1898 secured
the rm’s international leadership in cement machine production. That
year, F. L. Smidth established its own cement machine factory on the
outskirts of Copenhagen in order to put the rotary kiln into production.
By 1940, the company had become one of Denmark’s largest industrial
corporations, measured by share capital.
Wolf Gruner, Der geschlossene Arbeitseinsatz deutscher Juden: Zur Zwangsarbeit als
Element der Verfolgung, 19381943 (Berlin, 1997), 345–46.
A main source for the early history of the company is: Knudaage Riisager, F. L. Smidth
& Co., 18821922 (Copenhagen, 1921). See also Per Boje, Danmark og multinationale
v irksomheder før 1950 (Odense, 2000).
Steen Thomsen, “De største danske industri rmaer, 1904–1987,” in Presse og historie:
Festskrift til Niels Thomsen, ed. Ole Feldbæk and Erik Lund (Odense, 1990), 221–63.
Building Hitler’s Europe / 485
F. L. Smidth’s involvement with Nazi Germany should be regarded
as a continuation of the rm’s short but intense history of foreign ex-
pansion. Branches and agencies had been established in London (1890),
Paris and St. Petersburg (1893), New York (1895), and Berlin (1901),
and in the late 1920s, the corporation was in charge of 10 percent of the
world’s production of rotary kilns. Since the turn of the century, F. L.
Smidth had been founding and buying up factories abroad, so the for-
eign expansion of cement production went hand in hand with the
company’s foreign cement machine factories. For instance, the Lübeck
Machine Factory, founded in 1909, helped establish the Kursachsen
Portland-Zementwerke at Leipzig in 1927. Kursachsen was a major
breakthrough in the German market, the biggest threat to Danish ce-
ment production. At the same time, F. L. Smidth’s arrival as a global
player after recovering from the setbacks of the First World War was
signaled by its becoming a limited liability company, F. L. Smidth & Co.
A/S (A/S = Ltd.).
Another of the rm’s signi cant overseas investments from this pe-
riod was the acquisition of the Port Kunda Cement Works on the north-
ern shore of Estonia, east of Tallinn. Established in 1870, it was recon-
structed by F. L. Smidth in 1893, and in 1922, in an attempt to safeguard
its assets after Estonian independence, F. L. Smidth bought the factory.
Tsarist Russia had been Denmark’s most important foreign investment
target in the late nineteenth century; F. L. Smidth had designed and
equipped almost every cement factory in the vast empire, and between
the two world wars, the company was still supplying most Soviet and
Baltic cement factories with machines from its factory at Narva, Esto-
nia, established in 1913. The Port Kunda factory was perfectly situated
on the coast, complete with its own harbor and railway, with large sup-
plies of clay and chalk and close to the abundant deposits of oil shale
used for fuel in the factory’s two big rotary kilns. By the time the Soviets
annexed Estonia in 1940, the Port Kunda Cement Works—after 1925
the only cement factory in Estonia and one of only three in the new Bal-
tic States—had developed into an extensive enterprise with around
twelve hundred employees. It had also become an almost self-suf cient
community, with accommodation for the workers, workshops, stables,
a church, a hospital, and a school.
In the mid-twenties, the shale quarry at Port Kunda was enlarged
with the help of the Danish building contractor Højgaard & Schultz A/S.
Like many other Danish construction companies, this company had been
founded just after the First World War, when new countries had been
formed and internationally-oriented companies could enter the stage
once again. In the interwar period, Højgaard & Schultz worked in close
collaboration with F. L. Smidth in other parts of the world—for instance,
Joachim Lund / 486
the two companies bought and reconstructed a cement factory, Secil, in
Portugal in 1930—but Højgaard & Schultz concentrated on Eastern Eu-
rope. Operating through subsidiaries, usually under the name of Con-
tractor Ltd., its tasks included adding roads, bridges, and railway lines
to the infrastructure of the new Baltic States. In Estonia, the Højgaard
& Schultz subsidiary, Brückenbau Estland, celebrated its twentieth an-
niversary in 1938, and in Lithuania, as in Portugal, the company joined
F. L. Smidth in designing a cement factory, Cementas, in 1939. It was,
however, a contract in Poland that made Højgaard & Schultz famous:
the construction of the harbor of Gdynia, including 17 km of wharf, was
launched in 1924, a project of national importance, giving the new Pol-
ish state access to the Baltic Sea. The harbor was un nished when war
broke out in 1939. In Poland, the establishment of another subsidiary
and a series of new contracts followed. Thus, in 1935, Højgaard & Schultz
established a chemical plant near Warsaw in order to supply the Polish
Ministry for Public Works with tar and asphalt products, and the fol-
lowing year, Contractor/Bauunternehmen für Strassen und Brücken
A.G. (Construction Company Roads and Bridges Ltd.) was founded in
Warsaw as a joint venture with another big Danish building contractor,
A/S Wright, Thomsen & Kier. Contractor ef ciently put into operation
Danish knowledge of road surfacing in a country where asphalt had
hardly been used before, and by the outbreak of war between Germany
and Poland, Højgaard & Schultz was making a good pro t on their Pol-
ish business.
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was another of Højgaard & Schultz’s
areas of foreign expansion between the wars. In 1935, the company
formed a subsidiary, Preduzimac, in collaboration with another signi -
cant Danish building contractor, Kampsax A/S. Their rst task was the
construction of a bridge across the river Tisza in Northern Serbia, a job
that was eventually cancelled after the Hungarian takeover of the terri-
tory in 1941. More signi cant was the extensive job of reclaiming the
large, malaria-plagued area in Belgrade where the River Sava joins the
Danube. The contract on the so-called Novi Beograd was drawn up be-
tween the Yugoslav government and the Groupe Danois, consisting of
Højgaard & Schultz, Kampsax, and two other Danish companies. Work
began in 1938, continued well into the war in cooperation with the Ger-
man occupation authorities, ensuring that the Danish construction
companies could carry on doing business in German-occupied Serbia.
Consortium agreement between Højgaard & Schultz A/S, Kampmann, Kierulff & Saxild
A/S, and A/S Carl Nielsen, 10 Feb. 1938; Draft contract, 23 Feb. 1938, Højgaard & Schultz A/S,
company archive, kasse J 16, “Opfyldningsarbejde Beograd” [“Filling up works Belgrade”], 1765. Kampsax went on with business in Hungary. See Steen Andersen, De gjorde
Danmark større: Danske entreprenører i krise og krig, 1919–1947 (Copenhagen, 2005),
Building Hitler’s Europe / 487
Doing Business in Nazi Germany and Occupied Areas
The occupation of Denmark on April 9, 1940, meant a serious en-
croachment on Danish foreign trade, with the overseas market sud-
denly cut off. While the signi cant export of agricultural goods was
quickly diverted to the insatiable German market, industry was worse
off. Due to a permanent lack of supplies, almost every branch of indus-
try had to reduce its activities for the rest of the war. But instead of the
sky-high unemployment gures expected by the Danish government,
unemployment actually dropped rapidly during the German occupa-
tion, falling from 23.9 percent in 1940 to a mere 6.3 percent in 1943.
This increased employment was in part the result of as many as 130,000
Danish going to work in Germany on a voluntary basis (with 20,000 to
30,000 workers remaining there permanently). Moreover, as many as
100,000 workers were employed in Denmark and Norway by the Or-
ganisation Todt (OT) or its Danish and Norwegian contractors, build-
ing air strips, roads and, from 1942 onwards, the Danish part of the “At-
lantic Wall” on the west coast of Jutland, indicating that the economic
activities of the Wehrmacht and the OT were boosting at least one seg-
ment of Danish business—the construction branch.
Thus, while the outbreak of war had been a deadly challenge for
many building contractors, the German occupation itself was not nec-
essarily to their disadvantage, as business opportunities soon began to
emerge south, across the German border. Just a few months after the
occupation, a handful of Danish building contractors were engaged in
northern Germany, mostly Hamburg, and in the fall the local authori-
ties of this city forwarded a request to the Association of Danish Build-
ing Contractors suggesting that they join a large-scale construction
project, the so-called “Greater Hamburg.” The Danish government en-
couraged negotiations, and on December 5, 1940, the “Hamburg agree-
ment” was signed in Copenhagen.
On the basis of the agreement,
twenty-two building contractors were assigned to go to Germany, and
the next summer an additional twenty rms were selected. Out of 180
Danish rms engaged in Germany during the war, around one hundred
were building contractors, with thirty-four in Kiel, thirty-one in Ham-
burg, sixteen in Lübeck, six in Rostock, and four in Berlin.
These rms
employed almost ten thousand workers, not all of them volunteers; at
Therkel Stræde, “Danske entreprenører i Nazi-Tyskland under den 2. Verdenskrig,”
A rbejderhistorie 1 (2001): 122.
Information given by Dr. Friederike Littmann, Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in
Hamburg, 12 Feb. 2001. Dr. Littmann has published her research in Ausländische Zwangs-
arbeiter in der Hamburger Kriegswirtschaft, 1939–1945, Forum Zeitgeschichte, vol. 16
(Munich, 2006).
Joachim Lund / 488
least one, Villadsen, working in Rostock, exploited up to two hundred
Russian POWs. Danish building contractor Christiani & Nielsen—with
Højgaard & Schultz, among the top ve Danish construction companies
—had for decades been the one Danish construction company specializ-
ing in the German market and through its Hamburg branch had been
deeply involved in the construction of Autobahnen (motorways) since
the mid-thirties. In 1940, Christiani & Nielsen followed the Wehrmacht
to Norway to build a brand new aluminum plant in Aardal/Tyin with
the OT and Luftwaffe. In 1941, it built submarine bunkers for the Ger-
man Kriegsmarine (navy) in various French ports.
Both F. L. Smidth and Højgaard & Schultz were present in Ger-
many during the war. In the Leipzig area, the F. L. Smidth Kursachsen
Portland-Zementwerke carried on its production, in the later war
years using some two hundred Soviet POWs. Between 1941 and 1943 in
Schleswig-Holstein, Højgaard & Schultz collaborated with the German
company Siemens Bauunion, designing the new railway line from Lü-
beck to Puttgarten on the Baltic coast. This project was a part of the so-
called beeline, decided upon by the Danish and the German govern-
ments in the summer of 1940, linking Hamburg with Copenhagen by
extending the motorway and railway line from Lübeck northwards.
Into the Lebensraum: Business in the General Government. In
the same way as the German Wehrmacht gradually laid its hands on
most of the European continent, the Danish cement factories and con-
struction projects in Eastern Europe were incorporated into the Ger-
man war economy, from 1939 in the Polish General Government and
from 1941 in Serbia and Estonia.
After the German occupation of Poland in September 1939, the Ger-
man authorities of the General Government in Kraków replaced the Pol-
ish government. Although Højgaard & Schultz had to leave the building
site in Gdynia (renamed by the Germans as “Gotenhafen”) because the
place was declared a military zone, the company’s chemical plant at War-
saw continued making tar products (but not asphalt because of a lack of
supplies). The company’s subsidiary, Contractor/Bauunternehmen für
Strassen und Brücken, which had now transferred its business relations
to the new German administration of the General Government, carried
on its road building in and around Warsaw until at least February 1944,
as can be seen in the company archives.
These works were few and of minor importance. In 1940, however,
Contractor became involved in a much more comprehensive project,
originally planned by the Polish government and now taken over and
See Andersen, De gjorde Danmark større, 226–333.
The project is described in Joachim Lund, Hitlers spisekammer: Danmark og den
e uropæiske nyordning, 1940–1943 [Hitler’s Larder: Denmark and the European “New Order,”
1940–1943] (Copenhagen, 2005), 125–40.
Building Hitler’s Europe / 489
dramatically expanded by the Germans: the gigantic task of regulating
the River Wisla (Germ. Weichsel/Eng. Vistula), an immense construc-
tion program known as the “Weichselwall.” The “Wall” was an integrated
element in the German settlement plans. As Hans Frank, the general
governor, put it in May 1940:
Every question that is posed here in the East regarding reconstruc-
tion has to address the problem of regulating the Vistula. If the Vis-
tula is not developed, only a quarter of these areas will be accessible
altogether. But if it is developed from source to mouth, in a grandi-
ose and modern fashion, it will have an immense colonizing signi -
cance for the Germanness of the East.
This statement was more than just a declaration of intent. Between
1939 and 1943, according to the Abteilung Wasserwirtschaft (Depart-
ment of Water Administration) of the Hauptabteilung Ernährung und
Landwirtschaft (Main Department of Food and Agriculture) at the Gen-
eral Government in Kraków, under its direction 241,645 hectares of
land were drained, 1,055 km of river were regulated, and an additional
3610 km of canals were dug. Building projects carried out by the water
administration authorities involved a high percentage of forced and
slave workers.
“First and foremost, the great number of Jewish forced
labor has reduced the costs,” the German authorities proudly pointed
Also 220 km of dikes were constructed.
By October 1940, the
water administration authorities maintained a total of 410 construction
sites, with 41,950 workers, including 16,145 Jews.
The Warsaw district
“Jede Frage, die hier im Osten bezüglich des Wiederaufbaues gestellt wird, muss sich
mit dem Problem der Weichselregulierung befassen. Wenn die Weichsel nicht ausgebaut
wird, sind diese Gebiete überhaupt erst zu einem Viertel erschlossen, wird sie dagegen in
grandioser moderner Weise vom Ursprung bis zur Mündung ausgebaut, dann wird sie von
ungeheurer kolonisatorischer Bedeutung für das Deutschtum im Osten werden.” Speech
given by General Governor Hans Frank in Warsaw on May 28, 1940. Quoted in Werner Präg
and Wolfgang Jacobmeyer, eds., Das Diensttagebuch des deutschen Generalgouverneurs in
Polen, 19391945, Quellen und Darstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, vol. 20 (Stuttgart, 1975),
209. All German and Danish quotations were translated by the author.
See Browning, Nazi Policy, 58–88. Wolf Gruner has provided an account of the strug-
gle between the labor of ces and the SS in the General Government in Jewish Forced Labor,
“Vor allem hat der hohe Anteil an jüdischen Zwangsarbeitern verbilligend gewirkt.”
“3 Jahre Wasserwirtschaft im Generalgouvernement.” Report by Wilhelm Baumgärtel, Kraków,
31 May 1943, p. 3, R 52 VI/25, Bundesarchiv Lichterfelde (hereafter Barch).
“4 Jahre Generalgouvernement,” report presented at a government meeting in Kraków
six months later, on October 26, 1943, by State Secretary Josef Bühler. It spoke of the Wass-
erbau (water construction) and, rounding off a little, used Baumgärtel’s gures. Präg and
J acobmeyer, eds., Diensttagebuch, 749. For a short introduction to the structure of the Was-
serwirtschaftsverwaltung in the General Government, see Präg and Jacobmeyer, eds.,
Diensttagebuch, 190 (note 76) and 346–49.
Präg and Jacobmeyer, eds., Diensttagebuch, 190; Czeslaw Madajczyk, Die Okkupations-
politik Nazideutschlands in Polen, 19391945 (Cologne, 1988), 229–30.
Joachim Lund / 490
had top priority, as can be seen in a variety of reports. Hans Frank, who
had inspected the sites in April 1940, was handed a report regarding
the work of the local Wasserwirtschaftsamt (of ce of water administra-
tion), which stated:
This year, by decision of the General Governor, 24,000 Jews will be
employed by the Group Water Administration. The construction of
thirty camps each holding four hundred Jews is well under way. As
regards the rest of the camps, timber has been provided, and con-
struction is about to begin. Considering last year’s experience with
the deployed Jews, these 24,000 Jews should be able to achieve the
same as in the previous year.
In fact, 25,000 Jews worked on the drainage and dike building
projects in the area.
The 1941 report from the Wasserwirtschaftsamt
in Kraków sums up the situation as follows:
During the winter months 1940/41 all preparations have been made
in order to start construction works at the beginning of the building
season 1941. Piles, fascines, building materials, and fertilizers have
been collected and stored at different places. In collaboration with
the of ces of the Division of Work the deployment of workers has
been mapped out—particularly the use of Jews in the districts of
Warsaw and Lublin has been xed in detail in collaboration with
the responsible central of ce in Warsaw, and considering last
year’s experience, the camps for the placement of the Jews have
been enlarged.
The report points speci cally to the “Distrikt Warschau” and calls
attention to “the reclaiming works at the Vistula, which have experi-
enced a remarkable advance.”
The dike constructions at the Vistula
“In diesem Jahr sollen auf Anordnung des Herrn Gouverneurs bei der Gruppe Wasser-
wirtschaft 24.000 Juden beschäftigt werden. Der Bau von 30 Lagern zu je 400 Juden ist z.
Zt. im Gange. Für die weiteren Lager ist das Holz jetzt zur Verfügung gestellt, und mit dem
Bau wird umgehend begonnen. Mit den 24.000 Juden werden nach den Erfahrungen, die
wir im vergangenen Jahr mit den eingesetzten Juden sammeln konnten, etwa die gleichen
Leistungen vollbracht werden können wie im vorigen Jahr.” Präg and Jacobmeyer, eds.,
D iensttagebuch, 348–49.
“Während der Wintermonate 1940/41 sind alle Vorbereitungen getroffen worden, um
die Arbeiten zu Beginn der Bauzeit 1941 aufzunehmen. Pfähle, Faschinen, Baumaterialien
und Düngemittel waren angesammelt und wurden an verschiedenen Stellen gelagert. Mit
den Dienststellen der Abteilung Arbeit war der Arbeitereinsatz festgelegt und insbesondere
war der Einsatz von Juden für die Distrikte Warschau und Lublin mit der zuständigen Ver-
mittlungsstelle in Warschau eingehend festgesetzt und die Unterkunftslager zur Aufnahme
der Juden nach den Erfahrungen des Vorjahres ausgebaut worden.” “Bericht über die Ar-
beiten der Wasserwirtschaftsverwaltung des Generalgouvernements für das Baujahr 1941,”
Report by Wilhelm Baumgärtel, p. 2, R 52 VI/25, Barch.
“[D]en Eindeichungsarbeiten an der Weichsel, welche im Berichtsjahr eine bemerkens-
werte Steigerung erfahren haben,” ibid., 9.
Building Hitler’s Europe / 491
were exactly Contractor’s main eld of operation in the Polish General
Government. Here, at Kepa Zapadowska/Jablonna-Rajszew, the com-
pany built 1,700 meters of dike between 1940 and 1943, quadrupling its
turnover in three years.
Contractor’s construction works at the Vistula are actually men-
tioned in Højgaard & Schultz’s rst jubilee publication, in which the
author proudly announces: “In the following years, the company was
entrusted with a number of tasks on the Polish main roads, and the
last one of these had practically been nished by the outbreak of war in
September 1939. Later, besides continuing its road building, Contractor
has carried out a couple of larger dike works at the Vistula.”
ously, the book had been prepared during 1941–42, at a time when eco-
nomic collaboration with Germany was still an uncontroversial issue
with the Danish public.
Also at Czestochowa (German: Tschenstochau) in the district of
Radom, Contractor constructed roads and later, from 1941, drew up
contracts with the Wasserwirtschaftsamt. Here, too, water construc-
tion works were proceeding apace due to the extensive use of forced
and slave labor. In the summer of 1940, the head of the local Wasser-
wirtschaftsamt, Rudolf Krause, reported to Hans Frank: “Beside the re-
construction of dikes around the Vistula, the current construction works
here in District Radom are concentrated almost exclusively on the regu-
lation of creeks. On 1 July this year this district employed 5,700 men, of
whom 3,700 were Jews.”
On September 15, this labor force was at
11,944, of whom 4,625 were Jewish slave workers.
The gure appears
in a Wasserwirtschaftsamt Denkschrift (memorandum) from October
1940 that also states, “The rst big effort was seen in Czestochowa,
where 1,000 Jews were deployed at the regulation of the Rivers Warta
and Kucelinka on 6 May. It is due to local water administration inspec-
tor von der Ohe and his great energy, commendably supported by
Accounts of the company A/S Wright, Thomsen & Kier, company archive, “V-Arbejder”
[“Wehrmacht contracts”], Aalborg, Denmark.
Højgaard & Schultz A/S: Ingeniører og Entreprenører, 1918–1943 (Copenhagen,
1943), 35.
“Die gegenwärtig auch hier im Distrikt Radom laufenden Bauarbeiten sehen neben der
Herstellung von Weichseldeichen fast ausschliesslich Bachregulierungen vor. Am 1.7.d.Js.
[dieses Jahres] standen im Distrikt 5700 Mann in Arbeit, davon 3700 Juden.” “Entwurf
zu einem Vortrag vor dem Generalgouverneur Dr. Frank,” undated, p. 3. Handakten des
Oberregierungs- und Baurats i.R. Rudolf Krause von der Wasserwirtschaftsverwaltung im
Generalgouvernement betr. Wasserwirtschaft vorwiegend im Distrikt Radom, R 52 VI/24,
“Teilabschrift einer Denkschrift, die Abteilungsleiter Schumann anlässlich seiner ein-
jährigen Tätigkeit in Radom am 26. Oktober 1940 überreicht wurde.” Gruppe Wasserwirt-
schaft, pp. 12, 15, and 15b, R 52 VI/24, Barch.
Joachim Lund / 492
Stadthauptmann Dr. Wendler, that the rst big water construction un-
dertaking has begun.”
The Czestochowa ghetto supplied two work camps with Jewish la-
borers for the hydraulic engineering by the River Warta: two thousand
people in each camp.
They would have been among the approximately
48,000 Jews from Czestochowa, most of whom were deported to the Tre-
blinka death camp from September to October 1942 to be murdered.
Forced labor in Serbia and Estonia. As mentioned earlier, Hø j-
gaard & Schultz was busy reclaiming what later became the Novi Beo-
grad when in April 1941 Germany invaded Yugoslavia and placed Serbia
under military administration. The events did not cause the company’s
withdrawal from the country. On the contrary, shortly after the German
invasion, the German military administration in Belgrade and the OT
assigned to Højgaard & Schultz and Kampsax part of the job of building
a new bridge across the River Sava in Belgrade to replace the old Alex-
ander Bridge, which had been destroyed in the ghting. The Danes were
in charge of the concrete foundations, and Jucho, a Dortmund-based
construction company, was responsible for the steel superstructure.
One of the single most important infrastructure projects in the country,
work was begun in July 1941, and the new “Prinz Eugen Bridge” was
opened in September 1942.
Between ve hundred and one thousand
workers are mentioned as having been involved in the project. Most
likely, this included contingents of forced labor that were extensively
used in road and bridge building in Serbia during the occupation. The
Germans regarded workers under guard and behind a fence a smaller
potential danger than free Serbians who could come and go as they
pleased. However, in this case, there is no proof of forced labor, only
“Der erste grössere Einsatz geschah in Tschenstochau, wo am 6. Mai 1000 Juden bei
der Warthe-Regulierung und an der Kucelinka eingesetzt wurden. Es bleibt das Verdienst
des dortigen Wasserwirtschafts-inspekteurs v.d. Ohe, dass er mit grosser Tatkraft, dankens-
wert unterstützt von Stadthauptmann Dr. Wendler, die erste grössere wasserwirtschaftliche
Massnahme mit jüdischen Zwangsarbeitern begonnen hat.” Oberregierungsrat Baumgär-
tel’s Four Year Plan for the Wasserwirtschaftsamt in the General Government, presented
at a conference with Hans Frank in Kraków on April 24, 1940. Präg and Jacobmeyer, eds.,
Diensttagebuch, 189–91.
Ibid. The deployment of a total of 45,000 workers was foreseen.
Frank Golczewski, “Polen,” in Dimension des Völkermords: Die Zahl der jüdischen Op-
fer des Nationalsozialismus, ed. Wolfgang Benz (Munich, 1991), 439, 467.
Højgaard & Schultz A/S, 55; Agreement between Højgaard & Schultz A/S and Kamp-
mann, Kierulff og Saxild A/S (Kampsax), 31 Dec. 1942; Protokol between the companies
Højgaard & Schultz A/S, Kampmann, Kierulff & Saxild A/S (Kampsax), and J. G. Mouritzen
& Co. A/S, “i Anledning af Afslutningen af de Arbejder, den saakaldte Danske Gruppe I har
udført i Belgrad i Samarbejde med J.G.M.” [“in connection with the conclusion of the tasks
performed by the so-called Danish Group I in Belgrade in collaboration with J.G.M.”], 30
Dec. 1942 (including accounts), “Opfyldningsarbejde Beograd,” 1765, box J 16,
Højgaard & Schultz A/S company archive. See also the journal Jugoslavien (publ. by Dansk-
Jugoslavisk Forening), vol. 2, no. 7, Apr. 1940.
Building Hitler’s Europe / 493
circumstantial evidence.
In the next case, however, use of forced labor
is copiously documented.
The German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 created new
opportunities for Danish business in Nazi-occupied Europe. Informal
talks between the German legation in Copenhagen and Danish civil ser-
vants during the summer led to a mutual understanding that Danish
investments in the German-occupied territories, including a recovery
of lost Danish property, would further the economic reconstruction of
those territories and strengthen Danish-German relations. Hitler, re-
ceiving the newly-appointed Danish envoy to Berlin in September, spoke
of the rich soil of western Russia as a common European eld of expan-
sion for Germans and Danes, and in October, the semi-of cial “Work-
ing Committee for the Promotion of Danish Initiative in Eastern and
South Eastern Europe” was established, approved by Danish Foreign
Minister Erik Scavenius and initiated by his right-hand man, Minister
of Public Works Gunnar Larsen.
In this committee, Højgaard & Schultz and F. L. Smidth met again.
Gunnar Larsen had been chairman of the board and managing director
of F. L. Smidth, inheriting the post from his father in 1935. He resigned
from the company in 1940 upon his appointment as Minister of Public
Works. Knud Højgaard, whose company was a strong presence in inter-
war Eastern Europe, was naturally a member of the committee. Indeed,
Gunnar Larsen may have proposed him as a member.
The six-member committee shared not only economic interests in
Eastern Europe but also strong anticommunist feelings that stemmed
from personal experience and the loss of assets during the Russian Revo-
Chaired by industrialist Thorkild Juncker—known for his Nazi
sympathies—the committee held its rst meeting on December 11, 1941,
the day Hitler declared war on the United States. By then the situation
on the Eastern Front had changed considerably. At a conference at the
German Ministry of Economics on November 21, 1941, representatives
of the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, the Foreign Minis-
try, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Four-Year Plan, and the
The Serbian Aufbaudienst (reconstruction service), which was introduced in Decem-
ber 1941, put thousands of civilians at the disposal of the Organization Todt. Forced labor
for Jews was introduced in Serbia shortly after the occupation. See Kriegstagebuch des
Wehr wirtschaftsstabes Südosten vol. 1, 1941–1942, 73 (“Zusammenfassung Monat Oktober
1941”) and 86–87 (“Zusammenfassung Monat Dezember 1941”), RW 29/31, Bundesarchiv/
Militärarchiv Freiburg; Karl-Heinz Schlarp, Wirtschaft und Besatzung in Serbien 1941
1944: Ein Beitrag zur nationalsozialistischen Wirtschaftspolitik in Südosteuropa, Quellen
und Studien zur Geschichte des östlichen Europa, vol. 25 (Stuttgart, 1986), 214, 216.
Joachim Lund, “ ‘The Real Enemy was Always the Same’: Ideological Continuity and the
Organization of Anti-Socialist Propaganda in the Danish Business Community, 1945–1974,”
CBP Online Working Paper Series no. 68, 2009.
Joachim Lund / 494
High Command of the Wehrmacht had decided that, in order to optimize
economic yields from the conquered land, Germany must encourage
cooperation by neighboring countries: “Das uns nahestehende Europa
muss mithelfen”—“European states close to us must help.”
pro ting from his friendship with his German colleague Fritz Todt, head
of the OT, Minister Gunnar Larsen was able to make contact with Al-
fred Rosenberg, minister of the Occupied Eastern Territories. While the
German foreign ministry stalled, afraid of losing authority to the Minis-
try of the Occupied East (“Ostministerium”), the informal connections
between Copenhagen and Berlin bore fruit as Reichskommissar Hinrich
Lohse invited a Danish delegation to the Baltic territories, now called
“Reichskommissariat Ostland.”
The Danish delegation, headed by Gunnar Larsen and Thorkild
Juncker, journeyed to Reichskommissariat Ostland in April–May 1942.
They visited Port Kunda and in Riga signed a contract with the Reichs-
kommissariat, giving the Port Kunda cement factory back to F. L. Smidth,
while Juncker’s company, Aarhus Oil Factory, recovered a vegetable oil
factory at Libau/Liepaja in Latvia, which had been seized by the Rus-
sians during their invasion in 1940. After accomplishing their goals in
Estonia, the Danish committee would come under the auspices of the
foreign ministry. However, it was several weeks before a reluctant cabi-
net in Copenhagen would approve of the status change, and the “East-
ern Territory Committee of the Foreign Ministry” was nally established
in July 1942. A power struggle ensued in Berlin between the Auswär-
tiges Amt and the Ostministerium, and was settled in favor of the Aus-
wärtiges Amt, which claimed a monopoly on dealing with independent
states like Denmark. Then the Ostministerium stalled, and negotia-
tions between the Danish committee and the German authorities got no
Vermerk über die Beteiligung des Auslandes an der wirtschaftlichen Erschliessung des
Ostraumes, undated, R6/23, Barch; Denkschrift über den gegenwärtigen Stand der Vorberei-
tungen zur Heranziehung der europäischen Staaten zur wirtschaftlichen Erschliessung der
besetzten russischen Gebiete, Clodius/Auswärtiges Amt, 23 Nov. 1941, Büro Unterstaatsse-
kretär, Russland I, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts. The case can be followed in
R6/443 Barch and in Rolf-Dieter Müller, ed., Die deutsche Wirtschaftspolitik in den besetzten
sowjetischen Gebieten, 1941–1945 (Der Abschlussbericht des Wirtschaftsstabes Ost), Deutsche
Geschichtsquellen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, vol. 57 (Boppard, 1991). An early account of
the parallel efforts of other European countries to engage themselves economically in the
German-occupied East is given in Lou de Jong, Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de tweede
Wereldoorlog (’s-Gravenhage, 1969–91), vol. 5/1, 132–36 and vol. 6/1, 449–65. Later analyses
include Ole Kolsrud, “Kollaborasjon og imperialism: Quisling-regjeringens ‘Austrveg’-drøm,
1941–1944,” Norsk Historisk Tidsskrift 67 (1988); Seppo Myllyniemi, Die Neuordnung der
baltischen Länder, 19411944 (Helsinki, 1973), 169–75; Dietrich Eichholtz, “Wirtschaftskol-
laboration und ‘Ostgesellschaften’ in NS-besetzten Ländern (1941–1944),” in his book Ge-
schichte der deutschen Kriegswirtschaft, vol. 3 (Berlin, 1996); and Militär geschichtliches
Forschungsamt, Das deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, vol. 4 (Stuttgart, 1983), 863–
65, 870–73, 880 (Gerd Ueberschär) and vol. 5/1 (Stuttgart, 1988), 246–49 (Hans Umbreit).
Building Hitler’s Europe / 495
In the Reichskommissariat Ostland, the vegetable oil factory in
Liepaja apparently never got started, so the Danish recovery of the ce-
ment factory at Port Kunda was the only real result of the committee’s
work. In the summer of 1941, the factory had been taken over by the
army Wirtschaftskommando Reval (economic task force Reval/Tallinn),
which began its reconstruction and then handed it over to the OT in Oc-
tober, in collaboration with the former Danish director, Theodor Hansen,
who had been sent to Port Kunda by F. L. Smidth in order to prepare
for the takeover. When civilian administration was introduced in Esto-
nia in December 1941, the German Technisches Amt (technical of ce)
in Tallinn had taken responsibility for the factory, but nally, in May
1942, Theodor Hansen could re-establish Danish rule in Port Kunda.
Because of its vital role in the reconstruction of the Estonian oil
shale works, the Port Kunda factory, along with the two cement facto-
ries in Latvia, was declared to be of decisive importance to the war, and
the German authorities approved the purchase of new machinery from
Sweden. In January 1943 a report from the Technisches Hauptamt
Reval (Tallinn) proudly announced, “In October 1942, 2 big rotary kilns
together with the whole machinery came into use. The plant is operat-
ing.” A large extension of the factory was predicted.
The Port Kunda strategy quickly achieved the desired result. In
July 1943, cement supplies from Estonia still met only 63 percent of
minimum demands in the area. By October, the gure had increased to
90 percent.
At Port Kunda, cement production rose from 19,014 tons
in 1942 to 49,300 tons in 1943. In the late 1930s, production had been
at around 85,000 tons.
The factory director, noting the signi cance of Port Kunda cement
to the German war economy, repeatedly pressed the German Arbeits-
amt (labor of ce) for more workers. On October 10, 1943, the director
noted the arrival of two hundred Jewish slave workers guarded by a de-
tachment of Estonian SS volunteers. A small group of Gypsies had al-
ready been forced to work at the factory for some months. Cement pro-
duction could now be increased, and Port Kunda supplied the OT with
cement until the summer of 1944, when the factory was abandoned
due to the advance of the Red Army. In February 1944, a German di-
rector was installed instead of Theodor Hansen, who had returned to
“Im Oktober 1942 konnten 2 grosse Drehöfen mit den gesamten Maschinenanlagen in
Betrieb genommen werden. Das Werk arbeitet.” Tätigkeitsbericht, Technisches Hauptamt
Estland, Gruppe Rüstungs- und Hochbau, 20 Jan. 1943, R 50 I/391, Bundesarchiv Aachen.
Tätigkeitsbericht, Technisches Hauptamt Estland, Gruppe Bauwirtschaft, 19 July 1943,
R 50 I/391, Bundesarchiv Aachen; Tätigkeitsbericht für das III. Vierteljahr 1943, Technisches
Hauptamt Estland, Gruppe Bauwirtschaft, 20 Oct. 1943, R 50 I/393, Bundesarchiv Aachen.
Københavns Byret [Copenhagen City Court] 21. afd., no. 477/1946.
Joachim Lund / 496
Denmark the previous October, leaving behind a number of Danish
engineers. The fate of the Jewish slave workers is well documented:
along with other survivors from the Vaivara concentration camp in Es-
tonia, they were shipped to the Stutthof concentration camp in July or
August 1944 and transported to work camps in the oil shale region in
Württemberg. Of a total of around 50,000 Jewish prisoners in Reichs-
kommissariat Ostland, 2,500 survived.
Compared to other branches of Danish industry, the degree of in-
ternationalization in the construction and cement branches was excep-
tionally high. Denmark’s industry, at this stage, was generally oriented
towards the domestic market; it maintained few foreign subsidiaries
and did not engage in much foreign direct investment. However, the in-
vestigation into Danish companies that were operating in Germany and
German-occupied countries during World War II illustrates that the
war did not necessarily act as a constraint on such enterprises. Despite
local and temporary setbacks in production due to a shortage of man-
power or raw materials, the war turned out to be a time of expansion—
however limited—for the European activities of the two companies F. L.
Smidth and Højgaard & Schultz. In comparison with the conditions of
industry in other German-occupied western or northern European coun-
tries, German authorities hardly interfered with the management of big
businesses in Denmark, and large Danish corporations, acting out of
economic more than political necessity, chose to collaborate extensively
with the occupying power. The activities of F. L. Smidth and Højgaard
& Schultz in Germany, the Polish General Government, Estonia, and
Serbia underline the willingness, if not eagerness, of companies to col-
laborate, even if it meant the use of forced or slave labor. We are thus
faced with a clear example of what happens when, in Avraham Barkai’s
words, business leaders, instead of asking, “What else could I have
done?” fail to ask themselves, “What must I under no circumstances
do?” The two companies also demonstrated a level of strategic plan-
ning. Economic collaboration in occupied Europe was not simply
about the German war economy trying to control business but also, in
1939–42, the voluntary choice of companies keen on preserving mar-
ket shares. The result was businessmen’s active support for the Nazis’
Alfred Streim, “Konzentrationslager auf dem Gebiet der Sowjetunion,” Dachauer Hefte
vol. 5, Die vergessenen Lager (Munich, 1989), 174–87 (here 184–86). The camp at Port
Kunda Cement Works is described in Martin Dean, ed., Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos
in Nazi Germany and Nazi-Dominated Territories, 19331945 (New York, forthcoming).
Building Hitler’s Europe / 497
europäische Grossraumwirtschaft (European Greater Economic Area)
under construction.
With one signi cant exception (Wright, Thomsen and Kier A/S,
which was almost entirely dependent on Danish demand and went on
to pro t heavily from the construction of the Danish part of the “Atlantic
Wall”), it was a characteristic feature among Danish companies operat-
ing in German-controlled Europe that, probably out of sincere patri-
otic emotion, their managers refused to build for the German Wehr-
macht in Denmark itself. Denmark’s internationally-oriented building
contractors, however, exploited every other opportunity in the German-
controlled European market. In their pursuit of market shares outside
Denmark, these rms left no room for national considerations or com-
mitment to the Allied cause. At the same time, most of the companies in
question pursued their goals in neutral or Allied countries on the global
stage, highlighting the fact that their involvement with Nazi Germany
was based on purely economic considerations. As Mark Spoerer writes,
“A rm that would have left its costly equipment unmanned rather
than to order foreigners from the local labor of ce would surely have
run into danger of being closed or dismantled by the armaments au-
thorities, at least after 1942.”
It was a classic example of political risk
As this article has shown, this extreme form of economic collabo-
ration—volunteering to work for the enemy in its own country or in
countries occupied by it in order to protect and gain market shares,
often facilitated by the use of forced or slave labor—raises a number of
economic, national, and humanitarian questions. Indeed, as Spoerer
notes, while “most German rms preferred employing foreigners to
scaling back production,” it is questionable that the use of forced labor
was actually as pro table as has been assumed.
Nor do I nd any evi-
dence of political discussions or moral considerations among the com-
pany management as to whether or not to engage in projects that
would involve the use of forced labor, although surely such discussions
must have taken place off the record. Further, one would expect that
obvious support of the German war effort would back re at home, dam-
aging future prospects in the domestic market. But there seems to have
been little public interest in this question. At the postwar trial of Port
Kunda director Theodor Hansen in Copenhagen, the use of forced Jew-
ish labor was disclosed, but the matter was not mentioned in the judg-
ment; indeed, it was not even mentioned in the newspapers, although
a number of journalists followed the proceedings closely. This silence
Spoerer, “Recent Findings,” 384.
Ibid., 387–88.
Joachim Lund / 498
illustrates the fact that the public, political agenda of the time was na-
tional in a sense that we can hardly grasp today. What happened to
other peoples in remote and “primitive” areas of Eastern Europe
m attered little. To business managers, there was a thick dividing line
between collaborating with Germany in Denmark and collaborating
with Germany outside Denmark, which in their eyes did not in any way
contradict Danish interests. Civil or military collaboration with Ger-
many in occupied Eastern Europe did not disturb the strong national
sentiments of business managers. On the contrary: to the Danish busi-
ness and political establishment the ght against bolshevism was of
more concern.
We can conclude that doing business with the “enemy” abroad and
contributing to the construction of the Nazi “New Order” of Europe
hardly mattered to Danish business managers and went almost unno-
ticed at home. It is dif cult to say whether or not this kind of economic
collaboration helped to smooth the political relationship between the
Danish and German governments. But the result—the support of the
German war effort at the expense of Jewish and other forced labor—was
hardly something to be proud of, although it did not become publicly
known until the late 1990s. The use of Jewish and Gypsy forced labor at
the F. L. Smidth cement plant in Estonian Port Kunda was rst pre-
sented to the Danish public in 1995.
After the story was published by
a leading Danish newspaper two years later, F. L. Smidth, which was in
the process of claiming nancial compensation from the Estonian state
for the loss of Port Kunda in 1940 (when Estonia had been annexed by
the Soviet Union), decided to withdraw its claims. Instead the company
announced that a fund was to be established to compensate survivors of
the forced labor contingent. In 2000, twelve people—two Jewish Cana-
dian residents and ten Roma of the Port Kunda area—were paid an
amount roughly equivalent to 6,600 euros each.
When an investiga-
tion of Højgaard & Schultz (today MT Højgaard) in 2001 showed that
the company had most probably employed forced or slave labor in the
Polish General Government, the rm decided to copy the F. L. Smidth
model and compensate survivors on a private basis.
Faced with 324 ap-
plications and the problem that many applicants had never seen or
could not remember the name of the company for which they had been
working, the company chose to apply the “bene t of the doubt” and ended
up acknowledging sixty-nine applicants, mainly U.S. and Israeli resi-
Joachim Lund, “Den danske østindsats, 1941–43: Østrumudvalget i den politiske og
økonomiske collaboration,” Dansk Historisk Tidsskrift 95, no. 1 (1995): 35–74.
Lund, Hitlers spisekammer, 227.
The ndings were published in Ibid., 228–51.
Building Hitler’s Europe / 499
dents of Polish origin but also including four Serbs and a Danish citizen.
In 2003 they each received a sum roughly equivalent to 5,400 euros.
Exactly how and to what extent other occupied European econo-
mies were involved on a business level with the occupying power in
Eastern and southeastern Europe is still an open question. As in the
Danish case, the existence of Norwegian, French, Belgian, and Dutch
Ostgesellschaften (“east companies”) engaged in the exploitation of the
German-occupied Soviet “Eastern territories” indicate that business ac-
tivity on a larger scale was taking place.
Ibid., 316–17. The literature on the process that led to a compensation program in Ger-
many and Austria in 2000 is comprehensive; for an introduction, see Ulrike Winkler, ed.,
Stiften gehen: NS-Zwangsarbeit und Entschädigungsdebatte (Cologne, 2000); Mark Spo-
erer, “Zwangsarbeit im Dritten Reich und Entschädigung: Ein Überblick,” in Zwangsarbeit
in der Kirche: Entschädigung, Versöhnung und historische Aufarbeitung, Hohenheimer
P rotokolle, vol. 56, ed. Klaus Barwig and Dieter R. Bauer (Stuttgart, 2001), 15–46; Peer Zum-
bansen, ed., NS-Forced Labour: Remembrance and Responsibility—Legal and Historical
Observations (Wiesbaden, 2002).
... This often involved exploiting slave labour and taking advantage of political instability. Lund (2010), for example, recounts how, during World War II, Danish construction firms internationalized, technologically advanced, actively cooperated with the Nazis and used forced labour in Estonia, Poland and probably Serbia. For sure, MNE war crimes and general exploitation of war have continued throughout the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. ...
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to critically review the existing research on the intersection between war and international business (IB) and to map out a future research agenda. Design/methodology/approach Drawing on corporate examples and extant literature within IB, political science and international relations, the paper provides an introduction to the main concepts of war, a review of the IB research on war and provides a critical future research agenda. Findings The review of the multiple strands of war-related research in IB generally reveals an understudied area. Among other biases, prior research has focused on inter-state wars and has relatively unexplored foreign direct investment (FDI) and non-FDI within civil wars. Furthermore, previous studies offer little attention to how IB and multinational companies contribute to the emergence and development of wars. Originality/value The paper develops an analytical and critical research agenda for future research to examine the relationship between war and IB. This includes a set of questions for each of the three major phases of war: pre-conflict, armed violence and post-conflict. To the best of my knowledge, this has not been done before in the context of IB research.
Cambridge Core - Twentieth Century European History - The Holocaust and New World Slavery - by Steven T. Katz
The past decade has seen a proliferation of studies examining the environmental dimensions of World War II. This article analyses this literature by engaging with relevant parallel historiographical streams on the war and on non-military environmental history. It suggests that scholars working with a non-European focus have been innovative in their use of global and transnational approaches. Studies of Axis-occupied Europe, on the other hand, have uncovered the nuanced dynamics behind the fascist regimes' efforts to manipulate nature. This article outlines the potential contributions of bringing these bodies of literature in dialogue. Moreover, this article contends that the impact of the Second World War on socio-environmental dimensions can only be fully appreciated through studies that transcend a traditional temporal boundary.
This article presents a balance of the most significant research carried out in Spain on the public policies and business strategies that guided the implementation of different forms of forced labor under Francoism, during both the war and the dictatorship. It deals with the logic and economic impact of this type of punishment, attending to two main aspects. In the first place, the legal organization of forced labor is explained, and emphasis is placed on the role it played in mitigating the shortage of labor power in some sectors. In the second place, the article analyses the profit margins produced by this kind of labor in comparison with free labor, related to productivity levels. In this respect, important differences can be appreciated between work during the war and in the postwar period, as well as between work depending on the army and that of private companies.
Este trabajo contribuye al debate historiografico en torno al impacto economico de los trabajos forzados en Espana, tanto durante la guerra civil como en la inmediata posguerra. A pesar de las ultimas investigaciones, es necesario todavia incorporar a la historiografia espanola cuestiones que se han revelado como clave en el estudio del trabajo forzado en otros regimenes dictatoriales europeos (oferta y demanda de mano de obra, relacion entre costes y beneficios de los diferentes tipos de trabajadores, diversos niveles de productividad, o la reglamentacion legal) para entender en que medida estaban las empresas y el estado interesados en el empleo de este tipo de trabajadores. Ademas, es necesario todavia, en el caso espanol, trazar un exhaustivo mapa que refleje el impacto de este tipo de trabajos, asi como las diferencias en funcion de la cronologia y los sectores productivos. Esta investigacion pretende avanzar en estas cuestiones a partir de una perspectiva regional, analizando su peso en la economia vasco�]navarra. Los resultados obtenidos nos muestran un auge del trabajo forzado en coyuntura de guerra, con un rapido declive en la posguerra, apreciandose importantes diferencias entre los sectores punteros tradicionales de la economia vasca, la industria pesada y la mineria del hierro, que a partir de 1939 se nutren casi en exclusiva de trabajadores libres, y las infraestructuras de transporte y militares, como la construccion de carreteras de montana y aeropuertos, en los que el protagonismo de los trabajos forzados se mantiene por lo menos hasta finales de 1942.
Seit Mai 1942 verhandelte die Leitung von Siemens & Halske mit dem Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt der SS und dem Reichsluftfahrtministerium über den Aufbau einer Fertigungsabteilung im Frauen-Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück.1 Als dort am B. Juni mit dem Bau von 20 Arbeitsbaracken begonnen wurde, hatte sie zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe geschlagen. Die Siemens-Manager hatten erstens einen Ausweg aus dem Dilemma gefunden, daß der Berliner Arbeitsmarkt für „frauenspezifische“ feinmechanische Montage- und Justiertätigkeiten leergefegt war, was den weiteren Ausbau der elektrotechnischen Fertigung für die Luftwaffe am Standort nun endgültig illusorisch gemacht hatte; und zweitens waren sie mit den Wirtschaftspolitikern der SS ins Geschäft gekommen, die eigentlich den Aufbau einer eigenständigen Produktion von Nachrichtengeräten in den Konzentrationslagern geplant hatten.2 Die Investitionsentscheidung war ein voller Erfolg. Im Lauf des folgenden Jahrs wurden 150 deutsche Fachkräfte — Meister, Kalkulatoren, Vorarbeiterinnen — nach Ravensbrück versetzt. Sie beaufsichtigten dort bis zum Kriegsende eine Belegschaft von durchschnittlich 2000 bis 2300 sorgfältig ausgewählten Häftlingsfrauen beim Spulenwickeln, beim Bau von Kippschaltern, Mikrofonen und Meßinstrumenten. In jeweils zwei Zwölfstundenschichten „wurden gute Arbeitsergebnisse erzielt“.3 Immer wieder gaben Abteilungsleiter und Meister ihrer Verwunderung Ausdruck, welch enorme Produktionsleistungen unter arbeitsteiliger technischer und disziplinarischer Aufsicht durch Siemens- und SS-Personal aus den oftmals entkräfteten, kranken und unterernährten Häftlingsfrauen herauszuholen waren. Das Betriebsergebnis ließ sich 1944 durch die Einführung einer primitiven Lagergeld-Prämie und durch den Bau von Wohnbaracken zur Verkürzung der Anmarsch- und Appellzeiten noch weiter verbessern. Schließlich wurde dem Siemenswerk Ravensbrück eine hochmoderne Galvanisiererei und Lackiererei angegliedrt.
Forced labor was a key feature of Nazi anti-Jewish policy and shaped the daily life of almost every Jewish family in occupied Europe. For the first time, this book systematically describes the implementation of forced labor for Jews in Germany, Austria, the Protectorate, and the various occupied Polish territories. As early as the end of 1938, compulsory labor for Jews had been introduced in Germany and annexed Austria by the labor administration. Similar programs subsequently were established by civil administrations in the German-occupied Czech and Polish territories. At its maximum extent, more than one million Jewish men and women toiled for private companies and public builders, many of them in hundreds of now often-forgotten special labor camps. This study refutes the widespread thesis that compulsory work was organized only by the SS, and that exploitation was only an intermediate tactic on the way to mass murder or, rather, that it was only a facet in the destruction of the Jews.
Zwangsarbeit im Dritten Reich und Entschädigung: Ein Überblick
  • Mark Spo
Mark Spo-erer, " Zwangsarbeit im Dritten Reich und Entschädigung: Ein Überblick, " in Zwangsarbeit in der Kirche: Entschädigung, Versöhnung und historische Aufarbeitung, Hohenheimer P rotokolle, vol. 56, ed. Klaus Barwig and Dieter R. Bauer (Stuttgart, 2001), 15–46;
Der geschlossene Arbeitseinsatz deutscher Juden: Zur Zwangsarbeit als Element der Verfolgung
  • Wolf Gruner
Wolf Gruner, Der geschlossene Arbeitseinsatz deutscher Juden: Zur Zwangsarbeit als Element der Verfolgung, 1938–1943 (
De største danske industrifi rmaer
  • Steen Thomsen
Steen Thomsen, " De største danske industrifi rmaer, 1904–1987, " in Presse og historie: Festskrift til Niels Thomsen, ed. Ole Feldbaek and Erik Lund (Odense, 1990), 221–63.