Moving From Camp to Camp

"The only labor they had was slave labor."

"We were there for two years in one camp. In the consequent year, we went to ten difference camps. And we wondered, why were moved from one camp to another? So, we did some research and it turned out, out of the ten camps that we were in, there were either transit camps where we were just a short amount of time, where they had, you know, the selection and determined who was still physically able to do work and was sent to another camp. Or who was not able to do work and was sent to an extermination camp.

So we were in those ten camps. Some of them were transit camps, and all the others were somehow affiliated with airplane manufacturing, either Messerschmitt-werke [Messerschmitt factory] or Heinkel-werke [Heinkel factory]. What happened while we were in that first original camp, we were categorized into different work [details}... We wore different letters. Either you had a letter Z, letter W, or letter R. Letter Z indicated that you worked for the civilian aspect of that particular camp. Letter W indicated that you worked for the Wehrmacht, you know for the military aspects, and the letter R was Rüstungsindustrie, indicated that you were a skilled defense laborer... And those who were categorized as skilled labor were sent to factories, you know, where we were manufacturing airplane planes or parts of airplanes, fuselages, and so on... And because of the shortage of labor – the German youth went into the army – so the only labor they had was slave labor... So we were an important, desirable element for the defense industry. We didn’t know it at the time, but we found it out later."