Labour Service

Labour Service

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In the summer of 1935 Adolf Hitler announced the introduction of Labour Service (RAD). Under this measure all men aged between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five had work for the government for six months. Later women were also included in the scheme and they did work such as teaching and domestic service. One of the consequences of RAD was a reduction in the number of people in Germany who were unemployed.

Anton Drexler, the original founder of the Party, was there most evenings, but by this time he was only its honorary president and had been pushed more or less to one side. A blacksmith by trade, he had a trade union background and although it was he who had thought up the original idea of appealing to the workers with a patriotic programme, he disapproved strongly of the street fighting and violence which was slowly becoming a factor in the Party's activities and wanted to build up as a working-class movement in an orderly fashion.

Feature Indentured Servants In The U.S.

Indentured servants first arrived in America in the decade following the settlement of Jamestown by the Virginia Company in 1607.

The idea of indentured servitude was born of a need for cheap labor. The earliest settlers soon realized that they had lots of land to care for, but no one to care for it. With passage to the Colonies expensive for all but the wealthy, the Virginia Company developed the system of indentured servitude to attract workers. Indentured servants became vital to the colonial economy.

The timing of the Virginia colony was ideal. The Thirty Year's War had left Europe's economy depressed, and many skilled and unskilled laborers were without work. A new life in the New World offered a glimmer of hope this explains how one-half to two-thirds of the immigrants who came to the American colonies arrived as indentured servants.

Servants typically worked four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn't slavery. There were laws that protected some of their rights. But their life was not an easy one, and the punishments meted out to people who wronged were harsher than those for non-servants. An indentured servant's contract could be extended as punishment for breaking a law, such as running away, or in the case of female servants, becoming pregnant.

For those that survived the work and received their freedom package, many historians argue that they were better off than those new immigrants who came freely to the country. Their contract may have included at least 25 acres of land, a year's worth of corn, arms, a cow and new clothes. Some servants did rise to become part of the colonial elite, but for the majority of indentured servants that survived the treacherous journey by sea and the harsh conditions of life in the New World, satisfaction was a modest life as a freeman in a burgeoning colonial economy.

In 1619 the first black Africans came to Virginia. With no slave laws in place, they were initially treated as indentured servants, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites. However, slave laws were soon passed &ndash in Massachusetts in 1641 and Virginia in 1661 &ndashand any small freedoms that might have existed for blacks were taken away.

As demands for labor grew, so did the cost of indentured servants. Many landowners also felt threatened by newly freed servants demand for land. The colonial elite realized the problems of indentured servitude. Landowners turned to African slaves as a more profitable and ever-renewable source of labor and the shift from indentured servants to racial slavery had begun.

A Fair Day's Wage

Since the founding of America, men and women have worked under difficult conditions to put food on their tables, raise their families, and make a living. The labor movement stemmed from the need to protect the interests of these workers. Trade and craft unions fought for fair wages, better working conditions, safety on the job, and health benefits. They put an end to child labor. They stood up for racial and gender equality. The National Park Service tells the stories of workers and the labor movement that strived to improve their lives. From the laborers who built the Cheseapeake & Ohio Canal and laid the tracks of the first transcontinental railroad, to the “mill girls” who made cloth in Lowell’s textile factories, to the striking employees of Chicago’s Pullman Company, to the founder of the country's first permanent agricultural union, you’ll find their stories here. Get to work digging into the labor movement’s past.

Visit Labor History Sites

Looking to visit a park? Find and explore places that tell the stories of working people in the United States.

Women in the Labor Movement

Discover the stories of people and places that have been part of the struggle to make life better for women at work.

West Virginia Mine Wars

In the early decades of the 20th century, miners and their families struggled to unionize the southern West Virginia coal fields.

Marching for Justice in The Fields

In 1966, striking farmworkers in California made history when they set out on a 300-mile march to the state capital in Sacramento.

General Records of the Department of Labor

Established: By an act of March 4, 1913 (37 Stat. 736).

Predecessor Agencies:

Of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor:

  • Bureau of Labor, Department of the Interior (1884-88)
  • Department of Labor (1888-1903)
  • Bureau of Labor, Department of Commerce and Labor (1903-13)
  • Department of Commerce and Labor (1903-13)

Functions: Administers programs intended to monitor the economic and physical welfare of American wage earners, improve their working conditions, and advance profitable employment opportunities.

Finding Aids: Leo Pascal, comp., "Preliminary Checklist of the General Records of the Department of Labor, 1907-1942," PC 28 (Nov. 1945) Forrest R. Holdcamper, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the General Records of the Department of Labor," NC 58 (May 1964).

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Department of Labor and its predecessors in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85.
Records of the Women's Bureau, RG 86.
Records of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, RG 100.
Records of the Children's Bureau, RG 102.
Records of the Wage and Hour Division, RG 155.
Records of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RG 257.
Records of the Labor-Management Services Administration, RG 317.
Records of the Employment and Training Administration, RG 369.
Records of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, RG 433.
General Records of the Employment Standards Administration, RG 448.

174.2 General Records of the Department of Commerce and Labor and
the Department of Labor

History: Department of Commerce and Labor established by act of February 14, 1903 (32 Stat. 825), consolidating functions previously scattered through several government departments and agencies. By act of March 4, 1913 (37 Stat. 736), the Department of Commerce and Labor was divided into the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor. To the latter were assigned the Bureau of Labor Statistics, formerly the Bureau of Labor the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and the Children's Bureau. Subsequent additions to the department included the Conciliation Service (1918), U.S. Employment Service (dating to 1907 as the Division of Information in the Bureau of Immigration, but achieving bureau-level status in 1918), and the Women's Bureau (1920, from the Women in Industry Service of the War Labor Administration).

Textual Records: General files, 1907-42 (bulk 1913-33), including minutes of departmental and other committees fragmentary files of the Conciliation Service, 1918-19 files of the Speakers' Bureau, 1918-19 and records of the President's Mediation Commission, 1917-18, with a subject index and list of file numbers. Subject files, 1953-58. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1953-60. Speeches, 1953-60. Collection of Texas and Illinois "left-wing" labor newspapers, 1907-58.

174.3 Records of Officials of the Department of Labor

174.3.1 Records of Secretaries

Textual Records: Office and subject files, correspondence, speeches, and other records of Secretaries of Labor William B. Wilson, 1913-21 Frances Perkins, 1933-45 Lewis B. Schwellenbach, 1945-48 Maurice J. Tobin, 1948-53 Martin P. Durkin, 1953 James P. Mitchell, 1953-60 Arthur J. Goldberg, 1961-62 W. Willard Wirtz, 1962-69 George P. Shultz, 1969-70 James D. Hodgson, 1970-73 Peter J. Brennan, 1973-75 John T. Dunlop, 1975-76 W.J. Usery, 1976-77 Ray Marshall, 1977-80 Raymond J. Donovan, 1981-84 and Robert B. Reich, 1993-96. Records of Secretaries of Labor relating to their memberships on the Trade Policy Committee, 1958-63.

Sound Recordings: "Working Women and the New Deal," radio speech by Secretary Frances Perkins, June 24, 1936 (1 item). Interviews, press conferences, addresses, speeches, statements, and radio programs, usually by or involving Secretaries Mitchell, Goldberg, and Wirtz, concerning the department and government-labor relationships, 1934-71 (143 items). See Also 174.8.

Photographic Prints: Secretaries of Labor Maurice J. Tobin, 1948-53, and Martin P. Durkin, 1953 and 40th anniversary celebration of the Department of Labor, 1953 (M, 19 images). See Also 174.9.

174.3.2 Records of Under Secretaries

Textual Records: General subject files, correspondence, and other records of Under Secretaries of Labor Michael J. Galvin, 1941-50 David A. Morse, 1946-48 Lloyd A. Mashburn, 1953 Arthur Larson, 1942-57 James T. O'Connell, 1957-60 James D. Hodgson, 1969 Laurence H. Silberman, 1970-72 Richard F. Schubert, 1973-75 Michael H. Moskow, 1976-77 Robert O. Aders, 1975-76 John Gentry, 1979-80 Malcolm B. Lovell, Jr., 1981-83 and Ford B. Ford, 1983-84.

174.3.3 Records of Deputy Under Secretaries

Textual Records: Records of Deputy Under Secretary Millard Cass, 1947-71. Subject files, 1970-72, and a sample of 1972-73 Congressional correspondence of the Deputy Under Secretary for Legislative Affairs.

174.3.4 Records of Assistant Secretaries

Textual Records: General correspondence, subject files, and other records of Assistant Secretaries of Labor Charles V. McLaughlin, 1938-41 Marshall E. Dimock, 1939 Daniel Tracy, 1940-46 Edward C. Moran, Jr., 1945 John W. Gibson, 1945-51 Philip M. Kaiser, 1948-53 Ralph Wright, 1949 Robert T. Creasey, 1949-52 Spencer Miller, Jr., 1953-54 and John J. Gilhooley, 1957-60. Records of Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Management Leo R. Werts, 1942-70 and Frank G. Zarb, 1971-72. Records of Budget Officer and Administrative Assistant Secretary James E.Dodson, 1942-68. Records of the Assistant Secretary for Manpower, concerning alien labor policy for Guam, ca. 1947-71. Records of Assistant Secretary for Manpower Jerry R. Holleman, 1961-62 and Arnold R. Weber, 1969-70. Records of Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training William H. Kolberg, 1973-77. Records of Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Morton Korn, 1975-77. Records of Assistant Secretaries for Policy, Evaluation, and Research Michael H. Moskow, 1972-74 Abraham Weiss, 1974-77 and Arnold H. Packer, 1977-80. Records of Assistant Secretaries for Labor- Management Relations James J. Reynolds, 1961-65 Paul T. Fasser, 1973-76 and Bernard E. DeLury, 1976. Records of the Assistant Secretaries for Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration Dennis M. Kass, 1985-87 and David M. Walker, 1987-90.

Related Records: Records of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, in RG 100, Records of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Records of Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Ernest G. Green, 1977-81, in RG 369, Records of the Employment and Training Administration.

174.3.5 Records of the chief clerk

Textual Records: Numerical correspondence files, 1907-42, with partial index.

Finding Aids: Master index to numerical correspondence maintained in Historian's Office, Department of Labor. Select list of the chief clerk's files in Leo Pascal, comp., "Preliminary Checklist of the General Records of the Department of Labor," PC 28 (1945).

Subject Access Terms: Gompers, Samuel A., Jr., Chief Clerk, Department of Labor, 1918-41.

174.3.6 Records of deputies, assistants, and special assistants

Textual Records: Records of Robert K. Salyers as Deputy to the Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Relations, 1957-59, and as Assistant to the Under Secretary, 1959-66. Records of Special Assistant to the Under Secretary and Executive Assistant to the Secretary John C. Donovan, 1961-64. Records of Executive Assistants to the Secretary of Labor Jack Howard, 1967-68 and David B. Taylor, 1969-70. Records of Special Assistants to the Secretary of Labor Hugh L. Kerwin, 1913-20 Richardson Saunders, 1933-39 Louis Sherman, 1945-47 Charles W. Straub, 1948-52 Thacher Winslow, 1948-52 Charles O'Dell, 1954-56 Albert L. McDermott, 1954-60 Stephen N. Shulman, 1961-62 Samuel V. Merrick, 1961-63 Seymour Wolfbein, 1962-67 Roger Lewis, 1965-68 and John P. Gould, Jr., 1969-70.

174.3.7 Records of other officials

Textual Records: Records of L.C. Marshall, Executive Secretary to the Advisory Council, 1918. Chronological correspondence files, 1971 (in Nixon Presidential Materials) and alphabetical correspondence files and subject files, 1971, of Millard Cass, consultant to the Secretary during Phase I of the President's Economic Stabilization Program. Records of Special Consultant to the Secretary on Youth Employment, India Edwards, 1961-64, chiefly 1964. Records, 1943-67, of Aryness Joy Wickens, who occupied a series of posts in the Department of Labor beginning in 1932.

174.4 Records of Organizational Units

174.4.1 Records of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management

Textual Records: Subject files, 1942-57.

174.4.2 Records of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Employment and Manpower

Textual Records: Subject files, 1950-58.

174.4.3 Records of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Relations

Textual Records: Records of the Advisory Council on Employee Pension and Welfare Benefit Plans, 1962-85, including correspondence and reports, meeting minutes, transcripts of proceedings.

174.4.4 Records of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Evaluation, and Research

Textual Records: Records of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Development, 1959-65.

174.4.5 Records of the Office of the Solicitor

Textual Records: General subject files, 1945-63. Subject files relating to foreign agricultural laborers and migratory workers, 1930-70 immigration and naturalization, 1933-40 labor disputes, 1933-40 EO 9240, interpreting provisions limiting payment of overtime during World War II, 1942-45 shipbuilding, 1948-62 and civil rights, 1957-71. Administrative files of the Wage Determination Branch, relating to the enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, 1941-43. Records relating to hours, wages, and public contracts including the Federal-Aid Highway Act, 1953-61 and industry committee files for Puerto Rico, 1960-63. Records relating to the establishment of unemployment compensation offices, 1936-52. Litigation case files relating to anti-discrimination legislation, 1965-76. Records of the Regional Solicitor, Region 9 (San Francisco, CA), relating to the Mexican Labor ("Bracero") Program, 1950-64 (in San Francisco).

174.4.6 Records of the Conciliation Service

Textual Records: Complaints, correspondence, and case files, 1919.

174.4.7 Records of the Division of Negro Economics

Textual Records: Fragmentary correspondence and reports on division activities, conditions of black workers and their relationship to white workers and employers, and developments in black participation in business and agriculture, 1919-21.

174.4.8 Records of the Office of Administrative Law Judges

Textual Records: Case files of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, 1977.

174.4.9 Records of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance

History: Established by EO 11246, September 24, 1965, to administer nondiscrimination and equal employment opportunity programs directed at contractors and subcontractors doing business with the Federal Government and in federally assisted construction projects. In 1969, the ofCC was transferred from the Office of the Secretary of Labor to the Wage and Labor Standards Administration.

Textual Records: Subject files of the Assistant Director for Construction, 1961-70. Equal opportunity compliance review files, 1965-85.

174.4.10 Records of the Office of Information and Public Affairs

Textual Records: Correspondence and subject files, 1933-62. Texts of speeches and other public statements, including scripts for radio broadcasts, of Secretaries Perkins, 1933-45, and Schwellenbach, 1945-48, and of Assistant Secretaries D.A. Morse, Philip Hannah, and John T. Kmetz, 1946-48. Informational issuances, such as press releases and statements, 1948-60. Records of the departmental World War II historical program, consisting of reports, correspondence, memorandums, and drafts of histories, 1942-47. Annual reports of the Department, 1952-93. Employee newsletters, 1969-95.

174.4.11 Records of the Office of the Legislative Liaison

Textual Records: Subject files, 1967-71.

174.4.12 Records of the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation

Textual Records: Reports and correspondence, 1964-65.

174.4.13 Records of the Departmental Committee on Economic Policy
and Programs

Textual Records: General file of the chairman, 1949-50.

174.4.14 Records of the Management-Labor Policy Committee on
Defense Manpower

Textual Records: General files, 1950-51.

174.4.15 Records of the departmental Defense Manpower

History: Established by General Order 48, Secretary of Labor, pursuant to EO 10161 of September 9, 1950, to utilize the functions and services of the Department of Labor to meet the labor needs of defense industries and essential civilian employment. General Order 48 revoked by General Order 63 of August 25, 1953, which established the Office of Manpower Administration under the Assistant Secretary for Employment and Manpower.

Textual Records: Records of William Batt, Special Assistant to the Executive Director, 1949-53. Case files on its advisory reports to the Wage Stabilization Board, regarding the latter's "rare and unusual" wage adjustment cases, 1951-53.

174.4.16 Records of the Program Planning and Review Committee

Textual Records: Correspondence, minutes, reports, and other records, 1955-62.

174.4.17 Records of the departmental Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency

History: Established by order of the Secretary of Labor, July 11, 1988, to provide the Department with specific recommendations for increasing the excellence of the American workforce. Terminated upon submission of final report, September 30, 1989, published as "Investing in People: A Strategy to Address America's Workforce Crisis."

Textual Records: General file, 1988-89, including background documents, newspaper clippings files, and transcripts of meetings.

174.5 Records of the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB)

Textual Records: Correspondence and subject files, 1953-58.

174.5.1 Records of the Office of International Organizations Affairs

Textual Records: Correspondence and subject files, 1945-67. Geographic files, 1966-68. Subject files of the Foreign Economic Policy Committee, 1956-63 Correspondence and minutes of meetings of the Trade Agreements Committee, 1959-63. Records of the Division of International Labor Organizations including committee and conference files, 1945-64. Records of the Technical Cooperation Division including subject files, 1947-54 and correspondence relating to the training of foreign visitors, 1952-58.

174.5.2 Records of the Office of Country Program Affairs

Textual Records: Reports of the Foreign Worker Organizations Committee to the Council of Foreign Economic Policy, 1958-60.

174.5.3 Records of the Office of International Personnel and Management

Textual Records: Records relating to country assignments, 1958-61. Records of the Foreign Service Division including Comprehensive Economic Reporting Program (CERP) reports, 1952-58 and personnel performance and backstopping files, 1958.

174.6 Records of Commissions and Committees
1912-18, 1951-52, 1962-95

174.6.1 Records of the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations

History: Established by an act of August 23, 1912 (37 Stat. 415), to inquire into the general condition of labor in the principal industries of the United States and to determine and report upon the underlying causes of labor unrest.

Textual Records: Reports, studies, and administrative files of the Division of Research and Investigation, 1912-15.

Microfilm Publications: T4.

174.6.2 Records of the President's Mediation Commission

History: Established by order of the President, September 19, 1917, under the chairmanship of the Secretary of Labor, to deal with certain labor disputes in the Arizona copper mines, the California oil fields, and the Pacific Northwest lumber industry. Terminated upon submission of its final report, January 9, 1918.

Textual Records: Transcripts of hearings at Globe, Clifton, and Bisbee, AZ, 1917. Reports, correspondence, and memorandums relating to commission activities, 1917-18.

174.6.3 Records of the President's Committee on Government Contract Compliance

History: Established by EO 10308, December 3, 1951, to promote compliance with legislation that required non-discrimination clauses in government contracts. Abolished by EO 10479, August 13, 1953, which established successor Government Contract Committee.

Textual Records: Transcripts of meeting minutes, 1952.

174.6.4 Records of the National Manpower Advisory Committee

History: Appointed by the Secretary of Labor pursuant to the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962 (76 Stat. 28), March 15, 1962, to provide advice on departmental responsibilities under the act.

Textual Records: Correspondence of the executive secretary, 1962- 74. Transcripts of national and regional committee meetings, 1962-74. Records of conferences, seminars, panels, task forces, and subcommittees, 1962-74.

174.6.5 Records of the National Commission for Employment Policy

Photographic Prints: Portraits of members and chairmen of the Commission, 1974-95 (EP, 18 items). See Also 174.9.

174.7 Motion Pictures (General)

Documentaries, television interviews and debates, and television spots showing the history of American labor ("Challenge of Change"), the living and working conditions of migrant workers (CBS's "Harvest of Shame"), Secretaries Goldberg and Wirtz discussing the policies and programs of the Kennedy-Johnson administrations, and other subjects that relate to the work of the department and employment within the United States (102 reels).

174.8 Sound Recordings (General)

President Harry Truman's address to the President's Conference on Industrial Safety, March 23, 1949 (1 item).

174.9 Still Pictures (General)
1919, 1935-82

Photographic Prints: Panorama of Department of Labor, Washington, DC, 1919 (P, 1 image). Photographic prints of occupations, labor activities, and personalities, 1940-70, collected by the Historian's Office (G, 1,300 images). Photographic prints of occupations and labor activities in the United States, 1935-82, collected by the Employment and Training Administration for the departmental publications "Manpower" and "Worklife" (MP, 2,000 images).

See Photographic Prints Under 174.3.1 and 174.6.5.

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

It's my understanding when Polish forced laborers were liberated in Germany, they were assigned to noncombatant civilian labor units under command of US military.  I had 3 uncles forcibly taken from home in Poland to forced agricultural labor in Germany.  They were designated as Displaced Persons when the war ended.  I have two later photos of them in what look like US military uniforms, taken before they emigrated to the US in 1947.  General googling on this subject has yielded copies of documents identifying for example "Labor Supervision Company US Army", and even "discharge" papers for individuals in these units.  Any information on this subject would be appreciated.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2
Research Services at the National Archives 07.07.2017 12:35 (в ответ на Lavinka Trinkelson)

Displaced Persons records have been found, sometimes, among the Civilian Personnel Records at the National Archives in St. Louis. This would occur if they were employed at the Displaced Persons camp by the Department of the Army/Air Force or Labor Service. We also have the Official Personnel Folders of the Displaced Persons Commission (DPC), however this does not imply that it includes those forced laborers. The goal of the DPC was to eventually repatriate if possible, and therefore records on individuals and their &ldquoemployment” were rarely kept.

There are also records of the Displaced Persons Commission kept in Washington. A description of them can be found at and .

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

My Polish father was a POW in Germany and he too worked for the US army for a couple of years after the war ended. It was my understanding that this happened frequently. I have in my possession a certificate which gives him clearance as an employee of US Army but I have yet to find any files or records of his in any official capacity. He was in Bensheim Germany. Good luck with your research, I hope my information helps a little.

MaryAnne Melbourne, VIC Australia

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

Regarding your note about the document for your father, would you be willing to share a digital copy?  I am interested because I've not been able to locate any record for my uncles in the US military archives, and your document might provide a clue for further inquiry.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

Hello.  My father was also taken from his home in Poland during WWII and became a forced laborer in Germany during WWII.  After being liberated at the conclusion of the War, he became a civilian in the US Army.  He received many certifications and picked up many skills.

I do have many of my father's original paperwork, including his DP Card and also his discharge papers from the US Army (he requested discharge in order to emigrate to the US his request was granted due to his service.

According to what I remember my father saying and also according to his "story" that he hand wrote and I found following his death, he asked to be accepted in the US Military, and he was thrilled at being given the opportunity.

I do have photos not only of the documents I refer to above, but also pictures of him and others in uniform.  I also have his original documents from when he was in forced labor under Hitler. 

I am happy to provide copies if you are still seeking the same.  Just let me know.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

Thanks so much for your offer.  I'd be interested in obtaining a copy of the discharge document you mentioned, as well as a copy of the photo showing the uniform.  I've attached two photos of uncles in what appear to be US military uniforms for comparison.  They were just teenagers and were literally dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and taken to forced labor in Germany, never to see Poland again.  As information, if you have not already done so, you can contact the International Tracing Service to see if they have any record of your relatives for the period of their persecution by the 3rd Reich.

Also the Polish national archives have a lot of information available online  

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

I am not sure what the circumstances were surrounding my father's "capture" (for lack of a better word) and his being sent into forced labor.  His sister was taken at the same time. 

I am attaching the following document here (front and then back though side two shows here first):  Franciszek Krawczyk Certificate of Discharge side two and then side one.  More docs will follow in next post(s).

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

As per my last post, I am attaching more documents pertaining to the time period that my father was in forced labor.  Additional pages can be added if you are interested.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

I posted some pics and documents and will add more in a bit.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

Here is a picture of my dad in uniform. Alone and with some others on a bench.  Not sure exactly what that uniform is but may be military police?

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

I just found your mails and I think I can answer some of these questions:

Uniform:  In the beginning of the labor Service organization the LS members were issued dark blue/black uniforms. These uniforms were actually US uniforms and dyed to show the difference between the various military uniforms and the LS. organization. In 1950 the color of the uniform were changed for two reasons:

1. Polish LS units were moved to France and the French did not accept black uniforms because it remembered them of the SS units.

2. The same reason applied to Germany. Consequently the LS in France had the original US uniform with a specific insignia and in Germany the uniform was turned into a grey color.

4002 LS Co: This unit was activated 7 Jun 1946 in Mannheim-Käfertal. On 24 Jul 1946 the unit was moved to Giessen where it remained until 12 Jun 1951.  On 23 Jun 1951 the unit was officially deactivated.

I hope I could answer some of your questions.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

I am attaching some other documents that showed various training courses that my father was provided with an opportunity to complete.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

Here is my father's "Temporary Registration with the Military Government of Germany" (after he was freed from forced labor):

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

So interesting!  Thank you for sharing! 

My father had a similar experience, though I too, do not know the exact details of his capture. only that he was taken from Poland and ended up in Germany most likely in forced labor,  He also worked for a U.S. Labor division of the army,  81st division.  I have his US labor discharge papers like what you posted (he was discharged in Feb 1949 to emigrate to U.S.) as well as a photo of him in uniform similar to the last picture you posted.

Re: Civilian labor units assigned to US military in Germany WW2

As a follow-up to the original question, I came across the following Web site which concerns civilian labor units assigned to the US Army at the end of WW2. It includes a number of pictures of uniforms.


This is the site of the first integrated ironworks in North America, 1646-68. It includes the reconstructed blast furnace, forge, rolling mill, and a restored seventeenth century house.

With the archeological site of the seventeenth-century iron-making plant, the museum collection, the seventeenth-century Iron Works House, and the reconstructed iron works complex, Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site illustrates the critical role of iron making to seventeenth-century settlement and its legacy in shaping the early history of the nation. The site's enclave setting on the Saugus River, featuring an open-air museum with working waterwheels, evokes a unique experience for park visitors. These resources demonstrate seventeenth-century engineering and design methods, iron-making technology and operations, local and overseas trade, and life and work in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The original manufacturing site served as a training ground for skilled iron workers for what would become America's iron and steel industry. Iron making provided the infrastructure for the rise of other colonial industries. Called, "the forerunner of America's industrial giants," the site served as a center for technology, innovation and invention. The site interprets early industrial manufacturing, with its enduring social, political and environmental ramifications.

Termination of the contract of employment

Grounds for termination and notice

Generally any contract of employment might be terminated by both parties, and in accordance with the provisions of the law or a collective agreement. Article 23 (2) states clearly that the transfer of ownership of an undertaking does not have a terminating effect.

The contract of employment can be terminated on the following grounds:

  • on expiration of the agreed period of employment (Article 24 (1))
  • by death of the worker (Article 24 (2))
  • on retirement of the worker (Article 24 (3))
  • by the insolvency of the employer completion of the specified task (Article 24 (4))
  • by the impossibility of performance, where the worker becomes partially or permanently unable to perform his or her obligations in terms of the contract (Article 24 (5)) and
  • by mutual agreement (Article 25).

Generally a worker can terminate the contract of employment giving prior notice of fifteen days (Art. 31). Under Art. 32, 1 good causes for termination without notice from the side of the worker are:

  • criminal assault from the side of the employer against him or her
  • if the employer has repeatedly failed to fulfill his basic obligations.

The worker shall give his reasons for the termination in writing (Art. 32, 2).

The contract of employment may not be terminated in the absence of a justified reason.

Article 26 of the Labour Proclamation expressly recognizes the following grounds for termination of the employment contract:

  • misconduct on the part of the employee
  • the employee's poor work performance and/or incapacity
  • the operational or organizational requirements of the undertaking.

The following grounds do not constitute legitimate grounds for termination and make any dismissal unfair (Article 26 (2)):

  • membership in a trade union or participation in its lawful activities
  • seeking or holding office as a workers representative
  • submission of grievance or the participation in proceedings against the employer
  • his or her nationality, sex religion, political outlook, marital status, race, colour, family responsibilities, pregnancy, lineage or social status.

The Labour Proclamation distinguishes between termination with notice, whereby the employment relationship is ended when the period of notice expires (Article 28), and termination without notice (Article 27). In the latter type of termination, the notification effects the immediate cancellation of the employment relationship. In both cases, termination at the initiative of the employer is legitimated only under the limited grounds enumerated by the Proclamation.

Notice of dismissal

The limited grounds for termination without notice are defined in Article 27 (1) a) to k):

  • repeated and unjustified tardiness despite warning to that effect
  • absence from work without good cause
  • deceitful or fraudulent conduct
  • misappropriation of the property or fund of the employer
  • returning output which, despite the potential of the worker, is persistently below the quality stipulated
  • responsibility for brawls or quarrels at the work place
  • conviction for an offence where such conviction renders him or her unsuitable for the post
  • responsibility for causing damage intentionally or through gross negligence
  • commission of any of the unlawful activities defined in Article 14, such as reporting for work in a state of intoxication, refusal to be medically examined (except for HIV/AIDS test) or to observe Occupation Safety and Health prevention rules
  • absence from work due to a sentence of imprisonment for more than 30 days
  • offences stipulated in a collective agreement as grounds for termination without notice.

The new text of the Labour proclamation adds that in these cases, the employer must give written notice specifying the reasons for and the date of termination.

Furthermore, the employer has 30 working days from the day he or she knows about the ground for termination, to terminate the contract.

The grounds for termination with notice fall in 2 different groups (Article 28). The first group is composed of the grounds relating to the loss of capacity of the worker (Article 28 (1)). The second group consists of the grounds of organizational or operational requirements of the undertaking (Article 28 (2)), which constitute good cause for termination with notice.

Severance pay and compensation

Under Articles 36 to 41 any case of termination provokes payment obligations, such as wages, severance pay and – in the case of Article 32 (1) (the employee's poor work performance and/or incapacity) – an additional compensation which shall be thirty times his or her daily wages of the last week of service, for the first year of work.

If the worker has served for more than one year, payment shall be increased by one-third of the previous sum for every additional year of service, within the limit of a total amount of twelve months wages.

Large-scale dismissals

In the case of organizational or operational requirements of the undertaking, Article 29 specifies the requirements to be fulfilled in the case of a “reduction of work force” (collective redundancy). This is defined as a reduction of the work force of an undertaking affecting a number of workers representing at least 10 per cent of the number of employees, or, in the case of an undertaking employing 20 to 50 workers, a reduction affecting at least 5 employees. In case of redundancy, Article 29 (3) stipulates rules for the selection of the workers to be dismissed.

Under this regulation workers having skills and a higher rate of productivity have priority of being retained in their posts. Only in case of equal skills and effectiveness, a selection on social grounds is due to take place (Article 29 (3) a) to f)).

Periods of notice are stipulated by Article 35 of the Proclamation. The minimum period is one month, and two months after a period of service of more than 1 year. The period of notice can be agreed upon in the contract itself, stipulating different length.

Remedies in case of unjustified dismissal

A worker who intends to challenge the validity of his or her termination must file a submission before a regional first instance court, where a specialized labour division shall be set up (Articles 137 and 138 (1) b). (It should be mentioned at this stage that due to a severe shortage of educated legal personnel, these specialized labour divisions do not exist in every case.)

If the termination proves to be unlawful, the proclamation gives the choice of remedies. The court may:

  • Order the employer to reinstate the employee from any date not earlier than the date of dismissal.
  • Order the employer to pay compensation to the employee.

The primary remedy in respect of an unlawful termination is to order reinstatement or re-employment (Article 43 (1) and (2)). In the event that the employee does not wish to be reinstated or re-employed or the circumstances are such that a continued employment would be either intolerable or no longer reasonably practical and would give rise to serious difficulties, the court may award compensation rather than reinstatement/re-employment, even in cases the worker wishes to be reinstated (Article 43 (3)).

The compensation will be paid in addition to the severance pay referred to in Articles 39 to 40. There are certain limits on compensation. The compensation will be hundred and eighty times the average daily wages and a sum equal to the remuneration for the appropriate notice period in the case of an unlawful termination of an unlimited contract (Article 43 (4) a)), and a sum equal to the wages that the worker would have obtained until the lawful end of his contract (Article 43 (4) b)).

Compensation to be paid by the worker who has terminated his or her contract contrary to the provisions of the Proclamation shall not exceed fifteen days wages of the worker (Article 45 (2)).

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It’s a lesson as old as European settlement of the present-day United States: Treating migrant workers as property for the benefit of others leads to terrible consequences. But judging from a recent immigration-reform proposal, the country hasn’t entirely learned that lesson. In a Politico piece originally titled, “What If You Could Get Your Own Immigrant?”—a headline that provoked such anger it was quickly changed—Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Law School, and Glen Weyl, an economist at Microsoft Research New England, described a plan that amounts to reintroducing a form of bonded immigrant labor to the United States. Their idea, in essence, is to give every American citizen the right to “sponsor” an immigrant, put that person to work, and then take a portion of his or her wages.

If these two scholars at elite institutions were aware of their plan’s historical precedent, they gave no indication of it. But it’s clear from American history that such a proposal would be a disaster not only for immigrants, but for American democracy. Once set in motion, any policy that creates conditions for exploitative labor practices is likely only to encourage more exploitation.

The history of how indentured servitude transformed into racialized chattel slavery in America provides a particularly vivid example of this vicious cycle. In theory, colonial Virginia’s intense labor scarcity ought to have meant favorable terms for migrating workers. But as Jane Dickenson learned, the men who governed the colonies changed market dynamics by imposing harsh laws that allowed them to control and capture laborers in new ways. Whereas contracts of indenture for agricultural workers in England typically ran to only one year, in America they stretched out to seven. And colonial authorities routinely punished servants who tried to escape—or simply displeased their masters—with whippings, split tongues, sliced ears, and extra years of service. As the late American historian Edmund Morgan put it, even before slavery took root, Virginia’s masters were moving “toward a system of labor that treated men as things.”

This still wasn’t enough. As free subjects of the English crown, servants who managed to outlive their indentures could eventually obtain property and some measure of political clout. As former servants increased in number, they indeed began to challenge their former masters’ authority, most famously in Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676. Enslaved Africans provided a dual solution to this problem. First, the importation of already enslaved laborers allowed masters to more easily treat servitude as a lifetime, hereditary status, preventing the growth of a troublesome population of the formerly unfree. Second, it made whiteness the mark of freedom, ensuring that “ordinary” English settlers identified with their social betters instead of making common cause with the new arrivals.

Still, the transition to a slave society was gradual. For several decades, Africans forcibly transported to the American colonies were not necessarily treated very differently from English indentured servants, and some achieved not only freedom but significant local prominence. The “black patriarch of Pungoteague Creek,” Anthony Johnson, for example, was brought to Virginia in chains, but he was able to purchase liberty for himself and his wife, accumulate extensive land holdings, and have his testimony accepted in court. According to the historians T.H. Breen and Stephen Innes, through much of the 17th century, Johnson and other free blacks in his Eastern Shore community “experienced a kind of rough equality with their poor white neighbors.”

Over time, however, and increasingly after 1700, legal codes hardened racial boundaries and entrenched chattel slavery, so that society came to be based on the principle of white supremacy. It was in this context that whiteness served to unite one portion of the population in the unmitigated exploitation of another. “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery,” wrote Eric Williams, a pioneering historian and the first prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago, in his seminal analysis Capitalism & Slavery. Although the economic benefits of enslaved labor flowed almost entirely to slave owners, the racialization of bondage gave every white person a social and political interest in the subordination of Africans and their descendants. In this way, the “wages of whiteness” were generalized to the majority in the white republic that emerged from the American Revolution.

The story doesn’t end here. By the turn of the 19th century, gradual abolition in the North alongside slavery’s massive expansion in the South opened up a fissure among whites. In 1852, the increasingly acrimonious debate over the institution’s future led The New York Times to advocate the importation of indentured Chinese laborers—so-called “coolies”—as a “happy medium” between “forced and voluntary labor.” These foreigners from supposedly backward places would occupy a new position on the lower rungs of the American racial hierarchy—between slavery and freedom, black and white. To moderate Northerners, the indentured workers seemed like a solution to the nation’s problems.

The practice of trafficking Asian workers began in the 1830s in the British Empire. British leaders sought to alleviate labor “shortages” in the Caribbean colonies—the result of newly emancipated slaves’ withdrawal from the plantation complex—by importing “excess” South Asian labor. During the 1840s, American shippers expanded the trade, transporting indentured Chinese workers throughout the Americas—but not the United States—to provide cheap labor in mines and plantations. Indenture contracts, and the bodies to go with them, were auctioned off upon arrival at port.

In 1856, the U.S. commissioner to China, Peter Parker, declared that the traffic was so “replete with illegalities, immoralities, and revolting and inhuman atrocities,” that its cruelty at times exceeded the “horrors of the ‘middle passage.’” Working conditions at labor sites in the Americas were no better. On the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru, trafficked Chinese workers mined guano, a fertilizer used on American farms and plantations. They labored up to 20 hours per day in a toxic environment, while bosses applied whippings and attacks by dogs as punishment for insubordination. Suicide at the camps was common. On plantations in South America and the Caribbean, experienced observers reported migrants were “treated as slaves,” sometimes “worse than brutes.”

By the eve of the Civil War, media exposés and government reports had publicized these abuses sufficiently to convince most Americans that the traffic was “only another form of the slave-trade,” which had been banned decades before. In 1862, Congress banned the carriage of “coolies” on American vessels. The act was one of many reforms intended to fundamentally restructure American society around a liberal notion of free labor.

But while intended as a humanitarian act, the law helped solidify white Americans’ prejudice against Chinese migrants of all kinds, who came to be understood as “naturally” servile because they had supposedly “allowed” themselves to be trafficked—a prejudice later deployed to justify the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and subsequently transferred to other Asian migrants. Meanwhile, the trafficking of contract laborers worldwide continued well into the 20th century. The unfree conditions it produced has no shortage of modern analogues—as historians have often noted. In 2016, for instance, the UN warned Qatar to end “migrant worker slavery,” a system in which sponsoring employers wield nearly absolute power.

Common to all of these stories is the subordination of a minority group—usually made up of foreigners and other marginalized people—for the economic and social benefit of the majority, using the tools of political disenfranchisement and the impairment of legal rights. This is what makes the immigration proposal put forward by Posner and Weyl last month so alarming. Their plan aims to cut through the current immigration-policy impasse by giving working-class Americans—presumably, the white ones concerned about “illegal aliens”—a contracted property right in the labor of immigrants. It would “achieve the goals of both sides of the immigration debate,” they write, by allowing immigrants into the country to the economic benefit of those already here.

But their plan seems more likely to produce an effect similar to that achieved when Virginia’s colonial governors interposed whiteness between indentured English servants and enslaved Africans: That is, it would gradually establish an impenetrable social barrier between ordinary American citizens and outcast immigrant workers. Bit by bit, the United States would transform as legislators, judges, and administrators adjudicated countless matters pitting the interests of sponsoring citizens (who could vote) against the interests of immigrants (who could not). The deepening divide would corrode democracy twice over: first, by excluding immigrants from having a political voice and rights, and second, by encouraging a social hierarchy that would inevitably intensify class distinctions among citizens, too.

Personal familiarity poses no barrier to this process. Posner and Weyl naively misread history when they wrote that “it is hard to demonize the person who lives in your basement, or the basement of your neighbor, and has increased your income greatly.” It may seem like common sense that proximity breeds understanding, but when a property right in others’ labor is at stake, just the opposite is often the case. For most of American history, family members’ labor was under the legal control of male heads of household. Abuse without redress was pervasive, despite bonds of affection.

And in regimes premised on indentured servitude and slavery, affection was no protection at all. Indeed, intimacy can make exploitation all the more oppressive. Far from treating the people living in their “basements” with care, slaveholders—who liked to call their human property “family”—regularly raped enslaved women and “unblushingly reared” their own children “for the market,” as Harriet Jacobs, who escaped slavery, recounted in her 1861 autobiography.

Immigrants subordinated both economically and politically—and this, at bottom, is what Posner and Weyl unwittingly propose—would be defenseless against abuse. Like the millions indentured, enslaved, and trafficked before them, they would be despised for their very inability to resist, then abused all the more for being despicable. Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder himself, described this dynamic clearly: “The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other,” he wrote in the 1780s. “Our children,” he added, “see this, and learn to imitate it.”

The future for working people

The future for labor looks bleak. As Dani Rodrik and Stephanie Stantcheva argue, firms will continue to find no reason to give workers a say in “decisions about employment, investment, and innovation,” with the result that an increasingly underemployed workforce will be left to deal with legacies of “broken families, substance abuse, and crime” in societies marred by “declining trust in government, experts, and institutions.” Footnote 50 Facing up to another decade of labor insecurity will be particularly difficult for workers under forty years of age, for whom the 2008 global crisis came at an early point in their working lives. Valerio Lofoco, a thirty-one-year-old university graduate who has been waiting tables and delivering food to get by, told the Financial Times, “I was in my twenties when the economic crisis hit in 2008. This is the second global crisis facing my generation since I entered the job market.” Footnote 51 How can workers like Lofoco be expected to face down another lost decade? The last crisis had a long-term negative effect on their lifetime earnings. Footnote 52 The present crisis will be more punishing.

Meanwhile, the climate crisis is likely to deliver its own economic shocks before a full recovery from the pandemic crisis is achieved. Acknowledging the impossibility of continuing business as usual, even the World Economic Forum in Davos is calling for a “Great Reset” of global capitalism in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Footnote 53 However, governments are unlikely to enact the changes that a true reset would necessitate—above all clawing back wealth from the world's richest families to invest in health, housing, food, and energy security for the world's poor. Increasing the autonomy of those with the least economic and political power at the expense of those with the greatest will be a hard sell even with Davos's blessing. Still, economic stagnation and high levels of social inequality remain a potent brew. Over the proceeding decade, many countries have seen peaceful protest movements give way to more directly confrontational struggles. Footnote 54 We can expect more of the same in the 2020s.

Watch the video: Igor Degnera, Deputy Head of the State Labour Service of Ukraine