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New book on Forced Labour

26. Mär. 2014

A new book on forced labour as a resource of war edited by Dr. Kerstin von Lingen and Prof. Dr. Klaus Gestwa is now available. It explores the relational history between war and forced labour from a diachronic and a synchronic perspective.

The 20th century has been labeled the century of “Lager” and camps. However - and often overlooked - the systematic use of “unfree labour” of subjugated citizens, prisoners of war, occupied neighbours or marginalised minorities within sovereign territories is a transcultural practice in use since Ancient times. Forced labour aimed to maintain power structures and social order in war, often with intention to modernise and rationalise economy and infrastructure: it was thus a true ressource of war economy.

The edited volume “Zwangsarbeit als Kriegsressource in Europa und Asien” compares premodern and modern as well as European and East Asian forced labour regimes focusing on profiteers, actors and victims. As forced labour has become a characteristic of regimes during the era of Total Wars, the volume emphasizes on the two major conflicts of the 20th century, giving space to similarities and differences of war time slave labour in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Imperial Japan. Among other authors, former Cluster members Sven Matthiessen and Takuma Melber (both Professorship Cultural Economic History) contributed to the volume.


The publication was inspired by the conference “Zwangsarbeit als Kriegswaffe”, which was organised by Dr. Kerstin von Lingen and Prof. Dr. Klaus Gestwa in September 2011. The book “Zwangsarbeit als Kriegsressource in Europa und Asien” -471 pages- was published by Ferdinand Schöningh Publishers in February 2014. It is part of the series “Krieg in der Geschichte”.


Dr. Kerstin von Lingen is leader of the Cluster’s Junior Research Group A16 “Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1945-1954”. She is an associated member of the Department of History of Heidelberg University and fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London. Prof. Dr. Klaus Gestwa is professor for Eastern European History at Tübingen University.


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