Leipzig was an economic hub and a centre of arms manufacture before and during World War II. Between 1939 and 1945 at least 75,000 men, women, boys and girls from all parts of Europe were held as forced labourers here. They were deployed in all sectors of the economy: especially in industrial production, but also as domestic servants, in maintenance of urban utilities, in public transport, in craftsmen’s shops, clearing debris after air raids or working at private companies. Most of the labourers worked at the major weapons manufacturers or their suppliers.
Throughout the municipal region, a total of around 700 camps and mass accommodations for forced labourers was created. Labourers were accommodated in sheds, factory buildings, public gyms, hotels, schools, club houses as well as private households.
To meet the constantly increasing demand for labour in arms production, internees of concentration camps were also brought to Leipzig and used as forced labourers from 1943 onwards. In Leipzig and the surrounding areas, a total of six subcamps of the Buchenwald concentration camp were created. The male and female labourers had to work in appalling conditions for arms companies such as “Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft” (HASAG) and aircraft manufacturer “Erla-Maschinenwerke GmbH”.