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Motivations, contraintes et marges de manœuvre des entreprises allemandes dans l'emploi de travailleurs forcés pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale


  • Mark Spoerer


[eng] Abstract . This article analyses the motives of German firms to employ foreign labourers during World War II and the constraints affecting their decision-making. From the perspective of the firm the employment of foreigners served two functions. First, and in line with the official intentions, their employment was a complement to capital input when it came to producing armaments goods in a situation where no German workers were available on the labour market. Second, and sometimes against the ends of the regime, their employment was a substitute for investment projects that the regime wished but the firm not. Most firms made unscrupulous use of forced labour. For those who had reservations the rooms of manoeuvre became narrower in the course of the war. Faced by the threat of forced plant closures they could not dare to resist the employment of forced labourers which would have resulted in capacity lying idle. Hence whether firms acted ethically is not so much a question of whether they ordered foreign labourers but how they treated them. [fre] Résumé . Cet article étudie les motivations des firmes allemandes employant des travailleurs étrangers pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale et les contraintes affectant leur processus de décision. Selon la perspective de l'entreprise, l'emploi d'étrangers répondait à deux fonctions. Premièrement, dans le respect de la politique officielle, il représentait un complément à l'investissement en capital quand il fallait produire du matériel militaire dans une situation où aucun travailleur allemand n'était disponible sur le marché du travail. Deuxièmement, et parfois à l'encontre des objectifs du régime, cet emploi représentait un substitut à des projets d'investissement que le pouvoir nazi souhaitait mais pas l'entreprise. La plupart des firmes ont fait un usage peu scrupuleux du travail forcé. Pour celles qui avaient des réticences, les marges de manœuvre sont devenues plus étroites au cours de la guerre. Face à la menace de fermetures imposées d'usines, elles ne pouvaient se permettre de résister à l'emploi de travailleurs forcés nécessaire pour que leurs capacités ne tournent pas au ralenti. La question de savoir si les entreprises ont agi de manière éthique repose moins sur leur demande de travailleurs étrangers que sur la manière dont elles les ont traités.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Spoerer, 2005. "Motivations, contraintes et marges de manœuvre des entreprises allemandes dans l'emploi de travailleurs forcés pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale," Histoire, économie & société, Programme National Persée, vol. 24(4), pages 545-553.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:hiseco:hes_0752-5702_2005_num_24_4_2570
    Note: DOI:10.3406/hes.2005.2570

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    Cited by:

    1. Fernando Mendiola Gonzalo, 2011. "Forced Labour in Franco's Spain: Workforce Supply, Profits and Productivity," Working Papers 0004, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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