Nazi industrial miracle - a slave-based economy: Exhibition

Photo: Institute of National Remembrance/ Twitter

The Institute of National Remembrance officially opened the “The Economy of the Third Reich” exhibition. It presents the sources of today’s economic power in Germany, a country where the most powerful companies experienced their greatest development during World War II, as a result of a ruthless policy of human exploitation.

The Director of the IPN National Education Office Adam Hlebowicz explained that the exhibition will explore the concepts and mechanisms of the Third Reich’s economy.

“We show the basics, where it started and what was Hitler’s idea for the economy of the country he ruled. We show the foundation, where did it come from, how Hitler came up with it, how he created it, and then the mechanisms behind it,” Hlebowicz explained.

Companies built on slave labour

A number of companies that spread their wings at the time and which still operate on the world market today built their power during the Third Reich.

During World War II, 14 million forced labourers worked in Germany, this was, of course, a multinational composition. We can’t count whether there were 2.5 million Poles or whether there were 3 million,” Adam Hlebowicz said.

Slave and forced labour of concentration and extermination camp inmates and prisoners of war was used during the Third Reich by 90 percent of German companies. Among the largest were: Continental, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Siemens, Bayer, Agfa, Dr. Oetker, Hugo Boss, Allianz, Deutsche Reichsbahn (which took over the entire Polish railroad infrastructure), Lufthansa, Deutsche Bank, IG Farben and many others.

EUR 2 trillion stolen

German historian Götz Aly calculated that the goods seized by the Germans would be worth at least EUR 2 trillion today. Many cultural assets stolen across Europe are still in German hands today.

The exhibition was prepared in two language versions: Polish and English. It also contains many photos showing German industrialists and their connections to the NSDAP and the highest authorities of the Third Reich, as well as their post-war fate and how the slave labour of millions of people contributed to the development of German companies.