On the search for clues - NS crimes against forced labourers and prisoners of war in a village in Sauerland
Forced labourers in Garbeck
The rural populations were extremely ambivalent in their dealings with forced labourers. Many farmers treated them like any other agricultural worker, judged them on their performance and subordination, shared their meals and sometimes even spent their free time with them. Others kept their distance and behaved in an exemplary manner, as “German farmers” do. Colleagues in the metal-working enterprises also behaved somewhat inconsistently. During the working day in the factory, they talked, joked and grumbled, but only a few Germans brought additional food for the foreigners, with most being indifferent to their fate. This can be seen in some of the examples that I came across during my research in the area.
J. Fischer, Farmer
In 1940, the Labour Office sent Ceslaus Rinzat, a Polish forced labourer, to the farm belonging to the farmer J. Fischer, as I was told by the farmer’s son (born 1930) during our conversation in Garbeck in autumn 2005. At the beginning, the labourer did not want to touch anything dirty. Rinzat was a hairdresser from Kraków. But after Gerwiener, the village constable, “sorted him out, he did everything”, said Fischer; milking was the only thing he could not do. In winter, when there was not much to do on the farmyard, Rinzat helped out at Böhmer’s, the hairdressers in the village. The man became friendly with a “Russian woman” from the neighbouring farm. When she became pregnant, she had to “go away”. “Where she went to, we didn’t ask. At the end of the day, it was still the war. Look at what the Americans do today in Iraq. Our grandchildren will live through a war with the Muslims”, declared Fischer. In autumn 1944, “Ceslaus” went to work for a timber merchant in Linnepe. Ceslaus Rinzat died in Dortmund after the war following a stomach operation.
H. Rademacher, Farmer
I read in the police files that the farmer Heinrich Rademacher in Levringhausen came into conflict with the authorities because of his “familiar” interaction with Theophil Rozycki (Teofil Różycki) , a Polish agricultural worker. The farmer had to endure house searches, he received threats, complaints were made against him, and the village policeman passed on a warning from the “state police”. In his “complaint against a Pole and two German nationals” of 16 May 1944, police officer Wallmann wrote the following about Rademacher: “The farmer’s attitude towards his Pole is definitely familiar. They live in complete coexistence.” He put forward the proposal “that the Pole be moved on somewhere else”. He does not keep the “required distance” which he is obliged to keep “as a German farmer”. Rademacher is also a notorious drinker and “typical hoarder and dealer”. In the “warning from the state police” it said: “I have been advised that I can expect measures to be taken by the state police, in particular protective custody and committal to a concentration camp, if I do not keep the required distance from Polish nationals and refrain from otherwise forbidden interaction.” On 19 August 1944, police officer Wallmann reported to the Gestapo: “Rademacher does not currently have any foreign labourers. (...) Rozycki is now with widow Schulte-Heller in Garbeck.” Theophil Rozycki died on 25 February 1945 from a “cerebral haemorrhage”; the Director of Balve did not inform the British military administration on 8 January 1950 of the precise circumstances of his death.
Martin Rapp, June 2021
The unabridged version of this article by Martin Rapp can be found in the media library (in German).