Building an autobahn in the snow

EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT

“Under the watchful eye of the SA (see below) we marched out to the motorway where they handed us over to the building contractors who were working on the motorway. I was directed to the “Kaltwasser Hoch-Tiefbau” firm and joined a group loading clay into tippers. It was impossible to work continuously outside because of the changeable spring weather. March brought a lot of snow and overnight the clay ground was often frozen solid. Early every morning we were punctually marched outside, but it was frequently impossible to carry out the work. Finally they allocated us to various transport jobs or we were made to break up cement with wooden boards or planks. As we wore neither gloves nor winter clothes the work was agony. Many had frostbitten hands and others could not withstand the work, unable to overcome the freezing cold with constant movement. Sometimes, when the foremen and civilian workers were unable to direct the work because of the constant slush or rain, we were sent from the building site back into the camp. Anton, the guard, begrudged us this enforced break. He chased us for hours around the Appellplatz in order to force us to do pointless work. Despite this we could pass a few hours in our quarters.”

The Sturmabteilung (SA) was the Storm Detachment or Assault Division which functioned as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.

forced-labourers-klettendorf

Jewish forced laborers from the Klettendorf labor camp shovel snow in preparation for the construction of the new autobahn between Breslau and Berlin. [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]

AppellAutobahnForced labourGrünheide camp
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