Forced labor and medicine: Provision of medical care for female forced laborers from Łódź in Ulm (1944–1945)

In years 1944–1945, more than 1400 girls from Łódź (Poland) were displaced to Ulm and forced to work for military manufacturer Telefunken. During their stay, they were mistreated and had to endure severe living conditions. The devastating workload, limitation of living space, hunger and poor hygiene led to outbreak of several diseases and to overwhelming health problems. Most of the workers were affected by epidemic typhus, tuberculosis or scabies. They received rudimentary medical care; however, the extent and provision of it remains undisclosed. Up to now, no systematic scientific research concentrated on this topic, especially from the perspective of the affected individuals.

The goal of this project is historical reappraisal of the experiences of the female forced laborers from Łódź coerced to work in Ulm, with particular attention paid to the medical care that they received. The project will be realized in two steps. In the first step, evaluated will be archival records from state, municipal, and hospital archives in Łódź. In the second step, narrative interviews will be conducted with the contemporary witnesses. The synthesis of these two approaches will make possible reconstruction of the medical care provided for forced laborers in Ulm and document possible medical misdeeds. In addition, historical reappraisal of these experiences will allow recognition of the sufferings of the victims.

First phase of the research is sponsored by the Deutsch-Polnische Wissenschaftstiftung. Financial contribution for the second step of the research is provided by the Foundation for Polish Science within the framework of the Alexander von Humboldt Polish Honorary Research Scholarship awarded to Prof. Dr. Florian Steger.

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Florian Steger
Project researcher: Dr. Marcin Orzechowski

Duration: 2019–2022

Project sponsored by:
Deutsch-Polnische Wissenschaftstiftung (DPWS) and Foundation for Polish Science (FNP)