Millions of forced laborers, men as well as women, were employed in the German economy during World War II. For a long time, the fact that church institutions also made use of their labor
remained largely ignored; there followed a phase of speculation without any basis in fact. Now, thanks to the research results presented here, it is possible to get a clear picture of how, and to what
extent, forced laborers were employed in Catholic Church institutions.
The research for this book was the most extensive conducted during the last decades in the entire field of Catholicism studies. It extended to institutions, homes, hospitals, and parish agricultural
holdings (Pfarrökonomien) in all dioceses. In addition, contact with former forced laborers, both men and women, was established. Twenty-seven diocesan reports relate the course of the research efforts,
the church-historical circumstances of the time, the working conditions in the institutions, and the work performed by forced laborers deported mainly from Poland and the Soviet Union. The volume
also informs about the efforts to provide pastoral care, noteworthy individual experiences, and the reconciliation initiatives that were begun in the summer of 2000. An extensive historical introduction
and the concluding reports of the Church’s foundation for compensation and reconciliation help situate the findings within an overarching context.
A comprehensive statistics section (Datendokumentation), as well as official press statements from the years 2000, 2004, and 2005, help complete the picture of the Catholic
Church’s compensation, reconciliation, and commemoration efforts. This volume documents and takes stock of the Church’s critical, intensive engagement with an almost unknown chapter of its
own past in exemplary fashion.