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Unused forced labor badge, blue field with OST in white letters, to identify a forced laborer from the Soviet Union

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Unused OST badge that would have been worn by a forced laborer to identify them as an Ostarbeiter [Worker from the East], usually Russian or Ukrainian, deported to work in Nazi Germany. The patch would have been sewn to the chest with the outer white border visible. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in the spring of 1941, the need for forced labor to support the war effort became an urgent necessity. Beginning in 1942, millions of forced laborers were deported from the Soviet Union to work in factories and other civilian labor details. They were housed in so-called residence camps that often had barbed wire and SS guards. They were treated as second class citizens and kept separate from the general population. After the war ended in 1945, nearly 6 million eastern workers were repatriated to the Soviet Union where they often were discriminated against and accused of being traitors to their country.

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  • Title: Unused forced labor badge, blue field with OST in white letters, to identify a forced laborer from the Soviet Union
  • Location: Soviet Union--History--German occupation, 1941-1944.
  • Provenance: The OST badge was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005.
  • Subject Keywords: East Europeans--Germany--History--20th century. Forced labor--Germany--History--20th century. Foreign workers--Germany--History--20th century. Soviets (People)--Germany--History. World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor--Germany.
  • Type: Identifying Artifacts
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Nearly square white cloth with a badge design printed on one side with dark blue dye. In the center is a white 3 letter acronym, OST, upon a dark blue square field. That square is bordered by an outline of undyed white cloth which is then bordered by a dyed dark blue outline. At the top and bottom are blue dashes for use as guidelines when cutting a badge from a larger sheet. This badge appears to be unused.

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