Hall of the "forced draft"
This hall is dedicated to the 130,000 men from Alsace-Moselle who were forcibly drafted into the German Army by the Nazis between 1942 and 1945, during the annexation of the two provinces by the Third Reich.
They did not volunteer, thence their names of "Malgré-Nous" (= in spite of their own will), but failure to comply with this totally illegal measure would result in the deportation of their families. Most of the men thus enlisted fought on the Russian front. 40,000 of them died for a cause that was not theirs.
Those who deserted from the Wehrmacht or were captured by the Russians were gathered in camp # 188 in Tambow. Forced labor, malnutrition, the harsh climate, the lack of hygiene, epidemics, torture and beatings resulted in thousands of casualties.
The first survivors did not return home before The Fall of 1945 and the last ones, isolated in far-away camps, came back as late as 1955.
Stories and personal recollections will help you understand the fate of these men. You will see a reconstitution of life in the camps and photographs illustrating the living conditions. A section of the exhibit is devoted to Nazi propaganda, which praised the German Army, thus enticing the Alsatians to enlist.
At the end of this page,dedicated to the hall of the forced draft, you can find this quote: :
« We are the only ones who will remember the deportees and the victims of massacres. The dead are entirely dependent on our faithfulness. »
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