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Heu-Aktion was the name of an operation to kidnap 40,000 to 50,000 Polish, Belarusian and Ukrainian children by German armed forces for slave labour in Nazi Germany[1]. The term means collective harvesting of hay[2]

Kidnapped children were deported to Nazi Germany and handed over to Organisation Todt and Junkers works. This was with the intention to pressure the adult populations of occupied territories to register as workers in Nazi Reich, and to weaken the “biological strength” of the enemy population of the Soviet Union which Germany invaded.[3]

Originally head of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, Alfred Rosenberg proposed to kidnap the youth population between the ages of 15-17, fearing that targeting such young victims would be seen widely as simple abduction[4], but after actions of 9th Army he consented to kidnapping of children between ages 10 and 14.[3]

The children were transferred to special camps for children called Kindererziehungslager, where Germans studied them for "racial traits", to select children suitable for Germanization. If they were determined to be racially unworthy, their birth certificates were destroyed and names were changed, before being sent to forced labour or to concentration camps, including Auschwitz [5][6]

Kidnapping operations were made by the Army Group Centre, and 2nd Army, where Henning von Tresckow signed the order to abduct the children on 28 June 1944 as its Chief of Staff [7].

The operation reached its peak in 1944, but due the course of the war never reached its fully intended scale[8].

Post war

The Nuremberg Trials classified the kidnapping of children as part of the Nazi program of systemic genocide[9]

See also


  1. Hitlerowski rabunek dzieci polskich (1939-1945)Roman Hrabar 1960 page 99
  2. Lower, Wendy (2005), Nazi empire-building and the Holocaust in Ukraine, UNC Press Books, p. 117, ISBN 9780807829608
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 351 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  6. Himmlers Raumplanung im Osten: Der Generalplan Ost in Polen 1940-1944 (Stadt, Planung, Geschichte) Bruno Wasser page 221
  7. Men of 20 July and the War in the Soviet Union Christian Gerlach in War Of Extermination: The German Military In World War II page 139
  8. "Herrenmensch" und "Bandit" Deutsche Kriegsführung und Besatzungspolitik als Kontext des sowjetischen Partisanenkrieges(1941-44)Timm C. Richter page 106

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