The Business of Survival: Baltic Oil Ltd. and Jewish Forced-Labor Camps in Estonia
This article examines Jewish forced labor camps in Estonia in 1943-1944. The Estonian case calls for reassessment of the concept of “extermination through labor,” reinforcing the view that ideology and contingency were complementary rather than mutually exclusive in the Nazi drive to destroy the Jews. Of approximately 10,000 Jews who had been deported to Estonia, mainly from the dismantled ghettos at Vilna and Kovno, some 45 percent survived. The Nazi decision to preserve the Jewish workforce in Estonia was meant to ensure the uninterrupted output of synthetic oil, which was crucial for keeping the German war machine operational.