Jews for Copper: Jewish-Hungarian Labor Service Companies in Bor
Following a German request, the Hungarian government in spring 1943 dispatched two transports with nearly 3,000 Jews in Jewish Labor Service Companies to work in the Bor copper mines in the heart of occupied Yugoslavia. In return, the Germans promised to provide a certain amount of copper for Hungarian industry. The labor companies were employed primarily in construction and infrastructure work under the supervision of Organisation Todt. Their physical condition declined rapidly, in part as a result of the cruel treatment meted out by the Hungarian soldiers and officers in charge of them. A number of escape attempts resulted in some escapees finding their way to Tito’s partisans with the help of the local population, while others were captured and shot. With the advance of the Red Army in fall 1944, the forced labor was halted and the laborers were marched in two groups from Bor towards Hungary. One group marched through Belgrade, its members denied food and water for days, while many were shot by their Hungarian guards. Most of the Jews were delivered to an SS unit in Hungary, who then shot hundreds in Crvenka. The rest were sent to concentration camps in Germany. The second group was liberated by partisans on the second day of the march, apparently thanks to the Hungarian commander. Jews who spoke Serbo-Croatian then joined the partisans, while the others made their way to Hungary via now liberated Romania.