Service du travail obligatoire
The Service du travail obligatoire (Compulsory Work Service; STO) was the forced enlistment and deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 of hundreds of thousands of French workers to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in order to work as forced labour
Forced labor in Germany during World War II
The use of forced labour in Nazi Germany and throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II took place on an unprecedented scale. It was a vital part of the German economic exploitation of conquered territories. It also contributed to the mass extermination of populations in German-occupied...

 for the German war effort during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


Formally created under laws and regulations of Vichy France
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

, Nazi Germany set up the STO to compensate for its loss of manpower as it enlisted more and more soldiers for the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. The German government promised that for every three French workers sent over, they would release one French prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

. Those requisitioned under the STO were accommodated in work camps on German soil.


The law of September 4, 1942, signed by Marshal of France
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

 and Chief of State
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 of Vichy France
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

 as well as Prime Minister
Prime Minister of France
The Prime Minister of France in the Fifth Republic is the head of government and of the Council of Ministers of France. The head of state is the President of the French Republic...

 and Head of Government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval was a French politician. He was four times President of the council of ministers of the Third Republic, twice consecutively. Following France's Armistice with Germany in 1940, he served twice in the Vichy Regime as head of government, signing orders permitting the deportation of...

 in his cabinet, was entitled "" or "Law of 4 September 1942 on the use and guidance of the workforce", and required all able-bodied men 18-50 and single women 21-35 "be subject to do any work that the Government deems necessary".

The law of February 16, 1943, signed by Prime Minister Laval for Minister of Justice Joseph Barthélemy
Joseph Barthélemy
Joseph Barthélemy was a French jurist, politician and journalist. Initially a critic of Nazi Germany, he would go on to serve as a minister in the collaborationist Vichy regime.-Early years:...

 deemed it necessary that all males over 20 be subject to the service du travail obligatoire, which was to be regulated. Regulations were issued the same day and immediately subjected males born between 1920-1922, roughly all males between 20-23, to the service.

List of former STO workers

  • André Bergeron
  • Antoine Blondin
    Antoine Blondin
    Antoine Blondin was a French writer.He belonged to the literary group called the Hussards. He was also a sports columnist in L'Équipe. Blondin also wrote under the name Tenorio.-Biography:...

  • Auguste Boncors
  • Jean Boudou
  • Georges Brassens
    Georges Brassens
    Georges Brassens , 22 October 1921 – 29 October 1981), was a French singer-songwriter and poet.Brassens was born in Sète, a town in southern France near Montpellier...

  • José Cabanis
    José Cabanis
    José Cabanis was a French novelist, essayist, historian and magistrate. He was elected mainteneur of the Académie des Jeux floraux in 1965 and a member of the Académie française in 1990.- Works :...

  • François Cavanna
    François Cavanna
    François Cavanna is a French author and satirical newspaper editor.He contributed to the creation and success of Hara-Kiri and Charlie Hebdo...

  • Arthur Conte
  • Raymond Devos
    Raymond Devos
    Raymond Devos was a Belgian-French humorist, stand-up comedian and clown. He is best known for his sophisticated puns and surreal humour.- Early life :...

  • Michel Galabru
    Michel Galabru
    Michel Louis Edmond Galabru is a French actor born on 27 October 1922 in Safi, Morocco.-Career:Over the course of his career, Galabru appeared in over 200 movies and worked with such renowned directors as Bertrand Blier, Costa-Gavras, Luc Besson , and Jean-Luc Godard...

  • Stéphane Just
  • Boby Lapointe
    Boby Lapointe
    Robert Lapointe was a French singer, noted for his humorous texts, alliterations and plays on words.He was born in Pézenas, in the Hérault département of France...

  • Claude Ollier
  • Alain Robbe-Grillet
    Alain Robbe-Grillet
    Alain Robbe-Grillet , was a French writer and filmmaker. He was, along with Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor and Claude Simon, one of the figures most associated with the Nouveau Roman trend. Alain Robbe-Grillet was elected a member of the Académie française on March 25, 2004, succeeding Maurice...

  • André Tissier

External links

la Fédération Nationale des Rescapés et Victimes des Camps Nazis du Travail Forcé
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