The German occupation of the northern Adriatic area of Italy gave rise to the Operationszone ‘Adriatisches Küstenland’, the ‘Adriatic Coast’ Operations Zone (OZAK), where the suspension of Italian sovereignty resulted in a German civil administration, directly under Hitler’s command. As in other European regions formally or concretely annexed to the Reich, its control was assigned to the governor of a neighbouring Gau: the Carinthian Gauleiter Friedrich Rainer. The Supreme Commissioner Rainer assumed absolute political, judicial and economic power, and pledged to meet the German war economy’s need for manpower by encouraging workers to move voluntarily to the Reich. In addition to presenting the economic benefits of going to work beyond the Alps, German propaganda pursued this objective by leveraging both the historical link between this region and Austria by virtue of the common Habsburg past, and the solid local tradition of emigration to Germany and Carinthia by seasonal farm labourers and factory workers.

by Sara Bergamasco

The propaganda articles of the OZAK Nazi newspaper Deutsche Adria Zeitung showed Italian men and women apparently enjoying life both in the Arbeitslager and during work activities.