Chocolate - contained traces of forced labour

Chocolate was considered a luxury item during the Second World War. Like other confectionery, its production was restricted. Nevertheless, individual manufacturers profited from the war because they supplied the Wehrmacht - for example the Sarotti company.

The Sarotti company was founded in Berlin in 1852. At the beginning of the 1920s, Sarotti was the largest chocolate factory in the world - and the "Sarotti Moor" was one of the best-known advertising figures.

The Second World War posed a great challenge to all confectionery manufacturers, because their products were not considered "essential to the war effort". Chocolate production was severely restricted from 1939, and from September 1942 the processing of raw cocoa was banned altogether. From January 1944, all confectionery production was banned - apart from government orders. In total, 339 out of 400 companies in the German confectionery industry had to stop their production.

Sarotti also stopped the production of confectionery for civilian use in April 1943, but was able to avoid shutting down the factory. The management benefited from the well-rehearsed cooperation with the Nazi authorities. Sarotti was able to prevail over other manufacturers and produce sweets for the Wehrmacht.


About 26 million people from almost all over Europe had to work for the Nazi state in the German Reich and the occupied territories during the Second World War. Among them were prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates. The largest group was made up of the approximately 8.4 million civilian workers deported to the then German Reich: men, women and children from the occupied territories of Europe.

During the war, the food industry experienced a boom. Luxury goods were excluded. Only companies that worked on behalf of the state were allowed to continue production. In December 1943, 19.2 percent of the Sarotti workforce consisted of forced labourers. This corresponds roughly to the average rate in German industry as a whole.


Forced labour is by no means a long-gone injustice. According to United Nations (UN) estimates, more than 40 million people are still victims of modern forms of slavery today. 29 million are women and children. A large proportion of them are used in the confectionery industry.

Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, which works closely with the United Nations, says: "The fact that 40 million people are still in modern slavery every day should make us blush. Modern slavery affects children, women and men worldwide. This documents the profound discrimination and inequality in the world, coupled with a shocking tolerance for exploitation. We must stop this. We can all help change this reality - in business, government, civil society and as individuals."