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Helping the Homeland: Yugoslavia’s [almost] Forgotten Gastarbeiter Factories

Yugoslav ‘guest-workers’ in Western Europe were responsible for an influx of Western-made goods and cash. They also bankrolled the creation of dozens of factories, some that employed the wives left behind.

The word gastarbeiter has its roots in the 1960s and 70s, when hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavs became temporary ‘guest-workers’ in Western Europe, most of them in Germany.

The phenomenon became synonymous with the influx of Western-made goods, from cars to chocolate bars; but there was also the cash that poured into the Yugoslav economy and, in some places, financed the rise of so-called ‘remittance factories’.

Six decades since the first such factory opened its doors, paid for with remittances from Yugoslav Gastarbeiters, Sara Zeric, a research associate at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Research in Regensburg, Germany, is researching their contribution to local development.

Source: Balkan Insight