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  • The Swabian children were peasant children from poor families in the Alps of Austria and Switzerland who went to find work on German farms. Usually they were sent by their parents to become seasonal workers. They were taken in spring and brought to the child markets in Germany, mainly in upper Swabia, where they would be purchased or "rented" by farmers for the season. The use of Swabian children as workers was most widespread in the 19th century. The march over the Alps to Germany proved often difficult and exhausting. Usually their guide was a priest, who was also responsible for ensuring the children had a warm stable to sleep in. The marches were not done in small groups, but were large, organised groups of several thousand children, taken over the snow covered mountains often still dressed in rags. It was not uncommon for five and six-year-old children to be taken. The American press began a campaign in 1908 exposing the Swabian children, describing the child market in Friedrichshafen as a "barely concealed slave market". The child markets were abolished in 1915, yet the trade of Swabian children did not end completely until compulsory schooling for foreign children was introduced in Württemberg in 1921.

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