DAF (German Labour Front)
Between 1933 and 1939, the people of Germany gained through available employment. The regime was able to provide work (and some sense of stability) where the Weimar Republic had been precariously lacking. By 1939, only 35,000 of the 25m German workers were officially unemployed. A miracle had occurred.
The DAF, the German Labour Front, was the amalgamation of all German unions into one Reich union. This was formed after all independent German labour unions were made illegal in May 1933. Assets were handed over and membership rose form 5m (1933) to 22m (1939). There was no wage bargaining, no industrial action or strikes and certainly no protests. This union was established “….for the good of the fatherland….” Headed by Dr.Robert Ley, DAF provided a range of facilities and support networks to motivate the workforce to produce more and provide leisure opportunities for the average German worker.
Strength Through Joy (KDF)
* Provided workers with subsidised holidays, hikes, sports, theatre and cinema
* In 1938 over 10m took KDF holidays within Germany
Beauty of Work
* Subdivision of KDF to improve work facilities.
* Sought to provide healthy working conditions for workers in factories, mines, chemical workers, iron ore sites, etc.
* Ley saw this as a method of breaking down the class system. Workers could be integrated into the new works system without fear or intimidation from other classes.
* Included the ‘Volkswagen’ scheme – workers saved money with a scheme to receive a car. Very few ever did.
* Provided works training schemes and vocational training courses – 2.5m in 1936.
Trustees of Labour
* 12 trustees looked after an area to fix wages, arrange and grant holiday applications.
* They were supervised by the Council of Trust
Councils of Trust
* Group who discussed group and worker safety at work and welfare.
* They were mandated to strengthen ties between workers.
Labour Service (RAD)
* Voluntary labour scheme under the Weimar Republic.
* After 1935 this group made six months labour service compulsory to all between the ages of 19 and 25.
* Majority of workers were working class.
* Intended to educate the German youth in the spirit of National Socialism through work-pride and employment.
* Most workers found themselves in agriculture or public works programmes.
Conditions and Results
* Wages were frozen at 1933 levels.
* In order to maintain order, many employers gave holiday and X-mas bonuses and paid for worker insurance schemes.
* Demand for skilled workers was high and so there was still 435,000 foreign workers in Germany in 1939.
* Some employers gave workers free travel, cars and motorbikes.
* Hard to assess and generalise.
* Those in armaments industries and businesses showered with patronage by the state did better than they had done before.
* Take-home pay may have risen for some workers, but mostly because of over-time.
* Even so, the rapid improvement of workers and the availability of work for all would have given the impression of greater prosperity and stability that there might actually have been.
* Thus, people felt better under the Nazis rather than actually knowing they were better off.
* By 1936, average wages were 35 marks per week – 10 times the dole money that 6 million had received in 1933.
* Average holidays increased from 3 days per year (1933) to 12 day per year (1939).
* Generally, workers lost their freedom but gained some improved facilities
* They lost political power through the banishment of their unions and lost the ability to pay-bargain.
* After 1935, every worker was issued with a work-booklet that they had to carry at all times. It was effectively their work’s passport.
* Workers were more occupied and had access to more leisure time than they had previously enjoyed pre-1933.
* Compensation, insurance and health care were options that all workers enjoyed.
* Workers did have a method of complaint and appeal through their Councils of Trust but this was very rare. With only one body of appeal, and that also being Nazi-led, there were very few disputes or complaints.
* The regime tried to build the community spirit in the workplace – most would have enjoyed the spa’s and water retreats but for 90% they would only have ever seen it in pictures.
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