Reich Labour Service

The Reich Labour Service Reichsarbeitsdienst; RAD) was a major organisation established in Nazi Germany as an agency to help mitigate the effects of unemployment on the German economy, militarise the workforce and indoctrinate it with Nazi ideology. It was the official state labour service, divided into separate sections for men and women.

From June 1935 onward, men aged between 18 and 25 may have served six months before their military service. During World War II compulsory service also included young women and the RAD developed to an auxiliary formation which provided support for the Wehrmacht armed forces.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1987-085-19, Ostpreußen, RAD-Erntehelfer
RAD members working in the field, East Prussia, 1938
Reich Labour Service
Reichsarbeitsdienst - RAD
RAD Hausflagge
House flag with RAD symbol
Arbeitsdienst

A RAD squad in 1940
Agency overview
Formed26 June 1935
Preceding agencies
  • Frewilliger Arbeitsdienst (FAD)
  • Nationalsozialistischer
    Arbeitsdienst (NSAD)
Dissolved8 May 1945
TypeLabour Army
JurisdictionNazi Germany Nazi Germany
Occupied Europe
HeadquartersBerlinGrunewald
52°29′31″N 13°17′6″E / 52.49194°N 13.28500°E
Employees200,000 (1935)
350,000 (October 1939)
Agency executives
Parent agency

Foundation

In the course of the Great Depression, the German government of the Weimar Republic under Chancellor Heinrich Brüning by emergency decree had established the Freiwilliger Arbeitsdienst ('Voluntary Labour Service', FAD) on 5 June 1931, two years before the Nazi Party (NSDAP) ascended to national power. The state sponsored employment organisation provided services to civic and land improvement projects, from 16 July 1932 it was headed by Friedrich Syrup in the official rank of a Reichskommissar. The idea of a national compulsory service was quite popular, especially in right-wing circles, but it had little effect on the economic situation.

The concept was adopted by Adolf Hitler, who upon the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 appointed Konstantin Hierl state secretary in the Reich Ministry of Labour, responsible for FAD matters. Hierl was already a high-ranking member of the NSDAP and head of the party's labour organisation, the Nationalsozialistischer Arbeitsdienst or NSAD. Hierl developed the concept of a state labour service organisation similar to the Reichswehr army, with a view to implementing a compulsory service. Meant as an evasion of the regulations set by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, voluntariness initially was maintained after protests by the Geneva World Disarmament Conference.

Hierl's rivalry with Labour Minister Franz Seldte led to the affiliation of his office as a FAD Reichskommissar with the Interior Ministry under his party fellow Wilhelm Frick. On 11 July 1934, the NSAD was renamed Reichsarbeitsdienst or RAD with Hierl as its director until the end of World War II. By law issued on 26 June 1935, the RAD was re-established as an amalgamation of the many prior labour organisations formed in Germany during the Weimar Republic,[2] with Hierl appointed as Reich Labour Leader (Reichsarbeitsführer) according to the Führerprinzip. With massive financial support by the German government, RAD members were to provide service for mainly military and to a lesser extent civic and agricultural construction projects. Per Reich Labor Service Act of June 26, 1935[3] "(1) The Reich Labor Service is an honorary service to the German people.(2) All young Germans of both sexes are obliged to serve their people in the Reich Labor Service.(3) The Reich Labor Service is to educate the German youth in the spirit of National Socialism to the national community and to the true working attitude, above all to the due respect of manual labor.(4) The Reich Labor Service is intended for the performance of charitable work.[. . .]

Organisation

RAD Weibliche Jugend
RAD flag, Female Section

The RAD was divided into two major sections, one for men (Reichsarbeitsdienst Männer - RAD/M) and the voluntary, from 1939 compulsory, section for young women (Reichsarbeitsdienst der weiblichen Jugend - RAD/wJ).

The RAD was composed of 33 districts each called an Arbeitsgau (lit. Work District) similar to the Gaue subdivisions of the Nazi Party. Each of these districts was headed by an Arbeitsgauführer officer with headquarters staff and a Wachkompanie (Guard Company). Under each district were between six and eight Arbeitsgruppen (Work Groups), battalion-sized formations of 1200–1800 men. These groups were divided into six company-sized RAD-Abteilung units.

Conscripted personnel had to move into labour barracks. Each rank and file RAD man was supplied with a spade and a bicycle. A paramilitary uniform was implemented in 1934; beside the swastika brassard, the RAD symbol, an arm badge in the shape of an upward pointing shovel blade, was displayed on the upper left shoulder of all uniforms and great-coats worn by all personnel. Men and women had to work up to 76 hours a week.

War

The RAD was classed as Wehrmachtgefolge (lit. Defence Force Following). Auxiliary forces with this status, while not a part of the Armed Forces themselves, provided such vital support that they were given protection by the Geneva Convention. Some, including the RAD, were militarised.

Just prior to the outbreak of World War II, nearly all the RAD/M's extant RAD-Abteilung units were either incorporated into the Heer's Bautruppen (Construction troops) as an expedient to rapidly increase their numbers or else in a few cases transferred to the Luftwaffe to form the basis of new wartime construction units for that service. New units were quickly formed to replace them.

During the early war Norwegian and Western campaigns, hundreds of RAD units were engaged in supplying frontline troops with food and ammunition, repairing damaged roads and constructing and repairing airstrips. Throughout the course of the war, the RAD were involved in many projects.[4] The RAD units constructed coastal fortifications (many RAD men worked on the Atlantic Wall), laid minefields, manned fortifications, and even helped guard vital locations and prisoners.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H28335, RAD-Flak, Ausheben eines Schützengrabens
RAD members digging a trench for a RAD flak battery in March 1945

The role of the RAD was not limited to combat support functions. Hundreds of RAD units received training as anti-aircraft units and were deployed as RAD Flak Batteries.[4] Several RAD units also performed combat on the eastern front as infantry. As the German defences were devastated, more and more RAD men were committed to combat. During the final months of the war RAD men formed 6 major frontline units, which were involved with serious fighting. On the western front RAD troops were used as reinforcements to the 9th SS Engineer Abt (SS-Captain Moeller) in the fighting to retake the northern end of the Arnhem bridge from British Paratroopers under Col. Frost. This action was during Operation Market-Garden in September 1944. It was noted that the RAD troops had no combat experience. SS-Captain Moeller's report concluded: "These men were rather skeptical and reluctant at the beginning, which was hardly surprising. But when they were put in the right place they helped us a lot; and in time they integrated completely, becoming good and reliable comrades." Losses for these troops were in the hundreds.[5]

Equipment

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Nominally.
  2. ^ Hartmut Heyck, "Labour Services in the Weimar Republic and their Ideological Godparents", Journal of Contemporary History, 2003; 38: 221-236
  3. ^ "documentArchiv.de - Reichsarbeitsdienstgesetz (26.06.1935)". Documentarchiv.de. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b McNab 2009, p. 55.
  5. ^ Moeller 'Die Schlacht um Arnheim-Oosterbeek. Der Einsatz des Pionier Battalion 9 Hohenstaufen vom 17. bis 26. September 1944.

References

  • Kiran Klaus Patel: Soldaten der Arbeit. Arbeitsdienste in Deutschland und den USA, 1933-1945, Verlag Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003. ISBN 3-525-35138-0.
    English edition: "Soldiers of Labor. Labor Service in Nazi Germany and New Deal America", 1933–1945, Cambridge University Press, New York 2005, ISBN 0-521-83416-3.
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The Third Reich. Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-906626-51-8.

External links

Alfred Struwe

Alfred Struwe (April 22, 1927 – February 13, 1998) was a German actor, best known for his television role as Dr. Alexander Wittkugel in Zahn um Zahn.

Struwe was born in Marienburg, West Prussia (today Malbork in Poland), the son of a postman, and grew up there with five siblings. His first acting experience was in Hitler Youth summer camps. In 1944 he was called up first into the Reich Labour Service, then into the military. After attending officer training school in Hanover, he was sent along with other young contemporaries into battle in the final days of World War II. In 1945 he rejoined his family in Leipzig. Since his father, Gustav, was opposed to his making acting his career, he instead had to attend a police academy, until in 1948 it closed and he was also discharged. From then on, he was able to dedicate himself entirely to acting. He had already performed part-time in amateur productions and taken private acting lessons during his police training. In 1949 he joined the theater company in Greiz and subsequently was engaged in Brandenburg, Zittau, Cottbus, Karl-Marx-Stadt and Dresden.

Struwe made his first appearance before the cameras in 1954, in the DEFA co-production Leuchtfeuer. Then beginning in the 1960s, his face was often seen on both movie and television screens. Several times he played the part of the would-be assassin of Hitler, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. In 1985 he played what would become his signature role, the eccentric dentist Dr. Alexander Wittkugel in the television series Zahn um Zahn ("A Tooth for a Tooth"). This was so successful that in response to viewer demand the 7 projected episodes were extended and in the end 21 stories of "Dr. Wittkugel's Practices" were produced.Struwe's daughter Catharina Struwe is likewise an actress, with, for example, a longstanding engagement at the Neue Bühne in Senftenberg.

With the dissolution of the Iron Curtain, the popular actor's life became quieter. Struwe made occasional further appearances on stage and on television, but otherwise enjoyed his retirement. He died in Potsdam in 1998 after a lengthy illness caused by pneumonia and was buried in the Southwest Cemetery in Stahnsdorf.

Bad Segeberg

Bad Segeberg (Low German: Sebarg) is a German town of 16,000 inhabitants, located in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, capital of the district (Kreis) Segeberg. It is situated approximately 50 kilometers (31 mi) northeast of Hamburg, and 25 kilometers (16 mi) west of Lübeck.

It is famous for its annual Karl May Festival, which takes place in the city's Kalkberg Stadium, a large amphitheater originally built by the Reich Labour Service into an exploited quarry at the Segeberger Kalkberg.

There is a large television tower in the middle of the city.

Baudienst

Baudienst (from German, lit. "building service" or "construction service"), full name in German Baudienst im Generalgouvernement (Construction Service in the General Government), was a forced labour organization created by Nazi Germany in the General Government territory of occupied Poland during World War II. Baudienst was subordinate to the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD, lit. "Reich Labour Service").

Eidgenössische Sammlung

Eidgenössische Sammlung (German; literally "Confederate Collection") was a Swiss political party, founded in 1940 by Robert Tobler as a successor to the recently dissolved National Front.The party demanded an adjustment in Swiss policy to favour the Axis powers. This was particularly important as, after June 1940 the country was surrounded by fascist and Nazi states. It was open in its loyalty towards Nazi Germany.The Eidgenössiche Sammlung was closely supervised by the state because of its origins and so could not develop freely. In 1943 the police finally cracked down on the group and it was outlawed along with all of its sub-organisations as part of a wider government initiative against the National Front and its offshoots.

Ernst Wulf

Ernst Wulf (1921-1979) was an East German farmer and political activist who served as chairman of the Peasants Mutual Aid Association, a mass organization within the National Front, from 1964 to 1979.

During the reign of the Third Reich, Wulf was a member of the Reich Labour Service, and fought in the Wehrmacht in World War II, before being captured. After the war, he worked in Hanover for two years before moving to his home town, in the newly created German Democratic Republic. He joined the SED and became noted in the country for his contributions to agricultural output. He was a candidate for the Central Committee of the party in 1958.In 1960, he was elected deputy chairman of the VdgB, and in 1964 he became chairman, a post he would hold until his death in 1979.

Kalkberg Stadium

The Kalkberg Stadium (German: Kalkbergstadion) is an open-air theatre built in a former quarry on the Segeberger Kalkberg, a rocky outcropping in the centre of Bad Segeberg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It was built as a Thingplatz under the Third Reich and since 1952 has been the site of the annual Bad Segeberg Karl May Festival.

The Kalkberg was mined for salt until 1860 and was the site of a gypsum quarry until 1931. After the Nazis came to power, the quarry was converted into an amphitheatre to be used for mass meetings and multimedia theatrical performances as part of the Thingspiel movement. The theatre was designed by Fritz Schaller of Berlin, and was constructed mostly by the Reich Labour Service beginning on 29 May 1934. The work entailed sealing salt-mining shafts and cavities and bringing in 1,200 tonnes of granite from Silesia as building material, since the anhydrite core of the hill itself is water-soluble. The theatre was dedicated on 10 October 1937 by Joseph Goebbels as the Feierstätte der Nordmark or Nordmark-Feierstätte (Northern March Ceremonial Site); in his speech he expressed the wish it would be a "political church of National Socialism". A performance of Henrik Herse's Die Schlacht der weißen Schiffe took place there, probably in 1938, but after that there were no further performances until the end of World War II.Immediately after the war, the arena was used amongst other things for boxing and for circus performances, before becoming the site of the Karl May Festival in 1952. Concerts also take place there, including Norddeutscher Rundfunk's annual Kult am Kalkberg. With the Berlin Waldbühne and the Freilichtbühne Loreley, it is one of the best known of the former Thing sites.Schaller did not do any further blasting, but used the existing shape of the quarry, so the arena is asymmetrical and has a smaller stage area to one side. There is a rocky peak behind the stage, and loudspeakers were not installed because of the natural amplification. Originally there was to have been a monument behind the theatre. 14,000 seats and room for 6,000 standees were planned, but the theatre as built seats 10,000 and has room for 4,000 standees.

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), or simply the Knight's Cross (Ritterkreuz), and its variants were the highest awards in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.

The Knight's Cross was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of military valour. Presentations were made to members of the three military branches of the Wehrmacht (the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air Force), as well as the Waffen-SS, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD—Reich Labour Service) and the Volkssturm (German national militia), along with personnel from other Axis powers.

The award was instituted on 1 September 1939, at the onset of the German invasion of Poland. A higher grade, the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross, was instituted in 1940. In 1941, two higher grades of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves were instituted: the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords and the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. At the end of 1944 the final grade, the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, was created. Over 7,000 awards were made during the course of the war.

Konstantin Hierl

Konstantin Hierl (24 February 1875 – 23 September 1955) was a major figure in the administration of Nazi Germany. He was the head of the Reich Labour Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst; RAD) and an associate of Adolf Hitler before he came to national power.

List of Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross recipients (C)

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and its variants were the highest awards in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of extreme gallantry. A total of 7,321 awards were made between its first presentation on 30 September 1939 and its last bestowal on 17 June 1945. This number is based on the acceptance by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR). Presentations were made to members of the three military branches of the Wehrmacht—the Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force)—as well as the Waffen-SS, the Reich Labour Service, and the Volkssturm (German national militia). There were also 43 foreign recipients of the award.These recipients are listed in the 1986 edition of Walther-Peer Fellgiebel's book, Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945]. Fellgiebel was the former chairman and head of the order commission of the AKCR. In 1996, the second edition of this book was published with an addendum delisting 11 of these original recipients. Author Veit Scherzer has cast doubt on a further 193 of these listings. The majority of the disputed recipients had received the award in 1945, when the deteriorating situation of Germany during the final days of World War II left a number of nominations incomplete and pending in various stages of the approval process.Listed here are the 82 Knight's Cross recipients of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS whose last name starts with "C". The recipients are initially ordered alphabetically by last name. The rank listed is the recipient's rank at the time the Knight's Cross was awarded.

List of Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross recipients (I)

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and its variants were the highest awards in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of extreme gallantry. A total of 7,321 awards were made between its first presentation on 30 September 1939 and its last bestowal on 17 June 1945. This number is based on the acceptance by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR). Presentations were made to members of the three military branches of the Wehrmacht—the Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force)—as well as the Waffen-SS, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD—Reich Labour Service) and the Volkssturm (German national militia). There were also 43 foreign recipients of the award.These recipients are listed in the 1986 edition of Walther-Peer Fellgiebel's book, Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945. Fellgiebel was the former chairman and head of the order commission of the AKCR. In 1996, the second edition of this book was published with an addendum delisting 11 of these original recipients. Author Veit Scherzer has cast doubt on a further 193 of these listings. The majority of the disputed recipients had received the award in 1945, when the deteriorating situation of Germany during the final days of World War II left a number of nominations incomplete and pending in various stages of the approval process.Listed here are the 26 Knight's Cross recipients whose last names start with "I", ordered alphabetically. The rank listed is the recipient's rank at the time the Knight's Cross was awarded.

List of Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross recipients (Q)

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and its variants were the highest awards in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of extreme gallantry. A total of 7,321 awards were made between its first presentation on 30 September 1939 and its last bestowal on 17 June 1945. This number is based on the analysis and acceptance by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR). Presentations were made to members of the three military branches of the Wehrmacht—the Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force)—as well as the Waffen-SS, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD—Reich Labour Service) and the Volkssturm (German national militia). There were also 43 recipients in the military forces of allies of the Third Reich.These recipients are listed in the 1986 edition of Walther-Peer Fellgiebel's book, Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945. Fellgiebel was the former chairman and head of the order commission of the AKCR. In 1996, the second edition of this book was published with an addendum delisting 11 of these original recipients. Author Veit Scherzer has cast doubt on a further 193 of these listings. The majority of the disputed recipients had received the award in 1945, when the deteriorating situation of Germany during the final days of World War II left a number of nominations incomplete and pending in various stages of the approval process.Listed here are the seven Knight's Cross recipients whose last name starts with "Q". The recipients are ordered alphabetically by last name. The rank listed is the recipient's rank at the time the Knight's Cross was awarded.

List of Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross recipients (U)

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and its variants were the highest awards in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II. The decoration was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of extreme gallantry. A total of 7,321 awards were made between its first presentation on 30 September 1939 and its last bestowal on 17 June 1945. This number is based on the acceptance by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR). Presentations were made to members of the three military branches of the Wehrmacht—the Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force)—as well as the Waffen-SS, the Reich Labour Service, and the Volkssturm (German national militia). There were also 43 foreign recipients of the award.These recipients are listed in the 1986 edition of Walther-Peer Fellgiebel's book, Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945. Fellgiebel was the former chairman and head of the order commission of the AKCR. In 1996, the second edition of this book was published with an addendum delisting 11 of these original recipients. Author Veit Scherzer has cast doubt on a further 193 of these listings. The majority of the disputed recipients had received the award in 1945, when the deteriorating situation of Germany during the final days of World War II left a number of nominations incomplete and pending in various stages of the approval process.Listed here are the 32 Knight's Cross recipients whose last name starts with "U". Scherzer has challenged the validity of one listing. The recipients are ordered alphabetically by last name. The rank listed is the recipient's rank at the time the Knight's Cross was awarded.

Organisation Todt

Organisation Todt (OT) was a civil and military engineering organisation in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, named for its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi. The organization was responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in Nazi Germany and in occupied territories from France to the Soviet Union during World War II. It became notorious for using forced labour. From 1943-45 during the late phase of the Third Reich, OT administered all constructions of concentration camps to supply forced labor to industry.

Ranks and insignia of the Reichsarbeitsdienst

Ranks and insignia of the Reichsarbeitsdienst were paramilitary ranks used by the Reich Labour Service.

Romanian Youth Labour

The Romanian Youth Labor (Munca Tineretului Român – MTR) was a paramilitary movement present in Romania during 1942-1944.

The Immortals (neo-Nazis)

The Immortals (German Die Unsterblichen) was a neo-Nazi organization based in Germany that uses flash mobs to coordinate, gather and demonstrate. The members wear black clothing with white facial masks and carry torches when they march.

The Last Jew in Vinnitsa

The Last Jew in Vinnitsa is a photograph taken during the Holocaust in Ukraine showing a Jewish man near the town of Vinnitsa (Vinnytsia) about to be shot dead by a member of Einsatzgruppe D, a mobile death squad of the Nazi SS. The victim is kneeling beside a mass grave already containing bodies; behind, a group of SS and Reich Labour Service men watch.

Wolfgang Neuss

Wolfgang Neuss (3 December 1923 – 5 May 1989) was a German actor and Kabarett artist. Beginning in the mid-1960s, he also became famous for his political engagement, first for the SPD, then for the extra-parliamentary opposition, APO. He died in 1989 from a longtime cancer.

At the age of 15 he went to Berlin to become a clown but was dismissed. When Germany entered into the Second World War Neuss was drafted, first to the Reich Labour Service where he was occupied with road construction. Later he was sent to the Eastern Front where he became injured and was rewarded with the Iron Cross. It was during his stays in military hospitals and, after the war during military detention that Neuss began to discover his interest in acting and for Kabarett.

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