Thursday, 18 October 2012

Sound familiar

  • Before the crash, 1.25 million people were unemployed in Germany. By the end of 1930 the figure had reached nearly 4 million, 15.3 per cent of the population. Even those in work suffered as many were only working part-time. - the Nazis set up the SdA (Beauty of Work) to help Germans see that work was good, and that everyone who could work should. In fact - because the Nazis had abolished the trade unions, banned strikes, and given more power to the industrialists - real wages fell and hours were longer under Hitler.

    The unemployed were given a very simple choice: do whatever work is given to you by the government or be classed as "work-shy" and put in a concentration camp.

    However, there is no doubt that work was created. The Nazis introduced public work schemes for men who worked in the National Labour Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst or RAD). Their work would have included digging ditches on farms to assist irrigation, building the new autobahns, planting new forests etc. The men of the RAD wore a military style uniform, lived in camps near to where they were working and received only what we would term pocket money. However, compared to the lack of success of the Weimar government and the chronic misery of 1931 to 1932, these men felt that at least the Nazi government was making the effort to improve their lot.

    To ‘protect’ those in work, the German Labour Front was set up. This was lead by Robert Ley. The GLF took the role of trade unions which had been banned. To an extent, the GLF did this. Ley ordered that workers could not be sacked on the spot but he also ordered that a worker could not leave his job without the government’s permission. Only government labour exchanges could arrange for a new job if someone did leave his employment.

    Other groups marginalized by the majority population included welfare-dependent families with many children, vagrants, and transients, as well as members of perceived problem groups such as alcoholics and prostitutes. While these people were considered "German-blooded," they were also categorized as "social misfits," as well as superfluous "ballast-lifes." They were recorded in lists (as were homosexuals) by civil and police authorities and subjected to myriad state restrictions and repressive actions, which included forced sterilization and ultimately imprisonment in concentration camps. Anyone who rebelled openly against the Nazi regime (such as communists, social democrats, democrats, and conscientious objectors) was detained in a prison or a camp. Many of the prisoners did not survive the camps.

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