The National-Socialist Welfare Organisation and The Winter Help Scheme

ERICH HILGENFELDT
Head of the National Socialist Welfare Organisation

Everything now done in Germany is prompted by the conviction that our nation will only be able to assure its future existence if we succeed in maintaining the National Socialist regime. National Socialism is not a temporary political expedient, but rather a political creed based upon the recognition of our people’s vital necessities. If it is to remain a living force, it must be continually renewed and must be continually applied to the facts of real life. It demands of every individual German that he should be conscious of his responsibilities. Individuals, however, as well as nations, can only possess that consciousness on condition that they are strong.

All the manifestations of our public life – such as our agricultural, industrial, financial, cultural, military and foreign policy – have for their object to guide the activities of every German along healthy lines. The task of creating the educational, hygienic and social foundations for these activities is entrusted to a number of organisations working in co-operation with one another, e.g., the Hitler Youth, the National Labour Service, the National Socialist Women’s League, and the National Socialist Welfare Organisation.

The special task entrusted to the National Socialist Welfare Organisation differs essentially from that entrusted to the others inasmuch as it is its business to step in wherever the measures adopted by them prove insufficient to attain the desired ends.

In order to carry out so comprehensive a task, a complete break had to be made with the methods and principles formerly applied to public welfare. Prior to 1933, when a purely materialist view was taken of such welfare work, it was considered sufficient to “dole out” some relief to each individual requiring it, and that relief consisted-for the most part-in money. This view was erroneous. The assistance, for instance, thus given to a habitual drunkard was just as much misplaced as that given to a person suffering from some illness if it was merely enough to provide a temporary-instead of a permanent-cure. On the other hand, the relief granted to persons morally and physically sound was bound to fail in its object altogether when the recipients found themselves faced with distress due to circumstances entirely beyond their control, e.g., in such “special” areas as the Rhön, the Lower Bavaria, and the Eifel district. Distress of that kind could and can only be combated by concerted action on the part of the whole nation. It soon became clear that there is a mutual relationship between the assistance given to single individuals and that given to a whole section of the people. A strong sense of solidarity strengthens the individual and his family, whilst a strong and healthy family always enriches the nation. A really effective scheme of public welfare work must be based upon the active collaboration of all Germans and must exercise a permanent influence upon the Nation. Uncoordinated measures on the part of the State can never be effective.

For these reasons, the carrying-out of the welfare work here described was entrusted by the Führer to the Winter Help Organisation and to the National Socialist Welfare Organisation, and not to the Government relief offices. The principles underlying their work are as follows:

  1. The hygienic standards of the nation must be raised, so that the latter will be able to effect even greater achievements than hitherto.
  2. The spirit of national solidarity must be fostered.
  3. The physical and moral health of individuals must be improved to such an extent that they will be capable of holding their own in the struggle of life.

The ultimate aim of all this educational work must be to strengthen the sense of national solidarity.

I

The instrument that enables us to make the most comprehensive appeal to the spirit of national solidarity is the Winter Help Scheme, which – for that reason – is a matter especially dear to our hearts. There was, to be sure, a winter relief scheme prior to 1933; but the sum of fifteen or twenty million reichsmarks which the Government placed at its disposal each year (and which was diverted to that end from the revenue) was hopelessly inadequate to satisfy the material needs of the seven million unemployed. The National Socialist Winter Help Schemes of 1933-4, 1934-5, 1935-6 and 1936-7 have been carried through, at the express desire of the Führer, by the people and not by the State. Every German capable of earning an income in some way, the business man as well as the worker, the professional man as well as the mercantile employee, contributes a certain percentage of his earnings to the scheme. Street collections are made once a month, especially, however, on the day of national solidarity, when the most prominent members of the Government and the party, the leading representatives of science and the arts, the heads of the business community, and many others, parade the streets with their collecting boxes. During the winter, every German family is content once a month to have a plain “one course” dinner, the money thus saved being applied to the scheme. Innumerable presents comprising foodstuffs, clothing and money – most of them contributed by anonymous donors – testify to the readiness of all to sacrifice some of their own comforts and to improve the lot of those of their fellow-countrymen who are less fortunately placed than they. The finest reward they receive for their sacrifices consists in the feeling that they have rendered direct assistance to a scheme of nation-wide importance.

The administration of the Winter Help Scheme is vested in the hands of the Head of the National Socialist Welfare Organisation. About 1,200,000 voluntary helpers assist him in his task by collecting and distributing the contributions. The gifts consist of food, clothing and fuel. They are distributed among all who are in need of them, including foreign residents provided that they have shown, by their personal attitude towards our country, that they are worthy of assistance. Jewish residents benefit in the same proportion as all other recipients, a separate organisation – subject to the general supervision of the Head of the National Socialist Welfare Organisation – having been created to look after their interests.

Thanks to the scheme, it has become possible to add from 15 to 20 per cent. to the income of the families requiring assistance. When we learn that some 1,500,000,000 reichsmarks have been collected by the Winter Help Organisation during the four winters that have passed since it was founded, we can appreciate the extent to which consolidated action has helped to increase the standard of living of the necessitous sections of the population and we can realise the success achieved by the work of fostering the spirit of solidarity.

The Winter Help Scheme is, of course, a seasonal measure. A similar concentration of efforts on an all-the-year-round basis is utilised, however, to combat the distress to which certain “special areas” are subject. This work is done by the National Socialist Welfare Organisation, which was made solely competent-by a decree of the Führer issued May 3rd, 1933 – to deal with such matters. The National Socialist Welfare Organisation succeeded within a very short time in convincing by far the greater part of the nation that its ideas and methods are right. Having a membership of 8,000,000 including 1,200,000 voluntary helpers, it is the world’s largest organisation of its kind. A good many of its officials and many helpers act in an honorary capacity. Their endeavours have made it possible to discover every family that may be in need of aid, so that there is literally no case of distress that remains unattended to or unrelieved. Everything is done to give effect to the comprehensive measures considered necessary to improve the hygienic, the moral and (as a corollary) the economic standards of the population of the “special areas,” where the mal-administration during past centuries has given rise to a wholesale and lasting physical and ethical deterioration. The people living there, on a poor soil and in unhealthy houses badly in need of repair, had lost all hope of ever being able to lead a decent life. The rate of infant mortality was much higher in these parts than the national average, the hygienic conditions were very unsatisfactory, and the vitality of children as well as adults was only a fraction of what it should be. Comprehensive measures have now been taken to eliminate these drawbacks. A great deal of painstaking work is now being done by the population and the Labour Service to re-afforest bare patches and to cultivate the waste land. The water supply is being improved, so that the economic value of the soil is increased and great risks to the health of the inhabitants are removed. The National Socialist Welfare Organisation provides a considerable part of the funds thus required, as well as working clothes and ample supplies of food for all those engaged in this useful work.

It is the hygienic domain, however, to which the National Socialist Welfare Organisation devotes most of its energies. It has caused all the infant children in the Reich up to the age of 2 to be medically examined and has not only given advice to parents (in accordance with the results of the examination) as to the correct food and education of their children, but has also supplemented the food provided by the parents themselves, all this being done free of charge. Through its affiliated organisations it has enabled the mothers and children most in need of it to spend a holiday in other parts of the country. It has established numerous kindergartens for those older children whose parents are at work in the daytime, and their number is being constantly added to. As there is a lack of medical facilities throughout the district, the National Socialist Welfare Organisation has covered it with a network of stations for nurses who can point out to parents, in the course of their periodical visits, the ailments to which their children are subject and the remedies to be applied. Dental disorders are still frequent everywhere. They are being combated by means of appropriate food preparations and by dental surgeons in travelling dental clinics.

Health Stations will be established by the National Socialist Welfare Organisation for infants and their mothers, more stations for municipal nurses will be established, and so on. Special areas will be accorded special preference in connection with the numerous labour promoting measures introduced by the Winter Help Organisation.

One other example may be given of the methods employed by the National Socialist Welfare Organisation to improve hygienic conditions and to give practical effect to the spirit of national solidarity. In the district of Schleiden (Eifel, Rhineland) the barrenness of the soil and the lack of opportunities for earning adequate wages had for result that the housing accommodation of the inhabitants was far below National Socialist standards. The sufferings of centuries had deprived these people of all their vitality, but at the suggestion of the Public Works Organisation they created a self-help organisation for the purpose of remedying the existing defects. Everyone contributed his share to the work of providing better houses. The necessary materials were supplied free of charge by the National Socialist Welfare Organisation. Bricklayers, carpenters and others who had been given relief during the time of their unemployment, now showed their gratitude by building the walls, the roofs and the doors of the new houses; and people of all classes and of all ranks and professions were only too glad to render whatever assistance they could. Thus the district – formerly a picture of depression and neglect – has now been improved out of all knowledge; and no trace of their erstwhile dejection can be noticed in the inhabitants.

II

The educational and relief work described above – which concerns itself with the nation as a whole – finds its counterpart in the work done in individual cases. There, too, the economic assistance given only serves the purpose of promoting hygienic and educational aims.

We refuse to alleviate distress by doling out alms, not only because that kind of help fails to achieve its object in any case, but also because it destroys the recipient’s sense of responsibility and makes him unfit for self-help. The Führer once said: “If you want to live, you must fight for it; and if you refuse to do so in this world of ceaseless fighting, you do not deserve to live.”

We all know that life is one long fight; but we also know that such fighting is of benefit to the fighter, because it increases his inherent strength. Thus, the educational aim of our welfare work is to train the individual for that struggle of life. The ethical principle on which our activities are based is: “We are intended to be active fighters, and not passive sufferers.” Only those persons who realise that they must shape their own destinies and who are able and willing to rely on self-help are the objects of our endeavours. To render the individual fit for self-help, we must strengthen the family and the community spirit that animates it. The family, and not the individual, is the fountain-head of the nation’s strength. The family is the carrier of the characteristics bequeathed from one generation to another and is the source from which each of its members continually derives additional strength. A strong family is better able to render assistance to its members that may require it than any public relief organisation. Two conditions must be complied with to make the family strong: first, the parents must be enabled to resume those duties towards the family which they tended to neglect during the time of economic distress and during the vogue of woman’s emancipation; and second, the family must be made fully efficient again in the hygienic and educational sense.

The National Socialist Welfare Organisation has therefore created several great relief schemes. One of them is called “Mother and Child,” whilst the others are intended to provide free board and lodging in deserving cases, to enable town children to be sent to the country, to give assistance to young people, and to fight tuberculosis.

The “Mother and Child” scheme naturally occupies a central position in these endeavours, as the whole life of the family gravitates towards the mother. She looks after the education of all its members, provides their food and regulates the domestic routine. The connection between the National Socialist Welfare Organisation and the “Mother and Child” scheme is effected in such a manner that each local group of the former has affiliated to it a relief station which is in charge of a woman and which is required to deal with all applications and to give ethical and practical advice to mothers. By far the largest part of this work is done on a voluntary basis, about 24,000 relief and advisory stations being run by more than 100,000 helpers in an honorary capacity.

The three objects which the organisation endeavours to achieve are:

  1. To co-operate in the fight against economic distress and its moral and hygienic effects.
  2. To promote the health of mothers and their children.
  3. To promote, more especially, the health of children prior to school-age.

The economic relief work includes such material assistance as the gift of clothing, household utensils, baby outfit, etc. Moreover, care is taken to ensure that the mother need not supplement the family income by doing outside work and that the opportunities for such work are made available to unemployed married men, more particularly those who have to support large families. In suitable instances, funds are provided by the National Socialist Welfare Organisation to finance part of the expenditure incurred in the building of homesteads, to enable families with a large number of children to obtain dwelling accommodation that is hygienically suitable, etc. In addition, the Minister of Justice has authorised the National Socialist Welfare Organisation to act as a mediator in all disputes between landlords and tenants so that these may be settled out of court. The success achieved is so great that about 90 per cent. of the disputes concerned can now be settled that way.

The hygienic assistance given under the scheme is equally comprehensive. During the first two years of its operation not less than 106,016 mothers were sent to special recuperation homes where they were able to spend from five to six weeks in each case. The corresponding number last year was just under 70,000. Medical attendance is also given them when there, as well as advice on physical culture and on food problems; and our observations have shown that this arrangement has proved highly beneficial. If, for one reason or another, it is impracticable to arrange for such accommodation in a recuperation home, it is generally possible to enable the women concerned to spend about five days a week in the fine gardens and parks of the National Socialist Welfare Organisation and to supply them with good food, whilst sending the children to some kindergarten. During the mother’s absence from her home, her domestic duties are performed by some member of the Women’s Voluntary Labour Service unless some friend or relative is available for that purpose. Expectant mothers and those recently confined are given especially nourishing food, and they are also advised on matters of hygiene and the upbringing of children. Preparatory knowledge of this kind is systematically supplied by the Reich Mothers’ Service Organisation attached to the National Socialist German Women’s Welfare Association, this being additional to the advice given by the relief stations of the “Mother and Child” organisation.

The measures taken on behalf of young people also serve the purpose of assuring the future welfare of the family. Whereas the” Mother and Child” organisation is a direct product of the National Socialist State, the scheme under which children are sent to holiday homes originated during the terrible years of the War when, owing to the blockade there was not sufficient food for the town children. Notwithstanding the beneficial results then attained the scheme quickly decreased in importance and its scope declined, because it was found impossible properly to finance it. Besides, the party dissensions so prominent in the post-war era had largely destroyed the feeling for mutual assistance and mutual sacrifice.

The National Socialist Welfare organisation has introduced a new method in connection with these matters. Only those children who are urgently in need of assistance are actually sent to holiday homes, whilst the others are provided with suitable accommodation in farms or with people resident in small country towns, where they are given good food for a number of weeks and where they can recover their impaired health in open-air surroundings. The National Socialist Welfare Organisation selects the most suitable accommodation in each case, pays the travelling expenses, and attends to insurance matters. The board and lodging is provided free of charge by the farmers or other householders who act as the children’s hosts.

In this manner, it has become possible to send 1,793,354 children to country places during the four years that have passed since the foundation of the National Socialist Welfare Organisation. To us, the work thus done for the children is much more than a hygienic measure. We believe that it will enable the children and their hosts in the various parts of our country to arrive at a better mutual understanding of their provincial or regional differences and that it will help to bridge the gulf between the towns and the country. Children who have grown up in an atmosphere of town life learn to appreciate the amenities of Nature and to love their beautiful country and are thus filled with a desire to extend that knowledge in subsequent years.

Another aspect of our juvenile welfare work is the educational one. In this respect, too, we have benefited from the unsatisfactory experience made in the past; and here, too, we are guided by the principle that prevention is better than cure.

In former years, the public authorities competent to supervise the training of those young persons who were exposed to dangerous social influences or difficult to educate did not commence their activities until it was too late; and the only remedy then available to them was to prescribe institutional treatment for the boy or girl concerned.

The most effective method by which we can assist in the upbringing and training of children is that afforded by means of kindergartens. There is no intention of relieving mothers of their duty to care for their children, because, after all, the proper place for the latter is their parental home. But there are cases in which the parents are unable, either because of their work or their inexperience, to carry out that duty themselves. The National Socialist Welfare Organisation has therefore established seasonal kindergartens in which the young children of peasants and farm labourers can be looked after during the harvesting season by trained helpers, as well as a number of permanent kindergartens. There are at present 2,360 of the latter kind, and the children sent to them are looked after by qualified kindergarten teachers. Most of them will be found in the industrial districts and in the distressed areas. As we have great faith in the benefits secured by them, we intend to increase their number considerably. Whilst there, the young children are not only protected against all sorts of moral dangers, but also learn to regard themselves as members of a community. Thus the foundations are laid for making these children good citizens.

The practice adopted by the National Socialist Welfare Organisation of removing social and hygienic defects rather than giving temporary relief of a haphazard kind can be studied with particular advantage when we consider its two schemes exceeding the juvenile sphere, viz., that of providing facilities of recreation for men and women in need of it and its tuberculosis relief scheme. Under the former, necessitous applicants are provided with free board and lodging along lines similar to those applicable to the corresponding scheme for children. Whenever the ailment is of such a kind that a stay in one of the country’s health resorts or spas may be expected to be really effective, the persons concerned are sent to one of those places for a cure. The other scheme named has had for effect that there is practically no case any longer in which lack of funds makes it impossible for patients suffering from tuberculosis to obtain the right kind of treatment.

Apart from the above-described schemes, the National Socialist Welfare Organisation is carrying out innumerable activities of importance to which no exhaustive reference can be made in this place. Thus, for example, it has distributed so far not less than 897,000 beds free of charge; it is constantly engaged in giving advice on matters of welfare legislation and on any problems that may arise; it co-operates in the fight against infectious diseases, in the financing of homesteads and in remedying the destruction wrought by natural catastrophes, not only through the personal efforts of its helpers, but also by the supply of the necessary funds. When the educational and hygienic tasks have been successfully accomplished, it takes pride in granting such economic relief as will enable the beneficiary to stand on his feet again and to take proper care of the members of his family. In short, it is impossible to express in words the full extent to which the National Socialist Welfare Organisation has rendered and is still rendering prompt and practical assistance wherever it is wanted; but some idea of the magnitude of its work may be obtained when we learn that it spent about 81,700,000 reichsmarks on its various social improvement schemes in 1936 alone.

III

In this manner we add to the strength and health of the nation and prepare the ground for our further activities, that is to say those that deal with the health of the family. Roughly speaking, we may say that the guiding principles that have moulded and will always continue to mould our destinies are: a readiness to make sacrifices for the benefit of the nation; a belief in the pre-eminence of the family; a sense of honour; a knowledge of our responsibilities, and a determination to hold what we have. We have faith in the ancient saying that a sound mind and a healthy body are mutually inter-dependent.

Our work, therefore, not only teaches our nation the importance of health, both morally and physically, but also enables every individual to obtain a proper idea of his responsibilities towards the nation and towards his family. By developing all our intrinsic abilities we make up for our country’s lack of valuable raw materials and for our inferior degree of economic and political power as compared with other countries. The more we contribute towards the establishment of fundamentally healthy conditions at home, the stronger and healthier will be the influence exercised by all our national manifestations, be it in the realms of economy or science, in our domestic and our foreign policy. We are proud of the assistance we can give towards the realisation of the high aim once defined by the Führer when he said: “The question of the national progress of a people is largely a question of creating a healthy social atmosphere, that will make it possible to provide each individual with the right kind of education.”

The Results of the 1936-7 Winter Help Campaign

Year after year the response of the German people to the appeal made to them on behalf of their suffering compatriots has gained in strength, and the figures showing the results of the 1936-7 Winter Relief Campaign are no exception to the rule. More than 400,000,000 reichsmarks were subscribed and collected – about 50,000,000 reichsmarks more than previously. The nation has thus proved the extent to which it is capable of giving practical effect to the principles of charity.

The report on these activities was submitted to Herr Hitler by Dr. Goebbels at the end of April 1937. The number of persons in need of relief has undergone a regular decrease in successive years, that decrease corresponding to the economic progress made by the country. The figures have been as follows: 1933-4, 16,600,000; 1934-5, 14,000,000; 1935-6, 13,000,000, and 1936-7, 10,700,000. These persons had to be assisted under the Winter Help Scheme in supplementation of the welfare work done by the State and the municipalities.

People abroad have often wondered what is the object of all these” collections.” Well, their main purpose is to make it abundantly clear to everyone that he must at all times be conscious of his duties towards his fellow-men and women and that he must act accordingly. It is not sufficient that the well-to-do classes should contribute fairly large amounts towards the relief of suffering and distress. Every wage-earner – no matter whether he or she is a manual worker or a brainworker – voluntarily contributes towards it, however modest the amount may be. As a rule, the street collections take place once a month during the winter months. People are then asked to buy badges at 20 pfennigs each. In the winter of 1936-7 the value of the collections was as much as 38,000,000 reichsmarks-twice as much as in 1935-6. The German people regard these collections as a firmly established institution, and gladly respond to the appeal for their co-operation.

The number of badges sold last winter was 131,500,000, which is 100,000,000 more than it was when the Winter Help Scheme was first introduced. The work of manufacturing them provided in itself considerable relief to the industrial workers in many a distressed area.

The maximum amount collected in one single day was 5,600,000 reichsmarks. That result was achieved on the Day of National Solidarity, when all those who occupy a prominent position in the State or in the party appealed to their compatriots by taking an active part in the street-collecting work.

In addition to the street collections, large sums were obtained in the form of voluntary deductions from salaries and wages; and indeed, the money thus contributed represented the major part of the scheme’s income. The figure for 1936-7 was 162,000,000 reichsmarks, compared with 138,000,000 reichsmarks in 1935-6. These contributions are truly in the nature of sacrifices on the part of those from whom they originate. In acting as they do, they receive their inspiration from the words of the Führer, who said that a sacrifice must really be a sacrifice.

Great credit is also due to the street collectors and other voluntary helpers, who spent many a cold and rainy day in collecting. They, too, realise that their action helps to bring relief to those of their countrymen and women who need it most. The guiding idea is that no one living in Germany should suffer from hunger or cold or inadequate dwelling conditions, least of all in winter. Everybody is conscious of the duties he has towards those less fortunate than himself. It is essential that everybody should be anxious to help those who render assistance to others. The work done under the Winter Help Scheme is probably the greatest-and certainly the most comprehensive-charitable action ever accomplished by one single organisation. Its scope is not confined to German nationals, but extends to necessitous foreign residents as well. The number of foreigners assisted in 1935-6 was about 89,000.

In thanking all those who had collaborated in the splendid work, Herr Hitler has repeatedly emphasised that the Winter Help Scheme is of particular value inasmuch as it helps to train the German people along the lines of social and national consolidation.

Social Policy in the New Germany

ROBERT LEY
Leader of the National Labour Front

INTRODUCTORY

The great importance of social policy to the working population of Germany cannot be properly appreciated without some knowledge of the changes that have come over the country’s economic structure during the last fifty years or so. In the ‘eighties of the past century, that structure was relatively balanced; but since then the process of industrialisation has made enormous headway. Large parts of the population are now concentrated in the big towns and in the industrial districts, whilst – on the other hand – extensive agricultural regions are but sparsely populated.

The percentage of persons engaged in agricultural pursuits went down from 42 in 1882 to 21 in 1933. During the same period, the percentage of persons employed in industry, including handicrafts, rose from 36.9 to 38.8, and that of persons engaged in commerce and traffic, from 9.6 to 16.9. In 1882, about 14,700,000 persons were absorbed by industry, as compared with some 25,300,000 in 1933. The number of persons engaged in commerce and traffic rose from 3,800,000 in 1882 to 10,400,000 in 1925 and to about 11,000,000 in 1933, nearly three times as much as in 1882. This great structural transformation was accompanied by internal migration on a considerable scale, with the result that, for instance, the density of the population in such industrial areas as the State of Saxony and the Prussian provinces of the Rhineland and Westphalia is now 346.8, 318.3 and 249.3 per square kilometre respectively, whilst it is as low as 38 and 43 respectively in such agricultural areas as Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Grenzmark Posen- Westpreussen.

Another factor that has materially affected the position is the increased concentration in industry, commerce and traffic. Whilst the percentage of persons operating a business of their own decreased from 46 to 19 during the past fifty years, that of workers and other kinds of employees increased from 55 to 76. The workers soon discovered that, as individuals, they were unable to obtain a proper share in fixing the conditions of labour, and therefore created their own organisations – an example followed shortly afterwards by the employers. Under the influence of the “class” principle, these organisations gradually developed into mutually antagonistic forces; and in many instances, they regarded it as their principal task to fight one another. It is quite true that the Government, especially after the close of the War, became conscious of its duty to intervene in all serious labour disputes; but it continued to adhere to the Liberalistic dogma that the conditions of labour must be fixed – generally speaking – by the interested parties themselves. However, neither the organisations of the workers nor those of the employers proved capable of accomplishing this task in a satisfactory manner, so that strikes and lock outs followed upon one another in rapid succession. The social tension thus resulting was bound to develop into a grave internal crisis at some moment or other.

Germany found herself in the midst of such a crisis when Herr Hitler took over the Government of the country. Labour disputes had become a chronic feature. The Government’s arbitration boards were either too weak or too much under the influence of the politicians to bring order into the growing chaos. The trades unions that were swayed by Marxist teaching did not want social peace. They calculated that their chances of acquiring political power would improve with the growing dissatisfaction of the workers.

One of the first necessities with which the Hitler Government found itself faced was that of dissolving the organisations that kept alive the antagonism between employers and employees. They were replaced by the German Labour Front – a body comprising employers as well as employees. At the same time, preparations were made for the creation of an entirely new system of social order based on the following National Socialist principles: the solidarity of all persons working for their living; the idea of leadership; the recognition of the factory, etc., as a bond of union, and the ethical conceptions of honour and loyalty. All this preliminary work crystallised in the passing of the Act governing the regulation of national labour (January 20th, 1934).

THE NATIONAL LABOUR LAW

That Act has been correctly described as the Magna Charta of Germany’s social policy. The National Socialist principle of the solidarity of all persons working for their living finds its chief expression in its application to the individual works or factories. They are the nuclei of all social and economic life. The object aimed at is clearly set forth in Article 1 of the Act, according to which employers and employees are required “to collaborate with one another in order to promote the objects for which the undertaking has been founded and for the common benefit of the people and the State.” The same principle of solidarity is given expression in Article 2, where it says that the employer – described as the “leader” of the undertaking – is required to promote the welfare of the employees, whilst the latter are asked to show that spirit of loyalty towards the employer which is founded upon their joint interest in the undertaking.

On the basis of this mutual loyalty it became then possible to extend the National Socialist principle of leadership to the economic and social sphere, more particularly so because the employees are protected from any misuse of the powers thus conferred upon the employer by the Government-appointed trustees of labour. These latter are the Government’s representatives in the domain of labour. Their principal task is to preserve social and economic peace. They have to supervise the confidential councils (see below) and to settle any disputes that may arise. If it is found impossible to elect the members of the confidential councils in the ordinary way, the trustee of labour may make use of his power to appoint them himself. Such members as prove unsuitable for their task, either because of incapacity or on personal grounds, can be removed from the councils at his behest. He is entitled – either at the request of the confidential council or at his own initiative – to modify the works’ regulations or to draw up such regulations himself and to issue them with binding force if, contrary to the provisions of the law, no regulations have been drawn up by those required to do so or if the existing regulations fail to comply with the legal requirements. He is empowered in certain cases to issue wages regulations (to take the place of the wages agreements customary until 1933), and the works regulations have then to be adjusted to them. He is also authorised to issue guiding lines governing individual employment agreements, to which the works leader is required to adhere. Finally, he acts as prosecutor in connection with cases brought before the courts of social honour, and has to be consulted before any works are shut down and before any large numbers of workers are given notice. In special instances, additional functions can be transferred to him by the Minister of Labour or the Minister of National Economy. The trustee can only carry out his numerous tasks on condition that he maintains close contact with all those who are engaged in economic pursuits. The law has therefore empowered him to make use of experts who are specially sworn in and who have to promise” that they will exercise their functions to the best of their ability and knowledge, that they will not unduly promote the interests of any one party, and that they will devote themselves exclusively to the welfare of the community.”

Another instrument of which the trustees make use in the interests of the maintenance of social peace is the so-called confidential council already referred to. Confidential councils have to be set up in all works where more than twenty persons are employed. The members are elected by the employees. It is their special duty “to deepen the confidence that must exist in the works community.” The chief difference between them and the works councils created under the provisions of the Act of 1920 is that they are intended to remove the antagonism between employers and employees consciously fostered by the Act just referred to, in which it was provided that the works councils had “to represent the special interests of the employees as opposed to those of the employers.” Thus, the representative body of the employees is no longer an organ of class warfare, but one serving the interests of the community. Seeing that all members of the confidential councils must belong to the German Labour Front, it is evident that a close connection exists between the two organisations.

Although the new Act explicitly states that each undertaking has to settle its own affairs itself, it does not follow that there is a complete absence of regulations applicable to all of them in a general way. Thus, for instance, the wages regulations issued by the trustees of labour are of a compulsory character. Since May 1st, 1934, some 2,100 sets of such regulations have been issued – a circumstance which proves that the National Socialist Government is well aware of the dangers that might result from too individual a system of labour conditions during the period of transition.

It is in conformity with the spirit pervading Germany’s new social legislation that additional protection is now accorded to employees against unjust dismissals. Every employee who has been connected with an undertaking for not less than one year is entitled to appeal to the Labour Courts if, in his opinion, the notice of dismissal sent to him is unjust and is not prompted by the necessities of the undertaking.

If the court orders the employer to withdraw the notice and if he refuses to do so, he is required to pay compensation to the employee concerned. Normally, the sum thus payable must not exceed one-half of the income earned by the employee during the year immediately preceding his dismissal. If, however, “it is obvious that the dismissal is due to the high-handed action of the employer, that the reasons given for it are of a trivial nature, or that the power vested in the employer has been grossly abused,” the court may order the employer to pay compensation equal to the amount earned by the employee during the whole year. Whenever it is intended to dismiss a large number of employees, the trustees of labour are entitled to postpone the date at which the notices become effective by a period up to two months.

It follows from the foregoing brief outline of Germany’s new labour legislation that there can be no question of “the creation of a new kind of white slavery,” as had been asserted by hostile critics abroad during the first few years after Herr Hitler’s assumption of government. The truth, indeed, is that the liberty promised to the German workers by the preceding regimes but never really granted has now become a reality. The worker has been made a partner of the works community on a footing of equality. He has received increased protection from dismissal, and his social honour is safeguarded by a special code which has no equal anywhere. The stigma of proletarianism has been removed from him. It is self-evident, of course, that there can be no fruitful collaboration between the employer and his employees unless all are animated by the National Socialist spirit of solidarity. To cultivate that spirit, is the special task allotted to the German Labour Front. The tribunals of social honour see to it that decency, comradeship and loyalty are more than mere words when applied to the private intercourse between all members of the works. Anyone whose actions conflict with the essence of the spirit of solidarity or with the duties incumbent upon him as part of the works community, has to face severe penalties, such as his removal from the undertaking at which he was employed or his disqualification for the office of a works’ leader or for membership of the confidential council, all of which are equivalent to his elimination from the social sphere. Such penalties have already been inflicted in a number of instances and have been given full publicity.

THE GERMAN LABOUR FRONT

The legal foundation upon which the German Labour Front rests is a decree issued by Herr Hitler under date of October 24th, 1934. In Article 2 it is stated that the establishment of nation-wide solidarity of all persons engaged in economic activities is to be its chief purpose. In other words, the German Labour Front (G.L.F) is required to make the conviction prevail in all undertakings that – in the economic as well as in the political sphere – success depends upon the closest possible collaboration of all. Another object for which it has been founded is to maintain industrial peace, and to do so in co-operation with the trustees of labour. In order to achieve this object, the works’ leaders must have a profound understanding of the just demands of the employees and vice versa. To this end, a special agreement was concluded in March, 1935, between Dr. Schacht, the Minister of National Economy, and Dr. Ley, the head of the G.L.F., for the creation of social self administering bodies, viz., the local labour committees, the regional councils of labour and economy, the National Council of Labour, and the National Economic Council. Their function is to attend to economic and social questions transcending the scope of the individual undertakings and to give due prominence to the spirit of solidarity in solving them.

The G.L.F. is organised in a twofold way-first, in conformity with the organisation of the National Socialist party, and second, in conformity with that of the country’s national economy. On the occasion of the Nuremberg party rally (September 1936), Dr. Ley gave a detailed account of the practical work already done by the G.L.F. He showed that, among other matters, some 38,000 homesteads had already been created by that organisation, whilst an additional 65,000 were in course of erection and an additional 80,000 were contemplated. Not less than 234,000,000 reichsmarks was paid by way of benefits in the course of three years; and 2,500,000 persons attended the educational courses that were held in more than 400 training centres. More than 1,000,000 youths and young girls have so far taken part in the national vocational contests.

Special mention should be made of a sub-organisation of the G.L.F.-styled “Strength through Joy”-which is mainly concerned with holiday and leisure-time arrangements. Thanks to this branch of the G.L.F., Germany’s social policy has been extended to the cultural sphere.

The great popularity of the arrangements made by the ” Strength through Joy” organisation is proved by the large number of participants in them. The section for travelling and hiking is perhaps the most popular one, its membership having trebled in the course of the past three years. Its pleasure cruises to foreign countries have attracted great attention, both at home and abroad. They have enabled German workers to visit Norway, Finland, Great Britain, Lisbon, Madeira, the Azores and the Baltic countries; and even though personal contact with the inhabitants of those parts has necessarily been but brief and cursory, it has been sufficiently effective in showing up the preposterousness of many an anti¬German prejudice.

Equally valuable results have been attained by the tours within Germany. Whatever regional antagonisms may still have divided Germans, they have been dispelled by numerous opportunities thus afforded for obtaining a better knowledge of one another. Ethically and morally too, division into North and South has vanished. In 1934, the number of persons taking part in these travelling and hiking arrangements amounted to some 2,000,000; but by the end of 1936, it had gone up to more than 6,000,000, whilst several more millions will be added during the current year. The ultimate object is to enable 14,000,000 persons of small means to benefit from these arrangements every year. The cost is so low that 16 reichsmarks will pay for one week’s seaside holiday this year.

Other sections of the” Strength through Joy” organisation deal with sporting, artistic and educational matters, all of which tend to promote the spirit of national solidarity. On the occasion of the third annual meeting (November 27th, 1936), the management was in the proud position to announce that 52,700,000 persons had attended the 142,000 entertainments organised by the entertainment section during the preceding couple of years. During the first eleven months of 1936, the number of persons attending the stage performances of the theatres co-operating with the organisation amounted to 4,850,000.

Nearly 17,000,000 persons attended the variety entertainments arranged for the evening hours. Millions of German citizens have thus been enabled to derive pleasure and enjoyment on a scale which would have been unattainable by them without the aid of the organisation. Foreign critics have often pointed out the relatively low level of the wages paid in Germany and have commented on the fact that there has been no appreciable rise in that level notwithstanding the enhanced activity in the economic field during the past three years. They forget, however, that the real purchasing power of the masses has considerably increased, as the German workers are now in a position to benefit from the manifold facilities offered by the G.L.F. and its affiliated organisations.

Another special section is that attending to the æsthetic aspects of work. Its activities extend to the provision of up-to-date swimming baths, washing – and dressing – rooms, canteens, green spaces, etc., in connection with factories and other undertakings, to the improvement of the dwelling accommodation on river-craft, to the creation of model villages, and to the elimination of everything that detracts from the outward appearance of the workers’ homesteads. More than 500,000,000 reichsmarks has already been spent on these objects at the instance of that section and with its collaboration. As regards their pleasant appearance, the access to them of light and air, and their tasteful design, the German factory buildings are second to none.

A few remarks must be added on the subject of sports. The” Strength through Joy” organisation has taken a remarkable interest in furthering them. Even when it is remembered that physical education is one of the main planks of the reconstruction programme of modern Germany, the fact that 6,000,000 persons took part last year in the sporting arrangements made by that organisation is an achievement of no mean significance. The number of sports instructors went up from 1,300 at the end of 1935 to 2,800 a twelvemonth later. The report presented to the annual meeting held on November 27th, 1936, rightly speaks of a cultural achievement and contains the following passage:

Three years ago we began to arouse and mobilise the intellectual and ethical capabilities inherent in the German workman by enabling him to realise the beauty and grandeur of life in nature, art and the company of those of his fellows who share his own views. In doing so, we have broken with a social convention that had been valid for decades and have removed the antagonism between work and culture.

The report shows that the objects aimed at have already been attained to a considerable extent.

REORGANISATION OF PUBLIC WELFARE WORK

The scope of this article does not allow us to give an account of all the branches of social policy. We therefore limit ourselves to a description of those especially characteristic of the attitude of the Third Reich towards these matters, and now turn to the National Socialist achievements in connection with public welfare work, the most important of which is the Winter Relief Scheme – an organisation well known abroad. It is conceived as a comprehensive effort on the part of the whole German people. Within its framework, the various organisations of the National Socialist party, the independent private associations, the Roman Catholic “Caritas,” the Home Mission, the Protestant Church, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and others, harmoniously collaborate with one another. Even very small religious groups, such as the Adventists, are represented among them. For reasons of convenience the Jewish organisations have alone been left outside the scheme; but this does not mean that the charity work carried on for the benefit of necessitous Jews is in any way inferior to that carried on for the rest of the population. Any allegations of a contrary nature that are made by anti-German writers are pure inventions.

During the winter months of 1933-4, some 17,000,000 persons were looked after by the Scheme. Thanks to the improved economic conditions and the decrease in the number of unemployed, the figure went down to 13,800,000 in 1934-5, and to 12,900,000 in 1935-6. Among the beneficiaries were 69,336 foreigners. Although the number of persons looked after has gone down year after year, the aggregate amount collected has continually gone up, as may be seen from the following figures: 1933-4 – 350,000,000 reichsmarks; 1934-5 ¬ 360,500,000 reichsmarks; 1935-6 – 372,000,000 reichsmarks. Hence, individual benefits could be correspondingly increased. A comparison with the results achieved by the Winter Relief Schemes of 1931-2 and 1932-3 -when the total collections amounted to 97,000,000 reichsmarks and 91,000,000 reichsmarks respectively – clearly shows the great change that came over the attitude of the German people in this respect since the taking-over of the Government by Herr Hitler. Not less than 52,903,070 (metric) hundredweight of coal were distributed in 1933-4, or nearly fifty times as much as in 1931-2.

The methods adopted under the scheme present a good deal of variety. Once a month, every household, etc., limits its principal meal to a so-called” one-dish dinner,” the money thus saved being passed on to the organisers of the scheme. Additional funds are obtained by street collections on the part of members of the party organisations, the various vocational groups, etc., and people are also asked to subscribe fixed amounts at regular or irregular intervals. The Fuhrer’s motto: “No one shall go hungry, and no one shall feel cold,” guides the activities conducted under the scheme. The circle of beneficiaries includes persons out of work or doing part-time work only, those receiving assistance from the public welfare authorities, those in receipt of small annuities, etc., so that the surprise sometimes expressed by foreign critics at the alleged disproportion between the small number of unemployed and the large number of persons benefiting from the Winter Relief Scheme is easily explained.

The cost incurred under the Scheme works out at 1.7 per cent. of the total value of the collections, this low percentage being due to the large number of unpaid collectors, of whom there were 1,234,000 in the winter months of 1935-6.

Next in importance to the Winter Relief Scheme is the “Mother and Child” organisation. Its object is to improve the racial biological standards of family health. The methods adopted to that end are threefold: First, assistance is given to healthy families in economic distress (money, deliveries in kind, opportunities for work, facilities in connection with dwelling accommodation); secondly, assistance is given to mothers and children just before and after the birth of the latter by sending them to suitable recreation homes; thirdly, numerous kindergartens are provided in the towns and in the country. The funds required for these measures are mainly derived from the contributions paid by the members of the National Socialist Welfare Organisation – the leading organisation of its kind in modern Germany, with a staff of 21,935 helpers in 1936. Some 1,098,000 children below school age were looked after in the kindergartens. More than 3,000,000 persons made use in 1935 of the facilities for advice placed at their disposal. Economic assistance was given, in 1935, to 1,180,000 families comprising 4,760,000 persons. The total sum of money spent on economic relief up to September 1936 amounted to 38,600,000 reichsmarks.

It should be noted that the various schemes here described are of a voluntary character, that they are financed by the people, and that they are supplementary to the enormous achievements of the National Socialist State in respect of social insurance, war veterans’ relief, national relief, publicly financed charitable institutions, and labour exchange, most of which – as has been said before – have to be left outside the scope of the present account.

HOMESTEADS FOR WORKERS

There is room, however, for some remarks on two publicly conducted activities, viz., the homestead scheme, and the work done by the labour exchanges.

Everybody who has travelled through Germany in recent years must have noted the numerous pleasant-looking dwelling houses (and colonies of them) on the outskirts of large towns, each of them surrounded by a small garden. These homesteads are financed with the aid of the Government. Their present number is about 140,000; but an additional 60,000 or 70,000 will be built in the course of the present year, so that there will soon be some 200,000 in all parts of the country. Even this, however, only marks the beginnings of a far larger scheme, as it is intended to raise their number to several millions within the next few years. National Socialists are firm believers in the “back-to-the-land” movement and hold that something must be done to stop the excessive congregation of human material in towns and industrial districts. Besides, the homestead scheme is of considerable economic value. On an average, 400 reichsmarks’ worth of supplementary foodstuffs is produced by each homestead per annum.

At its inception, the scheme was intended to be mainly a charitable measure. This was expressly stated in President Hindenburg’s decree issued October 6th, 1931, relative to “surburban homesteads.”

Preference was to be given to big towns and industrial districts where unemployment was particularly severe. The National Socialist Government has abandoned that conception. The homesteads now created are chiefly intended for persons in full employment, and preference is given to small and medium-sized municipalities and to country areas. The object aimed at is to assist in creating a working population more or less permanently settled on the land occupied by it and enjoying a fair measure of economic security. Although on principle every German citizen possessed of small means only is entitled to benefit from the scheme, provided that he is honest, healthy and nationally and politically dependable, it has become more and more customary in recent years to confine the scheme to workmen. Last autumn, for example, the public funds provided for its working were exclusively assigned to the erection of workmen’s homesteads.

Private funds are being increasingly used to finance the scheme. At first, practically the whole cost of each homestead was covered by loans obtained from the Government. To-day, however, the funds required are largely raised in the private capital market. From 15 to 20 per cent. of the cost has to be found by the worker himself. Public funds are now only granted to finance the “peaks” of the invested money. As a rule, no loans exceeding 1,500 reichsmarks are granted per homestead, although in exceptional instances an additional 300 reichsmarks and a Government guarantee of second mortgages are also obtainable. The size of each homestead together with the ground it occupies must be large enough to include 1,000 square metres of usable land.

Not every German worker is either able or willing to acquire a homestead of his own. Moreover, there is still considerable lack of dwelling accommodation in the towns, notwithstanding the increased building activity since 1933. It has therefore become necessary to use public funds for the erection of workmen’s flats as well. The money thus made available helps to finance buildings of this kind, the flats being let to workmen at reasonable rents. The” barracks” type is avoided, most of the buildings concerned being relatively small and only rising to the height of a few storeys. Since the early part of 1935, about 100,000 such “people’s dwellings” have been provided.

LABOUR EXCHANGES

The distribution of labour in modern Germany is regulated by the Government in a systematic manner. The “totalitarian” principle, which governs all the activities of the Third Reich, has thus impressed its stamp upon this domain also.

The public authority dealing with these matters is the Government Board for Labour Exchanges and Unemployment Insurance. Its name sufficiently indicates its twofold purpose. By the collaboration of all the competent bodies it has become possible to reduce the number of unemployed from 6,014,000 in January 1933 to about 1,100,000 in August 1936. Seeing that at most 50 per cent. of the latter can be regarded as still employable, it follows that mass unemployment has ceased to exist in Germany.

One of the aims in view – in so far as the distribution of labour is concerned – is the application to it of the National Socialist views on population policy and vocational policy. This means that, as a first necessity, the influx of workmen from the rural districts to the industrial centres must be reversed, and, in addition, that preferential treatment must be accorded to older workmen and to married men with children. The first-named purpose is achieved by an Act passed May 15th, 1934 by which the President of the Board referred to above is empowered to rule that his consent must be obtained before non-local workmen and other employees are permitted to look for employment in districts where unemployment is high. The prohibitions thus enforced in regard to Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, and the Saar have achieved the desired object. In Berlin, for example, unemployment was reduced by two-thirds within a couple of years. It was therefore possible to cancel some of these prohibitions (viz., those affecting Bremen, the Saar, and, to some extent, Berlin) by a decree which became effective in December 1936.

A decree issued May 11th, 1934, prohibited the admission of agricultural labourers to certain industries, to the post office and railway services, etc. By the decree issued on February 26th, 1935, the President of the Board was further empowered to withdraw agricultural labourers from non-agricultural vocations and thus enable them to return to their original occupations.

Further assistance to agriculture was provided by the arrangements enabling young men and women volunteers to place their services at the disposal of farmers for periods of six months or more. On an average, some 100,000 young persons volunteered to do so during the period 1933-5. They are given free board and lodging by their employers, and also receive a monetary remuneration out of the funds controlled by the Board. Many of them have continued to stay with the farmers after the expiration of their original term of six months. Now that this measure has served its purpose well, the relevant decrees issued by the President of the Board have also been withdrawn, effective December 1st, 1936.

Other regulations concern the exchange of younger for older employees. It had been found that the decline of unemployment since Herr Hitler took up office mainly benefited the younger unemployed (between the ages of 18 and 25). In that category, unemployment decreased by two-thirds, whilst the decrease was only half as much in the age group from 40 to 60. Such a development conflicts with the principles of National Socialist family policy. By a decree issued August 10th; 1934, the President of the Board was accordingly authorised to make arrangements for the interchange of younger and older employees. This measure affected some 130,000 employees during the period October 1934 to October 1935. It was also provided that the consent of the competent local Labour Exchange had to be obtained before persons below 25 were given employment. That interchange has now come to an end, and – in view of the progressive shortage of labour – the consent just referred to is hardly ever refused.

Another measure intended to facilitate the most suitable distribution of the available labour is the introduction of the so-called “employment book.” This was made compulsory by the Act passed February 26th, 1935 The book contains exact particulars regarding the owner’s age, whether married or unmarried, his vocational training, his qualifications for employment, and similar matters. By now, some 20,600,000 workers and other employees have been supplied with such books.

It will be gathered from the foregoing account that the distribution of labour in Germany is not subject to hard and fast rules, but is governed by the conditions that prevail at the time concerned. Restrictions in connection with the search for work, etc., are only imposed in so far as the primary interests of the State and those of the body economic make it necessary.

This remark also applies to the rules governing the distribution of labour under the Four-Year Plan as drawn up towards the close of 1936 by General Göring, Herr Hitler’s commissioner responsible for the working of the plan. Owing to the decrease of unemployment, the number of available trained workers has progressively declined, more especially in such key industries as the building trade and the iron and non-ferrous metals industry. The number of unemployed bricklayers went down from 162,000 in 1933 to 8,000 in 1936, and that of unemployed locksmiths and engine-fitters from 262,000 to 31,000. There was a risk that serious inconvenience might arise in those two industries if nothing was done to improve the position; and as the conditions in other industries tended to change in the same manner, it was considered wise to make timely arrangements for a supply of trained apprentices before it was too late. Accordingly, General Göring decided to introduce a series of measures which were announced on November 7th, 1936. The first of them deals with the two key industries just referred to. On the strength of the reports received by the President of the Board for Labour Exchanges from works employing ten or more persons, he is authorised to demand that the works concerned shall add to the number of their apprentices. It may be assumed that he will but rarely avail himself of this authority, because the reports already received show that employers have spontaneously complied to a far-reaching extent with their duties in connection with the training of apprentices. Here, too, the initiative of the Government commissioner is therefore of a subsidiary nature only. In exceptional cases – i.e., when the works are unable, for special reasons, to increase the number of apprentices – they may be asked to pay a sum of money by way of compensation. At present, these rules are only applicable to the two key industries named; but it may be taken for granted that they will be applied to other industries as well if the need for doing so should arise.

The second and third of the measures introduced by the commissioner for the Four-Year Plan are intended to ensure that there is always a sufficient supply of workers in the metal-working industry and in the building trade. Whenever it is desired to employ ten or more additional metal workers, the consent of the Labour Exchange must first be obtained, which will only be given after carefully considering the primary interests of the State and the body economic. Moreover, it has been provided that trained workers employed in work not really suitable for them in view of their past training may be transferred by the Labour Exchanges – if necessary, without formal notice – to other work for which their skill and knowledge makes them more suitable. A further rule serving the same purpose-i.e., that of making more rational use of the available labour – makes it compulsory to inform the authorities beforehand of any large piece of work which it is intended to take in hand. Lastly, there is a rule by which preference is to be given to older workers when vacancies have to be filled up. That rule is in the nature of an appeal to the works’ leaders, reminding them of their moral duty in this respect. If they fail to respond to it, compulsion will be used by the Government.

There can be no doubt that the Four-Year Plan makes additional demands upon the workers. It is an important aim of Germany’s economic policy to maintain the existing equilibrium of wages and prices; and for that reason, no wage increases are possible. General Göring, however, acting as the Führer’s Commissioner for the Four-Year Plan, has issued a decree dated December 3rd, 1937, which provides that payment in full is to be made for the following public holidays: New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, Whit-Monday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, although, of course, no work is done on these days.

Germany’s social policy is thus a healthy combination of freedom and compulsion. No other policy would enable the country’s predominantly industrial population to preserve its continued existence on the relatively limited space within which it is confined. Beyond that, the new social order pays due regard to such specifically German character traits as a sense of honour, loyalty, comradeship, fairness, collaboration, and a pronounced love of nature. All these characteristics were temporarily submerged owing to the soulless mechanisation typical of some aspects of modern civilisation. No correct appreciation of Germany’s new social order would be complete if it confined itself to a study of the institutional innovations. The spirit that has created the new forms and that finds its expression in them is far more important than these can ever be.

There is probably no country – except Russia – in which international Marxism has done more serious damage than in Germany. The German people have a natural liking for abstract speculation – a circumstance which made it easy for the spokesmen of the various Internationals to poison the minds of nearly one-half of the German population by their anti-national propaganda. In the end, a widespread conviction had grown up that the national interests were the special prerogative of the capitalists and that the workers’ only hope of salvation was the world revolution.

To-day we find it difficult to realise the depth of the antagonisms that divided the German nation prior to 1933. In some other countries there is undoubtedly a greater cleavage, at least outwardly, between the various social groups than exists in Germany; but in our country things had gone so far that, although the vital needs and the life habits of all its inhabitants are very much the same, the various sections were unable to understand one another, as the political views they held were so fundamentally different. They were, indeed, quite ready to fly at each other’s throats and looked upon one another as enemies rather than as fellow-citizens. The tension between the workers and the middle classes, and between the different vocational groups had become so great that civil war – always latent – threatened to break out openly at any moment. Since then, however, a complete transformation has taken place. The workmen, the handicraftsmen, the farmers, the average citizens – none of them resemble their former selves. Naturally, there are still a few who cannot or will not detach themselves from the past, but their existence is made negligible by the fact that the broad masses of the people have changed their political outlook within a remarkably brief space of time.

Consider, for instance, the workman. Accompany me on a stroll through the factories of the country, and you will discover that the spirit that prevails in them has changed.

Germany has been re-born. The Leader told us on the occasion of one of the party rallies – and he has often repeated it – that he regards this fundamental transformation as the most wonderful achievement of our time. Where there was hopelessness and despair, there is now faith, a joyful outlook on life, and renewed hope. Formerly, there was mutual enmity, jealousy, envy, and hatred, but to-day everybody tries to make himself useful to his fellows, to be their loyal comrade, and to render them some small service whenever he can.

I have always stated in my numerous speeches and addresses that it would be wrong to assert that all our troubles had vanished, and that everybody could now look at things through rose-coloured spectacles. The truth is that our troubles are still great and that they will remain so. The sacrifices demanded of each individual are perhaps greater than before; and the work many of us are expected to perform is certainly much more difficult now than in the past. We have not reached that state of supreme bliss that may result from the absence of all worries, anxieties, and oppressive burdens. And yet, people have taken a new delight in life, in mutual collaboration, and in everything that makes a nation what it is.

Formerly, every citizen who was a little better off than his neighbour, or earned more than he, or exceeded him in skill and efficiency, was treated with spiteful jealousy. Certain quarters made it their business to exploit that antagonism for the furtherance of their political ends, and the vitiated atmosphere thus created, was like a blight affecting the whole nation. That does not mean that optimism, hopefulness and a sound faith in the future had completely died out. But these characteristics were confined to individuals, and when the latter came together in mass meetings or created a political party, their place was immediately taken by discontent, strife, and a lack of mutual trust.

Now, however, that disunited people has been given a new leadership. Critics may fail to understand what I mean by this and may ask: “Were there no leaders in the past?” There have certainly been States, and political, social, and economic regimes since the dawn of history; but true leadership is something absolutely new and unique. This nation has passed through every form of political organisation. It has had its emperors, kings, princely rulers, and republics. It has tried all kinds of economic organisations. Vocations, class divisions and class distinctions have come and gone. But a genuine leadership has never existed during the past two thousand years; and the individual citizen has never felt that there is someone at the head of affairs who takes a personal interest in him, that his own troubles are also the troubles of his leaders, and that people occupying responsible positions look after him.

Those who make a total claim to the soul of a people must not content themselves with advocating their principles, but must also possess a gift for organisation. It is not sufficient that everybody is theoretically convinced of the truth of those principles. The point that really matters is that the idea proclaimed must continue to remain a living force and must be translated into actual practice. For this reason, National Socialism has created an organisation that is truly all-comprehensive. Foreigners may find it strange that almost all Germans belong to some organisation or other and that a good many of them wear a uniform or are known by some designation of their status. This, however, is not so strange as it looks. The object of that great organisation is to make every German realise that he is personally called upon to do his share in the governance of the country within the sphere allotted to him, and that he is not merely governed from above. National Socialism does not wish to rely for support upon a small number of ruling elements, but desires to be always representative of the will of the whole nation. That means that the National Socialist movement must maintain the closest possible contact with the people and that the capacity for doing so – without which the work achieved could not have been accomplished – must not be lost. A leader who loses contact with the people is sure to lose very soon the qualifications for leadership. No other movement has been better able than National Socialism to speak the language of the people. Its teaching is therefore immediately understood and all the measures initiated by it become effective forthwith without the necessity for prolonged deliberations as a preliminary to action.

The National Socialist Government has dissolved the trades-unions and the federations of employers. It will oppose anyone and anything tending to divide the people into groups. Every factory and every undertaking constitutes a unit, and nothing must be done to interfere with its unity. Works’ leaders and employees must decide for themselves, as far as this is possible, how matters are to be arranged. They must find their way to one another, must look upon themselves as an inseparable community, and must cultivate the spirit of comradeship. Their destinies are in their own hands. We have told them: We cannot and we do not interfere with you. Those who assert the contrary want to deceive you. All we can do is to teach you how to master your destiny. We can supply you with the weapons which you need in your struggle. But do not forget that no one can relieve you of that struggle.

No one can dissociate himself from that community or defy it or cowardly hold himself aloof. Every man and every woman, old and young, employer and employed, are governed by the same destiny if they are jointly working in the same undertaking. Their own destiny and that of the undertaking are identical.

Whenever the undertaking is prosperous, they are prosperous also; and whenever it has to face adversity, they have to do so too. They are members of a living community.

It would be completely wrong to imagine that it would be contrary to National Socialist principles to engage in economic activities in a private capacity. It is a fashion with some people to cry out against materialism and materialists. But without material things, there can be no life. We therefore do not despise them. Sometimes there have been moralists who advocated the separate identity of body, soul and mind; but such a view is untenable. If we take away the body, neither a soul nor a mind will be left. If we take away the soul, all that is left is a cold and unemotional creature; and if we take away the mind, the result will be a poor, miserable idiot. The three things belong together. We shall and must retain command of all material things; and we shall and must wrestle with materialism day after day lest it should acquire command over us. Providence has given us reasoning powers and a creative mind, which enables us to mould the material things as we like, to make new inventions, and to ponder over them. But we always need material things when we wish to give practical shape to the new ideas our brain has conceived.

There is therefore nothing disagreeable in our concern with material things. What would be the good of all our Socialist projects if there were no persons capable of calculating, organising and doing business?

Members of another school of thought desire to persuade us that business and idealism mutually exclude each other and are mutually contradictory. That allegation, too, is not correct. I maintain that the very opposite is true. A real idealist anxious to render a genuine service to mankind must have both feet on solid ground. If he has not, he becomes a visionary and a dreamer, and all his idealism becomes worthless and futile. No one derives any benefit from his ideals and ideas. But it is also true that no economic undertaking can prosper unless it is planned and managed and organised in a genuinely idealistic spirit. In every other case, sham prosperity is the best that can be hoped for.

Thus, business and idealism are not contradictions, but rather supplement one another. No idealism can be of any use if it lacks a material foundation.

Our paramount duty is of an educational nature, and our ultimate aim is to establish true national solidarity. Socialism is neither a gift nor a message. It is not a lifeless object manifesting itself in dead paragraphs. Socialism is justice. The workmen in the new Germany know that they do not belong to the great mass of those who, despite the heavy and burdensome work they do, are merely able to earn a scanty livelihood, whilst a small number of more privileged persons can indulge in all the pleasures of life. They know that their welfare is being constantly looked after, that this world and all the things it has to offer exist for their benefit also, and that they are not mere outsiders to all that. It was certainly no easy task to convert convinced Communists and Social Democrats into wholehearted supporters of the principle of national solidarity. Fine words alone were no use – they had to be supplemented by deeds. Those who had an uncompromising faith in their ability to convince the German workmen of the justice of the claims made by the Leader won the day after a hard struggle. We now know that the people are behind their Leader like one man. It is therefore possible to entrust them with tasks that demand sacrifices and retrenchment. The Four-Year Plan is such a task, and its fulfilment is assured because of the nation’s confidence in its Leader. The great work to be achieved under the plan will prepare the road for the German people’s new prosperity. True Socialism always endeavours to create new values, so that the nation can spend more money and can buy more commodities. The peaceful struggle for safeguarding the material independence of the German people and the supply of a sufficiency of raw materials will be brought to a successful issue.

This conviction is almost unanimously shared by Germany’s workers. They realise that Herr Hitler is fighting their own battle and that he – who has sprung from their own ranks – is indeed their Leader. They know that he concerns himself by day and night with the cares of every German. They have therefore put their trust in him and support his efforts for the maintenance of social peace within Germany just as keenly as they support those for the maintenance of external peace throughout the world. The Leader’s foreign policy aims at international peace, and his home policy has established social justice. For that reason, Germany is now spared the strikes and the unrest so prevalent in some other countries.

Herr Hitler, as the true Leader of his fellow countrymen, gives effect to the will expressed by them, just as they, in their turn, have willingly and loyally acknowledged his leadership. Thus, there is perfect concord between the Leader and the nation.

Adolf Hitler – speech on the occasion of the dedication of the new Volkswagen factory – 26.05.1938

May 26, 1938

As the National Socialist Movement came to power in 1933, it seemed to me that this area was particularly well suited to open the campaign against unemployment: the problem of motorization! Here the German Volk was the most in arrears. Not only by comparison to production figures in America, but also in comparison to those of other European countries, the production of automobiles in Germany had remained at a ludicrously low level: barely fortysix thousand cars a year! This did not correspond in the least to the motorization needs of the German Volk. It is only logical therefore that, in a time when seven million unemployed weighed down our life, there would have to be radical and immediate change in this area.

The first step toward motorization was a divorce from those precepts which claimed that a car was a luxury. Of course, this is true in a country where there are no more than two, three or four hundred thousand cars. However, the German Volk does not need two or three hundred thousand cars, it needs six or seven million! The crucial point is to adjust the costs for buying and maintaining this means of transportation-the most modern there is-to the income level of the Volk.

At the time, I was told, “This is impossible!” My only reply to this is, “What is possible in other countries, is also possible in Germany.” I hate that word “impossible” since it has always been the mark of people not daring enough to make and to implement great decisions.

The automobile must become the means of transportation for the Volk! Since this ambition could not be realized given the price range of automobiles to date, I had already resolved, even prior to our takeover of the government, to use the precise moment in which we rose to power to push for production of a car at a price which would make it accessible to the broad masses. Only then would the automobile cease to be a distinction of class.

There was yet another reason why I looked to motorization in particular.

Given the limits imposed upon the production of foodstuffs in a country with 140 persons per square kilometer, a catastrophe would ensue if the German Volk invested its earnings in foodstuffs only. Therefore it is necessary to divert the buying power of the German Volk in other directions.

In former times, our political economists never bothered themselves with such questions. We, however, have to face the facts and solve the problems which result from them. The Volkswagen forms part of a series of measures aimed at channeling the buying power of the German Volk toward other products of equal value. Every year hundreds of thousands of marks will be invested in pursuit of this goal. These needs can he satisfied based on our work alone, on our own raw materials, our ores and our coal, and so on. Few today realize the true significance of this project and its consequences. The Volkswagen will not enter into competition with the cars produced by the automobile industry to date. After all, a man who buys this car and not a Mercedes does not do so simply because he might be an opponent of the Daimler factory, but because he cannot afford to buy a Mercedes.

What forces the buyer to turn to cheaper goods are simple and level-headed considerations. Whoever can afford the more expensive good will buy it anyway! For the broad masses, however, this is not possible! It is for these broad masses that this car has been designed. It is to correspond to their need for transportation, and it is in this context that it is to bring enjoyment to the people.

Hence I believe there is only one name that can be given to this car, a name I shall give to it on this very evening. It shall bear the name of that organization which strives to instill both joy and strength in the masses. The name shall be: KdF-Wagen! As we build this greatest of Germany’s automobile factories, we shall also build an exemplary German worker settlement. It shall also serve as a prototype for the future of social housing projects and city design. We wish to demonstrate how National Socialism sees, approaches, and resolves such problems.

It is at this point that I wish to thank those men who deserve recognition for their efforts in planning and hence in implementing this project; in particular to a man from the automobile industry who has labored to represent and implement my views and who has loyally stood by me in these past years: our old Party Comrade Jakob Werlin. And further let me thank those men who shall join forces with him in the practical implementation of this project: our great idealist Party Comrade Robert Ley, the brilliant engineer Porsche and finally Dr. Lafferentz. Those are the men to whom we will owe, in a large part, the realization of this enormous project! Hence I proceed to lay the cornerstone for this factory which, I am certain, shall become a symbol of the National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft!

SS-Feldersatz Battalion 2

SS- Feldersatz Brigade 102

December 1944-May 1945

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Vol. 8, No. 4, Whole Number 46,
January – June 1988

At the beginning of the Ardennes Offensive which commenced on 16 December 1944, 6th l SSI Panzer Army command ordered training activities for replacement units to continue at an elevated level in the nearby Westerwald area with the stipulation that these troops would be utilized for combat duties if necessary. Because of the imminent potential of the latter possibility it was decided to combine the smaller training elements into larger structures where possible. This led to the creation of the SS-Feldersatz (Field Replacement) Brigade, II. SS Panzer Corps (which by the end of the year had been retitled SS-Feldersatz Brigade 102 to conform with the Corps’ numbering system).

SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Bissinger was named the brigade commander. Bissinger (born 25 January 1913; SS Nr. 53698), was a holder of the Iron Cross, 1st Class, who had been the commanding officer of II. Battalion., SS-Panzer Grenadier Regiment 3 „Deutschland“ of the 2nd SS Panzer Division „Das Reich.“ Brigade troops came from the replacement units of II. SS-Panzer Corps and to some extent from throughout the 6th SS Panzer Army. This led to the fact that the unit was sometimes referred to as the SS-Feldersatz Brigade, 6. SS-Panzer Armee. Serving as the nucleus element for the brigade was the SS-FEB 2 (i.e., SS-Feldersatz- battalion 2), „Das Reich,“ which had been reinforced by the „Reich“ close-combat school, the personnel of which were utilized to form a 5th Company for the battalion.

In January 1945, Stubaf. Helmut Schreiber was named to command SS-FEB 2. He was a holder of the Knight’s Cross and the German Cross in Gold (born 25 March 1917; SS Nr. 361,292), who had graduated from the SS-Junkerschule „Toelz“ in 1939. Schreiber had spent his entire career with the „Deutschland“ Regiment of the „Das Reich“ Division and had achieved great prominence while commanding 10. Company, III. Battalion, „Deutschland.” At the time Schreiber took over SS-FEB 2 he had Just recovered from a severe wounding received during the heavy fighting of the previous summer in Normandy.

On 6 March 1945, SS-FEB 2 was ordered to rejoin the „Das Reich“ Division in Hungary, but while preparations for this move were in progress, some news arrived at the headquarters of SS-Feldersatz Brigade 102 that changed everything. On 8 March 1945 a surprise American attack had seized the Rhine River bridge at Remagen and the brigade staff in Altenkirchen was ordered to immediately dispatch all combat- ready troops to the bridgehead front. SS-FEB 2, which had been in a state of high alert anyway, was literally pulled off of the trains that were to take it to Hungary, turned around and sent towards Remagen in a motorized convoy, while the rest of the brigade began mobilizing. The battalion was to come under the command of 11th Panzer Division.

Upon reaching the front sector, SS-FEB 2 was ordered to take up positions which ran along the Dattenberg-Reifert road to the south-southeast of the American bridgehead. Naturally, there were no prepared defenses in the area, so digging in commenced immediately and improvisation was the order of the day. The battalion command post was set up in the tiny village of Haehnen (all of 50 residents). The terrain in the defensive sector was hilly and rolling and gave a view of the whole bridgehead area. The SS companies were deployed in separate strongpoints along the sector front. From these positions, American vehicles could be seen crossing the Ludendorf Bridge and the construction of a new military bridge adjacent to the destroyed railroad bridge could also be observed in progress.

On 9 March 1945, American artillery spotter planes flew over the battalion’s positions and shortly afterwards the unit began receiving incoming fire, which also extended to the village of Haehnen. Casualties, including some fatalities, were instantaneous, and included some local civilians. This latter development in particular upset Stubaf. Schreiber who had hoped to somehow keep the villagers out of the conflict. He ordered the battalion medics to evacuate and treat the wounded civilians along with the Waffen-SS casualties.

By 10 March 1945 the overwhelming material „muscle“ of the enemy had amply demonstrated itself. Haehnen had been reduced to ruins and most of the battalion’s motor vehicles had been destroyed in the ceaseless American bombardment. The ground situation became even more critical when the 9th U.S. Armored Division secured a breakthrough of the German lines to the south of SS-FEB 2’s left wing. As a result the battalion was forced to adjust its lines to a point behind the Hargarten-Haehnen road. Part of the Pattenberg-Hargarten road was yielded in hard fighting, but the battalion avoided being outflanked.

During this battle two of the Waffen-SS troopers fell into the hands of the Americans and were taken to the rear where they were held captive by members of a mortar unit from the 99th U.S. Infantry Division. In the night of 13/14 March, the two SS soldiers overpowered their guards and took their weapons. An all-out pursuit developed, punctuated by sharp exchanges of fire. By the time the SS men had been recaptured, six GI’s had been killed. Now there would be no mercy for the prisoners. With their hands shackled behind their backs the SS men were knocked to the ground, shot in the back of the neck, and left to lie where they fell. They were later buried in the cemetery at Bad Hownef by some local villagers. One of the murdered men was identified later as Franz Wilke (born 12 May 1925), who originally came from the SS Flak Replacement Regiment in Munich. His comrade remains unknown.

March 14, 1945 saw an all-out attempt by the Luftwaffe to destroy the Remagen bridges. Around 100 planes were utilized for this desperation mission in what was one of the last major undertakings of the German Air Force. And it failed miserably! The disaster was caused by the enormous concentration of anti-aircraft guns on the American side which literally swept every quadrant of the skies. How any planes got through at all was a miracle in itself. Twenty-four German bombers were downed on this day in the bridgehead area. On 15 March, 21 more Luftwaffe bombers again attacked the Remagen bridgehead; six of them were brought down and the bridge remained intact.

On the ground, SS-FEB 2 was still getting pounded by the enemy artillery and fighting off American probing attacks. So far, the front sector held but manpower attrition was setting in fast with little to show for it. Stubaf. Schreiber was in radio contact with the brigade headquarters in Altenkirchen and he made several requests for the withdrawal of the battalion so it could rejoin the „Das Reich“ Division in the „East.“ All requests were denied, however, and the losses continued to mount. Ustuf. Bauer was one of those killed repelling an enemy attack on the 14th.

In the morning of 15 March, a battalion from the Engineer Training Regiment 403 under Major von Koeller arrived in Haehnen to begin relieving the increasingly battered SS-FEB 2. To the northwest of the town an American regimental task force from the 99th U.S. Infantry Division had broken through the German lines on a broad front and by 10:15 had begun to threaten Haehnen. At this time the unit change-of- position around the village was still very much underway and before anyone realized it the Americans had arrived on the scene. Bursts of wild firing in front of the SS-FEB 2 command post provided Stubaf. Schreiber with the first evidence of the enemy presence.

Schreiber and his radio man immediately rushed outside with automatic weapons in their hands. They found the Americans moving into the middle of the village. The only hope now was to make a run for it! The Sturmbannführer Joined scattered troops from the town in dashing for a stone bridge about 500 meters to the north of Haehnen. But could they make it? The Americans were in hot pursuit!

Fortunately, about 150 meters out of town, a Waffen-SS machine gun team halted and went into position – determined to buy time so that their comrades could escape. In this they were successful; Stubaf. Schreiber and the last remnants of his command reached the bridge and dug in on either side of it. But back in Haehnen the Americans were able to bag much of the engineer battalion, including its commander, who had the misfortune to be carrying the intact German battle plans for the Remagen Front in his brief case! Some Waffen-SS men were also taken prisoner in the village along with most of the teenage members of a Flak helper unit.

A very intense battle then raged for the stone bridge, continuing until 1630 hours in the afternoon, when SS-FEB 2 finally abandoned the edifice to troops from the 99th U. S. Infantry Division. The survivors of the SS replacement battalion threaded their way through the woods to Arnsau, eventually going into position on the west bank of a stream near the town. They were Joined here by Leutnant Rehfisch who had led the Flak helper detachment in Haehnen and had managed to escape the carnage.

Back in Haehnen, the bodies of six 55 NCO’s and a private who had been killed in the town on 15 March was buried by Father Detsche, a priest from Linz, assisted by some local boys. On 23 March 1945, SS-FEB 2 left its positions on the small Wied Brook to go into combat reserve to the south of Hennef. At the end of the month the remnants of the battalion left the vicinity of Bodenwoehr for Bruck. At this town a new collecting station for „Das Reich” replacements had been established on orders of the divisional staff. The officer in charge at Bruck was Hstuf. Eugen Maisenbacher (born 20 November 1914; 55 Nr. 110,198); the former commander of I. Battalion, SS-Panzer Grenadier Regiment 3 „Deutschland,“ „DR“ Division. Only enough troops turned up to permit the formation of two new replacement companies and they were quartered in the town grammar school.

However, the two new companies served as the nucleus for a new SS-Feldersatz Battalion 2 which took shape in early April, again under Stubaf. Schreiber. On 6 April 1945, the battalion was forced to withdraw from Bruck and on the 12th it became the main part of a battle-group led by Stubaf. Schreiber that was rushed to the Traisen sector in Austria. SS-Kampfgruppe „Schreiber“ was soon heavily engaged against the Red Army near Herzogenburg and St. Aegyd. After extremely costly fighting in the hilly slopes of the Dunkelsteiner Forest, the survivors were withdrawn from the front and sent to Langlois, where SS-FEB 2 was to have been reconstituted once again had not the war ended first!

Dr. Goebbels meeting with representative soldiers of various Eastern nationalities, in December 1944. First known publication. (Courtesy of Erik Rundkvist)

Große Freiheit Nr. 7 (1944)

Directed by: Helmut Käutner
Produced by: Hans Tost
Written by: Helmut Käutner and
Richard Nicolas
Music by: Werner Eisbrenner
Cinematography: Werner Krien
Edited by: Anneliese Schönnenbeck
Distributed by: Deutsche Filmvertriebs (DFV)
Release dates: 15 December 1944
Running time: 111 minutes
Country: German Reich
Language: German

Starring:

Hans Albers: Hannes Kroeger
Ilse Werner: Gisa Häuptlein
Hans Söhnker: Willem
Hilde Hildebrand: Anita
Gustav Knuth: Fiete
Günther Lüders: Jens
Ilse Fürstenberg: Gisa’s mother
Ethel Reschke: Margot
Erna Sellmer: Frau Kaasbohm
Kurt Wieschala: Jan
Helmut Käutner: Karl
Richard Nicolas: Admiral
Maria Besendahl: Frau Boergel
Justus Ott: Herr Wellenkamp
Gottlieb Reeck: Herr Puhlmann
Thea Thiele: Consul’s wife
Alfred Braun: Rundfunkreporter
Rudolf Koch-Riehl: Master of ceremonies
Karl-Heinz Peters: Postman
Erwin Loraino: Sailor

Soundtrack:

Hans Albers – “Auf der Reeperbahn”
Hilde Hildebrand – “Beim ersten Mal, da tut’s noch weh”
Hans Albers – “La Paloma”
Hans Albers – “Nein, ich kann Dich nicht vergessen”
Hans Albers – “Schön ist die Liebe im Hafen”
Hans Albers – “Was kann es denn schöneres geben”
Hans Albers – “Wenn ein Seemann mal nach Hamburg kommt”

Plot:

Große Freiheit Nr. 7 (Great Freedom No. 7) is a 1944 German musical drama film directed by Helmut Käutner. It was named after Große Freiheit (grand freedom), a street next to Hamburg’s Reeperbahn road in the St. Pauli red light district.

The film tells the story of the blond “singing sailor” Hannes Kröger (played by Hans Albers) who works in a St. Pauli club – address: Große Freiheit 7 – and falls in love with a girl played by Ilse Werner. But she prefers his friend Willem (Hans Söhnker) and Hannes returns to the sea.