A successful labour leader must have a practical knowledge of the conditions under which the workman lives and works, and also of his outlook on life, his ideas, his speech etc. The workman’s difficulties and cares cannot be learned at the office desk of the leader. The latter must have experienced all these in his own person.
Though Dr. Robert Ley, the Leader of the German Labour Front, is a university man, he is also a man of the world, a man of everyday common-sense and practical ability, neither a bureaucrat nor an abstract theorist, a man who is simple and straightforward in his speech and in his ways. The German Labour Front, which has been created by Dr. Ley, embraces all Germans who are engaged in productive labour, whether physical or mental. This Labour Front is not a maze of offices and exchanges packed with people who are looking for jobs. It is a living organism in which each individual element is active. It has superseded the old trade-unions, which operated on the assumption that the interests of Capital and Labour must be in eternal opposition to one another. Dr. Ley’s vast organization embraces all German employers as well as the workers. Its members number about twenty millions. Its chief purpose is to promote and maintain peaceful cooperation between employers and employees by inculcating in the minds of the employers a sympathetic understanding for the just claims and rights of the employees and, on the side of the employees, a reciprocal understanding of the conditions under which a business has to be managed and the possibilities on which the payment of wages etc., depend. In this way it has been possible to put an end to the fruitless contentions of the old trade-unions and establish a fair balance of give-and-take in each business. Inasmuch as the German Labour Front not only took over the trade-unions but expanded them into a cooperative organization which embraces all Germans actively engaged in productive work whether as directors or subordinate officials or ordinary workers, including also the hitherto independent trades and professions, we have here a veritable national community which embraces all productive effort for the welfare of the nation as a whole.
This community has its own social departments, the most important of which is known as the “Strength Through Joy” organization. This enables every German worker to share in the general amenities of life at a nominal cost. Thus he can visit the best theatres, go on excursion trips at home and abroad, take part in all kinds of sports etc.
Within the Party framework Dr. Ley is also Reich Director of the Political Organization of the National Socialist Party. This organization is something more than a mere administrative mechanism under Party direction. The political leaders of the organization are the trustees not merely of the individual Party members but are also the intermediaries between the people as a whole and the supreme leadership. The Reich Director of the Political Organization is also responsible for the training of future Party leaders at various political colleges.
Dr. Ley is a native of the Rhineland and is the son of a peasant farmer. He was born in 1890. He studied food chemistry and after the War, in which he served as a volunteer, he took a post in one of the biggest chemical works in Germany. Owing to his political activities, he was several times arrested and finally lost his position on that account.