Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-02/nca-02-15-criminality-02-12 Last-Modified: 1997/08/21 Soon after the seizure of power (mid-April 1933), Reichsleiter Robert Ley was directed by Hitler to smash the independent unions. Reichsleiter Ley, in his speech to the Nurnberg Party Congress of 1936, declared: "*** My Fuehrer! When you, my Fuehrer, ordered me in mid-April 1933 to take over the trade unions, I could not understand why you gave this order to me since I could not see any connection between my task as Organizational Leader of the Party and my new task. Very soon, however, your decision, my Fuehrer, became clear to me and I recognized that the organizational measures of the Party could only come to full fruition when supplemented by the organization of the people, that is to say, by the mobilization of the energies of the people and by their concentration and alignment. If the Part represents the concentration of the Political Leaders of the people -- as you, my Fuehrer, have told us again and again -- then the people is the retinue and must be organized and trained according to the same principles. Leader and retinue, elite and community at large -- these were the clear directives for my work. These were the consequences: "(1) My tasks as Organizational Leader of the Party and as the leader of the German Labor Front were a completely homogeneous task: in other words, in everything I did-I acted as Reich Organization Leader of the NSDAP. "(2) The German Labor Front was an institution of the Party and was led by it. "(3) The German Labor Front had to be organized regionally and professional according to the same principles as the Party. "That is why trade union and employer associations had to be smashed unrelentingly, and the basis of construction was formed, as in the Party, by the cell and the local section [Ortsgruppe]. ******* [Page 73] "National Socialism has conquered the factory. Factory troops [Die Werkschar] are the National Socialist shock troops within the factory, and their motto is: 'THE FUEHRER IS ALWAYS RIGHT'." (2283-PS) In furtherance of the Nazi policy to destroy the independent trade unions of Germany, Ley issued a Party directive on 21 April 1933 outlining what was termed a "coordination action" scheduled for 2 May 1933 against the General German Trade Union Federation and the General Independent Employee Federation (392-PS). This directive ordered the SA and the SS to occupy trade union premises, seize trade union funds, and take into protective custody the higher union leaders. Pertinent portions of-Ley's order provide: "On Tuesday, 2 May 1933, the coordination action of the free trade unions begins. ******* "The essential part of the action is to be directed against the General German Trade Union Federation and the General Independent Employees Federation. "Anything beyond that which is dependent upon the free trade unions is left to the discretion of the Gauleiter's judgment. "The Gauleiter are responsible for the execution of the coordination action in the individual areas. Supporters of the action should be members of the National Socialist Factory Cell Organizations ***. "SA as well as SS are to be employed for the occupation of trade union properties and for taking into protective custody of personalities who come into question. "The Gauleiter is to proceed with his measures on a basis of the closest understanding with competent gau or regional factory cells directors. "In the Reich, the following will be occupied: The directing offices of the unions; The trade union houses and offices of the fur trade unions; The Party houses of the Socialist Democratic Party of Germany in so far as trade unions are involved there; The branches and paying offices of the Bank for Workers, Employees and Officials, Inc.' The district committees of the General German Trade Union Federation and of the General Independent Employees Federation. [Page 74] The local committees of the General German Trade Union Federation and of the General Independent Employees Federation. "The following are to be taken into protective custody: All trade union chairmen; The district secretaries and branch directors of the Bank for Workers, Employees and Officials, Inc. ******* "Exceptions are granted only with the permission of the Gauleiter. ******* "It is understood that this action is to proceed in a strongly disciplined fashion. The Gauleiter are responsible in this respect. They are to hold the direction of the action firmly in hand. "Heil Hitler! '(signed) Dr. Robert Ley." (392-PS) Ley's order for the dissolution of the independent trade unions was carried out as planned and directed. Trade union premises all over Germany were occupied by the SA and the unions dissolved. On 2 May 1933, the official NSDAP Press Service reported that the National Socialist Factory Cells Organization (NSBO) had "eliminated the old leadership" of "Free Trade Unions" and taken over their leadership (2224- PS): "National Socialism, which today has assumed leadership of the German working class, can no longer bear the responsibility for leaving the men and women of the German working class, the members of the largest trade organization in the world, the German Trade Union Movement, in the hands of a people who do not know a fatherland that is called Germany. Because of that, the National Socialist Factory Cell Organization (NSBO) has taken over the leadership of the trade unions. The NSBO has eliminated the old leadership of the trade unions of the General German Trade Unions League and of the General Independent Employees' Federation ***. "On 2 May 1933, the National Socialist Factory Cell Organization (NSBO) took over the leadership of all trade unions; all trade union buildings were occupied and most stringent control has been organized over financial and personnel matters of the organization." (2224-PS) This assault on the independent unions directed by Ley in his capacity as Reichsleiter in charge of Party Organization, assisted [Page 75] by the Gauleiter and Party Formations, included the seizure of trade union funds and property. In a speech on 11 September 1937 to the 5th Annual Session of the German Labor Front (1678-PS), Ley admitted the confiscation of trade union funds. "Once I said to the Fuehrer: 'My Fuehrer, actually I am standing with one foot in jail, for today I am still the trustee of the comrades "Leipart" and "Imbusch," and should they some day a me to return their money, then it will be found that I have spent it, either by building things, or otherwise. But they shall never again find their property in the condition in which they handed it over to me. Therefore I would have to be convicted.' "The Fuehrer laughed then and remarked that apparently I felt extremely well in this condition. "it was very difficult for us all. Today we laugh about it." (1678-PS) The plan of the Nazi conspirators to eliminate the Free Trade Unions was advanced by the enactment on 19 May 1933 of a law which abolished collective bargaining between workers and employers and replaced it with a regulation of working conditions by Labor Trustees appointed by Hitler (405-PS). After providing in Section 1 for the appointment by Hitler of trustees of labor, the law provides, in Section 2: "Until a new revision of the social constitution, the trustees are to regulate the conditions for the conclusion of labor contracts. This practice is to be legally binding for all persons and replaces the system found on combinations of workers, of individual employers or of combinations of employers ***." (405- PS) Having destroyed the independent unions and collective bargaining, the next step of the Nazi conspirators was to Nazify industrial relations. The Law of 20 January 1934, entitled "Law Regulating National Labor," imposed the Leadership Principle 'upon industrial enterprisers (1861- PS). Section I, paragraph 1, provided that the enterpriser should be the leader of the plant and the workers would "constitute his followers." Section 1, paragraph 2 reads as follows: "The Leader of the plant makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise, as far as they are regulated by this law. "He is responsible for the well-being of the employees and -laborers. The employees and laborers owe him faithfulness [Page 76] according to the principles of the factory community." (1861-PS) The trade unions having been dissolved and the Leadership Principle superimposed upon the relationship of management and labor, the members of the Leadership Corps joined in and directed measures designed to replace the independent unions by the German Labor Front, the DAF, an affiliated Party organization. On the very day the Nazi conspirators seized and dissolved the Free Trade Unions, 2 May 1933, they publicly proclaimed that a "united front of German workers" would be formed with Hitler as honorary patron at a workers' congress of 10 May 1933 (2224-PS). A release of the Nazi Party Press Agency stated: "The National Socialist Party Press Agency is informed that a great workers' congress will take place on Wednesday, 10 May, in the Russian House of Lords in Berlin. The United Front of German workers will be formed there. Adolf Hitler will be asked to assume the position of Honorary Patron." (2224-PS) The action committee, which supervised the smashing of the unions under Reichsleiter Ley, met with Hitler and reported that the independent unions had been effectively dissolved. The Fuehrer then consented to be Honorary Patron at the Great Workers' Congress. (2224-PS) The Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party was not only employed in measures taken to dissolve the independent unions, but certain of its members were given important and directive positions within the German Labor Front, the Nazi Organization which replaced the free trade unions. On 10 May 1933, Hitler appointed Ley Leader of the German Labor Front (DAF) (1940-PS). By the same edict, Hitler appointed Gauleiter Forster as Leader of the Employees' Associations, and Schumann, Leader of the Nazi Factory Cell Organization (NSBO), as Leader of the Workers' Associations. The Hitler edict stated: "The Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, has issued the following edict: "I appoint the Chief of Staff of the Political Organization of the NSDAP, Dr. Robert Ley, as leader of the German Labor Front. "I appoint Gauleiter Forster, Danzig, as leader of the Employees' Associations. "I appoint the leader of the National Socialist Factory Cell Organizations (NSBO), Schumann, as leader of the Workers' "Berlin, 10 May "Adolf Hitler." (1940-PS) [Page 77] The Nazi conspirators employed the German Labor Front (DAF) a an instrument for propagandizing its millions of compulsory members with Nazi ideology. The control of the Leadership corps over the German Labor Front was assured not only by the designation of Reichsleiter Ley as head of the DAF, but by the employment of a large number of Politischen Leiter (political leaders) charged with disseminating Nazi ideology to the large membership of the DAF. These facts are apparent from pages 185-187 of the Organization Book of the NSDAP (2271-PS): "The National Socialist Factory Cells Organization [NSBO], is a union of the political leaders [Politischen Leiter] of the NSDAP in the German Labor Front. "The NSBO is the carrier of the organization of the German Labor Front. "The duties and responsibilities of the NSBO have passed over to the DAF. "The political leaders who have been transferred from the NSBO to the German Labor Front guarantee the ideological education of the DAF in the spirit of the National Socialistic idea." (2271-PS) The foregoing evidence fixes upon the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party responsibility for participation in the measures leading to the destruction of the independent trade unions and to Nazi Party control over the productive capacity of the German Labor Movement. Not only were these actions directed by Ley in his capacity as Reichsleiter, but they were supervised on a regional basis by the Gauleiter as district representatives of the Leadership Corps. Moreover, the German Labor Front (DAF) which replaced the dissolved trade unions was an affiliated organization of the NSDAP and, as such, remained under the control of the Leadership Corps and was employed by it to nazify the labor population of Germany. (f) Plunder of Art Treasures. The Leadership Corps of the NSDAP is also responsible for the plundering of art treasures by Reichsleiter Rosenberg's Einsatzstab Rosenberg, the activities of which are discussed in full in Chapter XIV.
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