The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter VII
Means Used by the Nazi Conspiractors in Gaining Control of the German State
(Part 27 of 55)


A. They destroyed the independent organization of German labor.

(1) Before the Nazis took control, organized labor held a well established and influential position in Germany. Most of the trade unions of Germany were joined together in two large congresses or federations, the Free Trade Unions (Freie Gewerk schaften) and Christian Trade Unions (Christlichen Gewerk-

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schaften). Unions outside these two large groupings contained only 15 per cent of the total union membership. The Free Trade Unions were a congress of two federations of affiliated unions: (1) the General German Trade Union Federation (Allgemeinen Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbund, or the "ADGB") with 28 affiliated unions of industrial workers; (2) the General Independent Employees Federation (Allgemeinen Freien Angestelltenbund, or the "AFA") with 13 affiliated unions of white collar workers. (92-PS)

The membership of the Free Trade Unions, the affiliated organizations of the Christian Trade Unions, and all other unions at the end of 1931 (the last year for which the official government yearbook gives statistics) was as follows (2411-PS):

Union Group Number of members Percentage of Total ----------------------------------------------------------- Free Trade Unions 4,569,876 65.9% Christian Trade Unions 1,283,272 18.5% Other Unions 1,081,371 15.6% Total 6,934,519 100.0%

Under the Weimar Constitution, workers were "called upon to take part on equal terms" with employers in regulating conditions of employment. "It was provided that organizations on both -sides and agreements between them shall be recognized." Factory Representative Councils (otherwise.known as Workmens or Factory Works Councils) had the right, in conjunction with employers' representatives, to take an official part in the initiation and administration of social and economic legislation. (2050-PS)

(2) The Nazi conspirators conceived that the free trade unions were incompatible with their objectives.

Hitler stated in Mein Kampf:

"It (the trade union) created the economic weapon which the international world Jew uses for the ruination of the economic basis of free, independent states, for the annihilation of their national industry and of their national commerce, and thereby for the enslavement of free people in the service of the above-the-state- standing, world finance Jewry (ueberstaatlichen Weltfinanz-Judentums)." (404-PS)

In announcing to Germany the seizure of the Free Trade Unions, Dr. Robert Ley, speaking as chairman of the Nazi Committee for the Protection of German Labor, stated:

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"You may say, what else do you want, you have the absolute power, but we do not have the whole people, we do not have you workers 100 percent, and it is you whom we want; we will not let you be until you stand with us in complete, genuine acknowledgement." (614-PS; see also 2224-PS and 2283-PS.)

(3) Soon after coming to power the Nazi conspirators took drastic action to convert the Factory Representative Councils into Nazi controlled organizations. The Nazi conspirators eliminated the independence of the Factory Representative Councils by giving the Governors of the Laender authority to cancel the membership of labor representatives in the councils; by abrogating the right of the councils to oppose the dismissal of a worker when he was "suspected of an unfriendly attitude toward the state" (1770-PS); and finally by limiting membership in all Factory Representative Councils to Nazis (2336-PS). (After 7 April 1933, the Governors of the Laender were appointed by the Reich President "upon the proposal of the Reich Chancellor," Hitler, 2005-PS) .

(4) Soon after coming to power the Nazi conspirators proceeded to destroy the independent unions. In mid-April 1933, Hitler directed Dr. Robert Ley, then staff director of the PO (Political Organization) of the NSDAP, to take over the trade unions. (2283-PS)

Ley issued an NSDAP circular directive on 21 April 1933 detailing a "coordination action" (Gleichschaltunsaktion) to be taken on 2 May 1933 against the General German Trade Union Federation (ADGB) and the General Independent Employees Federation (AFA), the so-called "Free Trade Unions" (392-PS). This directive created a special "Action Committee" to direct the entire action and declared that the supporters of the action were to be drawn from the National Socialist Factory Cells Organization or NSBO (Nationalsozialistiche Betriebszellen-organisation), the NSDAP political leaders (Politische Leiter) in the factories; it named NSDAP commissars for the administration of the larger ADGB unions to be seized in the action; it made the Gau leaders (Gauleiter) of the NSDAP responsible for the disciplined execution of the action in their respective areas and authorized them to nominate additional commissars to administer the unions subjected to the action. The directive ordered that SA and SS were to be used in occupying union offices and the

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Bank of Workers, Employees and Officials, Inc., and for taking into protective custody the higher union leaders.

The order of seizure was carried out as planned and ordered. On 2 May the official NSDAP press service reported that the NSBO had "eliminated the old leadership" of Free Trade Unions and taken over their leadership. (2224-PS)

On 3 May 1933 the NSDAP press service announced that the Central League of Christian Trade Unions (Gesamtverband der Chrilichen Gewerkschaften) and several smaller unions "have unconditionally subordinated themselves to the leadership of Adolf Hitler" (2225-PS). The next day the NSDAP press stated that the German Nationalist Clerks League (DHV) had also "recognized the leadership of the NSDAP in German trade union affairs *******after a detailed conversation" between Dr. Ley and the leader of the DHV (2226-PS). In late June 1933, as a final measure against the Christian Trade Unions, Ley directed that all their offices were to be occupied by National Socialists. (392-PS)

The duress practiced by the Nazi conspirators in their assumption of absolute control over the unions is shown by a proclamation of Muchow, leader of the organizational office of the German Labor Front, in late June 1933. By this Party proclamation, all associations of workers not yet "concentrated" in the German Labor Front had to report within eight days. Thereafter they were to be notified of the branch of the German Labor Front which "they will have to join". (2228-PS)

(5) The Nazi Conspirators eliminated the right of collective bargaining generally. During the same months in which the unions were abolished, a decree eliminated collective bargaining on conditions of employment and substituted regulation by "trustees of labor" (Treuhaender der Arbeit) appointed by Hitler. (405-PS)

(6) The Nazi conspirators confiscated all union funds! and property. The NSDAP circular ordering the seizure of the Free Trade Unions on 2 May 1933 directed that the SA and SS were to be used to occupy the branches and paying offices of the Bank for Workers, Employees and Officials and appointed a Nazi commissar Mueller, for the bank's subsequent direction. The stock of this bank was held entirely by the General German Trade Union Association and its affiliated member unions. The NSDAP circular also directed that all union funds were to be blocked until reopened under the authority and control of NSDAP-appointed

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commissars (392-PS; 2895-PS). The Fuehrers basic order on the German Labor Front of the NSDAP in October 1934 declared that all the property of the trade unions and their dependent organizations constituted (bildet) property of the German Labor Front (2271-PS). Referring to the seizure of the property of the unions in a speech at the 1937 Party Congress, Ley mockingly declared that he would have to be convicted if the former trade union leaders were ever to demand the return of their property. (1678-PS)

(7) The Nazi conspirators persecuted union leaders. The NSDAP order on the seizure of the "Free Trade Unions" directed that the chairman of the unions were to be taken into "protective custody". Lesser leaders could be arrested with the permission of the appropriate Gau leader of the NSDAP (392-PS). In late June 1933 the German Labor Front published a "List of Outlaws" who were to be denied employment in the factories. The List named union leaders who had been active in combatting National Socialism and who allegedly continued to carry on their resistance secretly. (2336-PS)

The Nazi conspirators subjected union leaders to maltreatement ranging from assaults to murder. Among the offenses committed against union leaders are the following: assault and battery; degrading work and work beyond their physical capacity; incarceration in concentration camps; solitary confinement; denial of adequate food; surveillance; arrest and maltreatment of members of their families; murder. (2330-PS; 2331-PS; 2335-PS; 2334-PS; 2929-PS; 2277- PS; 2332-PS; and 2333-PS)

The original plaintext version of part one or part two of this file is available via ftp.

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