1945: Robert Ley – Hitler’s Trade Union Chief

1945: Robert Ley – Hitler’s Trade Union Chief
Photo Credit To http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-2008-0922-501%2C_Robert_Ley.jpg

Story Highlights

  • historical event:
  • When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the state took control over all labor unions and formed the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront - DAF) as an umbrella organization for all unions. He then became the head of the DAF.

Nazi politician Robert Ley – one of the most famous people in Germany on the eve of World War II – died on this day. Namely, Adolf Hitler personally appointed Robert Ley on the high function of the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront – DAF). It was a sort of umbrella organization for all labor unions in the Third Reich during the time of the Nazis. However, in reality, the DAF actually replaced all unions, allowing the Nazis to control the workers and their employers.

Robert Ley was of humble birth, but managed to attain a PhD in chemistry. As a young man in World War I, he served in the air force. During one flight, his plane crashed and he was injured. He stuttered for the rest of his life and also had personality problems, which some ascribe to the mentioned injury. Ley was allegedly often drunk, which made him many enemies. Still, Hitler tolerated his excesses since Ley was completely loyal to him.

Even before the Nazis took power in Germany, Hitler had appointed Ley to the position of Reichsorganisationsleiter (National Organizational Leader). When Hitler came to power in 1933, the state took control over all labor unions and formed the mentioned DAF, with Ley at its head. The DAF was a powerful organization – its membership fees alone amounted to around 300 million Reichsmarks per annum. In addition, there was an organization called the Kraft durch Freude (Strength Through Joy – KdF) within the frame of the DAF. This was a state institution tasked with providing tourism and entertainment services for workers. The KdF soon became the largest tourist operator in the world. It even owned large cruise ships, one of which was named Robert Ley.

The KdF was also important for the development of the Volkswagen Beetle, which was first supposed to be called the KdF-Wagen. In addition, the KdF provided concerts, operas, and cinema for the workers, as well as organizing vacations, hiking, gymnastics, etc.

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