The German Labour Front (Reichsarbeitsdienst DAF) was the amalgamated National-Socialist trade union organisation which replaced the Bolshevik infiltrated Weimar Republic trade unions.
DAF’s leader was Robert Ley, who stated its aim as “to create a true social and productive community” (Smelster, 1988). The DAF acted as a medium through which workers and owners could mutually represent their interests. The employees were given a high set wages and security of work. Dismissal was increasingly made difficult. Social security programmes were started by theArbeitsfront while leisure programmes, canteens, pauses and regular working times were established. The German workers were generally satisfied by what the DAF gave them and in turn the workers maintained their loyalty to the state.
Employment contracts created under the Weimar Republic were abolished and renewed under new circumstances in the DAF. Employers could demand more of their workers, while at the same time workers were given increased security of work and increasingly enrolled into social security programmes for workers. The organisation, by its own definition, combated capitalism, liberalism, but also revolution against the factory owners and the National-Socialist state.
DAF membership was voluntary. Membership required a fee within the range of 15 pfennig to 3 Reichsmark, depending on the category a member fell into in a large scale of 20 membership groups.
There were two main components.
- The National-Socialist Factory Organization (NSBO)
- The National-Socialist Trade and Industry Organization (NSHABO)
- Kraft durch Freude (KdF; Strength through Joy) – Organisation giving the workers cheap or free holidays in addition to subsidised sporting and leisure facilities.
- Schönheit der Arbeit (SdA; Beauty of Work) – Aimed to make workplaces more enticing to workers (e.g. renovations of outdated factories, new canteens for workers, smoking-free rooms, cleaner working spaces etc.).
- Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD; Reich Labour Service) – Solution to the unemployment crisis the National-Socialist government inherited. Provided cheap labour for big state projects, such as the Autobahns. Made compulsory for unemployed men 16-25 in 1935. Provided work security to many unemployed.
The German Labour Front also organised the Reichsberufswettkampf, a national vocational competition.