The Third Reich
Nazi Propaganda

1935-1938

 

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  • March 1936
 

Reichs Labor Service

We are preparing

Body and Soul

The Reichs Labor Service was a popular volunteer program organized by the Nazi Party in 1934 to provide work and housing for unemployed young men (and subsequently young women). It can best be described as a sort of domestic "peace corps," for in addition to immediate employment and housing, it deliberately selected the most impoverished sites scattered around the country. Boys from the big cities would be sent into farming communities; those from the western setctions would go East. Those from the mountains would work in the dunes of the North Sea coastland.

The Labor Service boasted that in addition to providing work, they were also preparing young men for a greater role in the new Volks Gemeinschaft. In reviewing this new institution for the first time at the Party Rally of 1934, Hitler called them "the school through which a new generation of Germans would learn the value and dignity of physical labor."

The caption has an important double meaning. Although these young men were drilled and regularly marched in ranks, their training was strictly civilian. Yet the word "rüsten" which I have translated as "preparing" can also mean "arming." Indeed, many would claim that as the most appropriate meaning.

Although unrelated directly to the Reichstag elections of 1936, the date of its appearance is hardly a coincidence. Having decided not to stress the rearmament side of Hitler's program, this poster can hint of it by its careful selection of words!

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