Log In| View Cart (0)
Browse: Collections Digital Content Subjects Creators Record Groups

Workers in German labor service (1939 -- 1945) | Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Name: Workers in German labor service (1939 -- 1945)


Historical Note:

German labor service,

The Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD, "Reich Labour Service") was a major organization established by Nazi Germany as an agency to help mitigate the effects of unemployment on German economy, militarize the workforce and indoctrinate it with Nazi ideology. It was the official state labor service, divided into separate sections for men and women.

From June 1935 onwards, men aged between 18 and 25 had to serve six months before their military service. During World War II compulsory service also included young women and the RAD developed to an auxiliary formation which provided support for the Wehrmacht armed forces.

The RAD was divided into two major sections, the Reichsarbeitsdienst Männer (RAD/M) for men and the voluntary, from 1939 compulsory, Reichsarbeitsdienst der weiblichen Jugend (RAD/wJ) for women.

The RAD was composed of 33 districts each called an Arbeitsgau (lit. Work District) similar to the Gaue subdivisions of the Nazi Party. Each of these districts was headed by an Arbeitsgauführer officer with headquarters staff and a Wachkompanie (Guard Company). Under each district were between six and eight Arbeitsgruppen (Work Groups), battalion-sized formations of 1200–1800 men. These groups were divided into six company-sized RAD-Abteilung units.

Conscripted personnel had to move into labor barracks. Each rank and file RAD man was supplied with a spade and a bicycle. A paramilitary uniform was implemented in 1934; beside the swastika brassard, the RAD symbol, an arm badge in the shape of an upward pointing shovel blade, was displayed on the upper left shoulder of all uniforms and great-coats worn by all personnel. Men and women had to work up to 76 hours a week.

The RAD was classed as Wehrmachtgefolge (lit. Defense Force Following). Auxiliary forces with this status, while not a part of the Armed Forces themselves, provided such vital support that they were given protection by the Geneva Convention. Some, including the RAD, were militarized.

During the early war Norwegian and Western campaigns, hundreds of RAD units were engaged in supplying frontline troops with food and ammunition, repairing damaged roads and constructing and repairing airstrips. Throughout the course of the war, the RAD were involved in many projects.[3] The RAD units constructed coastal fortifications (many RAD men worked on the Atlantic Wall), laid minefields, manned fortifications, and even helped guard vital locations and prisoners.

The role of the RAD was not limited to combat support functions. Hundreds of RAD units received training as anti-aircraft units and were deployed as RAD Flak Batteries. Several RAD units also performed combat on the eastern front as infantry. As the German defenses were devastated, more and more RAD men were committed to combat. During the final months of the war RAD men formed 6 major frontline units, which were involved with serious fighting. On the western front RAD troops were used as reinforcements to the 9th SS Engineer Abt (SS-Captain Moeller) in the fighting to retake the northern end of the Arnhem bridge from British Paratroopers under Col. Frost. This action was during Operation Market-Garden in September 1944. It was noted that the RAD troops had no combat experience. SS-Captain Moeller's report concluded: "These men were rather skeptical and reluctant at the beginning, which was hardly surprising. But when they were put in the right place they helped us a lot; and in time they integrated completely, becoming good and reliable comrades." Losses for these troops were in the hundreds.



expand icon Digital Content Created by Workers in German labor service



Page Generated in: 0.165 seconds (using 268 queries).
Using 6.8MB of memory. (Peak of 7.08MB.)

Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-3
Copyright ©2017 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign