Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Commentary)

This commentary is based on the classroom activity: Trade Unions in Nazi Germany

Q1: How does the author of source 2 justify the banning of trade unions?

A1: Robert Ley argues that the trade unions were led by Marxists and therefore wanted to cause conflict in the hope that it would result in a communist revolution. According to Ley, this is why Adolf Hitler needed to ban trade unions and left-wing political parties such as the German Social Democrat Party and the German Communist Party.

Q2: Select evidence from this unit that helps to explain why, according to source 3, "businessmen made good profits" in Nazi Germany.

A2: William Shirer, an American journalist, argues in source 3 "businessmen made good profits" in Nazi Germany because workers were not allowed to demand higher wages. Source 8 shows that there were no strikes after Hitler took power and brought in the German Labour Front. The author of source 5 reveals that under Hitler production increased. "We must also remember that in recent years factory methods in Nazi Germany have taken on a very different tempo from what was formerly the custom. Work has been considerably speeded up. Piece-work has been organised accordingly, and wage-rates have in many cases been reduced in order to lower the cost of production."

Q3: We do not know the author of source 5. Does this make it worthless as historical evidence?

A3: The author of source 5 was a member of the German resistance. If the Nazi authorities had discovered his identity he would have been executed. Most of the information published in Nazi Germany was government propaganda. Therefore, source 5 is valuable evidence of what life was like during this period.

Q4: What do sources 1, 4, 6, 7, 10 tell us about the methods used by the Nazi Party to influence the mood of the German worker?

A4: The Nazi Party made full use of posters to influence the mood of the German worker. Source 1 was published during the November, 1932, election and was an attempt to persuade the workers to vote for the Nazi Party. Source 4 is an attempt to persuade the whole family to support the German Labour Front. Source 6 shows the owner and worker hand in hand and tries to show them having no conflict of interest. Source 10 shows a man working hard with the Nazi flag in the background. The caption urges the worker to help Hitler build a new Germany. It also encourages the worker to help the national economy by buying German goods. Source 7 is an example of a pro-Hitler song that workers were required to sing.