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nazi ideas about society and the treatment of workers

Nazi Ideas about Society and the Treatment of Workers

Nazi Germany

This icon indicates the slide contains activities created in Flash. These activities are not editable.

For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation.


What we will learn today

So far in this unit we have focused on how the Nazi regime developed politically – through propaganda and the creation of a police state. We will now move on to look at the social policies of the regime.

In this presentation you will learn:

  • What sort of society the Nazis hoped to create.
  • How the Nazis sought to put these policies into practice.
  • How this affected ordinary Germans.

The Volksgemeinschaft

Hitler aimed to persuade ordinary Germans that their purpose was to contribute to the greater good of the German people (Volk).

He therefore attacked the idea of individual liberty, which he felt was incompatible with a strong people’s community (Volksgemeinschaft).

For Hitler, life meant struggle – against Bolsheviks, Jews, foreign nations. Only if all members of the Volksgemeinschaft stood against these threats with common aims and perspectives (Weltanschauung) could the Volk hope to survive.


Blood and Soil

Blood: Only physically and mentally fit Aryans had any place in the new society. There was no room for social outcasts, the disabled or non-Aryans.

Soil: Hitler felt that this Volksgemeinschaft should be based around the peasantry – whom he considered the most racially pure element in Germany, and the source of all true German culture.

Society would be classless and all would share a belief in the beauty of labour. This was stressed in propaganda, using slogans such as ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (‘labour liberates’). Hitler himself was called the ‘first worker of the nation’.

What possible problems could arise from this focus on (a) Aryans and (b) the peasantry?



When Hitler took power in January 1933 there were six million unemployed people in Germany. By 1939, unemployment had almost disappeared.

This dramatic reduction in unemployment won over many workers to the Nazi cause.

Also important was the DAF (German Labour Front) led by Dr Robert Ley. Within this were:

  • the SdA ('Beauty of Labour') and the RAD movements designed to improve attitudes to work,
  • the KdF ('Strength through Joy') programme which organized activities for workers to do in their leisure time.

The SdA ('Beauty of Labour') and the RAD

The 'Beauty of Labour' movement encouraged employers to improve working conditions, and organized various campaigns, for example they campaigned for:

  • good ventilation in the work place,
  • hot meals in the factory.

After 1935 the RAD (Reich Labour Service) made it compulsory for all men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 to do six months labour service.

This was intended to encourage a sense of hard work in young people. The work was poorly paid, and involved hard manual labour on farms or road-building projects.


The KdF ('Strength through Joy') programme

The 'Strength Through Joy' programme (KdF) organized trips to concerts, plays, exhibitions, sporting events, folk dances, educational events and even arranged holidays.

By 1938, a special KdF office was organizing holidays and travel for approximately 10.3 million Germans. The idea was that people would work better if they were refreshed.

What did Hitler say about the KdF?

… the German worker will receive an adequate holiday and … everything will be done to ensure that this holiday and the rest of his free time offer a genuine recovery.


KdF schemes: The Nazi holiday camp

One of the Nazi’s most ambitious projects was to develop Prora, a huge holiday resort on the Baltic Island of Rugen. It was one of five planned to be built, but the only one started. It was never finished, due to the war. Work began in May 1936 with 48 construction companies, employing 2000 workers.














What impact do you think this had, both on Nazi popularity and the German economy?



Workers lost important freedoms but gained improved conditions and facilities.

  • Freedoms lost:
  • Trade unions were banned and workers were not allowed to bargain for increased wages.
  • Workers were controlled by the state. From 1935, all workers had to carry a booklet detailing their work record.
  • Benefits gained:
  • Workers had more job opportunities, more holiday time and better working conditions than ever before.

Do you think that most workers would consider that the benefits of Nazi policies outweighed their disadvantages?