Strength through Joy in Germany 1938


Under National Socialism, Full Employment, Health Care, No Homeless and…

As early as 1933 the Government abolished the tax on all new passenger cars, later extending this to all automobiles. This made automobiles much cheaper and increased the sales of the industry. In the last five years, these measures together with the economic upswing have brought about a great advance in automobile sales and a great improvement in German motorization. In 1932, only 19 out of every 1,000 people in Germany owned cars as compared with 41 in France and 37 in Great Britain; today, however, the figure for Germany is 35 in every 1,000, as compared with about 51 per thousand in France and Great Britain.

A further example of regulation of production by means of tax reductions was the exemption of short-term capital goods from income tax. After 1933 the value of these goods could be deducted from the taxable income of the individual and from the taxable profits of an enterprise. This stimulated the purchase of such goods and was a means of increasing the low activity of the capital goods industry. The elasticity of the National-Socialist economic policy can be seen in the fact that this measure was repealed as soon as the capital goods industry was fully employed.

2. The second means of indirect regulation of production is price policy. This can take place in two ways: by a reduction in costs and by an increase in, or guarantee of, sales prices. These methods have been chiefly used in the field of agriculture, where production reacts quickly to price changes. An example of this reduction may be seen in the prices for artificial fertilizer, farm machinery, and agricultural implements. On the other hand, by a scaling of farm prices, it has been possible to increase considerably the acreage given over to winter barley, the production of fiber plants and oil fruits, and the number of sheep.

3. Closely related to this price policy is tariff policy, the utilization of which is necessary where domestic goods compete with foreign products. This is particularly important in the case of agricultural products, the prices of which are considerably lower on the world market than in Germany. Special boards have been set up in order to compensate for these differences in prices, and are empowered to regulate imports.

4. The last method of indirect regulation of production is the prohibition of new privacy issues on the capital market. Since new issues are permitted only for special purposes all those branches of trade and industry which are shut off from the capital market are thus limited in their capital investment possibilities. They can only extend their plants, etc., to the degree that their own funds allow. Thus in 1933, a special board was set up under the control of the Reichsbank, to which application must be made before new issues are floated. Permission is only granted for privately issuing monies in the case of companies which serve the ends of the Four-Years-Plan, where, moreover, no other possibility of financing their work exists.

The main factor in the field of organized consumption is the organization Kraft durch Freude (“Strength through Joy”). The following figures and examples show what has been done. Up to 1937, nine million German citizens had taken journeys and walking trips. The following were taken at random from a list of 350 vacation trips from Berlin which have been arranged for the period from May to September 1938: —

A two-week trip to Upper-Bavaria costs 60.50 RM [Reichsmarks], while an eight-day stay on the Baltic costs only 31 RM, and a 16 day trip to East Prussia but 41 RM. These costs include everything: railroad fare, room, and board, trips, etc. In the last theater season, 1937-1938, the “Strength through Joy” arranged 7,000 theater performances. For the workers on the auto highways [Autobahn] alone some 7,000 concerts and entertainments were arranged. In the last four years, 34 million people have participated in the evenings of culture and entertainment arranged by the organization “Feierabend” which I might translate into English as “The Evening Off.” Seven million have taken part in sports exhibitions, gymnastics, games, etc. On the island of Rügen a large seaside resort is being constructed, which will offer 20,000 an opportunity for recreation and rest.

Sea trips take German workers to Portugal, Madeira, Norway, and Italy. By the end of 1937, over 180,000 had made such trips. Recently the German Labor Front launched its own ships, the Wilhelm Gustloff and the Robert Ley, which were specially built and fitted for such sea trips. It is planned to build about 20 steamers for this purpose. The comfort and living conditions in that ship are but little different from those in the great [ocean] liners. Just as on the great luxurious liners, so on the Wilhelm Gustloff and the Robert Ley, you can have your daily bath in fresh water, enjoy running hot and cold water in your cabin, drink ice water, swim in a large pool, play in the sports room, enjoy all the deck games and dance in the evening or attend some entertainment. The land trips which are taken are not different from those arranged by the North German Lloyd or by the Hamburg-America Line. Yet the whole three weeks only cost the sum of 158.37 RM, including the railroad trip from Berlin to Genoa and the railroad trip from Hamburg to Berlin. The usual rule is that only those workers are allowed to take these trips whose income is not over 300 RM per month; most of the participants, indeed, earn less than 200 RM monthly.

All these possibilities of organized consumption, which each year include more people, lead to the fact that the standard of living in Germany cannot be ascertained by the usual methods, and also leads, I would like to say in closing, to the fact that the standard of living in Germany cannot be compared statistically with that in other countries. Therefore, when you read any statistics about the standard of living in Germany, you yourselves will have the impression, after hearing about these trips, etc., that these figures do not give the right picture, since the standard of living in Germany is affected by a number of things which cannot be shown by statistics.

(Kraft durch Freude) was set up in Nazi Germany so that all aspects of a worker’s non-working time were looked after. Strength Through Joy supervised after-work activities, holidays and leisure time. Strength Through Joy served two main purposes. The first was to ensure that no one had too much time on their hands to get involved in untoward activities against the state. There was a belief that idle hands might get involved in anti-state misdemeanors. The second main purpose of Strength Through Joy was to produce an environment within Nazi Germany whereby the average worker would be grateful to the state for providing activities and holidays that in ‘normal’ circumstances they could not afford as individuals.
Robert Ley was put in charge of Strength Through Joy.
By 1936, KdF had a membership of 30 million Germans. The scope of the organization was vast. It arranged theatre trips, summer holidays, skiing holidays, summer and winter hikes, cruises and outdoors activities. People living in the countryside had trains made available for them to get into a city to watch theatre performances. The state provided about as much as could be needed to take up anyone’s slack free time.

One minute English Clip of a Parade

Now for a longer 4-minute clip:
Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy, KdF) was a large state-controlled leisure organization in Nazi Germany. It was a part of the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF), the national German labour organization at that time. Set up as a tool to promote the advantages of National Socialism to the people, it soon became the world’s largest tourism operator of the 1930s.[1] KdF was supposed to bridge the class divide by making middle-class leisure activities available to the masses. Another less ideological goal was to boost the German economy by stimulating the tourist industry out of its slump from the 1920s. It was quite successful up until around the outbreak of World War II. By 1934, over two million Germans had participated on a KdF trip; by 1939 the reported numbers lay around 25 million people.

4 Minutes of reality





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