Newsroom Veranstaltungen Team & Kontakt

“Work Ennobles”

Every German was expected to contribute to the "Volksgemeinschaft" ("people’s community”) through some form of work.

Members of the Reich Labour Service at the NSDAP party conference in Nuremberg are standing in rank and file on the grounds. Nazi flags can be seen in the background.
Members of the Reich Labor Service at the annual Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, September 1937. The theme of the 1937 Party Congress was “labor”.
The picture shows a swastika with the caption "work ennobles", which was placed above a house entrance. Above it you can see a man doing window work.
Building facade in a Reich Labor Service camp with the slogan “work ennobles,” 1935.
You can see a poster of the "Labour Service. German youth service of honour". The poster shows an illustration of a labourer wielding a pickaxe.
“Labor service. Honorable service for German youth.” Reich Labor Service propaganda poster, 1935.
The picture shows 11 armed men in helmets and white uniforms, forming a line of marksmen three rows deep.
Reich Labor Service camp in Dorsten (Westfalia), 1939. The military training exercises served as paramilitary preparations for war.
Several uniformed men can be seen marching in groups to a roll call. The scene is reminiscent of a military parade.
Reich Labor Service camp in Dorsten (Westfalia), 1939. On special occasions such as Adolf Hitler’s birthday, the young workers donned uniforms similar to those worn by Wehrmacht soldiers.

The motto “Arbeit adelt” (“work ennobles”) was coined to promote the "Reichsarbeitsdienst" ("Reich Labor Service"), an institution established in 1935 that was rigorously military in nature. Every young German male was required to serve in this organization for six months. Labor was equated with sacrifice for the "people’s community." The workers assisted in road construction or agricultural work. In addition to reducing unemployment, the Reich Labor Service also fulfilled the purposes of ideological training and the paramilitary preparation for war.

The Reich Labor Service was thus a fundamental means of enforcing National Socialist social policies and an integral element of state control over young people: Boys progressed from the Deutsches Jungvolk (German Youth) to the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). They then fulfilled their Labor Service obligations and were ultimately conscripted into the Wehrmacht.

→ “VOLKSGEMEINSCHAFT” (“people’s community”)


This community was conceived as a superior "blood community" faced with the challenge of defending itself against everything "racially foreign." Propaganda portrayed German workers and soldiers as the male ideal in this struggle. A racist, achievement-driven ideology masked and social inequalities and simultaneously created a pretext for persecuting political opponents, supposedly inferior persons, and the "work-shy".

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