Background: This article is taken from the Nazi monthly for propagandists.
It discusses the duties of the lowest level Nazi propagandists, the cell
and block wardens. A block was to consist of forty to sixty households,
a cell included four to eight blocks. These men were the direct contact
most people had with the Nazi Party.
The source: Oscar Schweichler, “Aufgaben der Zellen- und
Blockleiter” Unser Wille und Weg, 5 (1935), pp. 15-18.
Duties of the Cell and Block
by Oscar Schweichler
Occasionally one hears a block warden or a cell warden complain: “Our
duties are too menial — selling tickets and badges and running errands,
that’s all!” That’s all? No, those who say that have no proper understanding
of their duties. Rightly understood, the duties of a cell or block warden
are far more important and far broader. Their primary task is to anchor
the party members of their cell or block ever more firmly to the party,
and to win those who live in their cell or block more and more to National
After the last referendum, in which 38 million voted “yes”
and only about 4 million voted “no,” the Führer himself
said in his fiery speech that the task was now to win over that last 4
million to National Socialism. It would be wrong to sit around and wait
to see what the government would do to achieve that goal. No, each individual
National Socialist has the duty to use his all his strength to help. The
cell and block wardens are called to the task, and are in an excellent
position to do it.
Can there be better or more varied tasks? They offer opportunity for
independent and extraordinarily varied activities that are gratifying
This requires that the cell warden, and even more so the block warden,
knows very well all the party members and non-party members in his district.
He must know about their families and jobs, as well as all other personal
relationships. He must know their concerns, whether large or small. He
must know their political and social opinions. This all requires a good
measure of tact and sensitivity, and cannot of course be learned overnight.
The often underestimated activities of selling tickets and badges, as
well as errand running, offer good opportunities for this. Showing friendliness
and concern to both party members and non-party members, sharing and understanding
their joys and sorrows, must and will help to win the confidence of our
people’s comrades such that in time they come to see the cell or block
leader as a kind of political pastor (Seelsorger). Rudeness and
superiority can have not only the opposite effect, they can discredit
the party. It is wrong to tell those who joined the party after the seizure
of power that the best party members are those who joined earlier. Such
discrimination will not anchor them more firmly in the party, but will
rather annoy and repel them. The properly treated party member or non-party
member will warm up over time. If he occasionally complains about a particular
measure or about someone in the party, it will offer an opportunity for
education or calming down. Usually, complaints are the result of misunderstanding,
or more often of ignorance, gossip or lying propaganda. The political
leader who in such cases goes along with the complaint, or for some reason
agrees with it, or even adds to it, deserves to be thrown out of the party.
That is as if one made the goat the gardener. It can do irreparable harm.
It is necessary for the cell or block warden to know the reasons for the
government’s various economic measures so that he can deal forthrightly
with the fault-finding and false criticisms of party members and non-party
members. There is material in the supplement to Will and Way to help [this refers to the speaker information
material, which came along with this periodical]. Moreover,
it is the duty of the local group warden to regularly provide information
during leadership meetings, which often either does not occur, or is done
inadequately. Such material is, however, far more important for political
education than dry reading of regulations or practicing songs.
If the cell or block warden occasionally meets a party or non-party member
who has suffered a presumed or real injustice from some party office or
another, he should at least persuade the injured person that he should
not make the party or even the Führer responsible for his injury,
but rather that it is at most the mistake of an individual, the kind of mistake
that is unavoidable even in the best of organizations. A valuable person
with injured feelings can easily be lost through improper treatment, or
through being left to his own resources, whether the problem was his fault
The cell or block warden whose district includes a poor section is fortunate,
particularly if the area includes a number of leftist opponents. Work
in these districts is especially rewarding. The average person, assuming
he is not hopelessly unteachable, is not hard to win over when he sees
that he is being taken seriously. Once won over, he will stay with the
party through thick and thin. The political leader from the upper social
classes can be particularly effective here. He can show that he has really
overcome the old barriers of class and occupation, assuming that he needed
to. The class differences were always a particular thorn in the side to
the worker. If he sees that the class barriers have really been eliminated,
he is half won over. The cell and block warden should prove himself the
true comrade of the poor man. Treat him no differently than someone of
higher standing. Be concerned about him, talk with him, even if there
are some missteps at first. Be concerned with every aspect of his life.
He may have been unemployed for years, and may need help finding a job.
Help him out with an occasional small gift, perhaps a bit of bacon or
some margarine, even some “good butter” or a few eggs, some
meat, or some tobacco, all things he hardly knows. Any political leader
can occasionally afford to do this. And if he cannot afford it himself,
he will surely know someone in his cell or block who can help out. He
will be filled with pleasure as he sees the person’s heart soften and
be won over for the swastika. Often, the cell or block warden can lend
reading material, particularly about National Socialist thinking. But
that may not be done in an offensive way. One cannot force anyone to read.
It is not hard to tell if a people’s comrade has a strong interest,
or at least some interest, in reading. When the book is returned, one
can see if the content has been understood and accepted. If one or the
other has not been the case, one should not be alarmed, but rather one can
attempt to help through discussion, remembering the old proverb “steady
drops wear away stone.”
It is a duty of the local group warden to remind his subordinates regularly
of the political side of their task. He cannot hammer it into them too
often. A cell warden must constantly supervise his block leaders to see
if they are up to their jobs. The job cannot be done overnight. Cell and
block wardens need time to get to know and to win over the inhabitants
of their cells or blocks. The local group leader should choose cell and
block wardens who will be around for a long time. The organisation of
a local group cannot resemble a bird house, with birds coming and going
all the time. A meeting of political leaders should not consist of new
faces all the time, with one person not knowing the other. The local group
leader must also choose cell and block wardens who have the right personality
and seem really able to carry out the tasks we have discussed.
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