German Propaganda Archive Calvin College


Background: This is the account of the gathering for the Reich Labor Service at the 1936 Nuremberg Rally. All young men and most young women were to serve six months in physical labor, which also provided good preparation for the following military service.

The source: “Arbeitsdienst für Deutschland,” Der Parteitag der Ehre vom 8. bis 14. September 1936. Offizieller Bericht über den Verlauf des Reichsparteitages mit sämtlichen Kongreßreden (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1936), pp. 70-79.

The Ceremony of the Reich Labor Service

at the 1936 Nuremberg Party Rally

The powerful new building complex, finished in summer 1936, received its first use during the march and gathering of the Reich Labor Service on Thursday morning during the 1936 Party Rally.

For the first time 120,000 people filled the Zeppelin Field. The three huge speaking platforms now have their final form. If one wishes to describe the impression of the size and beauty of this area, the word must be awe — awe at the imposing size of what a brilliant mind has conceived and built. Even the most modest event becomes significant in this place. The heart of anyone who stands on one of the speaking platforms and looks over the green grass surrounded by noble white marble is moved.

There is still another impression, one that does not fade. How can one explain it? It is not only the pillars of the main platforms, or the shining red Swastika banners hanging between the pillars, nor the clean lines of the platforms — it is everything together, the whole picture. On three sides one can see forest. It is pine and deciduous forest. A German forest. The scene is German, profoundly German. It is not Greece, not Rome, but the spirit of our time, our spirit — it is National Socialist. Over and over again one senses the power of our idea expressed in its buildings.

The Ceremony of the Labor Service

It is just after 10:00 a.m. While the gray masses with their shining shovels gather at the eastern side, the cheers to the west grow louder, as always is the case in Germany when the Führer arrives. As his cavalcade passes along the main tribune, 70,000 cheer and wave. The car stops, the fanfares resound: The Führer is with his workers.

A sharp command. The gray columns at the eastern entrance begin to move, coming nearer, the musicians play, the flags of the new labor groups pass by the platform of honor.

Then the Labor Service men came. The units from the new districts marched past the Führer in rows of eighteen in three groups, with the musicians and banners at the head. There were 45,000 men, but one did not see them individually, but rather a gray mass, a community forged together, bound together for eternity.

The columns left through the west entrance, and as the fourth Gau was before the Führer, the earlier units appeared again at the wide south entrance. Their comrades continued to march past the Führer in disciplined rows. Wonderfully outfitted, the first units were now marching onto the field, this time in rows of 36.

The field filled slowly. The commands were followed with unbelievable confidence and ease, and as the last Gau marched past, the field was nearly filled.

The Führer had ascended the platform and stood atop it, standing next to the Reich Labor Leader. A command went over the loudspeakers, and the last two columns entered with song. The last column, the ninth, comes from the Labor Service schools. They come as they work, naked above the waist, and stand directly before the Führer in “readiness,” legs apart, hands on the handle of the shovel resting between their feet. Behind them are the vast numbers of flags, grouped by area, and to the side and front: the flag bearers.

The Reich Labor Leader steps forward, his steps echoing across the field. Then he says:

“My Führer, 45,000 men of the Reich Labor Service have come to this gathering!”

The Führer shakes hands with Hierl for a long time. Than he says: “Hail, working people!” Literally from one mouth, and with astonishing clarity, they reply enthusiastically: “Hail, my Führer!” The fanfare sounds, the flag wavers begin moving, and all eyes look toward our gray army of workers whom the will of the man above them has brought together in unity.

The gathering sings:

We carry the fatherland in our hearts.
We are the Reich
And we are the dike
That surrounds people and work and freedom. br> We carry the Fatherland in our hearts.

Many say:

This is the hour when we working men and our bright shovels,
With proud flags,
Bright eyes,
Cheerful hearts,
March before the people and the Führer.

A fanfare sounds.

One calls out:

Once a year the shovels rest,
Once a year the time comes for us
To appear before our Führer
For whom we work both day and night.
A new faith shall blaze forth from this hour.

All call out: We are ready!

The group sings:

Today the farmer stands beside the carpenter,
The writer by the smith.
Each wears the same clothing
And stands in formation to do
The same work.

One calls out: Is anyone too good —

All: To work for Germany.

One: Is anyone to simple —

All: To work for Germany.

One: Everyone has the right — Everyone has the duty —

All: To work for Germany.

The group calls: Germany! Fatherland!

One says: We have carried you deep in our hearts, unable to put it in words.

The group calls: Germany! Fatherland!

Another says: We stand at the workbench, amidst the noise of the machines, and our hearts burn to serve Germany.

The group calls: Germany! Fatherland!

One calls: The law came: Work is a duty, Now we all stand together.

The group calls: Germany! Fatherland!

One says: Fulfilling our duty is not a compulsion. We all carry the shovels to serve the nation. We work to serve you:

The group calls: Germany! Fatherland!

One calls: The Führer wants to give the world peace.

All: We follow wherever he leads!

The group sings:

Our shovels are the weapons of peace,
Our camps are castles in the countryside.
Yesterday divided by class and standing,
Yesterday the one avoided the other,
Today we dig together in the sand.

True to the command of the Führer,
To be the shock troops of peace.
We stride proudly into the future
With our hoes and shovels and spades.

Our shovels are weapons of honor,
Our camps are islands in the moor,
That add to the land of our fathers,
That protect the homeland from hunger,
That’s why we create new farming land.

True to the command of the Führer
To be shock troops of honor,
We stride proudly into the future
With our hoes and shovels and spades.

Our shovels are weapons of faith,
Our camps are towers in the land,
He who will rob us of faith in Germany
All the trouble-makers, stubborn ones and the deaf,
We will bury fathom deep in the sand.

True to the command of the Führer
To be shock troops of faith,
We stride proudly into the future
With our hoes and shovels and spades.

One says: When we stand in the brown heath of Emsland and feel the warm sun on our bodies —

Another: When we stand in the Wattenmeer and sink to our knees and the rain drives into us from the West—

A third: When high in the mountains the waterfall plunges down and seeks to destroy our work —

A fourth: When the rain on the moor drenches us to the skin and our fingers clutch the shovels—

One calls: Then we proudly raise our heads and think of our brothers, our many comrades, who suffered in the trenches and battlefields, who stood against murder and hatred in the streets! They died for our Germany —

All shout: But we live today for Germany!

The remembrance of the dead begins with fanfares.

One calls: We remember our dead.

The flags and banners are lowered.

4 wreaths are laid on the labor monument.

One wreath for the heroes of the war
One wreath for the dead of the movement
One wreath for those who died at while working
One wreath for the comrades who died in our camps.

The group sings:

Raise the wreaths with their bright bands to the morning sun,
Never shall we forget the names of our comrades.
The day will come for us as well,
But every day we are ready to march!
Our proud flags will wave in eternity!

One calls:

The crosses that stand along the way to German freedom
Cast dark shadows to remind us.
And yet these shadows are also a sign
That the sun once more shines brightly over Germany.

A fanfare sounds.

One calls: That is the two-fold law of the Labor Service that we serve with every breath:

One speaks: Work on the land — to win new soil, passed from generation to generation.

Another speaks: We work in order to die honorably, to have done our duty as Germans.

The group sings:

We carry the fatherland in our hearts.
The Führer’s command
We will obey until death,
As we fight for work and prosperity.
We carry the Fatherland in our heart.

The leader says:

You, Führer, praise in this ceremony
With every fiber of our being:
From now on our whole life
Will be nothing but labor service
For you and for our Germany.

All affirm: So we swear!

All sing together the song of labor.

God, bless our work and our beginnings!
God bless the Führer and this age!
Stand by our side as we win land,
As we serve Germany with all our being,
Keep us always ready!

God bless the work and all our struggles!
God bless the shovel with its shining blade!
May the work of our hands succeed;
May each shovel of earth we move
Be a prayer for Germany!

As the song faded, the 70,000 stood up. The Führer had removed his hat and stood in the warm afternoon sun. A proud joy shone in his face.

Reich Labor Leader Hierl

My Führer! As we stood in this place last year, the law implementing universal labor service had not yet been introduced. For the first time today, men from every German Gau have come here, called by the law to serve with their shovels.

My Führer! You have heard the affirmations and the oath of these men. You have read it in their eyes as they marched past you. Your Labor Service men are not unhappy men working under compulsion, but fresh, cheerful confident soldiers of labor who have heeded with pride and joy the call of duty to serve their people on German soil. In a few weeks these men will bid farewell to the camps that were their homes for half a year. For the rest of their lives, they will know the importance of work as a moral duty and know the honor and dignity of work well done.

These men have learned to know and honor their brothers from the nation who once they stood far from. They have experienced a true socialism: A community forged together by duty, training and camaraderie!

As they leave the Labor Service, they will take with them their experiences, their readiness to serve the people. The oath they took with their comrades today will guide their lives: “Our whole lives will be labor service for Germany!”

When this generation has passed, new recruits will join the Labor Service. They will show the same spirit and the same convictions will grow in them. Generation after generation of working men and in the future working girls as well will attend this school of the nation, just as you, my Führer, have ordered.

It is no accident that visitors from abroad see the Labor Service as an essential part of the new Germany of work, training and community that you have created. We believe that when all of us who stand here now have passed on, the great law that you have given the German people will still endure.

The spirit from which this law came, the spirit of National Socialism, your spirit, my Führer, will live on from generation to generation. The Reich Labor Service is forever tied to your person, and to the movement you created, and this is part of its nature and the source of its best strength. Wherever working men and working maids sing on the way to work, and wherever they festively gather once the work is done, your name and your spirit, my Führer, and lead the way. So it is and so it will be forever!

The two men shake hands — then

The Führer speaks to the Reich Labor Service

My working men!

As we proclaimed National Socialist law in Germany, it was clear to us that paper alone was insufficient to change conditions and create something new. We knew that true socialism could not come from a mere change in the nameplates on the doors of government offices or a change in the form of government or of the social order. We knew that men give things their true nature and determine how things are. We did not want to replace one class with another, but rather as National Socialists we wanted to educate our people to a new view of community. All the measures we have taken — and who will deny it? — are designed not to change the outward appearance, but the inner nature of our people.

What we see a small part of here, and what so overflows from your hearts is the fanfare of a new Germany! A new people is being born!

When we took power in Germany, we announced for the first time our intention to establish a Reich Labor Service. Many superficial observers of our movement believed that we did this only to give employment to our unemployed people and to our youth growing up with nothing to do, that we would sweep them from the streets into “work camps.” We know that it is surely better for the German youth to work rather than to wander about without purpose or meaning. And not only in the sense of simply putting the unemployed to work. We wanted to found a new National Socialist university!

We know that a true national community cannot develop unless certain prejudices are gradually eliminated from our people. What countless of our so-called educated classes thought to be of lesser value is today esteemed. The shovel has become the symbol of a new community! (Stormy applause!) As generation after generation is forced to carry this shovel, as every German regardless of his standing or original carries it on his shoulder, these generations will gradually bend to the shovel. They will learn the great value of this common training through common work, and all will recall fondly the time when as a young lad they worked with others to serve the nation, when they wore a uniform and had their own weapon of labor. They will also recall the camaraderie that came with labor. The trivial and the difficulties will fade from their memory — but they will recall with pride the time they worked together for our national community.

As I look at you, I find it hard to speak. All our hearts rejoice in you. You do not realize how much the German people loves you! (Stormy jubilation!) In but a few years you have become a part of our national life that we can no longer imagine ourselves without. You, along with our youth, the work of the party organizations, the SA, the SS, etc., have become part of the great educational work of our nation and are the bridge that carries young men over to the army. You yourselves can see what we have created in Germany is more beautiful than that created in those nations that always criticize us. (Stormy applause!)

Here we build! Here is camaraderie! Here above all is faith in a better humanity and in a better future! What a contrast to other lands in which Marxism is striving for power! Cities are burning, villages are decaying, no one knows each other any longer. Class battles class, group battles group, brother kills brother. We have chosen a different way: Instead of tearing you apart, I have brought you together! (Lasting, stormy jubilation!)

You stand before us today not only as bearers of your strong faith in the future of our people, but also as bearers of our faith.

We believe in you! We believe in our young German men and women! And in so doing, we hold more than ever to our belief in our people, whose finest members you are!


The Führer’s words found constant applause, and when Adolf Hitler concluded he had spoken for the entire people. No one in Germany did not feel the same way, no one on the Zeppelin Field lacked an overflowing heart.

The ceremony of the Reich Labor Service ended. The men marched in song through the streets of Nuremberg, and accompanied by the endless jubilation of tens of thousands, Adolf Hitler entered his automobile.


The day after the gathering of the Reich Labor Service the Führer issued the following ordinance:

In recognition of his unique services in building the German Reich Labor Service, I name as of today Party Comrade Konstatin Hierl as a Reichsleiter of the NSDAP.

Nuremberg, 10 September 1936. Signed: Adolf Hitler

The Führer thus gave high honor for the great and immortal work of the old National Socialist Konstatin Hierl.

[Page copyright © 1998 by Randall L. Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]

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