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Changing life in Germany

How did Nazi economic and social policy affect life in Germany?

Tackling economic problems

Trade unions and the DAF

Workers’ trade unions ensure that workers get fair wages and working conditions. Hitler didn’t like trade unions. He believed that they supported socialism and communism.

Trade unions were banned in Germany in May 1933. Their money was taken away from them. Their leaders were arrested.

The German Labour Front was established in their place, or the DAF. Every worker in Germany was now a member of the same trade union, which was controlled by the Nazis. The DAF managed discipline, wages and working hours.


  • Working hours were increased.
  • Wages were frozen.
  • It was impossible to show disapproval about this.

Strength through Joy Movement (KdF)

The workers had to be kept happy, and the Strength through Joy Movement, or the KdF, was established to provide workers with leisure opportunities. It was a popular movement which developed into a business company.

Through the KdF the state was able to control the individual, got everyone to conform and managed their leisure time. It was a way of removing social barriers. In the past, only the rich could afford a holiday.

The purpose of the KdF

  • To support the Führer and thank him
  • To keep everyone happy after abolishing the trade unions

The KdF's activities

Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle

  • Cheap cruise holidays
  • Travel opportunities
  • Building health clubs
  • Organising coach trips
  • Trips to the theatre/cinema
  • Skiing/sailing
  • Sports

Dr Robert Ley was in charge of the KdF, and one of its popular schemes was the Volkswagen - the people's car. It was possible to pay for the car in instalments, and the buyer would only receive the car after they had paid the balance in full. When the Second World War started in 1939, the car factories had to turn their attention to manufacturing arms. As a result, many Germans lost their money, and there were demontrations against Ley.

Back to Germany in transition, c.1929-1947 index

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