Resources Germany Related

PM&M Resources Vocabulary Page


Modell des Amtes 'Schönheit der Arbeit' (dubbed MdASdA) is a pre-war mark used in Nazi Germany. Correctly translated in context it means "model approved by the office for pleasant work"; the mark was a seal of approval presented by an organization which officially was dedicated to increase ergonomics and industrial safety. The office itself was a branch of the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) organization which in turn was part of the Deutschen Arbeitsfront (DAF) under direct control of Reichorganisationsleiter Robert Ley.

Amt 'Schönheit der Arbeit'

When the National Socialists came to power in May 1933 they immediately prohibited and disbanded all normal workers unions and parties, leaving only the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF) as new head organization which included representatives from former workers unions as well as the employees associations. Its main representatives where the only remaining union, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) as well as the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) organization which included the Amt für Schönheit der Arbeit.

Kraft durch Freude can be roughly translated into strenght/power through joy/happiness but the various implications behind it are lost in translation. In short one can say that the goal of the organization was to maximize factory output (of course having the military in mind) by offering the workers various ways of rest and recouperation, thus increasing motivation. This started off with simple gymnastics during breaks for the workers, continued with classes for women on how to be a good mother and wife and went right up to family holidays and even cruises (the nickname KdF-cruisers was used for various vessels, including the Wilhelm Gustloff).

However that was only the software side of the whole idea and concentrated more on the private life of all employees and their families, including even the marketing of a KdF-Wagen, a simple automobile developed by Ferdinand Porsche which (nearly) all workers could afford. For this, an own production company was established in 1937, it's name representing exactly what it should produce : a car for the people, hence Volkswagen. And yes, the KdF-Wagen later evolved into what should become the first VW Beetle.

The other hardware-based child in the KdF structure was the Amt für Schönheit der Arbeit, established on November 27th 1933 and in existence until shortly after the outbreak of WW2. Its name (roughly office for pleasant work) matched the official assignment, to increase ergonimcs and industrial safety (which sounded good), its real purpose however had nothing to do with the humane aspect of production as it merely had one goal, the optimization of factories to the maximum possible output.

For example, the office printed brochures with detailed plans for washing facilities and toilets which, next to being ergonomic and safe to use as well as easy to maintain, did not use any metals - of course already having in mind that these resources would be vital for the war effort.

The construction of company (apartment) houses as well as cultural and entertainment facilities on the other hand was nothing more than a simple way to bind workers to their employers and at the same time create a surrounding that could easily be controlled. Factory canteens not only allowed the workers to return to work much faster, as they did not have to go home during breaks, but also allowed to employ many of the wives as they would not have to be at home doing the cooking. All that not only undermined typical socialistic activities but also allowed the deployment of a certain number of specialized informers, making the whole act of total control far easier.

Between 1933 and the closure of the office in mid-1939, the total proceedings swallowed approximately 200 million Reichsmark which had to be provided by the companies themselves, a relatively small amount compared to the great increase in efficiency and safety.

Many people incorrectly refer to the MdASdA mark (explained above) as "RAD mark" and I believe that this must be the result on a translation error. In the context of the Nazi period, "RAD" is the short form of Reichsarbeitsdienst. The general German term for a cogwheel is Zahnrad, often simply shortened to Rad ('wheel') when referred to in a descriptive context. Many German sources refer to the MdASdA mark as "Radmarke" ('wheel mark') instead of "Zahnradmarke" ('cogwheel mark'), hence I can only assume that somebody came to the incorrect conclusion that the descriptive term "Rad" was equal to the "RAD" abbreviation. Again: the office providing the MdASdA mark was a sub-division of the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) and therefore controlled by Reichorganisationsleiter Robert Ley, whilst the Reichsarbeitsdienst was a sub-division of the Ministry of Labour and controlled by Reichsarbeitsf├╝hrer Konstantin Hierl. Hence the MdASdA mark has absolutely nothing to do with the Reichsarbeitsdienst as both belonged to completely different head organizations.

[ back to top ]

© 2004-2024 C.S.Marshall, all rights reserved