Land Reclamation: Members of the Reich Labor Service Construct Drainage Channels (1936)
Starting on June 26, 1935, all young men between 18 and 25 had to do six months of community work in the Reich Labor Service [Reichsarbeitsdienst or RAD]. For young women, service as "work girls" [Arbeitsmaiden] first became obligatory when the war began. The RAD was part of the Reich Ministry of the Interior. It aimed, on the one hand, to lower general unemployment and to compensate for a drop in the number of agricultural laborers. On the other hand, it also sought to give young men an opportunity to continue the ideological and paramilitary training they had begun in the Hitler Youth [Hitler-Jugend or HJ] before joining the armed forces. RAD work-groups were used mainly in agriculture and forestry. As seen in the photo, they sought to achieve the goal of agrarian autarky by draining enormous moors and heathlands, cultivating new farmland, and so on. After the war began, they were increasingly employed in armaments production and in the construction of facilities that were important for the war effort.