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Circular from Dr. Robert Ley, Staff Chief of NSDAP Political Organizations, on the Action to "Coordinate" [Gleichschaltungaktion] the Free Trade Unions (April 21, 1933)

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The provisional local leadership of the General German Trade Union and of the General Independent Employees' Federation is to be taken over by a commissioner of the National Socialist Factory Cell Organization [NSBO].

Dealings with the authorities and other organizations are to be immediately handed over to the newly installed commissioners.

All funds and accounts of the independent trade unions are to be blocked immediately and are to remain so until Thursday afternoon at 18:00 hours. Insofar as incumbent cashiers are permitted to remain in office they will be subject to the authority of the commissioner. All payment receipts must be countersigned by the commissioner.

After the block on funds is lifted, the usual payments for the support of persons, etc., must be unconditionally assured, so as not to create a feeling of uneasiness among the members of the trade unions.

Mass meetings are to be arranged as soon as possible; all trade union members will be free to attend them. In these meetings, the importance of this action must be put forth, and it must be explained that the rights of the workers and employees are being unequivocally guaranteed.

The following unions belong to the General German Trade Union Federation [Here follows an enumeration of 28 unions].

The following unions belong to the General Independent Employees’ Federation [Here follows an enumeration of 13 unions].

Up to the present time, the following have been proposed for commissioners: [Here follows an enumeration of 17 names as commissioners for the most important institutions of the General German Trade Union Federation].

For the rest, the newly installed commissioners will be nominated by the Gauleiters in close cooperation with the Regional Factory Cell Office [Gaubetriebszellenamt].

It must be understood that this action is to proceed in a highly disciplined fashion. The Gauleiters are responsible for this; they are to keep the direction of this operation firmly in hand.

Heil Hitler!
[signed] Dr. Robert Ley

Source of English translation: Circular Letter Nr. 6/33 (April 21, 1933), in United States Chief Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume III. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1946. Document 392-PS, pp. 380-82.

Source of original German text: Rundschreiben Robert Leys vom 21. April 1933 mit Anordnung einer ab 2. Mai 1933 gegen die Freien Gewerkschaften durchzuführenden Aktion: Gewerkschaftshäuser sind durch SA oder SS zu besetzen und Gewerkschaftsführer sind in Schutzhaft zu nehmen (Beweisstück US-326), in Der Prozess gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshof. Nürnberg 14. November 1945 - 1. Oktober 1946. Volume XXV, Amtlicher Text – Deutsche Ausgabe, Urkunden und anderes Beweismaterial. Nuremberg 1947. Reprint: Munich, Delphin Verlag, 1989. Document 392-PS, pp. 534-36.

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