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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)

Hitler aimed not only to secure complete control over all sources of state authority: he also sought the total mobilization of the general population behind the Nazi cause. To that end, he demanded the abolition of all competing organizations within public life, including the free trade unions. Although the Nazi government had already declared May 1st “National Labor Day” and was planning to celebrate it as a legal holiday with great pomp and ceremony, it was simultaneously making preparations for the final destruction of the unions, as is evident in the following directives issued on April 21, 1933, by Dr. Robert Ley (1890-1945), staff chief of NSDAP political organizations. Ley went on to oversee the National Socialist takeover of the unions by the German Labor Front [Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF].

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Circular No. 6/33

The action to coordinate the Free Trade Unions will begin on Tuesday, May 2, 1933, at 10:00 am.

The direction of the entire operation lies in the hands of the Action Committee.

The Action Committee is composed as follows:

Dr. Robert Ley, Chairman.
Rudolf Schmeer, Deputy.
Schuhmann, Commissioner of the General German Trade Union Federation [ADGB].
Peppler, Commissioner of the General Independent Employees’ Federation [AFA].
Muchow, Organization.
Bank Director Muller, Commissioner, Director of the Bank for Workers, Employees, and Officials.
Brinckmann, Commissioner, Chief Cashier.
Biallas, Propaganda and Press.

All the provisional leaders of the unions belong to the extended Action Committee.

The essential part of the operation is to be directed against the General German Trade Union Federation [ADGB] and the General Independent Employees’ Federation [AFA]. Anything beyond that which concerns the Free Trade Unions is left to the discretion of the Gauleiters.

The Gauleiters are responsible for executing the coordination action in the individual areas. Those involved in the action should be members of the National Socialist Factory Cell Organization [NSBO or National-Sozialistische Betriebszellen-Organisation].

SA as well as SS are to be employed for the occupation of trade union properties and for taking the relevant persons into protective custody.

The Gauleiter is to proceed with his measures on the basis of the closest understanding with the appropriate regional factory cell leader [Gaubetriebszellenleiter].

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