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Auxiliary Service Law (December 1916)

The Auxiliary Service Law represented the most lasting outcome of the Hindenburg Program. The law required mandatory service for all able-bodied Germans during the war and curtailed the freedom of workers to change jobs. After a bitter parliamentary struggle, the state made significant concessions to the labor unions in the administration of the law. The passage of the law under these terms gestured to the burdens that the war brought to the home front.

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The Auxiliary Service Law of December 5, 1916

§ 1. To the extent that he has not already been called into the armed services, every male German from the age of eighteen to sixty shall be obligated to participate in national Auxiliary Service for the duration of the war.

§ 2. All people shall [already] be considered to be rendering national Auxiliary Service if they are employed in government offices, official agencies, the war industry, agriculture and forestry, health care, organizations of any kind that are involved in the war economy, or in other occupations and trades that are directly or indirectly significant to waging war or economic regulation, as long as the number of these persons does not exceed the numbers required for the labor they perform. Those who are obligated to serve but who were engaged in agriculture or forestry before August 1, 1916, may not be removed from this occupation for purposes of transfer to another form of national service.

§ 3. The direction of the national Auxiliary Service shall be vested in the War Office, which has been established within the Prussian War Ministry.

§ 4. The question of whether and to what extent the number of persons employed in an agency exceeds the numbers required shall be decided by the competent national or state authorities in consultation with the War Office. The question of what is to be regarded as an official agency, as well as whether and to what extent the number of persons employed by such an agency exceeds the requirement, shall be decided by the War Office in consultation with the competent national or state authorities. Otherwise, the question of whether an occupation or trade is significant in accordance with § 2, as well as whether and to what extent the number of people engaged in an occupation, organization, or trade exceeds the requirements, shall be decided by committees that shall be formed in the district of every Deputy Commanding General or in parts thereof.

§ 5. Every committee shall consist of one military officer as chairman, two higher civil servants, one of whom should be a member of the Office of Industrial Supervision, as well as two representatives of employers and two of employees. The military officer, as well as the representatives of the employers and employees, are to be appointed by the War Office – in Bavaria, Saxony, and Württemberg, by the War Ministry, to which (in consultation with the War Office) responsibility for the execution of the law otherwise falls within these federal states. The higher civil servants are to be appointed by the state central authority or by an authority appointed by it. If the district of a Deputy Commanding General extends over the territory of several federal states, the officials are to be appointed by the competent authorities of these states; officials of the state in whose territory the firm, organization, or employee in question is situated will take part in decisions of the Committee.

§ 6. An appeal of decisions made by the committee (§ 4, Par. 2) shall be directed to a central authority that will be attached to the War Office, which will consist of two officers of the War Office, one of whom shall be chairman, two officials nominated by the federal chancellor, and an official nominated by the central authority of the federal state to which the firm, organization, or employee in question belongs, as well as a representative of the employers and the employees. The appointment of these representatives is regulated by § 5, Clause 2. If the interests of the Navy are affected, one of the officers shall be appointed by the Imperial Naval Office. In case of appeals of decisions by Bavarian, Saxon or Württemberg committees, one of the officers is to be appointed by the War Ministry of the federal state in question.

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