1935 Labor Day Tinnie of Nazi Germany

So this, I believe, can be our message to the other peoples on this first of May: You need have no fear that we want anything of you… What we want lies clearly before us: not war and not strife. Just as we have established peace within our own people, so we want nothing else than peace with the world. – Adolf Hitler, Berlin, May 1, 1935

If you were German living in Berlin on Labor Day (May 1, 1935), you along with many other thousands of “Berliners,” would have attended a Labor Day rally and heard the Fuhrer’s promise of peace with the world. Pinned to the lapel of your jacket or the breast of your shirt was a small metal badge you obtained from a nearby “Brown Shirt,” in exchange for a small donation.

The badge is a 1935 Labor Day tinnie, fashioned from aluminum. The tinnie measures 46mm in height and 33.6mm in width. It depicts the image of three men, an industrial laborer, a scholar, and a farmer. The Iron Eagle takes seat in the badge’s lower quarter. The date 1935 is equally divided by the eagle. The caption “Tag Der Arbeit,” meaning Day of Labor, appears in the badge’s field above the three worker’s heads. The designer’s initials “RK” can be found beside the industrial laborer’s apron and the maker’s mark is found on the badge’s reverse below a stripple fastened pin.

The three male figures on the badge are exemplary of the Nazi Party’s support of a national-socialist form of government. In short, the Nazi Party promised economic security for the German nation, social welfare programs, and prestige for German workers. Promises such as these were strongly supported by the German working class mostly due to the nation’s crippled economy, widespread business failures and massive unemployment brought about by the Great Depression of 1929.

Shortly after coming into power, the Nazi Party declared all trade unions illegal and compelled workers to join the German Labor Front (DAF). DAF membership cost was approximately 1.5% of the worker’s monthly wage. While membership was not a requirement, workers found it nearly impossible to gain employment without belonging to the organization. Under a National-Socialistic government, employers could demand more productivity from their workers, but would have to ensure social welfare programs, higher wages, shorter work hours and improved working conditions, all mediated by the German Labor Front.

Through use of organizations such as the German Labor Front further supported by Hitler’s rearmament program, unemployment dramatically decreased and Germany’s economy prospered. By 1936, military spending accounted for 10% of the Gross National Product and once again Germany’s economy began to plummet leading her down the inevitable path of world war.