Reich Ministry of Labor

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Reich Ministry of Labor 1934–1938 in the current capital office of Deutsche Bank , Unter den Linden 13–15

The Ministry of Labor was during the Weimar Republic and the Nazi era responsible for the regulation of labor law and social policy in the German Reich . The Reich Labor Administration was an important subordinate agency .

Weimar Republic

In 1919 the Reich Labor Office founded in 1918 was transformed into the Reich Labor Ministry.

Competencies and tasks

From 1919 onwards, one of the central tasks of the Reich Labor Ministry was to regulate labor law . The aim was initially to draw up a uniform labor code . A labor law committee was set up at the Reich Labor Ministry for this purpose. However, only partial areas were regulated.

In the further course of 1919 and in the subsequent period, other areas of responsibility were added. After all, these covered almost the entire field of social policy. These included social statistics, housing and settlement, utilities and important areas of welfare. In the area of ​​welfare there were overlaps with the Reich Ministry of the Interior . In addition, there were competence disputes with the responsible authorities in the municipalities and states.

Because of its diverse tasks, one of the largest imperial authorities emerged. The ministry's budget was the largest of all departments, primarily because of the provision for the former war veterans and the bereaved.

The ministry was run in a strictly centralized manner. This increased the tensions with the federal claims of the states.

Reich Insurance Office and Reich Labor Administration

Various intermediate authorities were created to relieve the central authority. In addition to the existing Reich Insurance Office , the Reich Labor Administration was established in 1920 . This was initially called the Reich Employment Agency, but was renamed in 1922 due to the growing tasks.

The tasks of the Reich Labor Administration were labor market monitoring, labor market management, unemployment welfare, career advice and the processing of collective bargaining agreements. Since 1922, this also included the right to make collective agreements binding. With the enactment of the Labor Records Act, the labor administration also became the central office for labor records .

Authority structure

After the ministry was relieved of direct administrative tasks through the creation of intermediate authorities, the Reich Ministry of Labor itself was subdivided into several departments. Their names and tasks partly changed over time. Each headed by a ministerial director.

In 1923 the development of the structure of a central Reich authority for social affairs in the Reich Labor Ministry was largely complete. In the context of the Reich administration, it had a particularly strong position alongside the Reich Ministry of Finance and, like hardly any other Reich authority, had direct and indirect influence on numerous areas of life.

Central regulations

In the 1920s, important foundations for social policy were laid:

time of the nationalsocialism

After the National Socialists came to power , the role of the ministry changed. The National Socialists also attached great importance to two important objects of the ministry - labor policy and social policy . In these political fields , too, the aim was to implement the National Socialist “ national community ideas ” whenever possible. In addition, the mobilization of the labor market moved into focus, initially for the "labor battles" with which mass unemployment was to be reduced. From 1936 onwards, labor administrations were looking for workers who were used for the military armament of the regime. Discipline and dirigism were added through the introduction of work books - trade unions and works councils had been abolished just a few weeks after the “seizure of power”. After the beginning of the Second World War, the Reich Ministry of Labor, under the direction of the Plenipotentiary for Labor Deployment, played a key role in the recruitment of forced laborers from the occupied territories, in which new administrative structures in the labor and social area were to be established.

As the successor to the Reich Labor Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Labor was established in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 , while in the GDR there was only a Labor Ministry from 1949 to 1958.

The role of the Reich Labor Ministry between 1933 and 1945 was until recently largely unexplored. In April 2013, Ursula von der Leyen , then Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs , appointed an international commission of historians to research the history of the ministry and how it was embedded in National Socialist rule by 2018. On June 27, 2017, the Commission of Historians presented a “synthesis volume” on the history of the Reich Ministry of Labor under National Socialism to Minister Andrea Nahles at a press conference .

Department heads

Surname Taking office Term expires Political party cabinet
Gustav Bauer February 13, 1919 June 20, 1919 SPD Scheidemann
Alexander Schlicke June 21, 1919 June 21, 1920 SPD Bauer , Müller I.
Heinrich Brauns June 25, 1920 June 12, 1928 center Fehrenbach , Wirth I & II , Cuno ,
Stresemann I & II , Marx I & II ,
Luther I & II , Marx III & IV
Rudolf Wissell June 28, 1928 March 27, 1930 SPD Müller II
Adam Stegerwald March 30, 1930 May 30, 1932 center Brüning I & II
Hermann Warmbold June 1, 1932 June 6, 1932 Non-party Papen
Hugo Schäffer June 7, 1932 November 17, 1932 Non-party Papen
Friedrich Syrup December 3, 1932 January 28, 1933 Non-party Sneak
Franz Seldte (1) January 30, 1933 April 30, 1945 DNVP , NSDAP Hitler
Theodor Hupfauer April 30, 1945 May 1, 1945 NSDAP Goebbels
Franz Seldte (2) May 2, 1945 May 23, 1945 NSDAP Schwerin from Krosigk

State Secretaries


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Alexander Nützenadel : The Reich Ministry of Labor in the Nazi state. Fundamentals and perspectives of research (PDF, accessed January 25, 2015).
  2. Website of the Independent Historians' Commission on the processing of the history of the Reich Ministry of Labor in the time of National Socialism (accessed on January 25, 2015).
  3. Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS): Historians Commission presents a report on the history of the Reich Ministry of Labor . June 27, 2017