Workfare and the Nazi ‘Arbeitscheu’

sanction-sabs

As well as Jews, the Nazis also condemned a number of other groups to the concentration camps. These included Gypsies; gay men; Jehovah’s Witnesses – who were a threat to the regime as they refused to obey Hitler as a ‘secular messiah’; habitual criminals; political prisoners – largely trade unionists, Communists and Socialists, but also those Liberals and Conservatives that defied the Nazi state – who had either already served prison sentences, or been acquitted by the regular courts; and the stateless, including those Germans, who had tried to escape from the Third Reich. They and the Jews were declared to be ‘anti-social parasitical elements’. This also covered the ‘asocial’, which seems to have been a catch-all category for people the authorities decided were somehow subversive or a threat, but had no clear reason why, and the ‘workshy’ – Arbeitscheu in German.

The ‘workshy’ included those, who had rejected offers of work ‘without good reason’.

Himmler Hitler

SS leader Heinrich Himmler with Adolf Hitler. Under Himmler, the SS expanded into a vast industrial complex using concentration camp slave labour.

The reasons given for the imprisonment of Jews with criminal records, the asocial and the workshy were economic and military. They were to provide slave labour for the SS industries and the Nazi building projects. There was even a special branch of SS, the WVHA or Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt, or Economic Government Head Office, that managed the SS’ commercial interests. In 1939 the SS was operating four main businesses. These included excavation and quarrying to supply building materials; a company dealing in products from concentration camp workshops; an agricultural company dealing in food, estates, fisheries and forestry; and a textile company producing uniforms for the SS from the female detainees of women’s concentration camp at Ravensbruck.

Through take-overs of companies in the Sudetenland, the SS controlled most of the Reich’s factories producing mineral water and soft drinks; a vast furniture-making conglomerate created through the forced acquisition of former Jewish and Czech businesses; as well as companies producing building materials – cement, brick, lime and ceramics. These were mostly Polish, and operated using Jewish slave labour.

The SS also rented out their slave workers to other, civilian companies, at the rate of 4-8 marks per slave per 12-hour day. The average life expectancy of an inmate in the concentration camps was 9 months. This gave the SS an average profit of 1,431 marks per each slave.

Now clearly the government isn’t running concentration camps. They may be horrendous in their treatment of the sick, poor, and unemployed, but they’re not that evil. Nevertheless, I have posted a number of pieces pointing out the similarity between workfare and other forms of unpaid labour in the Third Reich, such as Reichsarbeitsdienst, and the gulags in Stalin’s Russia. There is some similarity here with the Nazi’s use of slave labour and workfare.

Osborne Pic

Chancellor George Osborne, who would like sanctioned jobseekers work for big business for free under Workfare.

Since the 1990s, for example, there has been an insistence that those on Unemployment Benefit/ Jobseeker’s allowance should take any job they are offered. If they refuse, they lose benefits. The long term unemployed are placed on the Work Programme and forced to take voluntary work. This is similarly not so much a form of genuine voluntary work, but a means of supplying cheap labour to big business such as Tesco’s. Furthermore, George Osborne announced last year that he was expanding the Workfare system so that even those, whose benefits had been sanctioned, would have to do it. At which point the workfare system becomes true slavery. As many of those, whose benefits have been stopped because of sanctions, have taken their own lives or died or poverty and starvation, the government’s attitudes to disability and unemployment are also lethal. And if Osborne’s plan to force those whose benefits have been stopped to work for businesses for nothing goes through, then it could rightly be said that the only difference between that and concentration camp labour is that so far there are no concentration camps. Of course, this could all change if the firms profiting from workfare decide that they need to build special barracks for them.

I’ve no object to job creation schemes, or to voluntary work. But this is the point – it has to be proper voluntary work, where the worker and choose to do it or not, without losing benefits, and where they can choose for whom they work. They should also be paid a proper, living wage, or receive some other benefits so that they are genuinely trained for work and protected from exploitation. At present, the current workfare schemes do extremely little of this.

This system needs to change, and those responsible for it should be voted out.

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7 Responses to “Workfare and the Nazi ‘Arbeitscheu’”

  1. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & THE SIEGE OF BRITAIN POLITICAL JOURNAL.

  2. Workfare and the Nazi 'Arbeitscheu' | welfare b... Says:

    […] As well as Jews, the Nazis also condemned a number of other groups to the concentration camps. These included Gypsies; gay men; Jehovah's Witnesses – who were a threat to the regime as they refused…  […]

  3. Patrick Tracey Says:

    There are distinct similarities between workforce by the nazi regime and workfare used by the present right wing regime both are forced labour and non voluntary and both subsidise private business.

    Both of them despise the disabled and gypsies, trade unionist ( if you can find one anymore).

    The concentration camps will appear when they stop paying any benefits to anyone under twenty five and allow unregulated income to people so poor they think five pounds an hour is a good wage. The German public said we didn’t know or we were only following orders. What will you say if you don’t change the system, get rid of the three blue parities and vote Green for a better system for us and for are children. Stop being apathetic and vote it is the only way to stop the greed merchants.

  4. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  5. Graham Hughes Says:

    There was reported, a few days ago, an internal Conservative Party document regarding the employment of ‘interns’. This was to point out to Conservatives making use of interns that this term has no legal standing i the UK and that someone doing work is either an employee or a volunteer. It went on to stress that if the person was an employee they came under employment legislation regarding minimum wage and other provisions, while if they wer
    e volunteers then they had a choice of whether they wished to do the work involved and could not be subjected to disciplinary measures. I wonder to which category they believe those on workfare programs belong, if, as they say, the law requires them to be one or the other.

  6. Barry Davies Says:

    The Germans also killed the disabled they experimented on them for the best way in which to kill large amounts of people quickly, the only difference is that it seems our beloved leader wants to use the cold and starvation to do it.

  7. The Swans New Party Says:

    The Nazis rose after the huge national debt run up by Weimar republic destroyed it. Welfare Reform’s admin costs has risen our national debt in both Labour and now Tory government exactly the same.
    Blog: http://newpensionerparty.blogspot.co.uk/

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