In 1933, after all German trade unions were dissolved, Robert Ley (1890–1945) established the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF; German Labor Front). As head of the DAF, whose membership totaled 25 million, Ley was known as the "undisputed dictator of labor" in Germany. Nevertheless, he was overshadowed on labor issues during the war by rivals like Albert Speer and Fritz Sauckel, his codefendants in 1945.
Ley was indicted on counts one, three, and four (conspiracy, war crimes, and crimes against humanity).
Obsessed with the idea of becoming a martyr, Ley committed suicide in his cell at Nuremberg shortly before the trial began.
Critical Thinking Questions
- Explore how challenges to ethical behavior and leadership played out in the context of the Holocaust. How do these challenges confront us today?
- What pressures and motivations may have affected Ley's choices before and during the war?
- What was the role of the German Labor Front in the Nazi coordination of economic life? Explore the ways in which the Nazi Party tried to control all aspects of society.