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Robert Ley

Robert Ley (February 15, 1890 - October 26, 1945) was a prominent government figure in Nazi Germany.

He was born in Niederbreidenbach, Germany. He studied at the university of Bonn and received an degree in chemistry. During WW I he was a pilot, shot down in 1917 he spent two years as a French POW. He worked for IG Farbenindustrie after the war but was dismissed in 1928.

He joined NSDAP in 1925 and quickly became a Gauleiter. In 1932 he was elected to the Reichstag and also succeeded Gregor Strasser[?] as head of the Reichsorganisation der NSDAP. In April 1933 Hitler ordered the suppression of the German trade unions and appointed Ley to head the operations.

In early May troops occupied trade union buildings, union funds were confiscated and union leaders were arrested. The unions were replaced with a single organisation, the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF, German Labor Front) which was headed by Ley from May 10, 1933. The Christian trade unions were not reduced in the initial efforts but lasted little more than a month longer.

The DAF did not act as a trade union. Collective bargaining was halted. Wages were set by labour 'trustees' and after January 1934 freedom of movement within the labour market was curtailled and from June 1935 workers could by conscripted for labour. The DAF used the dues of its members to finance the Kraft durch Freude (KdF, Strength through Joy) programme, building leisure facilities and organising recreation and holidays.

At the end of WW II Reichsleiter Ley fled to Berchtesgaden but was captured on May 16, 1945 and sent to trial at Nuremberg. But he committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell before the trial proper could begin, "Robert Ley, the field marshal of the battle against labor, answered our indictment with suicide. Apparently he knew no better answer".

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