Friday, December 4, 2015

Reicharbeitdienst Soldat, RAD, German Labor Service Soldier, WW2 era Original Photo

Since we are still on the heels of our vintage military shovel and tool series, let's take a look at a vintage "shovel photo".  I have been on the lookout for good, original photos that show the various shovels in use.  When I saw this one for sale, I couldn't pass it up!.  It is an original, WW2 era photograph of a German Labor Service soldier.

This photograph is actually quite amazing when you look at it closely.  The photo shows a Labor Service soldier on guard duty, at the entrance to one of the German Labor Service camps.  
I say "soldier" even though the Labor Service troops did not carry weapons in the pre-WW2 and early WW2 years.  Even while they were working and doing labor for the Third Reich, they were training to be "future soldiers".  They drilled and marched with shovels instead of rifles.

You can read more about the German Labor Service (RAD) here: 

The Reicharbeitdienst, or RAD, German Labor Service in English, was started by the Nazi Party in the 1930's as a way to indoctrinate and organize the labor workforce of Germany.  It was a way to combat the devastating effects of economic depression and unemployment that was plaguing Germany after WW1.  It is interesting to note that the US did nearly the same thing with the CCC, or Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC even wore military type uniforms, like the RAD.

The RAD was also a "work around" method that the Nazi's used to train future soldiers while Germany was still banned from having a military force after WW1.  When Germany defied the Allies in the 1930's and started reactivating and rearming their military, the pre-trained RAD men were ready to trade their shovels for rifles.

The RAD built roads, maintained public infrastructure, helped build the Atlantic Wall defenses, and after the war began, supported the military with moving supplies and rebuilding infrastructure damaged and destroyed by combat.  At this time some of the RAD troops were actually armed.  In the final days of the Third Reich, many of the RAD troops were fully armed and thrown into the doomed defense of Berlin.

This particular photo was most likely taken in the pre-war years.  If you look closely at the photo, there are some very interesting details that will emerge.  The photo shows some amazing uniform details as well as construction details of the Guard Shack and barracks building.  In fact, if you removed the WW2 insignia, this trooper could very well be a post-war Bundesgrenzschutz trooper! (German Border Police, BGS).

All of the RAD photos that I have seen, show the troopers carrying the same square spade-type shovels with a T-handle.  It is interesting that they had RAD unique shovels and not the "standard issue" military ones.

Let's finish things up with a front and back view of this wonderful photograph:

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