“We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike” – Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933
That got posted as an old high school friend’s Facebook status. I countered with this:
”In the present state of affairs I am convinced that we cannot possibly dispense with the trades unions. On the contrary, they are among the most important institutions in the economic life of the nation. Not only are they important in the sphere of social policy but also, and even more so, in the national political sphere. For when the great masses of a nation see their vital needs satisfied through a just trade unionist movement the stamina of the whole nation in its struggle for existence will be enormously reinforced thereby. Before everything else, the trades unions are necessary as building stones for the future economic parliament, which will be made up of chambers representing the various professions and occupations.” -Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Chapter 12.
Look up German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF), the union that Hitler established after disbanding the independent Weimar unions for corruption (probably the context of the above quote). Until the war, the DAF was actually pretty effective in improving the workers’ lot. It was in charge of the Strength through Joy movement, and Hitler established Germany’s first national Labor Day holiday. It didn’t help the corruption much though; the DAF’s drunken leader Robert Ley enriched himself. He also skimmed off union money to build the first VW plant after Porsche couldn’t bring in the project to sell for under 1000 Marks.
One could make the claim that this was not an independent labor union. It was independent of the private-sector manufacturers though, which created problems at first with those who most believed in the “socialist” aspect of the National Socialists. One could also question whether a public employee union is truly independent when they campaign for the people who will be their management.
Well, then I got curious. You’ll notice that there’s no real citation there, just a date. So I decided to go online to see what I could find. Then I posted this:
A web search does not find it in any of the collection of Hitler quotes; it only come up in the context on the Wisconsin business. In fact, it looks a lot like the Hitler gun control quote that was making the rounds several years back, which was also “too good to be true” (at the time of the alleged quote, Germany was still under Weimar Republic gun control law). I didn’t see it at Snopes yet. So I call BS on the quote, and would suggest that it’s still a sin to bear false witness against Hitler, even if he richly deserved it.
The reply from the other Facebookers involved? Crickets.
The Mikkelsons are plenty liberal, and probably aren’t in a hurry to debunk this, particularly since doing so would require wading through Hitler’s speeches to discover what if anything he was saying on May 2, 1933. There was a sighting of the Loch Ness monster on that day though. And indeed, the former labor unions were disbanded on that date, so Hitler could have said something like this. It’s not consonant with the way he treated labor immediately afterwards, though. And there’s no citation. So lefties, if you want to throw this quote all over the Net, put up or shut up.