This fine collection of women’s Nazi work service badges will be on sale this Saturday at Charing Cross Market. Prices vary but it will certainly not cost you six months’ work of up to 76 hours a week.
The Reich Labour Service or RAD was set up in 1935 as a way of managing unemployment in Germany. It was compulsory for men but voluntary for women until war broke out. Most women worked on farms, factories or in domestic service. With no real wages on offer, the Nazis created a hierarchy of badges to motivate and reward them.
They fall into one of three types: the Arbeitsmaid (bronze worker), the Maidenführer (silver leader) and the Lagerführer (camp leader). Design changes mean we can date them all to particular (war) years. The ‘iron grade’ badges bottom right were awarded from 1941 on completion of six months war service in addition to six months as a ‘volunteer’.