Product Description: This very attractive and impressive RAD wall plaque is in excellent condition. It’s made of stamped metal, which appears to be a copper alloy, with a nice silver plated finish. The original finish shows wear, with scratches here and there and losses to high points where it is worn away, but remains mostly intact, with typical age patina. The metal itself shows no wear, dents, or damage. The plaque is dominated by a large German eagle and swastika national emblem, with the spade and wheat emblem of the Reichsarbeitsdienst at the center of the swastika. Below the large eagle emblem is the motto of the RAD, “Arbeit adelt,” which translates to “Labor ennobles.” This RAD wall plaque was made with holes at each corner that could be used to fasten the plaque to a backing, it could have been used as a wall or door plaque. The reverse of the plaque has a deep, old patina. This is a very striking artifact with a bold design that has lots of visual appeal, and could be a centerpiece of a RAD display.
Historical Description: The German National Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst, or RAD) was a major Nazi Party organization before and during WWII. It provided a labor force for Nazi civil, economic and military projects. Service in this organization was compulsory; men aged 18 to 25 had to serve six months in the RAD, though those who volunteered for certain military duties were exempt. There was also a female RAD section, with compulsory service for young women during WWII. The Reichsarbeitsdienst was originally formed in 1934, from an amalgamation of previous voluntary labor organizations. Before the war, they dug ditches, cleared forests, reclaimed waste lands and built roads, including a role in building the famous German Autobahn system. In the leadup to war, they assisted with harvests and also built bunkers and field fortifications including the West Wall. During WWII the RAD was classified as an auxiliary organization to the Wehrmacht. The organization took on an increasingly military role, with RAD personnel serving on all fronts, and even in combat. The RAD had a vast array of distinctive uniforms, from finely tailored officer garments for formal wear to coveralls and work clothing. Insignia and headgear in many patterns was issued and used in the organization’s 11-year history, and special awards were instituted to recognize RAD service. In addition to the iconic spades used by RAD members, many other types of field equipment were also issued and used.
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