Product Description: This RAD Bronze Plaque is an uncommon, unit marked piece, almost certainly dating back to the early years of the Reichsarbeitsdienst. It’s in excellent condition. The bronze metal retains lots of original dark finish, with a brighter color to the central roundel. Age patination is present, as one would expect; there are some scattered spots and some built-up patina in the recesses of the design. The top of this RAD Bronze Plaque is emblazoned with “Arbeitsdienst der N.S.D.A.P.”, a very early organizational designation. The central roundel bears an early version of the RAD shovel and wheat organizational emblem, with a swastika on the shovel blade. Beneath this roundel is the designation of a specific RAD camp, the “Rhein-Wupper-Lager”, a RAD unit designation, “1/212”, and the location of “Opladen.” The reverse of this RAD Bronze Plaque features a foundry mark and has a deep patina. There was once a hanging loop affixed to the top reverse, now missing. There are no dings or dents or major damage to note. This early, unit marked RAD Bronze Plaque is a rare item and deserving of further research into this camp and unit.
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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