When thinking of the Third Reich, tourism and leisure would likely be the last things on your mind, but Nazi Germany ran the world's largest tourist operation, the "Strength Through Joy" ("Kraft durch Freude") organization. A subsidiary of the German Labour Front, which replaced the trades unions as of 1933, it was spearheaded by its sinister chief, Robert Ley. KDF organized theatre trips, athletic events, and sold over forty-five million holiday excursions, particularly cruises, before the outbreak of World War II. Notoriously, they also promised the Volkswagen Beetle that never came to be.
Not only that, the KDF would ensure that the greater German attitude remained positive towards the regime and would feel rewarded for their loyalty and efforts. But none should be deceived: leisure time was regimented with equal parts Nazi-adjacent activities and spies at holiday camps made sure that there was no talk of dissent.
In this Conversation, we will examine the curious and sinister German Labour Front and its eerie pleasure projects (such as the Colossus of Prora, the vast holiday resort planned for the island of Rügen). Led by an expert on Third Reich history, Dr. Finn Ballard, this Conversation will illuminate the seemingly-paradoxical theme of leisure in Nazi Germany. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of a lesser-known chapter in Third Reich history.
Finn grew up in Northern Ireland before moving to England to study and later teach in the department of Film and Literature at the University of Warwick. He completed his doctoral study on German folklore and popular cinema in 2012, and has published extensively in the fields of Film Studies and Gender Studies. Since 2008, he has been living and guiding in Berlin. He now works as a historical advisor for television and film productions set in Berlin, particularly during the Weimar era or Third Reich. He is a journalist for the 'Siegessauele', Europe's foremost Queer magazine, and organises events at Berlin's English-language bookstore 'Another Country'.
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.