Konstantin Hierl

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Konstantin Hierl
Director of the Reich Labour Service
In office
26 June 1935 – May 1945
Leader Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Position Abolished
Personal details
Born (1875-02-24)24 February 1875
Parsberg, Bavaria,
German Empire
Died 23 September 1955(1955-09-23) (aged 80)
West Germany
Nationality German
Political party NSDAP
Occupation Military officer
Religion Roman Catholic

Konstantin Hierl (February 24, 1875 – September 23, 1955) was a major figure in the administration of Nazi Germany. He was the head of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) and an associate of Adolf Hitler before he came to power.


Hierl was born in Parsberg near Neumarkt in the Bavarian Upper Palatinate region, and attended secondary school (Gymnasium) in Burghausen and Regensburg. In 1893 he joined the Bavarian Army as a cadet, from 1895 in the rank of a lieutenant. A captain (Hauptmann) from 1909, he served as a company commander in the Bavarian infantry. In World War I Hierl served as a member of the general staff of the I Royal Bavarian Reserve Corps, part of the German 6th Army fighting on the Western Front, where he achieved the rank of a lieutenant colonel.

Upon the German defeat and the November Revolution of 1918, Hierl became head of a paramilitary Freikorps unit that took part in putting down the January 1919 Spartacist uprising around Augsburg and enforced the rule of the Council of the People's Deputies under Friedrich Ebert.[citation needed]

Hierl played a role in organizing the "Black Reichswehr" paramilitary forces in the early years of the Weimar Republic, until in November 1923 when he quit the service after the failed Beer Hall Putsch by Hitler and General Erich Ludendorff. His role in the revolt has not been conclusively established, nevertheless he had fallen out with Reichswehr Chief Hans von Seeckt over the suppression. In 1925, he joined Ludendorff's far-right Tannenbergbund political society, which Hierl left two years later in conflict with Ludendorff's wife Mathilde.[citation needed]

Nazi Party[edit]

In 1929 he joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and became a member of the Reichstag parliament upon the federal election of 1930. On 5 June 1931, two years before the Nazi Party ascended to power, Hierl became head of the FAD (Freiwilliger Arbeitsdienst), a state sponsored voluntary labour organization that provided services to civic and agricultural construction projects. There were many such organizations in Europe at the time, founded to provide much-needed employment during the Great Depression.

Hierl, on the right, with Alfred Rosenberg and Hans Frank at a diplomatic reception, Berlin, February 1939

At the time, Hierl was already a high-ranking member of the NSDAP and when the Party took power in 1933, he remained the head of the labour organization - now called the Nationalsozialistischer Arbeitsdienst, or NSAD. Adolf Hitler named him as State Secretary in the Reich Ministry of Labour under Franz Seldte, with the order to built up a powerful labour service organization. Facing Minister Seldte's resistance, Hierl in 1934 switched to the Reich Ministry of the Interior under Wilhelm Frick in the rank of a Reichskommissar. On 11 July 1934, the NSAD was renamed the Reichsarbeitsdienst or RAD (State Labor Service) which Hierl would control as its chief until the end of World War II. The RAD was divided into two major sections, the Reichsarbeitsdienst Männer (RAD/M) for men and the Reichsarbeitdienst der weiblichen Jugend (RAD/wJ) for women. The RAD was composed of 40 districts each called an Arbeitsgau (lit. Work District). In 1936 the model village of Hierlshagen (present-day Ostaszów in Poland) built by the RAD was named after him.

Hierl was named a Reich Labor Leader (Reichsarbeitsführer) in 1935 and a Reichsleiter in 1936. Hierl was also appointed a Minister Without Portfolio (Reichsminister) in 1943. During the war, hundreds of Hierl's RAD units were engaged in supplying frontline troops with food and ammunition, repairing damaged roads and constructing and repairing airstrips. The RAD units constructed coastal fortifications (many RAD men worked on the Atlantic Wall), laid minefields, manned fortifications, and even helped guard vital locations and prisoners of war.

On 24 February 1945, Hierl was awarded the German Order, the highest decoration that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual, for his services to the Reich. Hierl and Artur Axmann were the only recipients of the German Order who survived the war. Hierl survived World War II, was tried and found guilty of "major offenses" after the war, and spent five years in a labour camp. He died in 1955 in Heidelberg.



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