Winterhilfswerk


Winterhilfswerk

The Winterhilfswerk (WHW) was an annual drive by the "Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt" (the National Socialist People’s Welfare Organization) to help finance charitable work. Its slogan was "None shall starve nor freeze". It ran from 1933-1945 and was designed to provide food and fuel to Germans.

The Hitlerjugend and Bund Deutscher Mädel (boys' and girls' associations, respectively) were extremely active in collecting for this charity.

Donors were often given small souvenir gratitude gifts of negligible value, somewhat similar to the way modern charities mail out address labels and holiday cards. A typical such gift was a small propaganda booklet (a VERY small booklet, reminiscent of Victorian-era miniature books; about 0.8" wide x 1.5" tall). The front and rear covers of such a book from approximately 1938 are shown in the pictures linked below. Observe the hole punched in the rear cover; this appears in most such books and was apparently designed to allow people to hang these booklets on a Christmas tree.

The book shown here contains 33 pages, almost all of which show Adolf Hitler with smiling citizens. Titles of the photos are such things as:

*Reichskanzlerei, 1937 (Reichs Chancellory, 1937)
*Mit Arbeiter 1935 (With the Workers 1935)
*Autobahnarbeiter (Workers on the Autobahn)
*Alte Bäuerin 1936 (Old Farmer's Wife 1936)

The end of the book has a short closing statement by Dr. Robert Ley.

More generous donors would receive concomitantly better gifts, such as lapel pins on a wide variety of themes. Some depicting occupational types or geographic areas of the Reich, others animals, birds and insects, nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters, or notable persons from German history (including of course Adolf Hitler himself). They were made from a variety of materials. Each individual miniature book, badge, badge set or toy set was only available for two or three days of a particular collection drive. So the populace would be encouraged to donate the following week and thereby collect the latest in the series. There could also be very annoying consequences; nagging by the appropriate official if your local "Blockleiter" saw that you were not wearing the current, appropriate pin by about Tuesday of the week.

When he visited Germany in 1939 as a reporter for the North American Newspaper Alliance Dr. Lothrop Stoddard wrote:

"...Once a fortnight, every city, town, and village in the Reich seethes with brown-shirted Storm Troopers carrying red-painted canisters. These are the Winter-Help collection-boxes. The Brown-Shirts go everywhere. You cannot sit in a restaurant or beer-hall but what, sooner or later, a pair of them will work through the place, rattling their canisters ostentatiously in the faces of customers. And I never saw a German formally refuse to drop in his mite, even though the contribution might have been less than the equivalent of one American cent.

"During these periodic money-raising campaigns, all sorts of dodges are employed. On busy street-corners comedians, singers, musicians, sailors, gather a crowd by some amusing skit, at the close of which the Brown-Shirts collect. People buy tiny badges to show they have contributed—badges good only for that particular campaign. One time they may be an artificial flower; next time a miniature dagger, and so forth. The Winter-Help campaign series reaches its climax shortly before Christmas in the so-called Day of National Solidarity. On that notable occasion the Big Guns of the Nazi Party sally forth with their collection-boxes to do their bit."

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