Gone Fishing

Third Reich’s Annual License for Anglers
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by Bruce Kipp

Germany is a country blessed with streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes that teem with fish. By the start of the 19th century, the civil authorities recognized that controls were needed to prevent over fishing. Laws, conservation programs, and protection of natural resources policies were enacted, and regulatory organizations were created to insure compliance.

 This annual fishing license for a German citizen is printed on blue, medium card stock, measuring about 15cm x 10cm. The document has a postcard-style format. This particular license was issued on 15 November 1941 by the district administrative office to 42-year old Josef Hessler, a factory worker in the town of Berndorf in the district of Baden near Vienna (Kreis Baden bei Wien) in the Reich Province of Lower Danube (Reichsgau Niederdonau). There was a 3 Reichsmark fee for the license.

This annual fishing license for a German citizen is printed on blue, medium card stock, measuring about 15cm x 10cm. The document has a postcard-style format. This particular license was issued on 15 November 1941 by the district administrative office to 42-year old Josef Hessler, a factory worker in the town of Berndorf in the district of Baden near Vienna (Kreis Baden bei Wien) in the Reich Province of Lower Danube (Reichsgau Niederdonau). There was a 3 Reichsmark fee for the license.

The first German national-level organization for recreational fishermen, the Central Association of Fishing Enthusiasts (Central-Verein der Angelfreunde) was founded in 1866. It was superseded in May 1900, by the German Anglers League (Deutscher Anglerbund — DAB). In 1921, disgruntled blue-collar DAB members split off to form the Workers’ Angling Association of Germany (Arbeiter-Angler-Bund Deutschlands — AABD). Stung by this splintering, the DAB worked hard to unite all other angling groups into a new German Federation of Anglers’ Associations (Arbeitsgemeinschaft deutscher Anglerbünde — ADA). They succeeded in November 1927. Not surprisingly, they did not invite the AABD to join the new national federation.

 On the reverse is the handwritten statement that Josef Hessler is permitted to fish under supervision in the Triesting [River], its tributaries and in water-filled mining pits near Grillenberg.

On the reverse is the handwritten statement that Josef Hessler is permitted to fish under supervision in the Triesting [River], its tributaries and in water-filled mining pits near Grillenberg.

When the National Socialist regime came to power in January 1933, they launched a policy of “coordination” to establish control over all aspects of German society. In April, Nazi Party official, Friedrich Linsert, abolished the AABD, replacing it with the Reich Federation of German Sport Fishermen (Reichsverband Deutscher Sportangler, renamed in 1934 as the Reichsverband Deutscher Sportfischer — RDSF). A 1935 decree ordered all fishing groups to be absorbed into the RDSF. In 1939, Nazi Party member Aumert succeeded Linsert as the RDSF’s leader.

By 1942, the RDSF was geographically organized into Upper Districts (Oberbezirke), Districts (Bezirke) and Associations (Vereine). At that time, it had more than 120,000 members.

In May 1943, the RDSF was compulsorily assimilated into the Reichsnährstand’s Division IV, Department of Fisheries in order to simplify administration and ensure the RDSF was fully integrated into the total war effort. At the same time, the organization was renamed the Reich Association of German Sport Fishermen (Reichsbund Deutscher Sportfischer).

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