In the early 1930s German democracy was dying, mired in political gridlock, burdened by four million unemployed, and under assault by Nazis and Communists alike. In the midst of this crisis the Reich Association of Catholic Workers' Clubs and Working Youth (Reichsverband der katholischen Arbeitervereine und der Werkjugend) published a modest anthology entitled Die Arbeit (Work), “dedicated to the poetic glorification of labor.” Editorially justifying the decision to provide Catholic workers with verses at such a time, Ferdinand Göbel, one of the rising young leaders of the Catholic labor movement, argued that the poems, far from serving as a distraction or a momentary boost to morale, would enable workers to find the only true and lasting solution to their predicament. Poetry would lead to an inner, spiritual renewal, a rediscovery by workers that their labor was “not simply to earn bread, but… joyful participation in the act of creation, sacrificial service to humanity and a means of atonement that makes us strong and free within.” Because of this, said Göbel, The modern worker, this man of iron, has discovered his soul. He believes in loyalty and comradeship, in brotherhood and the courage to sacrifice. He hopes in a new humanity. Yes, out of his heavy everyday existence he hammers bridges to the eternal and the divine. He turns hard slave labor into an act of worship.