NSKK Streifendienst (Service) Standard Bearer Gorget insignia
The National Socialist Motor Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps, NSKK) was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) that officially existed from May 1931 to 1945. The group was a successor organization to the older National Socialist Automobile Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Automobilkorps, NSAK), which had existed since April 1930.
The NSKK served as a training organization, mainly instructing members in the operation and maintenance of high-performance motorcycles and automobiles. The NSKK was further used to transport NSDAP and SA members, and also served as a roadside assistance group in the mid-1930s. The outbreak of World War II in Europe led to recruitment among NSKK ranks to serve in the transport corps of various German military branches. A French section of the NSKK was also organized after the German occupation of France began in 1940. The NSKK was the smallest of the Nazi Party organizations.
The National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK) was a successor organization to the older National Socialist Automobile Corps (NSAK), which had been formed on 1 April 1930. Legends about the actual emergence of the NSKK go back as far as 1922, when Dietrich Eckart, Völkischer Beobachter publisher and founding member of the German Workers’ Party (DAP), allegedly purchased trucks so the SA could perform their missions and transport propaganda materials. Martin Bormann founded the NSAK, itself the successor to the SA Motor Squadrons (Kraftfahrstaffeln). Hitler made the NSAK an official Nazi organization on 1 April 1930. The NSAK was responsible for coordinating the use of donated motor vehicles belonging to party members, and later expanded to training members in automotive skills. Adolf Hühnlein was appointed Korpsführer (Corps Leader) of the NSAK, which was to serve primarily as a motorized corps of the Sturmabteilung (SA). Hühnlein became the organization’s “nucleus”.
The organization’s name was changed to the National Socialist Motor Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps; NSKK), and it was officially formed 1 May 1931. It was essentially a paramilitary organization with its own system of paramilitary ranks and the smallest of the NSDAP organizations. Yet despite its relatively small size, when the Nazis celebrated Braunschweiger SA-day on 18 October 1931, the NSKK had upwards of 5,000 vehicles at its disposal to move men and materials.
The primary aim of the NSKK was to teach its members in motoring skills, or “fitness in motoring skills” (Motorische Ertüchtigung), but it also transported NSDAP and SA officials. In the mid-1930s, the NSKK also served as a roadside assistance group, comparable to the modern-day American Automobile Association or the British Automobile Association.
Membership in the NSKK did not require any prior automotive knowledge; training in the organization was to make up for any lack of knowledge. However, the NSKK adhered to Nazi racial doctrine and screened its members for Aryan traits. Under the guidance of the police, numerous NSKK men were stationed at traffic junctions and trained in traffic control.
On 20 July 1934, weeks after the major purge of the SA during the Night of the Long Knives, the NSKK was separated and promoted into an independent NSDAP organization, with Hühnlein still at its head. From 1935 onward, the NSKK also provided training for Panzer crews and drivers of the Heer (German Army). The NSKK had two sub-branches, the Motor-Hitler Youth (Motor-Hitlerjugend; Motor-HJ) and Naval NSKK (Marine-NSKK). The Motor-HJ branch, formed by Reichsjugendführer (Hitler Youth Leader) Baldur von Schirach after he became an NSKK member, operated 350 of its own vehicles for educational and training purposes. The Naval NSKK provided training in boat operation and maintenance.
During the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, the NSKK assumed responsibility for a variety of transport tasks, proving themselves effective at political propaganda by taking foreign visitors on designated tours. By 1938, NSKK members were undergoing mechanical and operational training for both civilian and military vehicles. Over time, training at NSKK schools became primarily focused on military related tasks. For his NSKK service and due in part to the general success of the organization, Hühnlein was promoted NSDAP Reichsleiter in 1938. He remained NSKK Korpsführer until his death in 1942, and was succeeded by Erwin Kraus.