Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party

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As defined by the Trial of the Major War Criminals of the International Military Tribunal, for purposes of trying it as a criminal enterprise, the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party consisted, in effect, of the official organization of the Nazi Party, with its operation under the Party Chancellery, first headed by Rudolf Hess and then by Martin Bormann. "The Chancellery was assisted by the Party Reich Directorate, or Reichsleitung, which was composed of the Reichleiters, the heads of the functional organisations of the Party, as well as of the heads of the various main departments and offices which were attached to the Party Reich Directorate."[1]

It was not a political party, but a mechanism of state control. In this activity the lower Political Leaders played a particularly important role. The lowest-level Blockleiters "were instructed by the Party Manual to report to the Ortsgruppenleiters all persons circulating damaging rumors or criticism of the regime. The Ortsgruppenleiters, on the basis of information supplied them by the Blockleiters and Zellenleiters, kept a card index of the people within their Ortsgruppe which recorded the factors which would be used in forming a judgment as to their political reliability." In addition to their general monitoring of the people, they were charged with maximizing the number of voters plebiscites, voters who would also vote the Party position. "Ortsgruppenleiters and Political Leaders of higher ranks often collaborated with the Gestapo and SD in taking steps to determine those who refused to vote or who voted "no" and in taking steps against them which went as far as arrest and detention in a concentration camp."

Reichsleiters

On 2 June 1933, a number of officials were promoted to the Reichsleiter rank, the highest rank within the NSDAP. Individuals might also have additional State or Party ranks, Martin Bormann and Rudolf Hess to Deputy Fuehrer, Heinrich Himmler as Reichsfuhrer SS, while the deaths of others, such as Ernst Roehm put an end to promotions.[2]

Name Party function Notes
Max Ammann Head of Party Publishing
Martin Bormann Head of Chancellery of the Nazi Party Deputy Fuehrer and Private Secretary to the Fuehrer
Philip Bouhler Head of Chancellery of the Fuehrer
Walter Buch Chief Judge of the Supreme Party Tribunal
Richard Walter Darre Chief of the Party Agrarian Office Reich Minister of Food and Agriculture (1933-1942)
Otto Dietrich Party Press Chief
Karl Fiehler Chief of Party Municipal Policy
Joseph Goebbels Chief of propaganda Reich Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment
Rudolf Hess Deputy Fuehrer Fired from all offices, 1941
Heinrich Himmler Head of the Schutzstaffel (SS) Reichsfuehrer-SS, Reich Interior Minister
Victor Lutze Chief of Staff of the Sturmabteilung (SA) Died in traffic accident, 1943
Ernst Roehm Chief of Staff of the Sturmabteilung (SA) Executed in 1934
Alfred Rosenberg Chief of the Foreign Office of the Party (as opposed to Nazi Foreign Minister),Commissioner of the Fuehrer for the Safeguarding of the National Socialist Philosophy, Commisioner for the Central Control of Questions Connected to the East European Region Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories
Franz Xavier Schwarz Party Treasurer

In 1934 Viktor Lutze was made new Stabchef der SA and Reichsleiter, after the killing of Roehm in a purge. Lutze died in 1943 and was replaced by Wilhelm Schepmann, who does not appear to have been made a Reichsleiter.

Karl Hanke was named successor of Heinrich Himmler as Reichführer SS in April 1945 and it is possible that he was given the rank of Reichsletier.

Gauleiters

For more information, see: Gauleiter.

Under the Chief of the Party Chancellery were the Gauleiters, senior officials with territorial jurisdiction over a province or major area such as Berlin.. Each had a Gau Directorate or Gauleitung, similar in composition and in function to the Party Reich Directorate. While they became executives once the Nazis were in control, many started much before 1933, as the senior Party official in a Gau.

Directives and instructions were received from the Party Reich Directorate. The Gauleiters had the function of interpreting such orders and issuing them to lower formations.

Kresleiters

Under the Gauleiters in the Party hierarchy were the Kreisleiters with territorial jurisdiction over a Kreis, usually consisting of a single county, and assisted by a Party Kreis Directorate, or Kreisleitung. The Kreisleiters were the lowest members of the Party hierarchy who were full- time paid employees.

The Kreisleiters had a certain discretion in interpreting orders, but their subordinate Ortsgruppenleiters had not, but acted under definite instructions.

Part-time leaders

Directly under the Kreisleiters were the Ortsgruppenleiters, then the Zellenleiters and then the Blockleiters. Instructions were only issued in writing down as far as the Ortsgruppenleiters. The Block and Zellenleiters usually received instructions orally.

Exclusions

On 28th February, 1946, the Prosecution excluded from the declaration asked for, all members of the staffs of the Ortsgruppenleiters and all assistants of the Zellenleiters and Blockleiters. The declaration sought against the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party thus includes the Fuehrer, the Reichsleitung, the Gauleiters and their staff officers, the Kreisleiters and their staff officers, the Ortsgruppenleiters, the Zellenleiters and the Blockleiters, a group estimated to contain at least 600,000 people.

References

  1. Judgment: The Accused Organisations: The Leadership Corps Of The Nazi Party, Trial of the Major War Criminals by the International Military Tribunal
  2. Mark Costa, "Reichsleiters of the NDSAP", Axis History