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Within the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, and under the Chief of the Party Chancellery, were the Gauleiter, 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.

The authority of a Gauleiter varied on local conditions. In the early days, the Gauleiter might be at odds with the SA, cooperative with it, or even joint leader. Later, as the SS State grew, there might be a HSSPF with jurisdiction over the Gau or equivalent area, as well as a Military District commander.