The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1996/12/28

When the Ministerial Council was formed in 1939, it too was
given legislative powers (cf. Article II of the decree of 30
August 1939 (2018-PS)). The ordinary cabinet also continued
to legislate throughout the war. Because of the fusion of
personnel been the Ministerial Council and the ordinary
cabinet, questions bound to arise as to what forum should
lend its name to a

                                                  [Page 104]
particular law. Dr. Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery
and a member of both agencies, wrote a letter on 14 June
1942 to the Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration about
these questions (352-PS):

     "To the Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration
     (Generalbevollmaechtigter die Reich Verwaltung)

     "Subject: The Jurisdiction of the Council of Ministers
     for the Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die
     "Your letter of 3 June 1942, No. 493/42/2882. --
     Recently the Fuehrer announced in accord with the
     opinions of the Reich Marshal of the Greater German
     Reich as shown in my letter of 20 February 1940-RK. 624-
     B -- that he believes it practical to reserve certain
     legislative missions for the Reich Cabinet. With this
     he has not limited the competency of the Council of
     Ministers for the defense of the Reich but given a
     directive as to how legislation should be handled under
     the point of view of practicability. I have no doubt
     that the Fuehrer, as well as the Reich Marshal, have
     not changed their point of view, in particular,
     regarding the fact, that at the present there should be
     only legislation important in the cause of war, and
     that they will stress the fact that the Fuehrer himself
     and the Reich Cabinet should not be eliminated from the
     powers of legislation. It will have to be tested from
     time to time what measures will be reserved for the
     Reich Cabinet. My letter of 20 February 1940, and the
     opinions of the Fuehrer therein expressed may serve as
     a directive even if the limitations indicated by me are
     no longer applicable in their full meaning. I would
     therefore suggest not basing the discussions with the
     Reich Minister of Finance on the question of competency
     of the Reich Cabinet or the Council of Ministers for
     the Defence of the Reich, but on the question of
     whether it would be practical to achieve settlement
     through either Reich law or a Decree from the Council
     of Ministers for the defense of the Reich in the sense
     of the opinions voiced by the Fuehrer.
                             (signed) Dr. Lammers" (352-PS).
Other officials possessed legislative powers. Hitler was of
course one. Goering, as Deputy of the Four Year Plan, could
and did issue decrees with the effect of law. The Cabinet
delegated power to issue laws deviating from existing law to
the Plenipotentiaries of Economy and Administration and the
Chief of the OKW, the so-called Three-Man College. This was
done in the Secret Defense Law of 1938 (2194-PS). These
three officials --

                                                  [Page 105]
Frick, Funk, and Keitel -- however, were also members of the
Council of Ministers and of the ordinary cabinet as well. It
can therefore be said, in the language of the Indictment,
that the Reichsregierung "possessed *** legislative ***
powers of a very high order in the system of the German

The executive and administrative powers of the Reich were
concentrated in the central government primarily as the
result of two basic Nazi laws that reduced the separate
states (called Laender) to mere geographical divisions. One
was the law of 30 January 1934, known as the Law for the
Reconstruction of the Reich (2006-PS). By that law the
States were deprived of their independent status as States,
their legislative assemblies were abolished, and their
sovereign powers were transferred to the Reich. The other
was the Reich Governor's Law, enacted by the Cabinet on 30
January 1935 (2008-PS), which made all Reich Governors
(Statthalters) permanent delegates of and subject to the
order of the cabinet and, more especially, of the Reich
Minister of the Interior. As a result, the ordinary cabinet
was possessed of wide powers, which are set forth in
"Administration Law," periodical published in 1944 which was
edited by Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart, State Secretary in the Reich
Ministry of the Interior, and Dr. Harry V. Rosen-v. Hoewel,
an Oberregierungstat in the Reich Ministry of the Interior
(2959-PS). The description of the powers and functions of
all the ministries of the ordinary cabinet illustrates the
extent of control vested in the Reichsregierung:

                  III. The Reich Ministers

     "There are at present twenty-one Reich Ministers,
     "I. 15 Reich Ministers with a definite portfolio.
     The Ministries of the Reich Ministers mentioned under
     2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 are united with the
     corresponding Ministries of Prussia.
     "1. The Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs (Foreign

     (a) He handles all matters touching on the relations of
     the Reich to foreign countries.
     (b) Under him are the diplomatic and consular
     representatives as well as the Reich office for Foreign
     "2. The Reich Minister of the Interior.
     (a) To his portfolio belong general administration,
     local administration police administration,
     administration of officials, public health, welfare,
     geodetic system, sport system and the Reich Labor
     (b) Under him are the general and internal
     administrations, for example, the Reich Governors, the
     state governments
                                                  [Page 106]
     (Landesregierung) the superior Presidents, the
     governmental Presidents, as well as police officials
     and the Reich Labor Service.
     Furthermore, there are under him numerous central
     intermediary boards, for example, the Reich Health
     Office, the Reich Archives, the Reich Genealogical
     "3. The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and
     (a) To his portfolio belong the intellectual influences
     on the nation, recruiting for the state, culture and
     economics, and the instruction of domestic and foreign
     public opinion.
     (b) Under him are, among other things, the Reich
     Propaganda Offices and the film censorship offices.
     Furthermore, he exercises supervision over the Reich
     Chamber of Culture, the Recruiting Council of German
     Economics, the Reich Radio Company, and the Institute
     of Politics (Hochschule fuer Politik).

     4. The Reich Minister of Aviation and Supreme Commander
     of the Air Force.
     He administers civil and military aviation.
     "5. The Reich Minister of Finances.
     (a) To his portfolio belong the budget and financial
     system of the Reich, as well as the administration of
     taxes, monopolies, and tariffs.
     (b) Under him are namely: the administration of taxes
     and tariffs, as well as the administration of Reich
     "6. The Reich Minister of Justice.
     (a) He is in charge of all matters related to the
     judicial system.
     (b) Under him are all judicial agencies and the Reich
     Patent Office.
     "7. The Reich Ministry of Economics.
     (a) To his portfolio belong the basic economic
     political questions of German economy, the supply of
     the civilian population with goods for consumption and
     the regulation of their distribution, the handling of
     foreign economic questions in the framework of policy
     on foreign trade of the Reich and the supreme
     supervision over the institutes of credit.
     (b) Under him are the Reich administration of mines,
     the Reich office of Statistics, the Supervisory Office
     for Private Insurance, the Gau Chambers of Economy, the
     State Economic Offices, (Landeswirtschaftsamt) the
     Savings Banks, and the State Insurance Offices.
                                                  [Page 107]
     "8. The Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture.
     (a) He is in charge of all farmers and of the
     agriculture, as well as the food administration.
     (b) Under him are the State Food Offices
     (Landesernaechrungsamt) the State Administration of
     Large Estates (Domaenen verwaltung) the Administration
     of Rural Affairs and the Agricultural Credit Offices.
     Furthermore, he exercises state supervision over the
     Reich Food Supply of which he is the leader."


     "14. Reich Minister for Armament and War Production.
     He has to bring to a level of highest production all
     offices active in producing arms and munitions.
     Furthermore, he is responsible for the field of raw
     materials and production in industry and manual labor.
     "15. The Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories.
     (a) He administers the recently occupied (i.e. former
     Soviet-Russian) Eastern territories, insofar as they
     are under civil administration and not subordinated to
     the Chief of Civil Administration for the district of
     Bialystok (cf. page 70) or insofar as they are
     incorporated in the General Gouvernment (cf. page 100).
     (b) Under him are the Reich Commissars, the General
     Commissars, Head Commissars, and District Commissars,
     in the recently occupied Eastern territories." (2959-PS)

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