The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Domination by the Leadership Corps over the German State and
Government was facilitated by uniting in the same Nazi
chieftains both high office within the Reichsleitung and
corresponding offices within the apparatus of government.
For example, Goebbels was a Reichsleiter in charge of Party
propaganda, but he was also a cabinet minister in charge of
Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. Himmler held office
within the Reichsleitung as head of the Main Office for
"Volkdom" and as Reichsfuehrer of the SS. At the same time,
Himmler held the governmental position of Reich Commission
for the Consolidation of Germandom and was the governmental
head of the German police system (Chart Number 1). This
personal union of high office in the Leadership Corps and
high governmental position in the same Nazi Leaders greatly
assisted the plan of the Leadership Corps to dominate and
control the German State and Government.

In addition to the Reichsleiter, the Reichsleitung (Reich
Party Directorate) included about eleven Hauptamter, or Main
Offices, and about four Amter, or Offices. The Hauptamter of
the Party included such main organizations as those for
personnel, training, technology (headed by Speer),
"Volkdom," headed by Himmler), civil servants, communal
policy, and the like. The Amter, or offices, of the Party
within the Reichsleitung included the Office for Foreign
Policy under Rosenberg which actively participated in plans
for aggression against Norway, the Office for Colonial
Policy, the Office for Genealogy, and the Office for Racial

Certain of the main offices and offices within the
Reichsleitung appeared again within the Gauleitung, or Gau
Party Directorate, and Kreisleitung, or County Party
Directorate. Thus, the Reichsleiter and main office and
office holders within the Reichsleitung exercised, through
functional channels running through subordinate offices on
lower regional levels, total control over the various
sectors of the national life of Germany.

(1) Gauleiter. For Party purposes Germany was divided into
major administrative regions, Gaue, which, in turn, were
subdivided into Kreise (counties), Ortsgruppen (local
chapters), Zellen (cells), and Blocke (blocks). Each Gau was
in charge of

                                                   [Page 29]
a Gauleiter who was the political leader of the Gau or
district. Each Gauleiter was appointed by and was
responsible to Hitler himself. The Organization Book of the
NSDAP states:

     "The Gau represents the concentration of a number of
     Party counties, or Kreise. The Gauleiter is directly
     subordinate to the Fuehrer. He is appointed by the
     Fuehrer. The Gauleiter bears overall responsibility to
     the Fuehrer for the sector of sovereignty entrusted to
     him. The rights, duties, and jurisdiction of the
     Gauleiter result primarily from the mission assigned by
     the Fuehrer and, apart from that, from detailed
     directives." (1893-PS)

The responsibility and function of the Gauleiter and his
staff officers or office holders were essentially political,
namely, to insure the authority of the Nazi Party within his
area, to coordinate the activities of the Party and all its
affiliated and supervised organizations, and to enlarge the
influence of the Party over people and life in his Gau
generally. Following the out-break of the war, when it
became imperative to coordinate the various phases of the
German war effort, the Gauleiter were given additional
important responsibilities.

The Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich, which
was a sort of general staff for civil defense and the
mobilization of the German war economy, by a decree of 1
September 1939 (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1565),
appointed about sixteen Gauleiter as Reich Defense
Commissars. Later, under the impact of mounting military
reverses and an increasingly strained war economy, more and
more important administrative functions were put on a Gau
basis; the Party Gaue became the basic defense areas of the
Reich and each Gauleiter became a Reich Defense Commissar
Decree of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the
Reich of 16 November 1942, 1942 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I,
page 649).

In the course of the war, additional functions were
entrusted to the Gauleiter so that at the end, with the
exception of certain special matters, such as police
affairs, almost all phases of the German war economy were
coordinated and supervised by them. for instance, regional
authority over price control was put under the Gauleiter as
Reich Defense Commissars, and housing administration was
placed under the Gauleiter as Gau Housing Commissar. Toward
the end of the war, the Gauleiter were charged even with
military and quasi military tasks. They were made commanders
of the Volkssturm in their areas and were entrusted with
such important functions as the evacuation of civilian
population in the path of the advancing Allied armies, as
well as measures for the destruction of vital installations.

                                                   [Page 30]
The structure and organization of the Party Gau were
substantially repeated in the lower levels of the Party
organization such as the Kreise, Ortsgruppen, Cells, and
Blocks. Each of these was headed by a political leader who,
subject to the Fuehrer principle and the orders of superior
political leaders, was sovereign within his sphere. The
Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party was in effect a
"hierarchy of descending caesars."

Each of the subordinate Party levels, such as Kreise,
Ortsgruppen, and so on, was organized into offices or Amter
dealing with the various specialized functions of the Party.
But the number of such departments and offices diminished as
the Party unit dropped in the hierarchy, so that, while the
Kreise office contained all, or most of the offices in the
Gau (such as the deputy, the staff office leader, an
organization leader, school leader, propaganda leader, press
office leader, treasurer, judge of the Party Court,
inspector, and the like), the Ortsgruppe had less and the
Zellen and Blocke fewer still.

(2) Kreisleiter (County Leaders). The Kreisleiter was
appointed and dismissed by Hitler upon the nomination of the
Gauleiter and directly subordinate to the Gauleiter in the
Party hierarchy. The Kreis usually comprised a single
county. The Kreisleiter, within the Kreis, had in general
the same position, powers, and prerogatives granted the
Gauleiter in the Ga. In cities they constituted the very
core of Party power and organization. According to the
Organization Book of the NSDAP:

     "The Kreisleiter carries over-all responsibility
     towards the Gauleiter within his zone of sovereignty
     for the political and ideological training and
     organization of the Political Leaders, the Party
     members, as well as the population." (1893-PS)

(3) Ortsgruppenleiter (Local Chapter Leaders). The area of
the Ortsgruppenleiter comprised one or more communes or, in
a town, a certain district. The Ortsgruppe was composed of a
combination of blocks and cells and, according to local
circumstances, contained up to 1500 households. The
Ortsgruppenleiter also had a staff of office leaders to
assist him in the various functional activities of the
Party. All other political leaders in his area of
responsibility were subordinate to and under the direction
of the Ortsgruppenleiter. For example, the leaders of the
various affiliated organizations of the Party, within his
area, such as the German Labor Front, and the Nazi
organizations for lawyers, students, and civil servants,
were all subordinate to the Ortsgruppenleiter. In accordance
with the Fuehrer principle, the

                                                   [Page 31]
Ortsgruppenleiter or Local Chapter Leaders were appointed by
the Gauleiter and were directly under and subordinate to the

The party Manual provides as follows with respect to the

     "As Hoheitstraeger [Bearer of Sovereignty] all
     expressions of the Party will emanate from the
     Ortsgruppenleiter; he is responsible for the political
     and ideological leadership and organization within his
     zone of sovereignty.
     "The Ortsgruppenleiter carries the over-all
     responsibility for political results of all measures
     initiated by the offices, organizations, and affiliated
     associations of the Party. *** The Ortsgruppenleiter
     has the right to protest to the Kreisleiter against any
     measures contrary to the interests of the Party with
     regard to an outside political appearance in public."

(4) Zellenleiter (Cell Leaders). The Zellenleiter was
responsible for four to eight blocks. He was the immediate
superior of and had control and supervision over the
Blockleiter (Block Leader). His mission and duties,
according to the Party Manual, responded to the missions of
the Blockleiter. (1893-PS)

(5) Blockleiter (Block Leaders). The Blockleiter was the one
Party official who was peculiarly in a position to have
continuous contact with the German people. The block was the
lowest unit in the Party pyramidal organization. The block
of the Party comprised 40 to 60 households and was regarded
by the Party as the focal point upon which to press the
weight of its propaganda. The Organization Book of the NSDAP

     "The household is the basic community upon which the
     block and cell system is built. The household is the
     organizational focal point of all Germans united in an
     apartment and includes roomers, domestic help, etc. ***
     The Blockleiter has jurisdiction over all matters
     within his zone relating to the Movement and is fully
     responsible to the Zellenleiter. ***" (1893-PS)
The Blockleiter, as in the case of other political leaders,
was charged with planning, disseminating, and developing a
receptivity to the policies of the Nazi Party among the
population in the area of responsibility. It was also the
expressed duty of the Blockleiter to spy on the population.
According to the Party Manual:

                                                   [Page 32]
     "It is the duty of the Blockleiter to find people
     disseminating damaging rumors and to report them to the
     Ortsgruppe so that they may be reported to the
     respective State authorities. "The Blockleiter must not
     only be preacher and defender of the National Socialist
     ideology towards the members of nation and Party
     entrusted to his political care, but he must also
     strive to achieve practical collaboration of the Party
     members within his block zone
     "The Blockleiter shall continuously remind the Party
     members of their particular duties towards the people
     and the State *** The Blockleiter keeps a list (card
     file) about the households *** In principle, the
     Blockleiter will settle his official business verbally
     and he will receive messages verbally and pass them on
     in the same way. Correspondence will only be used in
     cases of absolute necessity *** The Blockleiter
     conducts National Socialist propaganda from mouth to
     mouth. He will eventually awaken the understanding of
     the eternally dissatisfied as regards the frequently
     misunderstood or wrongly interpreted measures and laws
     of the National Socialist Government *** It is not
     necessary to him to fall in with complaints and gripes
     about possibly obvious shortcomings of any kind in
     order to demonstrate *** solidarity *** A condition to
     gain the confidence of all people is to maintain
     absolute secrecy in all matters." (1893-PS)

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