The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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(2) Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. The
same procedure was followed in the Council of Ministers when
that body was created. And the decrees of the Council of 
Ministers were also circulated to the members of the ordinary
Cabinet. A memorandum found in the files of the Reich
Chancellery and addressed to the members of the Council of
Ministers, dated 17 September 1939, and bearing the typed
signature of Dr. Lammers, Reich Minister and Chief of the
Reich Chancellery states (1141-PS):

     "Matters submitted to the Council of Ministers for the
     Reich Defense have heretofore been distributed only to
     the mem-
                                                  [Page 100]
     bers of the Council. I have been requested by some of
     the Reichministers who are not permanent members of the
     Council to inform them of the drafts of decrees which
     are being submitted to the Council, so as to enable
     them to check these drafts from the point of view of
     their respective offices. I shall follow this request
     so that all the Reichministers will in future be
     informed of the drafts of decrees which are to be acted
     upon by the Council for the Reich Defense. I therefore
     request to add forty-five additional copies of the
     drafts, as well as of the letters which usually contain
     the arguments for the drafts, to the folders submitted
     to the Council." (1141-PS)

Von Stutterheim, who was an official of the Reich
Chancellery, comments on this procedure at page 34 of a
pamphlet entitled "Die Reichskanzlei":

     "*** It must be noted that the peculiarity in this case
     is that the subjects dealt with by the Cabinet Council
     (Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich),
     are distributed not merely among the members of the
     Cabinet Council, but also among all the members of the
     Cabinet (Kabinett) who are thereby given the
     opportunity of guarding the interests of their spheres
     of office by adding their appropriate standpoints in
     the Cabinet Council legislation, even if they do not
     participate in making the decree." (2231-PS)

For a time the Cabinet consulted together through actual
meetings. The Council of Ministers did likewise, but those
members of the Cabinet who were not already members of the
Council also attended the meetings of the Ministerial
Council. And where they did not attend in person, they were
usually represented by the state secretaries of their
Ministries. The minutes of six meetings of the Council of
Ministers, on 1, 4, 8, and 19 September 1939, on 16 October
1939, and on 15 November 1939, demonstrate this procedure.

At the meeting held on 1 September 1939, which was probably
the first meeting since the Council was created on 30 August
1939, the following were in attendance:

     "Present were the permanent members of the Council of
     Ministers for the Reich Defense: The Chairman and
     Generalfield Marshall, Goering; the Deputy of the
     Fuehrer, Hess [a line appears through the name Hess];
     the Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, Dr.
     Frick; the Plenipotentiary for Economy, Funk; the Reich
     Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Dr.
     Lammers; and the Chief of the High Com-
                                                  [Page 101]
     mand of the Armed Forces, Keitel, represented by Major
     General Thomas." (2852-PS)

These were the regular members of the Council. Also present
was the Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture, Darre, and
even State Secretaries: Koerner, Neumann, Stuckart, Posse,
Landfried, Backe, and Syrup (2852-PS). These State
Secretaries were from the several Ministries or other
supreme Reich authorities. Koerner was the Deputy of Goering
in the Four Year Plan; Stuckart was in the Ministry of the
Interior; Landfried was in the Ministry of Economics; Syrup
was in the Ministry of Labor.

The minutes dated 8 September 1939 (2852-PS) note that in
addition to all members of the Ministerial Council, the
following were also present:

     "The Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture ***
     Darr; State Minister *** Popitz;"

Then come the names of nine State Secretaries from the
several Ministries, and then:

     "SS Gruppenfuehrer *** Heydrich;"

The close integration of the Ministerial Council with the
ordinary Cabinet is seen by the following excerpt from the
minutes of the same date (8 September 1939):

     "The Council of Ministers for the Reich Defense
     ratified the decree for the change of the Labor Service
     Law which had already been passed as law by the Reich
     Cabinet. (Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1744.)"

The minutes of the meeting of 19 September 1939 (2852-PS)
show the following Reich Ministers to be present in addition
to four members of the Council:

     "Also: The Reich Minister for Finance, Count Schwerin
     von Krosigk.
     The Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture, Darre.
     The Reich Minister for Enlightenment and Propaganda,
     Dr. Goebbels.
     State Minister *** Dr. Popitz." (2852-PS)

Then come the names of eight State Secretaries. Others
present included:

     "SS Gruppenfuehrer *** Heydrich; General of the Police
     (Ordnungpolizei) Daluege." (2852-PS)

The minutes dated 15 November 1939 show the same co-mixture
Of ministers, State Secretaries, and similar functionaries.
In addition, the following were also present:

     "Reichsleiter, Dr. Ley; Reichsleiter, Bouhler;
                                                  [Page 102]
     SS, Chief of German Police in the Reich Ministry of
     Interior, Himmler; The Reich Labor Service Leader,
     Hierl ***

     Reich Commissioner for Price Control, Wagner *** as
     well as experts (Sachbearbeiter) of the German Labor
     Front and the Reich Labor Service." (2852-PS)
Some of the decrees passed and matters discussed at these
meetings of the Ministerial Council are significant. At the
first meeting of 1 September 1939 14 decrees were ratified
by the Council. Decree No. 6 concerned

     "*** the organization of the administration and about
     the German safety police in the Protectorate of Bohemia
     and Moravia. (RGBl, I, page 1681)." (2852-PS)

At the meeting of the Council on 19 September 1939 the
following occurred:

     "The Chairman of the Council, Generalfieldmarshall
     Goering, made comments regarding the structure of civil
     administration in the occupied Polish territory. He
     expressed his intentions regarding the economic
     evacuation measures in this territory. Then the
     questions of decreasing wages and the questions of
     working hours and the support of members of families of
     inducted workers were discussed."
     "The Chairman directed that all members of the Council
     regularly receive the situation reports of the
     Reichsfuehrer SS. Then the question of the population
     of the future Polish Protectorate was discussed and the
     placement of Jews living in Germany." (2852-PS)
Finally, at the meeting of 15 November 1939 the discussion
concerned, among other things, the "treatment of Polish
Prisoners of War". (2852-PS)

The minutes of these meetings (2852-PS) not only establish
the close working union between agencies of the state and
the party, especially the SS, but also tends to establish
that the Reichsregierung was responsible for the policies
adopted and put into effect by the government.

C. Powers of The Reichsregierung.

But mere working alliances would be meaningless unless there
was power. And the Reichsregierung had power. Short of
Hitler himself, it had practically all the power a
government can exercise.

(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. The Nazi conspirators secured the
passage by the Reichstag of the "Law for the Protection of

                                                  [Page 103]
People and the Reich," of 24 March 1933 (2001-PS), which
vested the Cabinet with legislative powers even to the
extent of deviating from previously existing constitutional
law. These powers were retained even after the members of
the cabinet were changed, and the several states, provinces,
and municipalities, which had formerly exercised semi-
autonomous powers, were transformed into mere administrative
organs of the central government. The ordinary cabinet
emerged all-powerful from this rapid succession of events.
Frick waxed eloquent upon that achievement in an article
which he wrote for the 1935 National Socialist Year Book:

     "The relationship between the Reich and the States has
     been put on an entirely new basis, never known in the
     history of the German people. It gives to the Reich
     cabinet (Reichsregierung) unlimited power it even makes
     it its duty, to build a completely unified leadership
     and administration of the Reich. From now on, there is
     only one national authority: The one of the Reich!
     Thus, the German Reich has become a unified state, and
     the entire administration in the states is only carried
     out by order or in the name of the Reich. The state
     borders are now only administration, technical are
     boundaries but no longer boundaries of sovereignty! In
     calm determination, the Reich Cabinet (Reichsregierung)
     realizes step by step, supported by the confidence of
     the entire German people, the great longing of the
     Nation. The creation of the national socialist German,
     unified state." (2380-PS)
The heightened legislative power of the Cabinet is also
emphasized in an article written by Dr. Franz Medicus, an
official in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, and
published in 1939 in Volume 4 of "Das Dritte Reich in
     "*** Worked out by the Reich Minister of the Interior,
     the 'Law for Alleviation of the Distress of People and
     Reich', in short called 'Enabling Law', was issued on
     24 March 1933, broke with the liberal principle of
     'division of power' by transferring the legislature
     from the Reichstag to the Reich Cabinet, so that
     legislation by personally responsible persons took the
     place of 'anonymous' legislation." (2849-PS)

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