The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume II Chapter XV
Criminality of Groups and Organizations
The Nazi Party Leadership Corps
(Part 2 of 12)


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 Policy.

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

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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.

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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

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Ortsgruppenleiter or Local Chapter Leaders were appointed by the Gauleiter and were directly under and subordinate to the Kreisleiter.

The party Manual provides as follows with respect to the Ortsgruppenleiter:

"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." (1893-PS)

(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 states:

"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:

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"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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