The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume II Chapter XV
Criminality of Groups and Organizations
The Reich Cabinet
(Part 1 of 8)

The Reich Cabinet, or Reichsregierung, unlike most of the other Nazi organizations, was not especially created by the Nazi Party to carry out or implement its purposes. The Reichsregierung had, before the Nazis came to power, a place in the constitutional and political history of the country. As with other cabinets of duly constituted governments, the executive power of the realm concentrated in that body. The Nazi conspirators well realized this fact. Their aim for totalitarian control over the State could not be secured, they realized, except by acquiring, holding, and utilizing the machinery of the State. And this they did.

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Under the Nazi regime the Reichsregierung gradually became a primary agent of the Nazi Party, with functions and policies formulated in accordance with the objectives and methods of the Party itself. The Reichsregierung became -- at first gradually and then with more rapidity -- polluted by the infusion of the Nazi conspirators sixteen of whom are accused in the Indictment. Its purpose came to be to clothe every scheme and purpose of the Party, however vile, with the semblance of legality.

A. Composition and Nature of the Reichsregierung.

The term Reichsregierung literally translated means "Reich Government". Actually, it was commonly taken to refer to the ordinary Reich Cabinet. In the Indictment the term Reichsregierung is defined to include not only those persons who were members of the ordinary Reich Cabinet, but also persons who were members of the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die Reichsverteidigung) and the Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat). The most important body, however, was the ordinary cabinet. Between it and the other two groups there was in reality only an artificial distinction. There existed, in fact, a unity of personnel, action, function, and purpose that obliterated any academic separation. As used in the Indictment, the term "ordinary cabinet" means Reich Ministers, i.e., heads of departments of the central government; Reich Ministers without portfolio; State Ministers acting as Reich Ministers; and other officials entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings. Altogether, 48 persons held positions in the ordinary cabinet. 17 of them have been indicted as defendants. Of the remaining 31, eight are believed to be dead.

(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. Into the ordinary cabinet were placed the leading Nazi trusted henchmen. Then, when new governmental agencies or bodies were created, either by Hitler or by the Cabinet itself, the constituents of these new bodies were taken from the rolls of the ordinary cabinet.

When the first Hitler Cabinet was formed on 30 January 1933, there were 10 ministries which could be classified as departments of the central government. This fact appears from the minutes of the first meeting of that cabinet, which were found in the files of the Reich Chancellery and bear the typed signature of one Weinstein, who is described in the minutes as "Responsible for the Protocol -- Counsellor in the Ministry" (351-PS). The ten ministers who attended are set forth:

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"Reichs Minister of Foreign Affairs (von Neurath); Reichs Minister of the Interior (Frick); Reichs Minister of Finance; (Graf Schwerin von Krosigk); Reichs Minister of Economy; Reichs Minister for Food and Agriculture (Dr. Hugenberg); Reichs Minister of Labor (Seldte); Reichs Minister of Justice no name given; the post was filled two days later by Gurtner]; Reichs Defense Minister (von Blomberg); the Reichs Postmaster General; and Reichs Minister for Transportation (Freiherr von Eltz-Ruebanach)." (351-PS)

In addition, Goering attended as Reichs Minister (he held no portfolio at that time) and Reichs Commissar for Aviation. Dr. Perecke attended as Reich Commissar for Procurement of Labor. Two state secretaries were present-Dr. Lammers of the Reichs Chancellery and Dr. Meissner of the Reich's Presidential Chancellery. In addition, Funk was present as Reichs Press Chief, and von Papen was present as Deputy of the Reichs Chancellor and Reichs Commissar for the State of Prussia.

Not long afterwards new ministries or departments were crested, into which leading Nazi figures were placed. On 13 March 1933, the Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda was created, and Paul Josef Goebbels was named as Reich Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (2029- PS). On 5 May 1933 the Ministry of Air (2089-PS), on 1 May 1934 the Ministry of Education (2078-PS), and on 16 July 1935 the Ministry for Church Affairs (2090-PS) were created. Goering was made Air Minister; Bernhard Rust, Gauleiter of South Hanover, was named Education Minister; and Hans Kerrl was named Minister for Church Affairs. Two Ministries were added after the war started. On 17 March 1940 the Ministry of Armaments and Munitions was established (2091-PS). Dr. Fritz Todt, a high party official, was appointed to this post. Speer succeeded him. The name of this department was changed to "Armaments and War Production" in 1943 (2092-PS).

On 17 July 1941, when the seizure of Eastern territories was in progress, the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories was created. There was no published decree for this act. A file found in the Presidential chancellery contains a typewritten copy of the decree of Hitler establishing that post (1997-PS). The decree provides:

"Decree of the Fuehrer concerning the administration of the newly occupied Eastern Territories dated 17 July 1941."

"In order to maintain public order and public life in the newly-occupied Eastern territories I decree that:

"As soon as the military operations in the newly- occupied territories are over, the administration of these territories

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shall be transferred from the military establishments to the civil-administration establishments. I shall from time to time determine by special decree, the territories which according to this are to be transferred to the civil administration. and the time when this is to take place.

"The Civil Administration in the newly occupied Eastern territories, where these territories are not included in the administration of the territories bordering on the Reich or the General government, is subject to the 'Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern


"I appoint Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. He will hold office in Berlin." (1997-PS)

During the years 1933 to 1945, one ministry was dropped the Ministry of Defense (later called War). This took place on 4 February 1938, when Hitler took over command of the whole Armed Forces. At the same time he created the office of the "Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces" or Chief of the OKW. This was held by Keitel. The decree accomplishing this change provides in part as follows:

"He [the Chief of the supreme command of the armed forces] is equal in rank to a Reich Minister. At the same time, the supreme command takes the responsibility for the affairs of the Reichs Ministry of War, and by my order, the chief of the supreme command of the Armed Forces exercises the authority formerly belonging to the Reichs Minister." (1915-PS)

Another change in the composition of the cabinet during the years in question should be noted. The post of vice-chancellor was never refilled after the departure of von Papen on 30 July 1934.

In addition to the heads of departments mentioned above, the ordinary cabinet also contained Reich Ministers without portfolio. Among these were Frank, Seyss-Inquart, Schacht (after he left the Economics Ministry), and von Neurath (after he was replaced as Ministry of the Interior). Other positions also formed an integral part of the cabinet. Those were the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess, and later his successor, the Leader of the Party Chancellery, Bormann; the Chief of Staff of the SA, Ernst Roehm, for the seven months prior to his assassination; the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Lammers; and, as already mentioned, the Chief of the OKW, Keitel. These men had either the title or rank of Reich Minister.

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The Cabinet also contained other functionaries, such as State Ministers acting as Reich Ministers. Only two persons fell within this category -- the Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Otto Meissner, and the State Minister of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Karl Hermann Frank. In addition, as named in the Indictment, the ordinary cabinet included "others entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings". Many governmental agencies were created by the Nazis between the years 1933 and 1945, but the peculiarity of these creations was that in most instances the new officials were given the right to participate in cabinet meetings. Among those entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings were the Commanders in Chief of the Army and the Navy; the Reich Forest Master; the Inspector General for Water and Power; the Inspector General of German Roads; the Reich Labor Leader; the Reich Youth Leader; the Chief of the Foreign Organization in the Foreign Office; the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior; the Prussian Finance Minister; and the Cabinet Press Chief.

These posts and officials comprising the ordinary cabinet all appear on the chart entitled "Organization of the Reich Government," and authenticated by Frick (Chart Number 18). The persons who held these posts in the ordinary cabinet varied between the years 1933 to 1945. Their names are listed in the chart (Chart Number 18), which discloses that 17 of these officials are defendants in these proceedings.

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