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.
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:
“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
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.
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.
(2) The Secret Cabinet Council. Proof that there was only an artificial distinction between the ordinary cabinet, the Secret Cabinet Council, and the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich, is shown by the unity of personnel among the three subdivisions. Thus, on 4 February 1938, Hitler created the Secret Cabinet Council (2031-PS):
“To advise me in conducting the foreign policy I am setting up a secret cabinet council.
“As president of the secret cabinet council, I nominate: Reichsminister Freiherr von Neurath
“As members of the secret cabinet council I nominate:
Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs, Joachim von Ribbentrop
Prussian Prime Minister, Reichsminister of the Air, Supreme Commander of the Air Forces, General Field Marshall Hermann Goering
The Fuehrers Deputy, Reichsminister Rudolf Hess
Reichsminister for the Enlightenment of the people and of Propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels
Reichsminister and Chief of the Reichs Chancellery Dr. Hans-Heinrich Lammers
The Supreme Commander of the Army, General Walther von Brauchitsch
The Supreme Commander of the Navy, Grand Admiral Dr. (honorary) Erich Raeder
The Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces Lt Gen Wilhelm Keitel.” (2031-PS)
It will be noted that every member of this group was either a Reichsminister or, as, in the case of the Army, Navy, and OKW heads, had the rank and authority of a Reich Minister.
(3) The Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. On 30 August 1939 Hitler established the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich better known as the Ministerial Council). This was the so-called war cabinet. The decree establishing this Council provided (2018-PS):
“(1) A Ministerial Council for Reich Defense shall be established as a standing committee out of the Reich Defense Council.
“(2) The standing members of the Ministerial Council for Reich Defense shall include: General Field Marshall Goering as chairman; Fuehrer’s Deputy [Hess]; Commissioner General (or Plenipotentiary) for Reich Administration [Frick]; Commissioner General (or Plenipotentiary) for Economy [Funk]; Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery [Dr. Lammers]; Chief of the High Command for the Armed Forces [Keitel].
“(3) The chairman may draw on other members of the Reich Defense Council including further personalities for advice.” (2018-PS)
Again, all members of this group were also members of the ordinary Cabinet.
The Reich Defense Council, for secret war planning, was created by the Cabinet on 4 April 1933 (cf. the unpublished Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 (2261-PS) ). The membership of that Council when first created is shown by the minutes of the second session of the working committee of the delegates for Reich Defense, dated 22 May 1933 and signed by Keitel (EC-177):
“Composition of the Reich Defense Council:
President: Reichs Chancellor
Deputy: Reichswehr Minister
Permanent Members: Minister of the:
Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
Chief of the Army Command Staff
Chief of the Navy Command Staff
“Depending on the case: The remaining ministers, other personalities, e.g., leading industrialists, etc.” (EC-177)
All but the Chiefs of the Army and Navy Command Staff were at that time members of the ordinary cabinet.
The composition of this Reich Defense Council was changed by an unpublished law on 4 September 1938, which provided as follows (2194-PS):
“*** (2) The leader and Reich Chancellor is chairman in the RVR. His permanent deputy is General Field Marshall Goering. He has the right to call conferences of the RVR. Permanent members of the RVR are
“The Reich Minister of Air and Supreme Commander of the Air Force,
The Supreme Commander of the Army,
The Supreme Commander of the Navy,
The Chief of the OKW,
The Deputy of the Fuehrer,
The Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery,
The President of the Secret Cabinet Council,
The Chief Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration,
The Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics,
The Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs,
The Reich Minister of the Interior,
The Reich Finance Minister,
The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda,
The President of the Reichsbank Directorate.
The other Reich Ministers and the Reich offices directly subordinate to the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor are consulted
if necessary. Further personalities can be called as the case demands.” (2194-PS)
On that date all the members also belonged to the ordinary cabinet, for by that time the supreme commanders of the Army and Navy had been given ministerial rank and authorized to participate in cabinet meetings (2098-PS). It is also worth noting that two members of the Reich Defense Council also appear in the Ministerial Council under the same title — The Plenipotentiary for Administration, and the Plenipotentiary for Economy. The former post was held by Frick, while the latter was first held by Schacht and then by Funk. These facts are verified by Frick on the Nazi governmental organization chart (Chart Number 18). Many other ministries were subordinated to these two posts for war-planning aims and purposes. These two officials, together with the Chief of the OKW, formed a powerful triumvirate known as the “Three-Man College” (Frick, Funk, and Keitel) which figured prominently in war plans and preparations.
B. Functions of the Reichsregierung.
The utilization of the ordinary cabinet as a manpower reservoir for other governmental agencies, the chronological development of the offshoots of the ordinary cabinet, and the cohesion between all of these groups, is apparent from the Nazi governmental organization chart (Chart Number 18). The chart shows the following offshoots of the ordinary cabinet: 1933, the Reich Defense Council; 1935, the Three- Man College; 1936, the Delegate for the Four Year Plan; 1938, the Secret Cabinet Council; 1939, The Ministerial Defense Council; and 1944, the Delegate for Total War Effort (Goebbels). In every case these important Nazi agencies were staffed with personnel taken from the ordinary cabinet.
(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. The unity, cohesion, and interrelationship of the sub-divisions of the Reichsregierung was not the result of a co-mixture of personnel alone. It was also realized by the method in which it operated. The ordinary cabinet consulted together both by meetings and through the so-called circulation procedure. Under the latter procedure, which was chiefly used when meetings were not held, drafts of laws prepared in individual ministries were distributed to other cabinet members for approval or disapproval.
The man primarily responsible for the circulation of drafts of laws under this procedure was Dr. Lammers, the Leader and Chief
Of the Reich Chancellery. Lammers has described that procedure in an affidavit (2999-PS):
“*** I was Leader of the Reich Chancellery (Leiter der Reichskanzlei) from 30 January 1935 until the end of the war. In this capacity I circulated drafts of proposed law and decrees submitted to me by the Minister who had drafted the law or decree, to all members of the Reich Cabinet. A period of time was allowed for objections, after which the law considered as being accepted by the various members of the Cabinet. This procedure continued throughout the whole war. It was followed also in the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die Reichsverteidigung).” (2999-PS)
A memorandum dated 9 August 1943, which bears the facsimile signature of Frick and is addressed to the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, illustrates how the circulation procedure worked (1701-PS). Attached to the memorandum is a draft of the law in question and a carbon copy of a letter dated 22 December 1943 from Rosenberg to the Reich Minister of the Interior, containing his comments on the draft:
“To the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery.
in Berlin W8.
“For the information of the other Reich ministers.
“Subj: Law on the treatment of enemies of the society.
“In addition to my letter of 19 March 1942.
“After the draft of the law on the treatment of enemies of the society has been completely rewritten, I am sending the enclosed new draft with the consent of the Reich Minister of Justice, Dr. Thierack, and ask that the law be approved in a circulatory manner. The necessary number of prints is attached.” (1701-PS)
(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 Minister 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-
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. (2852-PS)
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-
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 also were 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
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; Reichsfuehrer
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 the
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 Aufbau”:
“*** 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)
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
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 Reichsverteidigung)
“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 —
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 government.”
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, namely:
“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 Office).
(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 Trade.
“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 Service.
(b) Under him are the general and internal administrations, for example, the Reich Governors, the state governments
(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 Office.
“3. The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
(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 monopolies.
“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
(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.
“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)
Other important powers and functions contained in the ordinary cabinet were not included in the foregoing list. or example, upon the creation of the People’s Court on 24 April 1934) it was placed within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice (2014-PS). With the acquisition and occupation of new territories, the integration and coordination thereof were placed within the Ministry of the Interior. The Reich Minister of the Interior, Frick, (in some cases in cooperation with other Reich Ministers) was, by law, given regulatory powers over such territories. The territory and the applicable law may be listed as follows:
(1) The Saar (1935, Reichsgesetzblatt Part I, page 66).
(2) Austria (1938, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 237).
(3) Memel (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 54).
(4) Bohemia and Moravia (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 485).
(5) Sudetenland (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 780).
(6) Danzig (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1547.
(7) Incorporated Poland (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 2042).
(8) Occupied Poland (1939, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 2077).
(9) Eupen, Malmedy and Moresnet (1940, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 803).
(10) Norway (1941, Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 765).
Such were the powers and functions of the ordinary cabinet.
(2) The Secret Cabinet Council. Of the other two subdivisions of the Reichsregierung — the Secret Cabinet Council and the Ministerial Council — the Secret Cabinet Council had no legislative or administrative powers. It was created by Hitler on 4 February 1938
“To advise me in conducting the foreign policy ***.” (2031-PS)
Its position in the Nazi regime is described by Ernst Rudolf Huber, a leading Nazi Constitutional Lawyer, in his book entitled “Verfassungsrecht des Grossdeutschen Reiches” (“Constitutional Law of the Greater German Reich”). In this book, which was an authoritative, widely used work on Nazi Constitutional Law, Huber States (1774-PS):
“A privy cabinet council, to advise the Fuehrer in the basic problems of foreign policy, has been created by the decree of 4 February 1938 (RGBI. I, 112). This privy cabinet council is under the direction of Reich Minister v. Neurath, and includes the Foreign Minister, the Air Minister, the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer, the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. The privy cabinet council constitutes a select staff of collaborators of the Fuehrer which consists exclusively of members of the Government of the Reich; thus, it represents a select committee of the Reich Government for the deliberation on foreign affairs.” (1774-PS)
(3) The Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. The powers concentrated in the Ministerial Council, which did possess legislative and administrative functions, at its creation in 1939, are best expressed by the lecture which Frick gave before the University of Freiburg on 7 March 1940. The lecture, published in a pamphlet entitled “The Administration in Wartime,” contains these statements (2608-PS):
“*** The composition of the Ministerial Council for
the defense of the Reich shows the real concentration of power in it. General Field Marshal Goering is the chairman and also the Supreme Director of the War Economy and Commissioner for the our Year Plan. He is joined by the Plenipotentiary General for the Reich Administration, who directs the entire civilian administration with the exception of the economic administration, and the Plenipotentiary General for Economy. The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces is the liaison man to the Armed Forces. It is primarily his duty to coordinate the measures for civilian defense in the area of administration and economy with the genuine military measures for the defense of the Reich. The Deputy of the Fuehrer represents the Party, thus guaranteeing the unity between Party and State also within the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich. The Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery is in charge of the business management of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich.”
“The Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich, the highest legislative and executive organ in wartime next to the Fuehrer, created a subordinate organ for the purpose of the defense of the Reich: The Commissioners for the Reich Defense, who have their headquarters at the seat of the individual corps area.” (2608-PS)
With such power concentrated in the Reichsregierung and to such a high degree, the Nazi conspirators possessed a formidable weapon to effectuate their plans.
D. Acts and Decrees of the Reichsregierung.
Under the Nazi regime the Reichsregierung became the instrument of the Nazi party.
(1) Execution of the Nazi Party Program. In the original Cabinet of 30 January 1933 only three cabinet members were members of the Party — Goering, Frick, and Hitler. As new Ministries were added to the Cabinet, prominent Nazis were placed at their head. On 30 January 1937, Hitler accepted into the Party those Cabinet members who were not already members. This action is reported in the Voelkischer Beobachter, South German Edition, of 1 February 1937 (2964-PS):
“In view of the anticipated lifting of the ban for party membership, the Fuehrer, as the first step in this regard, personally carried out the enlistment into the party of the
members of the Cabinet, who so far had not belonged to it and he handed them simultaneously the Gold Party Badge, the supreme badge of honor of the party. In addition, the Fuehrer awarded the Gold Party Badge to Generaloberst Freiherr von Fritsch; Generaladmiral Dr. H. C. Raeder; the Prussian Minister of Finance, Professor Popitz; and the Secretary of State and Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Dr. Meissner.
“The Fuehrer also honored with the gold party badge the party members State Secretary Dr. Lammers, State Secretary Funk, State Secretary Koerner and State Secretary General of the Airforce Milch.”
It was possible to refuse the party membership thus conferred. Only one man, von Eltz-Rubenach, who was the Minister of Post and Minister of Transport at the time, did this. His letter from von Eltz-Rubenach to Hitler, dated 30 January 1937, reads as follows (1534-PS):
“I thank you for the confidence you have placed in me during the four years of your leadership and for the honor you do me in offering to admit me to the party. My conscience forbids me however to accept this offer. I believe in the principles of positive Christianity and must remain faithful to my Lord and to myself. Party membership however would mean that I should have to face without contradiction the steadily aggravating attacks by party offices on the Christian confessions and those who want to remain faithful to their religious convictions.
“This decision has been infinitely difficult for me. For never in my life have I performed my duty with greater joy and satisfaction than under your wise state leadership.
“I ask to be permitted to resign.
“With German Greetings:
Yours very obediently,
“(signed) Baron v. Eltz” (1554-PS).
But the Nazis did not wait until all members of the cabinet were party members. Shortly after they came to power, they quickly assured themselves of active participation in the work of the Cabinet. On 1 December 1933, the Cabinet passed a law securing the unity of party and state (1395-PS). In Article 2 of that law the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess, and the Chief of Staff of the SA, Roehm, were made members of the Cabinet (195-PS). Lest mere membership in the Cabinet would not be effective, Hitler endowed his deputy with greater powers of participation. An
unpublished decree signed by Hitler, dated 27 July 1934, and addressed to the Reich Ministers, provides (D-138):
“I decree that the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Reich Minister Hess, will have the capacity of a participating Reich Minister in connection with the preparation of drafts for laws in all Reich Administrative spheres. All legislative work is to be sent to him when it is received by the other Reich Minister concerned. This also applies in cases where no one else participates except the Reich Minister making the draft. Reich Minister Hess will be given the opportunity to comment on drafts suggested by experts.
“This order will apply in the same sense to legislative ordinances. The Deputy of the Fuehrer in his capacity of Reich Minister can send as representative an expert on his staff. These experts are entitled to make statements to the Reich Ministers on his behalf.
“[signed] Adolph Hitler” (D-138).
Hess himself made pertinent comment on his right of participation on behalf of the party, in a letter dated 9 October 1934, on the stationery of the NSDAP, addressed to the Reich Minister for Enlightenment of the People and Propaganda (D-139:
“By a decree of the Fuehrer dated 27 July 1934, I have been granted the right to participate in the legislation of the Reich as regards both formal laws and legal ordinances. This right must not be rendered illusory by the fact that I am sent the drafts of laws and decrees so late and am then given a limited time, so that it becomes impossible for me to deal with the material concerned during the given time. I must point out that my participation means the taking into account of the opinion of the NSDAP as such, and that in the case of the majority of drafts of laws and decrees, consult with the appropriate departments of the Party before making my comment. Only by proceeding in this manner can I do justice to the wish of the Fuehrer as expressed in the decree of the Fuehrer of 27 July 1934.
“I must therefore ask the Reich Ministers to arrange that drafts of laws and decrees reach me in sufficient time. Failing this, I would be obliged in future to refuse my agreement to such drafts from the beginning and without giving the matter detailed attention, in all cases where I am not given a sufficiently long period for dealing with them.
“[signed] R. Hess.” (D-139).
[Page 112] A handwritten note attached to the letter reads:
“1. The identical letter seems to have been addressed to all Reich Ministers. In our special field the decree of 27 July 1934 has hardly become applicable so far. A reply does not seem called for.
“2. File in file 7B (?)
“[signed] “R” (D-139).
The participating powers of Hess were later broadened, according to a letter dated 12 April 1938 from Doctor Lammers to the Reich Ministers (D-140):
“*** The Deputy of the Fuehrer will also have participation where the Reich Ministers give their agreement to the State Laws and legislative ordinances of States under paragraph 3 of the first decree concerning reconstruction of the Reich of 2 February 1934 (Reich Law Gazette I 81). Where the Reich Ministers have already, at an earlier date been engaged in the preparation of such laws or legislative ordinances, or have participated in such preparation, the Deputy of the Fuehrer likewise becomes participating Reich Minister. Laws and legislative decrees of the Austrian State are equally affected hereby.
“[signed] Dr. LAMMERS” (D-140).
After Hess’ flight to England, Bormann, as Leader of the Party Chancellery, took over the same functions. He was given the authority of a Reich Minister and made a member of the cabinet. (2099-PS)
The Nazi constitutional lawyer, Ernst Rudolf Huber, has this to say about the unity of party and Cabinet (1774-PS):
“Unity of party and Reich-Cabinet (Reichsregierung) is furthermore secured by the numerous personal unions i.e. association of Central State Offices with corresponding party offices. Such personal unions exist in the cases of Food Minister and the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the German Police and the Reich Labor Leader, the Chief of the Organization in foreign countries, and the Reich Youth Fuehrer. Furthermore, the majority of the Reich Ministries is occupied by leading old party members. Finally, all Reich Ministers have been accepted by the party on 30 January 1937 and have been decorated with golden party insignia.” (1774-PS)
In 1943, out of 16 Reich Leaders (Reichsleiters) of the NSDAP, eight were members of the Cabinet: Martin Bormann; Walter Darre, Otto Dietrich; Wilhelm Frick; Paul Josef Goebbels; Constantin Hierl; Heinrich Himmler; Alfred Rosenberg (2473-PS). Through its domination of the Cabinet the Nazi Party strove to secure the fulfilment of its program under a facade of legality.
(a) Decrees of the Ordinary Cabinet. To the Nazi Cabinet, the Nazi Party program of 25 points (1708-PS) was more than a mere political platform; it was a mandate for action. And the Cabinet acted.
Point 1 of this program declared:
“We demand the inclusion of all Germans in a greater Germany on the grounds of the right of self- determination.”. (1708-PS)
In implication of this demand the Nazi Cabinet enacted, among others, the following laws: the law of 3 February 1938 concerning the obligation of German citizens in foreign countries to register (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 113); the law of 13 March 1938 for the reunion of Austria with Germany ( 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 237) (2307-PS); the law of November 1938 for the reintegration of the German Sudetenland with Germany (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1641); the law of 23 March 1939 for the reintegration of Memel in Germany (1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 559).
Point 2 of the Party platform stated in part:
“We demand *** the cancellation of the treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.” (1708-PS)
The following acts of the Cabinet supported this part of the program: The proclamation of 14 October 1933 to the German people concerning Germany’s withdrawal from the League of Nations and the Disarmament Conference (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 730); the proclamation and law of 16 March 1935, for the establishment of the Wehrmacht and compulsory military service (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, pages 369, 375) (1654-PS); and the defense law of 21 May 1935 implementing the last-named law (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I; page 609).
Point 4 of the Party platform read as follows:
“Only those who are members of the ‘Volk’ can be citizens. Only those who are of German blood, without regard to religion, can be members of the ‘Volk’. No Jew, therefore, can be a member of the ‘Volk’.”
Among the cabinet laws which implemented this point were these: the law of 14 July 1933 for the recall of naturalization and the deprivation of citizenship (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 480); the law of 7 April 1933 permitting persons of non-Aryan descent to be refused permission to practice law (1933 Reichs-
gesetzblatt, Part I, page 188) (1401-PS); the law of 25 April 1933 restricting the number of non-Aryans in schools and higher institutions (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 225) (2022-PS); the law of 29 September 1933 excluding persons of Jewish blood from the peasantry (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 685) (1402-PS); the law of 26 June 1936, forbidding people of Jewish blood to hold positions of authority in the army (1936 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 518) (1398-PS); the law of 19 March 1937 excluding Jews from the Reich Labor Service (1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 325); the law of 28 March 1938 on the legal status of Jewish religious communities 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 338); and the law of 6 July 1938 prohibiting Jews from participating in six different types of business (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 823).
Point 23 of the platform proclaimed:
“We demand legislative action against conscious political lies and their broadcasting through the press.” (1708-PS)
To carry out this point numerous Cabinet laws were passed, of which the following are merely examples: the law of 22 September 1933 for the establishment of the Reich Culture Chamber (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 661) (2082- PS); the law of 4 October 1933 regarding editors (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 713) (2083-PS); and the law of 15 May 1934 regarding the theater (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 411).
All the laws referred to above and hereafter were enacted specifically in the name of the Cabinet (Reichsregierung). A typical introductory paragraph reads:
“The Reich Cabinet (de Reichsregierung) has enacted the following law which is hereby promulgated. ***” [Law of 1 August 1934, 1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 747]. (200-PS)
In furtherance of the Nazi plans to acquire totalitarian control of Germany (cf. Section 1-2 of Chapter VII), the Cabinet passed the following laws: Law of 26 May 1933, providing for the confiscation of Communist property (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 293) (1396-PS); Law of 14 July 1933 against the new establishment of parties 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 479); Law of 14 July 1933 providing for the confiscation of property of Social Democrats and others (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 479) (1388-PS); and Law of 1 December 1933 securing the unity of party and state (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 016. (1395-PS)
In the course of consolidating Nazi control of Germany, (cf.-
Section 3 of Chapter VII) the following laws were enacted by the Cabinet: Decree of the Cabinet, 21 March 1933, creating special courts (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 136) (2076-PS); Law of 31 March 1933 for the integration of States into the Reich (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt Part I, page 153) (2004-PS); Law of 7 April 1933 for the reestablishment of the Professional Civil Service 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 175) (1397-PS); law of 7 April 1933 for the integration of states into the Reich (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 173) (2005-PS); Law of 30 June 1933 eliminating non-Aryan civil servants or civil servants married to non-Aryans (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 433) (1400-PS ); Law of 20 July 1933 providing for the discharge of Communist officials (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 518) (198-PS); Law of 24 April 1934 creating the People’s Court (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 341) (2014-PS); Law of August 1934 uniting the office of President and Chancellor (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 747) (2003-PS); Law of 30 January 1935, Reich Governors Law, further reducing the independence of the states (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 65); Law of 30 January 1935 providing for the abolition of representatives or deliberative bodies in the municipalities (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 49) (2008-PS); Law of 26 January 1937, the comprehensive civil service law (1937 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 39); and Law of 18 March 1938 providing for the submission of one list of candidates to the electorate for the entire Reich (1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 258).
Nazi extermination of political internal resistance in Germany, through the purge of political opponents and through acts of error, (cf. Section 4 of Chapter VII), was facilitated and legalized by the following Cabinet laws: Law of 14 July 1933 against the new establishment of parties (containing a penal clause) (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 479 (188-PS); Law of 3 July 1934 concerning measures for emergency defense of the State (legalizing the Roehm purge) (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 529 (2057-PS); Law of 20 December 1934 on treacherous t against state and party and for the protection of party uniforms (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1269) (1393-PS); Law of 24 April 1934 making the creation of new or continuance of existing parties an act of treason (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 341) (2014-PS); Law of 28 June 1935 changing the Penal code permitting punishment under analogous law (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt Part I, page 839) (1962-PS); Law of 16 September
1939 permitting second prosecution of a acquitted person before a special court, the members of which were named by Hitler (1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1841). (2550-PS)
The destruction of the free trade unions in Germany, (cf. Section 5 of Chapter VII), was made possible by the following Cabinet laws: Law of 4 April 1933 concerning factory representative councils and economic organizations (controlling employee representation) (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 161) (1770-PS); Law of 19 May 1933 concerning Trustees of Labor (abolishing collective bargaining) (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 285) (405- PS); Law of 20 January 1934 regulating National Labor (introducing leadership principle into industrial relations (1934 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 45) (1861-PS); and Law of 26 June 1935 establishing Reich Labor Service (compulsory labor service) (1935 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 769). (1389-PS)
Even the anti-Jewish Nurnberg laws of 15 September 1935, although technically passed by the Reichstag, were nevertheless worked out by the Ministry of the Interior. Dr. Franz A. Medicus, who served as Ministerialdirigent in the Ministry of the Interior, made this statement in a book published in 1940 (2960-PS):
“*** The work of the Reich Ministry of Interior forms the basis for the three Nurnberg Laws passed by a resolution of the Reichstag on the occasion of the Reich party meeting of Freedom.
“The ‘Reich Citizenship Law’ as well as the ‘Law for the protection of German blood and German honor’ (Blood Protection Law) opened extensive tasks for the Ministry of Interior not only in the field of administration. The same applies to the ‘Reich Flag Law’ that gives the foundation for the complete re-organization of the use of the flag ***” (2960-PS).
(b) Decrees of The Council of Ministers. Decrees of the Council of Ministers similarly supplied the “legal” basis for other criminal actions of the Nazi conspirators. Among these laws are the following: Decree of 5 August 1940 imposing a discriminatory tax on Polish workers in Germany ( 1940 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 1077); Decree of 4 December 1941 regarding penal measures against Jews and Poles in the occupied Eastern Territories (1941 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 759) (2746-PS); and Decree of 30 June 1942 concerning
the employment of Eastern Workers (1942 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 419). (2039-PS)
Almost immediately upon Hitler’s coming to power, the Cabinet participated in the Nazi conspiracy to wage aggressive war. This fact appears clearly from the minutes of the second session of the working committee of the Delegates for Reich Defense, dated 22 May 1933 and signed by Keitel (EC-177); from a letter dated 24 June 1935 and signed by von Blomberg, the Reichs Minister of War, which transmits a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 and also a copy of the decision of the Reich Cabinet of 21 May 1935 in the Council for the Defense of the Reich (2261-PS); and from a letter dated 5 September 1939 transmitting a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense Law of 4 September 1938 (a note dated 4 September 1938 attached to this law states that the Reich Defense law of 21 May 1935 and the decisions of the Cabinet previously mentioned are repeated) (2194-PS). These three documents, important in the conspiracy to wage aggressive war emphasize the participation of the Reich Cabinet and Reich Ministers, through legislative enactments, in the conspiracy.
The Reich Defense Council was a creation of the Cabinet. On 4 April 1933 the Cabinet decided to form that agency (2261- PS). The circumstances of its creation were discussed at the meeting of 22 May 1933 (EC-177):
“Thoughts about a Reich Defense Council
“All great European powers which are at freedom to arm, have a RVR. One does not have to refer to history to prove the necessity of this institution. The war has shown conclusively that the cooperation with the various ministries -has not been close enough. The consequences did not fail to materialize. The soldier is not in a position to have a say in all matters. The disadvantages of the past system were caused by parallel efforts of the various ministries in matters of the Reich defense. To avoid these mistakes a central agency has been created which occupies itself already in peacetime in the widest sense with the problems of Reich Defense. This working staff will continue its existence in time of war.
“In accordance with the cabinet decision of the 4 April 1933 the Reich Defense Council, which until now had been prepared for war emergency, will go into immediate action.
“In time of peace its task will be to decide about all measures for the preparation of the defense of the Reich, while survey-
[Page 118] ing and utilizing all powers and means of the nation.” (EC-177)
The composition of the Reich Defense Council is thereupon set out. Hitler was President; the Minister of Defense was his deputy; and he, plus six more ministers (there were only ten at that time) and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy Command Staffs were permanent members. The remaining ministers, as well as “leading industrialists”, were subject to call. Of the defendants who were then members of the Council, there was von Neurath a Foreign Affairs Minister; Frick as Interior Minister, Goering as Air Minister; and Raeder as Chief of the Navy Command Staff. (EC-177)
The presence of Cabinet ministers was indispensable. The cabinet by that time could legislate for the Reich. It had a definite role to play in this planning, as Keitel pointed out (EC-177):
“Col. Keitel:– Points out once more the urgency of the tasks, since it had been possible to do only very little in this connection during the last years. He asks the delegates to consider the Reich Defense at all times and represent it accordingly at the drafting of new laws. Experiences of the wars are available and are at the disposal of the various ministries; (e.g. Reich Archives, Memorandum of an administrative official about gasoline supply). All these sources must be taken advantage of for the future. The task of the full time delegates is also to bring about a close cooperation of the ministries with each other.” (EC-177)
Each separate ministry, moreover, was scheduled for a definite task.
“*** In the work plans the questions and ideas are laid down, which have come up in the Reichswehr Ministry and must be considered in case of mobilization. Up to the present time the support on the part of other Ministries was frequently based only on personal helpfulness since any authority from above was lacking. The following work plans are finished.
“a. Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Economics.
Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Labor.
“These three are composed in one work plan for the preparation of a war economy.
“b. Work Plan for the Reich Postal Ministry.
“c. Work Plan for the Reich Traffic Ministry.
“Request the plans to be worked through carefully by the competent Ministries. The plans will be discussed beginning of June, when proposals for improvements may be made.
The other Ministries which have no work plans yet will receive them later on. The Office of Air Raid Protection will work out a work plan in conjunction with the Reich Commissariat for Aviation.” (EC-177)
The secrecy of all undertakings was stressed:
“Security and Secrecy.”
“Question has been brought up by the Reich Ministries.
“The secrecy of all Reich Defense work has to be maintained very carefully. Communications with the outside by messenger service only, has been settled already with the Post Office, Finance Ministry, Prussian Ministry of the Interior and the Reichswehr Ministry. Main Principle of security: No document must be lost since, otherwise, the enemy propaganda would make use of it. Matters communicated orally cannot be proven; they can be denied by us in Geneva. Therefore; the Reichswehr Ministry has worked out security directives for the Reich Ministries and the Prussian Ministry of the Interior.” (EC-177)
As time went on and greater concentration of power was needed, the Cabinet made changes and additions to this secret war planning body. Article 6 of the Secret Defense Law of 1935 (2261-PS) provided:
“(1) The Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will appoint a plenipotentiary-general for war economy to direct the entire war economy.
“(2) It is the task of the plenipotentiary-general for war economy to put all economic forces in the service of carrying on the war and to secure the life of the German people economically.
“(3) Subordinate to him are:
The Reichsminister for economy.
The Reichsminister for Food and Agriculture
The Reichs Labor Minister.
The Reichs Forest Master, and all Reichs’ agencies immediately subordinate to the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor. furthermore the financing of the war effort (in the province of the Reichs Finance Ministry and of the Reichsbank) will be-carried on under his responsibility.
“(4) The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy is au-
thorized, within his realm of responsibility to issue legal regulations, which may deviate from the existing laws.” (2261-PS)
Schacht was named as Plenipotentiary for War Economy. It will be noted that the Reich Ministers for Food and Agriculture and for Labor, and the Reichs Forest Master (who by this time had Cabinet rank) had not been included in the original membership of the Reichs Defense Council. Darre was Minister for Food and Agriculture, Seldte for Labor, and Goering was Reich Forest Master.
On the same day the Law was passed, the Cabinet made these decisions covering the newly-created Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy (EC-177):
“1. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy appointed by the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will begin his work already in peacetime ***.
“2. The Reichsminister of War and the Plenipotentiary for War Economy will effect the preparations for mobilization in closest cooperation on both sides.
“3. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy will be a permanent member of the Reich Defense Council (Reichsverteidigungsrat). Within the working committee he represents through his leadership staff the interests of war economy.” (EC-177)
The complete reorganization of this Reich Defense Council took place in 1938, under the Secret Defense Law of 4th September of that year. By that time, there had been a reorganization of the Armed Forces: the chief of the OKW had been created and the War Ministry had been abolished (2194- PS). The Reich Defense Council in 1938 was composed of Goering, as permanent deputy and Minister of Air and Supreme Commander of the Air Force; Raeder as Supreme Commander of the Navy; Hess as Deputy of the Fuehrer; von Neurath as President of the Secret Cabinet Council; Frick as Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration; Keitel as Chief of the OKW; Funk as Plenipotentiary for Economics; Ribbentrop as Minister of Foreign Affairs; Schacht as President of the Reichsbank directorate (2261-PS). An important part of the Reich Defense Council was the Working Committee. The minutes of the twelfth meeting of the Reich Defense Working Committee, on 14 May 1936, read (EC-407):
“1. The National Minister of War and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, General Field Marshal von Blomberg, opened the 12th meeting of the Reichs Defense Committee
by expressing thanks for the work accomplished and pointing out in principle the necessity of a preparation for a total mobilization with emphasis on the most important measures to be taken at this time. (Among others; mobilization schedule, legal basis, preparations in the remilitarized zone.) He further indicates the assignment of the national resources (Reichsressort) to finance its measures for preparation of the Reichs defense out of its budget.
“2. The chairman of the Reichs Defense Committee, Lieutenant General Keitel, states:
“In todays and future meetings of the Reichs Defense Committee a cross section of the general situation concerning all matters of the national defense is presented. The picture of the situation does not appear in the reports of the meetings. “The open discussion of State secrets before our large committee gives the special obligation to the chairman of the Reichs Defense Committee of pointing out its secrecy.
“Todays sessions takes place under the auspices of the restoration of the State authority in the demilitarized zone. “The difficulties of the economic situation, which are presented today, must be mastered.” (EC-407)
This Working Committee was still functioning in 1939. The Mobilization Book for Civil Administration of 1939 states, in part (1639-A-PS):
“D. Terms for Mobilization Preparations by the Civil Administration.
“The acceptance of all new measures in the Mobilization Book for Civil Administration must be requested from the Chief of the Reich Defense Committee (Department of State Defense in the Armed Forces High Command).” (1639-A-PS)
The composition of the Working Committee was redefined by the Secret Law of 1938 as follows (2194-PS):
“The Reich Defense Committee
“(1) The Reich Defense Committee is the working Committee of the RVR. It prepares the decisions of the RVR, sees to their execution, and secures collaboration between armed forces, chief Reich offices, and party.
“(2) Presiding is the chief of the OKW. He regulates the activity of the committee and gives the directions to the GBV and CBW and to the Reich ministries not subordinated to them and to the chief Reich offices according to the decisions
of the RVR, which directions are necessary for securing their uniform execution.
“(3) The RVA is composed of the OKW, deputy of the commissioner for the four year plan, the leader staffs of the GBV and GBW, and the Reich Defense officials.
“(4) Chief office officials for the Reich defense (RV- Referenten) and their deputies are commissioned by the deputy of the leader, by the Reich Chancellery, by each Reich Ministry, by the Reich Leader of the SS and chief of the German police, by the Reich work leaders, by the Reich Forest Master, by the Chief Inspector for the German Road Net, by the Reich Office for Regional Order, by the Reichsbank directorate, and in the Prussian state ministry. RV-Referent and his deputy are immediately subordinate to the minister or the state secretary, and to the chief of the Reich office, resp.” (2194-PS)
The GBV and the GBW mentioned in the portion quoted above are, respectively, the Plenipotentiaries for Administration and for Economy. Under them were grouped other ministries, some of which were already permanent members of the Council. By paragraph 3 of the Secret Law the following were made subordinate to the Plenipotentiary for Administration: the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Science and Education, Churches; the Reich Authority for Spatial Planning; and, for limited purposes, the Minister of Finance. Subordinate to and under the direction of the Plenipotentiary for Economy (a position formerly held by Schacht under the title “War Economy” and later held by Funk) were the ministers of Economics, Food, Agriculture, Labor, and for limited purposes, the Reich Finance Ministry and the Reichsbank; the Reich Forest Master; and the Commissioner for Price Control from the 4-Year Plan.
Paragraph 5 of the law (2194-PS) shows that subordinated to the Chief of the OKW were the Reich Postal Minister, the Reich Transportation Minister, and the General Inspector for German Highways.
This concentration of power by the Cabinet was for one purpose only: to plan secretly with the strongest means at hand for the waging of aggressive war. Further evidence of this objective is contained in an affidavit by Frick covering the place, activities, and scope of the Reich Defense Council, including the Three-Man College (2986-PS):
“I, Wilhelm Frick, being first duly sworn, depose and say: “I was Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration (Generalbevollmaechtigter fuer die Reichsverwaltung) from the time when this office was created, until 20 August 1943. Hein-
rich Himmler was my deputy in this capacity. Before the outbreak of the war my task as Plenipotentiary for Reich-Administration was the preparation of organization in the event of war, such as, for instance, the appointment of liaison men in the different ministries who would keep in touch with me. As Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, I, together with the Plenipotentiary for Economy and OKW formed what was called a ‘3-Man College’ (Dreierkollegium). We also were members of the Reich defense Council (Reichsverteidigungsrat), which was supposed to plan preparations and decrees in case of war which later on were published by the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich. Since, as soon as the war started, everything had to be done speedily and there would have been no time for planning, such measures and decrees were prepared in advance in case of war. All one then still had to do was to pull out of the drawer the war orders that had been prepared. Later on, after the outbreak of the war, these decrees were enacted by the Ministerial Council for the defense of the Reich.
“(Signed) Dr. Wilhelm Frick” (2986-PS).