The Holocaust Historiography Project

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In the opinion of the prosecution, some preliminary references must be made to the National Socialist German Labor Party, the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) which is not itself one of the defendant organizations in this proceeding, but which is represented among the defendant organizations by its most important formations, viz., the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party (Das korps der Politischen leiter der NSDAP), the SS (Die Schutzstaffeln der NSDAP), and the SA (Die Sturmabteilungen der NSDAP).

The prosecution has prepared a chart (Chart No. 1) showing the structure and organization of the NSDAP substantially as it existed at the peak of its development In March 1945. This chart has been prepared on the basis of information contained in important publications of the National Socialist Party, with which the defendants must be presumed to have been well acquainted. Particular reference is made to the Organization Book of the Party (Das Organisationsbuch der NSDAP) and to the National Socialist Year Book (Nationalsozialistisches Jahrbuch), of both of which Robert Ley was publisher. Both books were printed in many editions and appeared in hundreds of thousands of copies, throughout the period when the National Socialist party was in control of the German Reich and of the German people. this Chart has been certified on its face as correct by a high official of the nazi party, viz. Franz Xaver Schwarz, its Treasurer (Reichsschatzmeister der NSDAP), and its official in charge of party administration, whose affidavit is submitted with the chart.

Certain explanatory remarks concerning the organization of the National Socialist party may be useful.

The Leadership Corps of the NSDAP, named as a defendant organization, comprised the sum of the officials of the Nazi party. It was divided into seven categories:

  1. The Fuehrer
2. Reichsleiter
Hoheitstraeger 3. Gauleiter
4. Kreisleiter
5. Ortsgruppenleiter
6. Zellenleiter
7. Blockleiter

The Fuehrer was the supreme and only leader who stood at the


top of the party hierarchy. His successor designate was first, Hermann Goering, and second, Rudolf Hess.

The Reichsleiter, of whom 16 are shown on the chart, made up the Party Directorate (Reichsleitung). Through them, coordination of party and state machinery was assured. A number of these Reichsleiter, each of whom, at some time, was in charge at least one office within the Party Directorate, were also the heads of party formations and of affiliated or supervised organizations of the party, or of agencies of the state, or even held ministerial positions. The Reichsleitung may be said to have represented the horizontal organization of the party according to functions, within which all threads controlling the varied life of the German people met. Each office within the Reichsleitung of the NSDAP executed definite tasks assigned to it by the Fuehrer, or by the leader of the Party Chancellory (Chef der Parteikanzlei), who in 1945 was Martin Bormann and before him, Rudolph Hess.

It was the duty of the Reichsleitung to make certain these tasks were carried out so that the will of the Fuehrer was quickly communicated to the lowliest Zelle or Block. The individual offices of the Reichsleitung had the mission to remain in constant and closest contact with the life of the people through the subdivisions of the Party organization, in the Gaue, Kreisen, and Ortsgruppen. These leaders had been taught that the right to organize human beings accrued through appreciation of the fact that a people must be educated ideologically (weltanschaulich), that is to say, according to the philosophy of National Socialism. Among the former Reichsleiter on trial in this cause are the following defendants:

Alfred Rosenberg — The delegate to the Fuehrer for Ideological Training and Education of the Party. (Der Beauftragte des Fuehrer’s fuer die Ueberwachung der gesammten geistigen und weltanschaulichen Schulung und Erziehung der NSDAP).

Hans Frank — At one time head of the Legal Office of the Party (Reichsleiter des Reichsrechtsamtes).

Baldur von Schirach — Leader of Youth Education (Leiter fuer die Jugenderziehung).

and the late

Robert Ley — Leader of the Party Organization (Reichsorganisationsleiter der NSDAP) and Leader of the German Labor Front (Leiter der Deutschen Arbeitsfront).


The next categories to be considered are the Hoheitstraeger, the “bearers of sovereignty.” To them was assigned political sovereignty over specially designated subdivisions of the state of which they were the appointed leaders. The Hoheitstraeger may be said to represent the vertical organization of the party. These leaders included all:

  1. Gauleiter, of which there were 42 within the Reich in 1945. A Gauleiter was the political leader of the largest subdivision of the State. He was charged by the Fuehrer with political, cultural, and economic control over the life of the people, which he was to coordinate with the National Socialist ideology. A number of the defendants before the bar of the Tribunal were former Gauleiter of the NSDAP. Among them are Julius Streicher (Franconia) whose seat was in Nurnberg, Baldur von Schirach (Vienna), and Fritz Sauckel (Thuringia).
  2. Kreisleiter, the political leaders of the largest subdivision of a Gau.
  3. Ortsgruppenleiter, the political leaders of the largest subdivision of a Kreis consisting of several towns or villages, or of a part of a larger city, and including from 1,500 to 3,000 households.
  4. Zellenleiter, the political leaders of a group of from 4 to 8 city blocks or of a corresponding grouping of households in the country.
  5. Blockleiter, the political leaders of from 40 to 60 households.

Each of these Hoheitstraeger, or “bearers of sovereignty,” was directly responsible to the next highest leader in the Nazi hierarchy. The Gauleiter was directly subordinate to the Fuehrer himself, the kreisleiter was directly subordinate to the Gauleiter, the Ortsgruppenleiter to the kreisleiter, and so no. The Fuehrer himself appointed all Gauleiter and Kreisleiter, all Reichsleiter, and all other political leaders within the Party Directorate (Reichsleitung) down to the grade of Gauamtsleiter, the head of a subdivision of the party organization within a Gau.

The Hoheitstraeger and Reichsleitung together constituted the all-powerful group of leaders by means of which the Nazi party reached into the lives of the people, consolidated its control over them, and compelled them to conform to the National Socialist pattern. For this purpose, broad powers were given them, including the right to call upon all party machinery to effectuate their plans. They could requisition the services of the SA and of the SS, as well as of the HJ and the NSKK.


The controlled party organizations (Gliederungen der NSDAP) actually constituted the party itself, and substantially the entire party membership was contained within these organizations, viz:

SA — NS Storm Troops (Sturmabteilungen).
SS — NS Elite Corps (Schutzstaffeln).
NSKK — NS Motor Corps (Kraftfahrkorps).
HJ — Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend).
NS Women’s Organization (Frauenschaft).
NS German Students' Bund (Deutscher Studentenbund).
NS University Teachers' Bund (Deutscher Dozentenbund).

There were additional affiliated organizations (Angeschlossene Verbaende der NSDAP). Among these were included the following:

DAF — German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront).
NS Public Welfare Organization (Volkswohlfahrt).
NS War Victims' organization (Kriegsopferversorgung).
NS Bund for, German Technology (Bund Deutscher Technik).
German Civil Service (Reichsbund der deutschen Beamten).
NS Physicians' Bund (Deutscher Aerztebund).
NS Teachers' Bund (Lehrerbund).
NS League of Legal officials (Rechtswahrerbund).

A third group of organizations was officially Known as supervised organizations (Betreute Organisationen der NSDAP). These included the following:

German Women’s Work (Deutsches Frauenwerk).
German Students' Society (Deutsche Studentenschaft).
NS Bund of Former German Students (Altherrenbund der deutschen Studenten).
Reich League “German Family” (Reichsbund Deutsche Familie).
German Communal Congress (Deutscher Gemeindetag).
NS Bund for Physical Exercise (Reichsbund fuer Leibesuebungen).

According to the official party designations, there was a fourth classification known as Weitere Nationalsozialistische Organisationen, and in this category the following organizations appeared:

RAD — Reich Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst), at one time subordinate to the Reich Labor leader (Reichsarbeitsfuehrer).
NSFK-NS Flying Corps (NS-Fliegerkorps), which was subordinate to the Reich Minister for Aviation.


The prosecution has prepared another chart (Chart No.18) delineating substantially the organizational structure of the government of the Third Reich, as it existed in March 1945, and “the chief leadership personnel of the Reich Government and the Reich administration during said years.” This chart has been prepared on the basis of information contained in two well known official publications: The Taschenbuch fuer Verwaltungsbeamte, and the Nationalsozialistischer Jahrbuch, above mentioned, of which Robert Ley was publisher. The chart has been examined, corrected, and certified by Wilhelm Frick, whose affidavit is submitted with it. It seems plain that Frick, a former Minister of Interior of the Reich from January 1933 to August 1943, was well qualified, by reason of his position and long service in public office during the National Socialist regime, to certify to the substantial accuracy of the facts disclosed in this chart.

It may be useful to commence with consideration of the Reichsregierung, a word which may not be translated literally as “government of the Reich.” the word Reichsregierung was a word of art applied collectively to the ministers who composed the German cabinet. The Reichsregierung, which has been named as a defendant group in this proceeding, includes the following:

a. Members of the ordinary cabinet after 30 January 1933, i.e. Reich ministers with and without portfolio and all other officials entitled to participate in the meetings of this cabinet.

b. Members of the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die Reichsverteidigung).

c. Members of the Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat).

Unlike the cabinets and ministerial councils in countries not within the orbit of the former Axis, the Reichsregierung, after 30 January 1933 when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the German Republic, did not remain merely the executive branch of the government. In short order it also came to possess, and it exercised, legislative and other functions in the governmental system developed under the domination of the national Socialist party.

It is proper to observe here that, unlike such NS party organizations as the SS and the SA, the Reichsregierung before 1933 was not a body created exclusively or predominantly for the purpose of committing illegal acts. The Reichsregierung was an instrument of government provided for by the Weimar Constitution. Under the Nazi regime, however, the Reichsregierung gradually became a primary agent of the party with functions formulated in accordance with the objectives and methods of the party. The party was intended to be a Fuehrerorden, an order of Fuehrers, a pool of political leaders; and whole the party was-in the words of a German law-"the bearer of the concept of the German State,” it was not identical with the State. Hence, in order to realize its ideological and political objectives and to reach the German people, the party had to avail itself of official state channels. The Reichsregierung, and the agencies and offices established by it, were the chosen instruments by means of which party policies were converted into legislative and administrative acts binding upon the German people as a whole.

In order to accomplish this result, the Reichsregierung was thoroughly remodelled so as to coordinate party and state machinery, in order to impose the will of the Fuehrer on the German people. On 30 January 1933 the Reichsregierung contained but few National Socialists. but as the power of the party in the Reich grew, the composition of the cabinet came to include an ever-increasing number of Nazis until, by January 1937, no non-party member remained in the Reichsregierung. New cabinet posts were created and Nazis appointed to fill them. Many of these cabinet members were also in the Reichsleitung of the party.

To give a few examples: Rosenberg, the Delegate of the Fuehrer for Ideological Training and Education of the Party, was a member of the Reichsregierung as Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories (Reichsminister f. d. b. Ostgebiete). Frick, the leader of the National Socialist faction in the Reichstag, was also Minister of the Interior (Reichsinnenminister). Goebbels, the Reichsleiter for Propaganda, also sat in the cabinet as Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsminister fuer Volksaufklaerung und Propaganda).

After 25 July 1934, party participation in the work of the cabinet was at all times attained through Rudolf Hess, the Deputy of the Fuehrer. By a decree of the Fuehrer, Hess was invested with power to take part in the editing of bills dealing with all departments of the Reich. Later this power of the Fuehrer’s Deputy was expanded to include all executive decisions and orders published in the Reichsgesetzblatt. After Hess' flight to England in 1941, Martin Bormann took over, as his successor, the same function and, in addition, was given the authority of a Reich minister and made a member of the cabinet.

On 30 January 1937 Hitler accepted into the party those last few members of the cabinet who were not then party members. Only one cabinet member had the strength of character to reject membership in the party; he was the Minister of Ports and of Transportation, von Eltz-Ruebenach, who stated at the time that he was unable to reconcile membership in the NSDAP with his beliefs in Christianity. But such was not the case with Constantin von Neurath. He did not reject party membership. Nor did Erich Raeder reject party membership. And if Hjalmar Schacht was not already a party member at that time, then he too did not reject membership on 30 January 1937.

The chart shows many other instances where party members on the highest as well as on subordinate levels occupied corresponding or other positions in the organization of the state.

a. Hitler himself, the Fuehrer of the NSDAP, was also the Chancellor of the Reich, with which office the office of President of the German Republic was united after the death of President von Hindenburg in 1934.

b. Goering, the successor designate of Hitler as Fuehrer of the NSDAP, was a member of the cabinet as Minister for Air (Luftfahrtminister), and he also held many other important positions, including that of Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe, the German air force, and Delegate for the Four Year Plan (Beauftragter f. d. Vierjahresplan).

c. Heinrich Himmler, the notorious head of the SS (Reichsfuehrer SS), was also Chief of the German Police, reporting to Frick. he himself later became Minister of the Interior after the attempted assassination of Hitler on 20 June 1944, which event also catapulted him into the position of Commander in Chief of the German Reserve Army.

The Reichstag, which was the German parliament, presents an anomaly in this picture. Under the Republic it had been the supreme law-making body of the Reich, subject only to a limited check by the Reichsrat (Council of the Reich), the President, and the German people themselves, by way of initiative and referendum. Putting their opposition to all forms of parliamentarism at once into effect, the Nazis proceeded to curtail these legislative powers of the Reichstag, the Reichsrat, and the Reichspraesident.

By the Act of 24 March 1933 the cabinet was given unlimited legislative powers, including the right to deviate from the constitution. Subsequently the Reichsrat was abolished; and later, upon the death of President von Hindenburg in 1934, the posts of Chancellor and President were merged.

The development of the Reichstag into an emasculated legislative body was an intermediate step on the road to rule by Fuehrer decree, the ultimate goal of the National Socialist party-and one which it achieved.

The Nazis then proceeded to delegate some of the functions of the Reichsregierung to various newly-created agencies. Cabinet functions were delegated:

  1. To the Reichsverteidigungsrat, the Reich Defense Council, possibly as early as 4 April 1933 but certainly not later than May 1935. This was a large war-planning group of which Hitler was chairman and Goering alternate. The group included many cabinet members, and a working committee, presided over by Fieldmarshal Wilhelm Keitel, was also composed of cabinet members and reich defense officials, the majority of whom were appointed by cabinet members and subordinate to them.
  2. To the Plenipotentiary for War Economy (Generalbevollmaechtigter f. d. Kriegswirtschaft), Hjalmar Schacht (and later Walter Funk), who by the Secret Reich Defense Law of May 1935 was authorized to “begin his work already in peacetime.”
  3. To the plenipotentiary for Administration (Generalbevollmaechtigter f. d. Reichsverwaltung), Wilhelm Frick, whose deputy, Himmler, later succeeded him, and who was appointed by a Secret Reich Defense Law. Subordinate to Frick as Plenipotentiary were the ministries of the Interior, Justice, Education, Church Affairs and Raumordnung (Spatial Planning).
  4. To the Delegate for the Four Year Plan (Beauftragter f. d. Vierjahresplan), Goering.
  5. To the Dreierkollegium, the College of Three, consisting of the two Plenipotentiaries for War Economy and Administration, and Fieldmarshal Keitel as chief of the OKW. The duties of this Dreierkollegium appear to have included the drafting of decrees in preparation of and for use during the war.
  6. To the Geheime Kabinettsrat, the Secret Cabinet Council, created by Fuehrer decree in February 1938, of which von Neurath was president; and
  7. To the Ministerrat f. d. Reichsverteidigung, the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich, established by Fuehrer decree on 30 August 1939 and responsible to him alone. Its membership was taken from the Reich Defense Council. It had broad powers to issue decrees with force of law insofar as the Reichsregierung itself had not legislated on the subject.

It should be stressed that this delegation of cabinet functions and authority to various secret and semi-secret groups composed largely of its own members, helped to conceal some of the most important policies of the Reichsregierung, particularly those relating to preparation for war.

Thus, step by step, the National Socialist party succeeded in putting its policies into effect through the machinery of the state, the Reichsregierung, in its revised from.